I have been receiving anti-semitic hate mail over the past couple of years, which is a bit odd. I am a Presbyterian.
So were my parents, grandparents and -- as a recent genealogical study carried out by Strathclyde University informed me -- my family have been Presbyterian since the 17th century when -- as Protestant Lutherans during Germany's 30 Years War -- they fled southern Germany and came to Scotland and Ulster to find a home in a suitably Protestant land.
Perhaps sending anti-semitic hate mail to a Presbyterian is confirmation of something most of us already know: anti-semites, liked racists, are not just bigoted, but also tend to be very stupid. In my case, I receive roughly every 8 weeks or so a laser-printed and rather neat looking anonymous letter with a "Bath-Bristol-Taunton" postmark referring to Newsnight as "Jewsnight" and part of the "world wide Jewish conspiracy." Ho, hum. To my surprise, I am rather grateful to the dimwitted lunatic behind the letters, since he (I am sure it is a 'he') opens a window into what passes for the anti-semitic "mind" which would otherwise be closed to those of us who are not actually Jewish. Once in the United States sitting in the back seat of a van driven by two black friends I observed the suspicion with which they were regarded by some white people in Los Angeles. In a way, the West Country anti-semite, like the occasional LA white racist, actually has helped me understand what it must feel like to be discriminated against and the dangers of tolerating intolerance.
As for being a Presbyterian, well, I am certainly an ethnic Presybterian. I cannot escape my background growing up in Glasgow, Edinburgh and eventually in Northern Ireland. Even when I went through an atheistic phase I realised I was a Presbyterian atheist -- it was a Presbyterian God that I did not believe in.
So, if you happen to live in the Bath-Bristol-Taunton area and see someone posting standard white envelopes with a stick-on label addressed to me at BBC Newsnight, you could mention that while I am grateful to be reminded of the stupidities of anti-semitism, I don't nowadays feel the need to open the envelope before putting it in the trash. And that is the real problem.
It hurts my thrifty Presbyterian conscience to think that some poor anti-semitic dimwit is wasting his first class postage on me. Shalom.