I’m writing in response to Timothy Havener’s letter, entitled “Remember, share history,” appearing in the CDT on Feb. 24.
Havener wrote of taking his kids to see the Disney film “Moana,” and argued that we don’t need to redeem other cultures, but rather should respect and remember them. The CDT has since edited the letter to remove the text I’m responding to, but the original letter ended with a curious line: “What I’ve discovered in my own journeys through this world is that these aren’t tales that need redemption through the stolen, twisted narrative of Jewish culture, but missing pieces of our story together across the ocean of time that define the strength of our humanity together.”
I write as a professor of English and Jewish studies (I teach at Penn State). First I’d like to don my Jewish studies hat; this struck me upon my initial reading as classically anti-Semitic, suggesting that Hollywood, controlled by Jews, has “stolen” and “twisted” others’ cultures. But then a friend suggested that maybe I was wrong, and that the author is in fact suggesting that it is wrong to read everything through a Christian missionary lens (the author had been raised in a missionary family), Christianity being the “stolen, twisted narrative of Jewish culture” that originally exercised me so much. So now I don my English professor hat; this really should have been better written.
So now I come to my theme: the liberal arts are crucially important, now more than ever.
Benjamin Schreier, State College