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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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A Curious Attraction

Bob Grant

Bob Grant

The recent death of longtime radio talker Bob Grant elicited a number of gushing tributes from readers on several Orthodox websites.

Grant’s popularity in segments of the Orthodox community had to have been a puzzlement, not to say an embarrassment, to thoughtful conservatives. Not only was Grant given to routinely expressing nakedly racist sentiments, he also played the cordial host to neo-Nazis and assorted other white supremacists and Jew haters (more on that later).

The anti-black statements were legion. “Savages” and “subhumanoids” were two of his more favored epithets. At least one black caller was informed by Grant that “on the evolutionary scale, you’re about 25 generations behind me.” He’d hang up on identifiably black callers with such charming locutions as “I don’t need the windows washed today” and “We don’t need the toilets cleaned today.”

In fact, his pet insult for David Dinkins, the hapless mayor of New York in the early 1990s, was “washroom attendant.” Even Dinkins’s harshest critics have to acknowledge the ugly stereotyping inherent in that phrase. Grant viewed many white politicians with at least equal disdain but never called any of them a “washroom attendant,” for the obvious reason that the phrase has overt racial connotations.

One of the excuses or rationalizations offered for Grant’s hold on his Jewish listeners is that he was pro-Israel. But the fact that he was particularly popular in certain Orthodox enclaves hardly known for their Zionism certainly gives the lie to that one.

(Besides, a pro-Israel radio host on the air in New York isn’t exactly a rare commodity, as witness the popularity, over the years, of Barry Gray and Barry Farber and Ed Koch and John Batchelor and Dennis Prager and Mike Gallagher and Rush Limbaugh and Michael Medved, among many others, so it’s not like Grant was a lone voice for truth whose flaws had to be overlooked for the sake of solidarity with Israel.)

But what really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

For example, on several occasions, including the 1995 premiere of his nationally syndicated show, Grant gave generous air time to Tom Metzger, a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and the founder of White Aryan Resistance – two members of which had been convicted of the 1989 murder of an Ethiopian man attending college in the U.S.

And as The New York Times noted in its obituary, Grant had the notorious David Duke as “a frequent guest on his show in the 1970s.” Duke, like Metzger a former KKK grand dragon, is one of the world’s best-known white supremacists and frequently speaks at anti-Israel and Holocaust denial conferences.

(In 1993 a caller to Grant’s show praised the National Association for the Advancement of White People, a David Duke creation, and asked if he could give listeners the group’s contact information. “Go right ahead,” said Grant.)

And then there’s William Pierce, the late white nationalist who in the 1960s was a lieutenant of American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell before going on to form the National Alliance, which advocated the violent overthrow of the American government.

When a caller praised the group on a 1995 program, Grant responded, “I have no problem with the National Alliance.”

Pierce himself was a guest on Grant’s show for a full hour in 2001. He would write of that experience: “Despite my reputation as being no friend of the Jews, Bob Grant was quite cordial to me.”

Grant did press Pierce on his belief that prominent Jews were trying to destroy American society and said he found the notion hard to believe, though even that was a double-edged sword as it gave Pierce the opportunity to explain his beliefs at length to Grant and his radio audience.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.

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One Response to “A Curious Attraction”

  1. Joel Goldberg says:

    Grant became increasingly bitter as the 1980's progressed and I found him to be all shtick and little substance.

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