Vigilance

Vigilance

Jonathan Poritsky who writes The Candler Blog has written a great essay on what’s just happened with the U.S. election. As a fellow Jew I identified with all of it.

When I speak with friends about my concerns as a Jew, they often tell me it won’t happen here, that I am overreacting. But it’s already happening, just not to me. A man spent a year-and-a-half selling Americans on the forcible expulsion of millions of immigrants and shutting them off from us behind a wall. And then he got elected president. If the mass deportations happen, or if the wall gets built, this is a dark path for our country. And that will only be the beginning.

As someone who recently turned 65, I’ve lived long enough to have met people who got out of Europe before Hitler’s rein (my grandparents), and in this country I also experienced the aftermath of Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt: the woman who introduced my parents’ father was a judge who went before HUAC and was eventually disbarred because he was Jewish and liberal.

What many don’t realize is that when you are part of a group who is being singled out, it’s particularly frightening when a person like Donald Trump stirs up fear and scapegoating. Trump may not be personally anti-Semitic (his son in law is an orthodox Jew and his daughter Ivanka converted) but pockets of his supporters most certainly are: witness crowds yelling “Jew-S.A” at Trump rallies and Trump’s last advertisement made reference to (Jews) who run the financial world and are responsible for all that is bad.

I’m definitely worried and while I’ve lived with mild anti-Semitism my whole life, I’m guessing it will get worse now. I’m also concerned for people like my late mother’s helper, Marta who is an American who emigrated from Ethiopia. How should she think about what happens at Trump rallies and the blatant hate of President Obama (because he is black).

Its possible that Donald Trump said many of the extreme things he said simply to get elected, that he doesn’t really want to make a wall or deport Muslims. But, as Jonathan says in his essay, this is what the beginning looks like and as Jew who was brought up to “never forget” I can tell you that I haven’t forgotten and I’m scared, both for myself and for my country.

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