“This Is An Issue For All Of Us.”

First Thing

Congratulations to Sen. Rafael Warnock (D-GA), Georgia activists and the voting public on his election win for a full 6-year term. Well done! All it took to accomplish that was 4 elections for that seat over the course of 2 years. That’s a mind numbing amount of campaigning (and massive activism) while, by the way, doing his job in the Senate. This is a moment of joy.

And it has been interrupted by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (now I-AZ). Yes, she bailed from Democrats as soon as there was a substantive impact on them in doing so.

She’s spent the past two years flicking off Dems, blocking key legislation they championed and being the voice of unreason. Her behavior makes me desperate to explain what goes on inside such a person, but it would just be a guess that she didn’t get enough of daddy’s love and attention.

Aw, don’t get me started.

“This Is An Issue For All Of Us.

Because we’ve seen this before. This is how it started 70 years ago. So I don’t want it to feel normal.”

Those are the words of Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who was comparing anti-Semitism in America today to anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and -40s.

It started there with Hitler’s election in 1933 shortly after the very suspicious Reichstag fire. He was appointed chancellor after garnering just 33% of the vote and he immediately began violence against communists, trade unionists and, of course, Jews. He blamed them for essentially all the ills the German people were suffering and many that didn’t even exist. He needed an enemy on whom to focus his nation’s anger, a scapegoat, and he found an easy target rooted in nearly two millennia of bigotry.

That sounds suspiciously like our time, as Trump vilified Mexicans, Muslims, and Blacks, but with ear splitting dog whistles, he targeted Jews. Surely, you remember his “good people on both sides” comment about the Neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville, where they chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” His recent attacks  blew another dog whistle, saying “Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough,” while suggesting that they have compromised American loyalties.  Whatever his self-serving blabbery, clearly Trump needs scapegoats on whom to focus citizen anger – that of our grievance-stoked citizens. That’s the source of his power.

He claims that he couldn’t be anti-Semitic because his daughter converted to Judaism, which leaves us aghast at the hollowness of his denial. It’s just another example of the standard weaseling, “Some of my best friends are Jews” and his base, the grievance-stoked haters, metaphorically goose step behind him. Now, of course, he’s even more blatant in his discrimination, as he palls around with anti-Semites and Holocaust denial creeps at his Mar-a Lago Wolf’s Lair.  But that’s just Trump.

Except it isn’t.

His behavior gives tacit permission and even guidance to his millions of followers to hate Jews.

America has always had a virulent strain of anti-Semitism. It was so strong that President Roosevelt wouldn’t allow German Jews safe harbor in our parochial, self-protective country. Making room for Jews would have lost Roosevelt public support for what was coming. So, instead of providing asylum, he left those people on ships to be returned to Europe where they were murdered.

Anti-Semitism is a key force behind White supremacists and Christian Nationalists. And it is a trigger for murders – hate crimes.

On a personal note, it is the reason I was repeatedly attacked and got into fights during grade school and high school. Like Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue, I had to get tough or die, so I learned to fight well. But of course, the victims at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and those at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, CA didn’t have a chance to fight. They were gunned down by murderers inflamed with hatred fed to them from an intentionally  polluted stream.

I was in high school during the Second  Vatican Council when Jews were officially cleared by the Pope of having murdered Jesus. I was acquitted of having personally committed the crime, but I felt no relief, as nothing in my life changed. The bad boys apparently didn’t get the message about my exoneration. I suspect that they still haven’t heard and, dangerously, that they’ve taught their children to hate. Some of them or their grandchildren could be mass murderers now.

Sadly, the words of Douglas Emhoff notwithstanding, this is normal in America. What was always smoldering is now a blazing fire in the open. It is trumpeted every day in social media, with all the old tropes and many new ones flung from that sewer. Republican elected officials and pundits, fearful of the reaction of “the base” – our grievance-stoked citizens – don’t dare to speak out against it and many encourage the bile.* All of that is triggering murder.

Humans have always been tribal and quick to reject “others.” We’re no different in this country. What we do exceedingly well – better than any other country – is to weaponize hatred and trot it out at the slightest provocation.

That’s especially dangerous in a country that has enough guns in private hands for 1.25 guns per person. That figure includes infants, children, terminally ill patients and the institutionalized, none of whom have guns. Separating them out, as well as those who have no firearms by choice, leaves a lot more guns per person for those who do have them in this national shooting gallery of a country.

All of which doesn’t make any of us safer. Those of us with a racial, ethnic or religious bulls eye on our back know that well. That’s our normal, Mr. Emhoff, and it is, indeed, an issue for all of us.


* “The sooner we stop pretending that this is a “both sides” problem, the sooner we can start taking the fight against antisemitism seriously. Antisemitism exists on the left, but while the Democratic Party condemns and marginalizes antisemitism in its ranks, the GOP condones and supports it.”

  • ————————————

Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:

Fire the bastards!

The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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