Thursday, July 24, 2008


by Joan Wile, author,
Grandmothers Against the War: Getting off Our Fannies and Standing up for Peace"
published by Citadel Press, May 2008

It is interesting how children sometimes oppose their parents' political beliefs and convert to ones opposite them. A good case in point is discussed in my new book, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting off Our Fannies and Standing up for Peace" (Citadel Press, May 2).

In a brief bio about myself within the book's text, I describe how I was brutalized as a 9th grade student at a junior high school in Arlington, Virginia. I founded, wrote, produced, and raised funds for a new school newspaper by myself, as I could find no teachers to help me. I proudly distributed it one morning to the student body in their classrooms. Shockingly, at lunch I was pelted with wadded up copies of the paper and pieces of food as boys shouted anti-Semitic slurs at me -- "Dirty Kike," and so on.

Mortified, I ran and hid in the girls' bathroom until my mother came and rescued me. I didn't return to school for a couple of weeks.

A year later and now a high school student, I attended a party given by my local theatre company, in which I was a featured actress. The principal of the school where I had been traumatized, Ira Beatty, and his wife were there. I approached Mr. Beatty and asked him why I had never received faculty assistance or support in my enterprise of starting the school newspaper. He informed me that the Arlington County School Board had told him to "keep that Jew off the paper."

Apparently, he complied. Whether he instigated the incident in the lunch room or not, I'll never know. But, I wonder. How did those kids know I was part Jewish, when I hardly knew it myself?

I've often thought of this painful event when reading about or seeing Warren or Shirley on the screen and I marvel at the fact that they are such political Progressives, whom I admire very much. Warren, in particular, is a real hero of mine -- his brilliant film, "Bulworth," made mincemeat of the Bush administration and the Republicans' hypocrisy and assault on our liberties. It seems that the Beatty branches fell very far from the tree, at least ideologically.

By the way, the newspaper won a Virginia state prize the year following my establishing it.