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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Was Congress condemning hatred or expressing it?

Republican National Convention, 2016
     So my boss tells me to take today off and focus on a special project.
     Yes sir! I think.
     And then, as if to mock me, I flip open the paper and read about Congress last week declaring that hatred in all its varieties — including that against “African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others”—is bad.
     What’s a guy to do?
     First, bigotry doesn’t have varieties. Underneath the thinnest veneer, it’s all the same thing: treating people in a particular group with contempt because doing so somehow makes you feel better about yourself.
     Sure, the forms that might appear to be different. But that’s just personal style: Chocolate or vanilla, rocky road or rum raisin, it’s all ice cream.
     I can’t tell you how many readers insisted I weigh in on Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, one of two Muslims new to Congress, and her pair of remarks regarding Israel. My hunch is they do so not out of their overflowing human kindness, but from their own low-grade fever anti-Semitism. They want to nudge me into a trap: Ha, make this Jewish Democrat denounce his fellow Democrat. Sort of the way Louis Farrakhan is used as a pry bar to wiggle apart Democratic coalitions.
     Honestly, Democrat or Republican, feeling queasy about Israel as it slides toward extremism under Benjamin Netanyahu seems more an expression of sincerely-held Judaism than of anti-Semitism, and if that were a sheitel on Omar’s head instead of a headscarf (sigh: sheitel = wig worn by Orthodox Jewish women) nobody would have noticed her opinion, never mind initiated an Act of Congress.

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  1. You do make some good, eye-opening and food for thought points.

  2. The minute I read the phrase "it's all the same thing," I thought of Tolstoy's aphorism that leads off Anna Karenina, about which I always have a hard time remembering whether it's happy families or unhappy families that are all alike. Though the description of bigotry as looking down on certain groups because doing so makes us feel better about ourselves rings true for me, I think it fails to convey the difference between mostly harmless snobbery and virulent hatred tending to violence. For all that I think the attacks on Omar are unfair and hypocritical, they don't necessarily imply that they come from neo nazis.

  3. With friends like Trump, Israel doesn't need enemies.

  4. Your hunch was certainly correct. Much of the indignation expressed was for tactical political purposes rather than heartfelt love of Israel. Which is increasingly a dilemma. Don't mind my tax dollars going to its legitimate defense needs, but it seems reasonable to worry about, for instance, Bibi pushing us into a war with Iran.


  5. Ah, yes...Public Square,Cleveland, July of 2016. I spent the better part of two days in the center ring of that circus.THIS IS HELL, one sign read. Cleveland cops and their bicycles, four thousand troops (on standby) just five miles down Euclid Avenue, and law enforcement contingents from as far away as Florida and California. Saw a lot of patches I had never laid eyes on before.

    Hung out with some medical folks from the local hospitals, many living here on visas. They called themselves STAT...Stand Together Against Trump. They had a couple of marches, including a night march. Great fun, instead of the bloodbath I expected, with guns being drawn and used.

    Too bad you didn't buttonhole this Jew, Mr. S.--you'd have gotten an earful about my hatred for Trump...and probably not what you expected to hear about Israel. But then, I wasn't wearing a yarmulke, so I didn't stand out in that crowd...haven't worn one in public since I was thirteen.

    How could I "not-see" the danger? Damn betcha I saw it...and I see it elsewhere on this planet. Netanyahu is a Brooklyn bully-boy...Bull Connor in a yarmulke. Not all of the tribe (small T) jumps to Israel's tune, and some of us haven't danced that hora for forty years.


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