One thing is clear and unmistakable: the rise of violence against Jews, Muslims, and Black churches has been routinely inflamed by both the rhetoric (and the silence on white supremacy) of Donald Trump, and the complicity of the GOP in supporting his renegade and dehumanizing regime. The shooting in California from which Jews are still reeling occurred just days after Trump doubled down on his Charlottesville comments.
“Only connect,” was the mantra of novelist E.M. Forster and the phrase is indeed pertinent to the connection between the rising tide of violence and bigotry in this country and the hatred emanating from the top echelons of our dysfunctional and discivilized government. One wants to hope, but every day the news gets more bleak.
But this is part and parcel of Trump’s tactics. The sheer proliferation of lies and attacks — (the latest of which involves lies about babies being put to death following childbirth; a lie which has made nurses and doctors fearful for their safety) — is intended to distract us from the heinous consequences of Trump’s policies with regard to the environment, economic justice, health care, and immigration. The architect of much of this, Stephen Miller (a Jew denounced by his own family and certainly a disgrace to the race from whom he hails), has manifested these depredations most forcibly in the brutalization of children torn from their parents at our nation’s border.
Last week I wrote of the perversity involved in Jews supporting Trump and his Israeli satrap, Netanyahu, as being antagonistic to the values, beliefs and spiritual inheritance of the Jewish people. To be sure, the safety of Jews in Israel was, in large part, a consideration among those who gave Netanyahu their support. And there has been a double standard when judging Israel from which every other nation seems to be exempt.
But, I must confess, I believe this double standard has, paradoxically, a salutary effect on Jews themselves. On account of our heritage, the examples of so many great Jews who have contributed to the spiritual, intellectual and moral advancement of the human race, and in particular, of the many Jews I grew up with who remain for me sterling examples of what humanity at its best may attain to, I believe we should embrace this double standard for ourselves. Our political considerations should, therefore, be leavened, by those ultimate concerns regarding decency, kindness, empathy, and ethical compunction — words which are a dead letter to Trump and his supporters — without which our Judaism is an empty profession without the inner spiritual substance which alone gives us our standing among the peoples of the world.
To forsake this substance by supporting Trump and his cynical self-serving “support” for Israel is to become a Dathan among our people. There is no doubt that the blood from the shootings in Pittsburgh and California has ineradicably stained the Trump administration and those who blindly support it.
Stephen Isaac Gurney, formerly of Baltimore, is a retired professor of English, now residing in Bemidji, Minnesota.