Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged Wednesday he made a “poor choice of words” when he used the word “shylock” to describe nefarious lenders.
The flap occurred Tuesday when Biden, speaking at a Washington, D.C. conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, used the word -- which many view as having anti-Semitic connotations -- to describe people who prey on vulnerable service members.
Jewish groups took offense, and Biden issued a mea culpa in a phone conversation with Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Foxman hailed Biden for “turning a rhetorical gaffe into a teachable moment” and said that there was “no ill-intent here, but Joe and I agreed that perhaps he needs to bone up on his Shakespeare.”
The character appears in Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” as Jewish and a ruthless miser, demanding a "pound of your fair flesh" from a merchant if he fails to repay a loan.
Foxman called Biden “a stalwart against anti-Semitism and bigotry,” adding that “he has the courage and forthrightness to admit a mistake and use it as an opportunity to learn and to teach others about the harmful effects of stereotypes.”