New York – Crime in a religious community is always going to be magnified since outsiders expect that its members should be above such things. And there are some darker, even Oedipal forces involved. For many Jews, the Orthodox represent the past, and their stubborn adherence to tradition is a rebuke to those who have abandoned it. Nothing expiates a secular person’s sense of guilt faster than seeing an Orthodox Jew show up on the crime blotter.
And it’s an American thing. Despite the best efforts of the New Atheists, the most potent charge you can level at believers is not that they are irrational or intolerant, but that they are hypocritical.
It’s for this reason that a newspaper is more likely to identify the religion of an Orthodox Jew than his non-Orthodox coreligionist. Take The New York Times’ coverage of Martin Tankleff, the Long Island man whose conviction was overturned 17 years after he was imprisoned for the murder of his parents. Everyone in this sad story is Jewish, including a shadowy businessman who called himself the Bagel King of Long Island, but the word “Jewish” barely comes up in the coverage.
Orthodox Jews also pay the price for their own relative insularity. The more sheltered a community is, the more it’s likely to breed distrust
Finally, Orthodox visibility implicates all Jews. That doesn’t at all excuse the Orthodox-bashers. There’s a name for those who suggest that Orthodox Jews have, well, an affinity for wrongdoing: They’re called anti-Semites. [newjerseyjewishnews]