(RNS) — Since we are still in the traditional mourning period for Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, check out one of my favorite songs that featured her voice: “Little Lies.”
“Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies. Oh no, no, no, you can’t disguise…”
George Santos told lies.
They were not sweet little lies.
They were big lies and those lies matter.
George Santos won election to Congress as a Republican, representing parts of the north shore of Nassau County and northeastern Queens. This should raise eyebrows among those who understand Long Island politics and demographics, because that district had always been solidly Democratic.
Consider Great Neck. It had been one of the holy cities of American Jewish liberalism. Emphasis on “had been.” More on that later.
Santos won victory by weaving together an elaborate autobiography. To quote the New York Times:
He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.
But, much of that narrative now winds up being in tatters. Santos admits he lied about his work and educational history, and he is now under investigation.
“Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies … Oh no, no, no, you can’t disguise …”
Except, that is precisely what Santos decided to do. He decided to disguise himself as a Jew.
He claimed his “Jewish grandparents” fled Europe during World War Two.
In fact, his grandparents were in no way Jewish. They were born in Brazil and they were Catholic.
On the one hand, we can applaud Santos’ victory as the first openly-gay Republican to win a House seat.
On the other hand, his lies should nauseate us.
So, too, his appearance at a gala in Manhattan with white nationalists — an odd choice of companions for a purported grandson of refugees from the Holocaust.
Santos’s lies matter — far more than a “typical” embellishing of a personal or political resume.
As those in the real estate business like to say: “location, location, location.” As recently as a decade ago, the mere idea that a Republican would win the congressional seat for Great Neck would have been dismissed as political fiction.
I grew up and worked on Long Island. I had close family in Great Neck. Great Neck was the home of “red diaper babies,” the children of the old and new Left. It was wall to wall upper middle class Jewish liberals — the sort of place that the term “limousine liberals” was coined to describe.
So, how did Great Neck start to lean Republican?
First, after the Iranian Revolution, Iranian Jews came to Great Neck (as well as Beverly Hills). Iranian Jews tend to vote Republican.
Second, Great Neck’s Jewish identity became increasingly more Orthodox. Orthodox Jews, likewise, tend to vote Republican.
Santos knew his audience, and he obviously crafted his message to match it.
The conversos of medieval Spain faced overwhelming Jew hatred. They hid their Jewish identity, and pretended to be Christian.
Santos did it the other way. He pretended to be Jewish.
Let me coin a term here; he became a “reverso converso.”
But, he then had to throw in that his grandparents were refugees from the Holocaust.
That lie dishonors and mocks the memory of those who were, in fact, refugees and those who perished. It also adds fuel to the fire of the Holocaust-deniers. They will seize upon Santos’s lie, and then continue to say the Holocaust itself was a massive lie.
The man is both shameless and clueless. According to JTA, he is wondering aloud why “people are rushing to disinherit me from being Jewish,” given his support for Jews and Israel at a time of rising antisemitism.
“Even though I’ve always said I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, I’ve always loved and had a deep respect for my Jewish heritage and I will continue to,” Santos told a reporter from City & State, a publication covering New York politics. In similar comments to the New York Post, he said, “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”
In his media appearances, Santos admitted to fabricating his resume, including his education and work history, and he apologized for doing so. He also said he would not be deterred from representing New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Long Island and Queens and includes a sizable Orthodox Jewish population.
“I am not a criminal,” Santos told the New York Post. “This will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”
If someone fabricated positions on a resume, or lied in a job interview, those falsehoods would automatically disqualify that person from being hired.
The same should be true of Santos. He is not worthy of taking office. He should not be allowed to do so.
Oh, by the way. That “Jew-ish” thing, which has become common in recent years? That whole “I would like to distance myself from my religion, background, and people, but still want to maintain a modicum of connection for whatever reason?” I don’t like it.
Saying you’re “Jew-ish” because you have sympathies with the Jewish people? I don’t like it, either. While we appreciate your sympathies, we don’t appreciate your presumptuousness.
My memo to George Santos:
I hope you are disqualified from taking office. An honorable person (a “mensch,” as your “Jewish grandparents” — ha! — would have put it) would step aside.
But, if you do serve, may your political career be short-lived. Perhaps in the course of that short-lived congressional career, you will have the opportunity to meet your constituents, whose Jewish identity is unquestioned, and many of whom have grandparents who were, in fact, survivors and refugees.
Some would be survivors of the Holocaust. Some would be survivors of Iranian terror.
Legitimate Jews, all of them. For their part, the Iranian Jews can trace their lineage back to the Jews of Shushan, Persia, who hung out with Queen Esther and Mordecai.
Perhaps, long before then, you can publicly apologize for hanging out with white supremacists, as well.
Perhaps then you will realize that what you told were not “sweet little lies.”
They were bitter and they were large. May you pay the price for having told them.