Vice President Joe Biden was called out by the Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday after he employed a term historically used as a slur to describe Jews as greedy moneylenders.
Addressing the Legal Services Corporation at its 40th anniversary conference, Biden told his audience that his son Beau had informed him of the financial struggles US soldiers face while serving in Iraq, CNN reported.
“[P]eople would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being…I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas,” the vice president said.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman issued a condemnation of the remarks later that day.
“When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term ‘Shylocked’ to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society,” Foxman said in a statement.
The term is widely viewed as a slur, originally based on Shakespeare’s villain Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice,” as CNN noted. The character, a predatory and calculating Jewish lender, provided the basis for anti-Semetic stereotypes in the Western world.