On Kvetching

In The New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz addresses the self-help guru craze. In one section, while discussing Svend Brinkmann’s book “Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze”, she writes:

“I might not be an expert in Jewish culture (my main source of knowledge is Woody Allen’s films),” he writes, in a section in praise of “kvetching,” “but I get the impression that a general acceptance of griping about things both big and small is actually a cultural conduit that fosters collective happiness and satisfaction.” I can assure Brinkmann that the concepts of collective happiness and satisfaction are all but alien to the Jewish people, but if kvetching works for him he is welcome to it.

Why is it that when a Jew makes an observation about Jewish collective behavior, it’s acceptable material for The New Yorker and its cultural cousins, but when a Gentile makes the same observation about Jewish collective behavior, it is deemed anti-Semitic stereotyping?

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