I've never understood anti-Semitism. As a Mexican-American man with little exposure to Jewish people up until college, that hate always seemed like one group of white people discriminating another group of white people for no good reason. I never understood why if our country went to war against the Nazis in World War II to save Jewish folks from genocide, we would have Americans that would act like the enemy. We are supposed to be the heroes not the villains. So, it never made sense why ANY American would hate or promote hatred or fear towards the same group of people our soldiers died to save. It seems to me like a betrayal of our values and what our ancestors fought for. Why save a group only to hate them and persecute them later? It seems to me at that point we become our enemy.
In the wake of The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting the words "I'm sorry", "that's horrible" and "what a tragedy" don't seem enough. No words seem adequate to express the terrible feelings around this unfortunate event. Presently, I have many close friends and loved ones that are Jewish. Any of them could have been in attendance. Although I am not religious myself, I personally have accompanied many of them to their place of worship for festivities or ceremonies. It could have been me. Any one of us.
Then to add insult to injury, President Trump shows up in an attempt to, let's say pay his respects or console people. Both of which he failed to do as his response to this atrocity was that all they needed was an armed guard inside the place of worship to stop the gunman. The degree of disconnect in our Commander in Chief is astronomical. I later learned through a friend that the dinner on Air Force One on the return from the visit to the Tree of Life synagogue for Jewish staffers onboard was pork ribs. One would assume that for a man who's son-in-law is Jewish as well as his daughter (whom converted) and grandkids, he would have a greater sensitivity towards the Jewish faith and culture. However, it's not surprising. His track record shows the opposite. His failure to decry racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and his penchant for promoting fringe ideologies as well as violence towards those that disagree with him have led us here. In the span of a week two Trump supporters attempted to carry out their own schemes with the intent to kill people that Trump has in the past blamed or demonized. Words do indeed matter. Especially when they come from a man that is supposed to be a leader and a role model. Words can influence and inspire as can silence. In this case what Trump is saying is just as important as what he is not. By not taking action and not denouncing these vile behaviors he is basically silently condoning them.
"Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. " -Elie Wiesel
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” That's the poem on the Statue of Liberty written by Emma Lazarus, a Jewish woman in 1883. A woman who back then did not have the right to vote and came from a group of people that have been and continue to be persecuted the world over. A woman who was the daughter of immigrants. The point being is that America is a nation of immigrants, founded and built by immigrants. It continues to be to this day. To be xenophobic is almost by definition un-American. We all know what happened on September 11th 2001. We also know who hijacked those planes and where they were from. The attacks that took place that day changed America forever and that includes increased security measures on travel to and from the U.S. We have to take our shoes off and submit ourselves to "Total Recall" type X-ray machines or very intimate pat downs. We also know what happened in Germany right before World War II. The persecution of a certain group of people that according to the German leadership at the time was responsible for all the ills of the nation. A group of people that needed "extreme vetting" and surveillance. That group's vetting got scaled up bit by bit until they found themselves in labor or concentration camps. During that time America did the same thing, to our citizens of Japanese descent. History tells us that these approaches to our security were a mistake. We need to learn from history. We cannot fight terrorism with fear. Ben Franklin said it best "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Immigrants are not our enemies, Muslim, Mexican or otherwise. They are our backbone and always will be. But this is just my opinion, of course.
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