Today is Good Friday, and naturally, the hosts at Fox & Friends are wigging out. What, you ask, could possibly have Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, and Peter Johnson Jr. so outraged?
Apparently, Google is “ignoring Good Friday” by not acknowledging it -- as it has done for other holidays -- with a custom logo “doodle” commemorating Jesus' crucifixion. Instead, Google's homepage features a doodle commemorating Hans Christian Andersen's 205th birthday.
I can sum up Fox & Friends' reaction in one sentence: How dare the people at Google not promote a Christian holiday? Doocy also accused Google of ignoring Ash Wednesday, and Christmas, and Easter last year. He said: “No bunny, no Jesus, no nothing.”
Now, I think it's safe to say Google tries not to use iconic religious images in its holiday doodles, and it doesn't always acknowledge all of them (you know, it is Passover right now for millions of Jews worldwide...). Take a stroll through Google's doodle archives and you'll see that they tend to doodle independence days, and famous people's birthdays, and secular holidays like Mother's Day and Halloween. And yes, they have celebrated Easter in the past, though not with an image of Jesus:
Fox & Friends is basically accusing Google of snubbing Christianity. But here's the kick in the pants:
Sergey Brin -- one of Google's founders -- left the Soviet Union with his family in 1979 and moved to the United States in part because they were persecuted for being Jewish. In 2007, Moment magazine, which bills itself as “independent journalism from a Jewish perspective,” interviewed Brin's father Michael about their journey to the U.S. Here are some excerpts from the article:
At a bagel shop across the street from the Maryland campus where he has taught dynamical systems and statistics for 25 years, Michael talks of the discrimination that drove him to take his family out of Russia. It's a bitter cold day in College Park, reminiscent of winter in Moscow. Over a lunch of soup and sandwiches, Michael explains how he was forced to abandon his dream of becoming an astronomer even before he reached college. Officially, anti-Semitism didn't exist in the U.S.S.R. but, in reality, Communist Party heads barred Jews from upper professional ranks by denying them entry to universities. Jews were excluded from the physics department, in particular, at the prestigious Moscow State University, because Soviet leaders did not trust them with nuclear rocket research. Unfortunately for Michael, astronomy fell under the rubric of physics.
He continued to study mathematics on his own, sneaking into evening seminars at the university and writing research papers. After several were published, Brin began a doctoral thesis. At the time, a student in the Soviet Union could earn a doctorate without going to graduate school if he passed certain exams and an institution agreed to consider his thesis. Michael found two advisers, an official adviser, an ethnic Russian, and an informal Jewish mentor. ( “Jews could not have Jewish advisers,” he says.) With their help, he successfully defended his thesis at a university in Kharkov, Ukraine, but life didn't change much even after he received his Ph.D. He continued in his day job at GOSPLAN and received a 100-ruble raise. “I thought I was rich. Life was beautiful,” he says with a wry chuckle.
The history of Russian Jewish emigration in the mid-1970s can be neatly summarized in a joke from the era: Two Jews are talking in the street, a third walks by and says to them, “I don't know what you're talking about but yes, it's time to get out of here!”
“I've known for a long time that my father wasn't able to pursue the career he wanted,” Sergey tells me. As a young boy, though, Sergey had only a vague awareness of why his family wanted to leave their native Russia. He picked up the ugly details of the anti-Semitism they faced bit by bit years later, he says. Nevertheless, he sensed, early on, all of the things that he wasn't: He wasn't Russian. He wasn't welcome in his own country. He wasn't going to get a fair shake in advancing through its schools. Further complicating his understanding of his Jewish identity was the fact that, under the ardently atheist Soviet regime, there were few religious or cultural models of what being Jewish was. The negatives were all he had.
Sergey is too young to remember the day, in the summer of 1977, when his father came home and announced that it was time for the family to emigrate. “We cannot stay here any more,” he told his wife and mother. He had arrived at his decision while attending a mathematics conference in Warsaw. For the first time, he had been able to mingle freely with colleagues from the United States, France, England and Germany. Discovering that his intellectual brethren in the West “were not monsters,” he listened as they described the opportunities and comforts of life beyond the Iron Curtain. “He said he wouldn't stay, now that he had seen what life could be about,” says Genia.
For many Soviet Jews, exit visas never came. But, in May 1979, the Brins were granted papers to leave the U.S.S.R. “We hoped it would happen,” Genia says, “but we were completely surprised by how quickly it did.” The timing was fortuitous: They were among the last Jews allowed to leave until the Gorbachev era.
Sergey, who turned six that summer, remembers what followed as simply “unsettling” -literally so. “We were in different places from day to day,” he says. The journey was a blur. First Vienna, where the family was met by representatives of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which helped thousands of Eastern European Jews establish new lives in the free world. Then, on to the suburbs of Paris, where Michael's “unofficial” Jewish Ph.D. advisor, Anatole Katok, had arranged a temporary research position for him at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques. Katok, who had emigrated the year before with his family, looked after the Brins and paved the way for Michael to teach at Maryland.
One thing the Brins shared with thousands of other families emigrating to the West from the Soviet Union was the discovery that, suddenly, they were free to be Jews.
“Russian Jews lacked the vocabulary to even articulate what they were feeling,” says Lenny Gusel, the founder of a San Francisco-based network of Russian-Jewish immigrants; many newcomers he encounters struggle with this fundamental change. “They were considered Jews back home. Here they were considered Russians. Many longed just to assimilate as Americans.” Gusel's group, which he calls the “79ers,” after the peak year of immigration in the 1970s, and its New York cousin, RJeneration, have attracted hundreds of 20- and 30-something immigrants who grapple with their Jewish identity. “Sergey is the absolute emblem of our group, the number one Russian-Jewish immigrant success story,” he says.
So how 'bout them... Easter eggs?