Counterpoint: Achashverosh must go

Counterpoint: Achashverosh must go

Warning: Satire

Gabe Kahn is the editor of The New Jersey Jewish News.

Gabe Kahn
Gabe Kahn

There’s no use ignoring it anymore, so let’s face the facts: Achashverosh is the worst king in Shushan’s storied history. Yet a significant portion of the population believes that this boastful, disgusting man is a benign ruler, interested in the welfare of his people more than his own. To everyone who has dug their heels into the rich Persian soil, allow me to explain why your logic is faulty, your conclusions absurd.

The biggest defense for supporters of our would-be dictator is that he is a friend to the Jews. Let me state unequivocally that he is not. At best he’s ambivalent toward the chosen people, and there’s a wealth of evidence demonstrating that his intentions are far more unseemly. For one, it’s undeniable that he appointed an unapologetic Jew-hater as his first in command, a man who wrote propaganda and whispered lies about our people to him, lies the king was all-too-willing to believe.

This is the part where Achashverosh’s base screams, “The king can’t be anti-Semitic — members of his own family are Jewish!” Wake up and smell the fesenjan. He didn’t have any idea that Queen Esther was Jewish when he married her. And why didn’t she tell him? Because she was afraid he’d kill her! Besides, it’s not as if they have a real relationship. Sources inside the palace said that no less than Esther herself was overheard telling her uncle Mordechai that on at least one occasion the king hadn’t even called to see her in more than 30 days.

To Achashverosh, Esther was just a pretty thing that he discarded once he grew bored of her, placating his wife by acceding to her wishes to host parties, throw her enemy out of the administration, and appoint her uncle in his place — just so she would leave him alone. Besides, there’s an established pattern of how Achashverosh treats women, ogling them at his own beauty contests. And that’s to say nothing of the unconfirmed reports about the sordid act he allegedly demanded of his former wife at a party some years ago. Just imagine if a foreign government were to get ahold of such incriminating evidence and use it to blackmail him!

There’s a similar notion to his acolytes that, late in his administration, the king’s top adviser was Jewish. Such a weak defense. Mordechai’s appointment was either a favor to the queen or a ploy to have a fall guy for the ill-conceived tax reform plan that lined the king’s pockets but put small businesses, like Shushan’s beloved triangle hat shop, out of business, and left people in the streets wearing sackcloth and ash.

What’s that you say — he saved the Jews? Only when it became politically expedient for him to do so. Before then Achashverosh was either complicit in planning our destruction, or such a blustering fool that he didn’t realize his top lieutenant was inviting outside forces to settle personal scores that would have undermined his own city. Whether he’s a co-conspirator or just a moron, the man is clearly unfit to be king.

On that point, our despot should not be so impulsive that makes monumental, life-or-death decisions on a whim. I mean, he literally made a life-or-death decision to have former Queen Vashti killed — a decision he acknowledged, once he calmed down, that he regretted. A notorious insomniac, he is known to come to conclusions in the middle of the night, wildly changing course on state policy — without consulting with his advisers — on the basis of something he read seconds before. (Then again, there’s little evidence that the king even knows how to read; in one well-documented instance, Achashverosh, a grown man, ordered his servants to read him a bedtime story.)

In the end, the best case against the king was made by the confidence, or lack thereof, he instills in his own staff, two of whom felt so strongly about his incompetence that they conspired to bring the kingdom down from within. Were it not for a speaker of many tongues lingering close to the officers, our long regional nightmare would have been over years ago.

So let’s do something special to celebrate Purim this year: Namely, kick Achashverosh’s royal backside over Shushan’s walls that he so desperately wanted to build.

Related Articles: (Counterpoint: Keep Shushan great again)

Contact Gabe Kahn via email:, or Twitter: @sgabekahn.

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