I'd learned enough of children's cruelty
to know that words can hurt, had done some
of it myself, not much but some. I believed
all that was kid stuff, something one
outgrows, like crying, which is why
I could not, at first, believe what I was
hearing, an upperclassman taunting
another student, telling him he was
a sorry excuse for a human being,
a worthless piece of crap. "It's true,
isn't it, Bernie?" he hissed. "It's all
true, and I'll tell you why -- because
you're a Jew, a goddamn stinking Jew."
What I didn't understand was why
Bernie sat there and took it, why he
didn't, at least, get up and walk away.
I didn't understand then, but now what
I understand even less, and remember
to my great shame, is that I just
sat there myself, mute.