CONTEXT: My Reaction to Pittsburgh

The Republican spin doctors and leaders took to the talking head shows Sunday to make clear their position that the massacre of Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue had nothing to do with President Trump.

Not only do they know they are wrong, they are purposefully lying.  President Trump had everything to do with this slaughter of innocents.  Let me provide you with the context through Jewish eyes.

The perpetrator of this horror (I refuse to use his name) was a white nationalist.  When President Trump announced he was a “nationalist”, two groups fully understood that the unspoken word that precedes “nationalist” is “white”.  Those two groups were white nationalists and Jews.

The de facto reason for entering the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and yelling “All Jews must die” before opening fire on those praying was the shooter’s belief, gleaned from statements by President Trump and Fox News’ Lou Dobbs (not sure who went first), that the “globalist” George Soros was funding a caravan of Central Americans headed toward our Southern border, a caravan that according to the President and Fox News, with zero proof, includes “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners”. Two groups understood that by “globalist” and “George Soros” the President really meant Jews.  Those two groups are once again white nationalists and Jews.

President Trump has everything to do with the murders in Pittsburgh, and those in his party who support him and his citizen supporters, who have categorically refused to reign in his most vile and base instincts, share in that responsibility.  Supporters of Trump have blood on their hands, blood spilled last week in a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Kroger parking lot in Kentucky and elsewhere.  They have enabled the release of this evil amongst us.  That which was suppressed is now expressed.  And the result is violence and death.

To be honest, I was not shocked by the horror in Pittsburgh.  History teaches us that Jews have been vulnerable throughout time for some of the worst instincts of bigoted and ignorant people.  Just this week, Baroness Jenny Tonge, an independent peer in the British House of Lords, said that the Pittsburgh shooting was triggered by Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.  She later recanted under pressure.  With that logic, the 1994 bombing of the Argentinian Jewish Community Center (which killed 85) was Israel’s fault too. As Jews, we know better.  We know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two.

When Trump manufactures a “national security crisis” by demonizing those seeking asylum in the United States and sends 5,000 troops to protect our southern border, Jews hear a different message than most of you.  American Jews remember that the United States denied entry to Jewish asylum seekers in the 1930s and 1940s, many of whom were forced to return to Europe and perished in the Holocaust. And why were they turned away? Because they purportedly posed a threat to national security. Sound familiar? So American Jews are well aware of the result of blindly closing your borders to those in need.  The result is… innocent people die.

My reaction to Pittsburgh in informed by my Jewish context of history and understanding Trump’s white nationalist tropes, his violence provoking rhetoric and his careless and often fact-less tweets. It’s also fueled by the fact that my wife grew up in Squirrel Hill and has friends directly impacted by these murders. And this week my daughter, a Jewish educator, is struggling with how to support and console her frightened students. This. Is. Personal.

So, I am at a loss to understand why some of you, my friends of many years, still support Trump, and the Republican Party that enables him. After the carnage in Pittsburgh, the racially motivated double homicide in Kentucky, the mad pipe bomber, can you really look me in the eye and tell me that you believe Trumpism had nothing to do with those events? What will it take for you to revisit your conscience and stop enabling evil?  This is a bad man being enabled by the political leadership of a party that has sacrificed its most basic beliefs and values in order to “win”.  What is it that makes this a worthwhile deal for you?  Is it the tax cut that raises the deficit to $1 trillion?  Is it restricting women’s reproductive rights?  Is it ensuring that same-sex couples are returned to second-class citizenship?  Is it because you believe Trump is a good Christian?  What is it?  What is the price you have agreed to pay for the consequences we are reaping?

And for my Jewish friends who still support Trump and his enablers in Congress, after Kentucky and Pittsburgh, I am sure I cannot fathom what your logic might be. Trump is only as “pro-Israel” as he needs to be to continue to garner Sheldon Adelson’s financial support.  He claims to be the “least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen” but he tweets and speaks one anti-Semitic trope and dog whistle after another.  Seriously, what is it about Trump that appeals to you?

All of you, my Jewish and non-Jewish friends, you need to explain to me what part of Trump and the current Republican leadership appeals to you enough to overcome:

  • A President who defends neo-Nazis and white supremacists, calling them “fine people”
  • A President who continually encourages violence against those who protest his policies
  • A President who claims the media are the “enemy of the people”
  • A Republican Congress that repeatedly threatens to take away healthcare insurance from those like me with pre-existing conditions
  • A Republican-led Congress who have weakened our clean air and water requirements
  • A Republican-led Congress who have increased the likelihood of another banking debacle by eliminating key pieces of the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • A President who presides over the most corrupt administration and cabinet member in modern history – tolerating and abetting ignorance and incompetence
  • A President and Republican party who support and defend ripping children away from their parents and puts them in cages.
  • A Republican party that has stood by while the President mocks world leaders and destroys our good name internationally
  • A President who refuses to release his tax returns, knowing the damage they likely will do when they demonstrate his debts to the Russians and Chinese
  • A President that demeans and ridicules women, including his own daughters.

I need to understand what you value so highly that you, my friends, would continue to support, enable, and excuse this President’s behavior and rhetoric, actions and words that put my family, my community, my people in danger. Help me understand the value system that allows you to live with our current national leadership and still put your head down on your pillow and sleep peacefully at night.

Truth be told in advance, I believe I will be sorely tempted to deliver a percussion adjustment to your cerebellum in order to reorient your moral compass.

2 thoughts on “CONTEXT: My Reaction to Pittsburgh

  1. Fantastic and spot on commentary Dan. I just finished reading The Book Thief , Markus Zusak. It was brilliant and poignant and speaks to our unfortunate uptake in Anti- Semitism as a nation.
    Best to you, Patricia and your daughters. Margo

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