AMERICA LURCHES TO THE PRECIPICE
America is a nation given to superlatives. We even have a World Series that is played annually by two baseball teams chosen from only two eligible countries (29 USA teams and one from Canada). So it is hard to get people in the US, never mind elsewhere, to understand just how important the election on November 6 really is to those who see their principles and their moral foundation under relentless attack. This election may be the most important election in the history of the world, or at least, since World War II. Or at least since 2016.
In the last couple of weeks, America’s superlatives have reached some new lows – greatest number of bombs sent to public servants in one week in the history of mankind, most Jewish people killed in a synagogue in US history, greatest impending invasion of the homeland by rapists and criminals ever.
In spite of these superlatives, American “exceptionalism” may have taken an unlikely hit – America is not even close to the top in the historic killing of Jews in their synagogues and neighborhoods. There is nothing “exceptional” about American performance on this one. If fact, there aren’t enough Jews in America to top Germany in this category. Although this particular record may be out of reach, if the American people tolerate much more of the hate mongering and dehumanizing verbal assaults from Trump, who knows where he can lead us.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, two black people in their sixties gunned down in a Kroger supermarket in Kentucky by a white guy looking for black people to kill.* As a sign of the times, nobody paid much attention to this shooting spree while there was a bomber on the loose. It seemed to get noticed only after the synagogue carnage.
It is particularly instructive to note a few of the players who have been silent in the face of Trump’s extremism and the violence it has spawned. Remember Steve Scalise, a right-wing Republican congressional leader who was almost killed in a violent hate-inspired hail of gunfire a little over a year ago? Not a single uplifting peep from him about hate-inspired pipe bombs or gun violence at a synagogue or grocery store. When Scalise was shot, House Speaker Paul Ryan rose to rhetorical heights to remind us all that an “attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”** He must have used up all of his moral energy on that one – now silence on the bombs and killings.
Even the always outraged Benjamin Netanyahu added his morally-confused message to the mix – rightfully expressing his outrage at an anti-Semitic attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh while failing to even mention Trump’s thinly veiled anti-Semitic “nationalist” and “America First” embrace as a potential proximate cause of the violence.*** It is bad enough when Trump’s Republican stooges allow his daily racial, ethnic, and religious slurs to go unchallenged. That has come to be expected. But when a major Jewish leader keeps silent after an anti-Semitic attack about the anti-Semitic rhetoric in our midst, it only deepens the wound to the moral fiber of our nation.
So, I am afraid that we are back again to “enough”. If you had not reached that point a couple of weeks ago, and you are not there yet, it is probably time for you to slink back into your cave or add another automatic weapon to your arsenal. For the rest of us, the time has to be now.
The challenge for each of us who harbors a fundamental belief in a common humanity and who embraces a sense of community is to act before it is too late to act, before tragedy again stains America’s soul. When Trump dehumanizes elements of our society and seeks to marginalize “others,” there are those in our midst who hear a license to eliminate that which they are told to fear. The silence of so many and the media’s incoherent and profit-based response only magnify the threat.
There is nothing new about dehumanizing rhetoric in America’s political history, nor in the history of most nations. However, and this is really important, when the volume of dehumanizing rhetoric goes up in a society and comes from the top to sow fear and doubt, only bad things happen. America is on a precipice with no sign of a collective retreat from that precipice. This leaves all who live among us who are intentionally marginalized in grave danger. An immediate and unequivocal response is even more critical in a nation with a heavily-armed populace in which there have already been over 47,000 documented gun incidents in 2018, resulting in almost 12,000 deaths. ****
Maybe Netanyahu couldn’t say it, but I can – Trump has empowered racists, anti-Semites, white nationalists, America firsters, and the other hateful human garbage that pollutes our world. There will be more tragedy, and there will be more blood on his hands.
“ENOUGH” – vote, march, make the silent uncomfortable, and resist.