Jewish Group Calls Joe Biden Comment Offensive
The Anti-Defamation League is criticizing Vice President Joe Biden for using the word “Shylocks” in a speech in Delaware. The portrayal of the character Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is considered antisemitic by many, and so using the word to mean a shady lawyer is generally best avoided.
Biden used “Shylocks” in a speech given at a celebration for the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides civil legal assistance to those who can’t afford it. Per Politico, Biden spoke about his son Beau’s experience while in Iraq.
“People would come up to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being — I mean, these Shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” Biden said.
“Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day,” Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “The Vice President should have been more careful.”
Biden’s office responded with a statement that managed to both apologize for real and praise Joe Biden: “Abe Foxman has been a friend and adviser of mine for a long time. He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right.”
If you need to use a word for an unethical lawyer, shyster appears to be safe.