The last six months have been very good for some Americans…especially if you are anti-Semitic.
I will start with a few examples from my home state of Florida, you know, that place where “tolerance comes to die.” During the Georgia/Florida football game in Jacksonville on October 29, the following was projected on the stadium façade. “Kanye is right about the Jews.” One day earlier, an I-10 overpass was covered with banners. “End Jewish Supremacy in America” “Honk if you know it’s the Jews.”
Not to be outdone, two Florida-based neo-Nazi groups–the Goyim Defense League and NatSoc Florida–chose the Daytona 500 as its venue. They left nothing to the imagination, projecting “Hitler was right” on the outside of the grandstands. Where better to pull this off than the self-proclaimed, “Great American Race,” populated by many individuals who assume “great American race” refers to white Evangelicals.
Of course, the GOP leadership–governors and members of Congress–immediately denounced this fire hose of vile hatred. NOT! Just the opposite. After the GOP’s piped piper posted on Truth Social that “Alvin Bragg received in EXCESS OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS” from George Soros (not true), the snakes lined up in formation. Ohio Senator J.D. Vance tweeted Bragg was “bought by George Soros.” And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis described Donald Trump’s indictment as “a manufactured circus by some Soros-DA.” [NOTE: There is no truth to the rumor Disney Studios is planning a reboot of 101 Dalmatians with DeSantis cast as male villian Cruello Deville.] Not to mention Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and the Eight MAGites, who yesterday starred in a premiere matinee performance of “Bullies on Broadway.”
But that’s not what I came here to talk about. Certainly, I am concerned some deranged zealot might listen to this symphony of dog whistles and bull horns and deface a Jewish Community Center or desecrate a Jewish cemetery. Or worse, emulate Frazier Miller who killed three people outside a Jewish retirement home outside Kansas City in 2014. Or Robert Bowers who murdered 11 members of the Tree of Life Synagogue outside Pittsburgh in 2018 because right-wing media told him George Soros was funding immigrant caravans.
This morning, however, my concern is whether the Jewish community can have an honest discussion, including criticism of policies or actions by Jewish leaders, without adding fuel to the fire. I will start with the most serious case, Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed effort to castrate Israel’s judiciary system. Or his kowtowing to the ultra-Orthodox members of his fragile governing coalition when it comes to settlements on the West Bank or adherence to the Oslo Accords. Does vocal disapproval by Jews of what other Jews say or do feed anti-Semitism? I wonder when I read or hear white supremacists ask, “How can you call me anti-Semitic when some Jews admit their own people are making the world more dangerous?” Again, not true but we know that does not matter. Haters seek refuge in any port in a storm they, themselves, generated.
This next example may seem trivial, but none-the-less significant. While reading yesterday’s Washington Post article how GOP members of the Senate Judiciary opposed a temporary replacement for ailing California Senator Diane Feinstein, I had a visceral reaction. Not directed at Republicans. Instead I wanted to scream, “What is it about old Jewish women that makes them intent on letting the Federalist Society continue to pack the courts with ultra-conservative judges who nullify hard-fought-for rights?” First, it was Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She put longevity on the court ahead of the nation’s best interests. Now Diane Feinstein is holding up confirmation of almost all of President Biden’s judicial nominations.
It is not hard to imagine how different the court might be if Ginsberg had allowed Barack Obama to nominate and a Democratic Senate to confirm her successor. Would Chief Justice Roberts have delivered a less draconian majority opinion in the Dobbs case with support of four moderate and progressive justices? Has Feinstein considered whether the next Republican president would fill vacancies resulting from her absence with more Matthew Kacsmaryks, the Texas district judge who thinks he knows more about women’s health than the FDA and the AMA?
Does this make me anti-Semitic? Misogynist? Agist? All of the above? Or have I become another stereotype, an old Jewish male, sitting on the front porch, constantly annoyed about who is traipsing all over my lawn?
Maybe it is time for the Democratic National Committee to create its own actuarial tables. Not based on factors that determine how long someone will live. But considerations that signal when one of their own risks undermining the very policies and legal precedents they espouse.
For what it’s worth.