Certain words from foreign languages are so universally used that they become part of the English language.
Certainly one of my favorite Yiddish words that our language has adopted is “chutzpah” which means, more or less, “unbelievable gall.” It is often exemplified by the story of the kid who shoots his parents and then asks the court for mercy because he is an orphan. The problem, of course, is that there are some judges who have been known to fall for it.
We are seeing more and more examples of chutzpah in contemporary politics, most of them committed by the man who is being called by a number of names including “Agent Orange” and “Cheeto Head,” President Donald Trump. Part of his particular brand of chutzpah is his continuing to tell whoppers (lies) and then denying that he said the original words. Right now, for example, he is denying that he said he doesn’t like Muslims. He is also saying that he loves Mexicans, who he once portrayed as rapists and criminals. His latest insanity involved closing our airports to some incoming immigrants, many of whom had perfectly valid visas. Some were just returning to their jobs as college professors in the United States. Some were parents reuniting with their children. Some were refugees. The idea of returning them to the horrendous conditions that they were fleeing just signifies how uncaring and insensitive the man is.
What is scariest, however, is the fact that a federal judge put a hold on Trump’s Executive Order to keep the incoming refugees and immigrants out and his people at the airports refused to honor the Judge’s edicts. Shouldn’t Trump have immediately instructed his people to obey the law? Does that scare the hell out of anyone besides me? There we have a perfect example of what could be the coming fascism. When the president and the people he has inspired refuse to follow the law as it is laid down by the courts, does anyone else hear echoes of the way that Hitler and his thugs did things so many years ago?
Chutzpah is not the purview of the president alone. In New York, we are reading reports that the leaders of the state Legislature, who know that the people are really teed off at the absence of ethics laws, are reportedly trying to fool us once again. Many of us have been trying to get the Legislature to emulate the United States Congress and limit their so-called “outside” income, which is nothing more than legal bribery. That’s the last thing they want to do so they are trying one of the traditional dodges. Instead of limiting how much money they can make, they are reported to be suggesting that they go to one of their do-nothing ethics groups to ask if it’s alright to do what they know they shouldn’t be doing in the first place. What a bunch of hooey! It is the classic example of chutzpah and they are doing it because they can.
Then there is Governor Andrew Cuomo who could teach a course in Chutzpah 101. First he violates the spirit of the New York State Constitution by diminishing the powers of the superb state Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli. He does that after his own closest aides are indicted for ripping off the system. So instead of asking the Legislature to give the Comptroller back the powers they took away, which may have put a stop to what the Cuomo people were accused of having done, he decided to set up even more suspicious bureaucracy within his own administration.
Does anyone really believe that nonsense? What is wrong with Cuomo? How stupid does he think we are?
The fact is, they can all get away with this stuff as long as we keep our heads in the sand. That’s our brand of chutzpah.