“Hey, just give him a chance — he’s our President-elect.” True, Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. No, I won’t just get in line behind him.
Sorry, President-elect Trump supporters and those on the other side so quick move on, when you’ve been attacked the way I have in the vilest terms, with threats of violence and even death, when told that all my family should have died in the Nazi concentration camps, I hesitate to just “give him a chance.” Instead, I’ll warily watch his words and actions, because what I’ve seen of president-elect Trump thus far calls on my better judgement to do so.
At no other time in my public life have I received this kind of disgusting, degenerate, and hateful language for (calmly and civilly) opposing a candidate. All fanned by the flames from Stephen Bannon, under whose tutelage Breitbart became home to the alt-right and white nationalists while singing the praises of then candidate Trump.
What makes this so despicable is that I’ve heard these stories before.
I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis. A pleasant metro area consistently ranked as a great place to live.
However, there are deep, dark shadows of a horrible, not-too-distant past. The most virulent Jew hating group of its time, the Silver Shirts, arose from hatred of the isolationist-era, late 1920s there. Jews were barred from parts of town, Jews were blocked from being on bank boards, Jews couldn’t join the automobile association or the country clubs. I heard these stories from my parents and grandparents and then read about it as I got older. Frighteningly, some of those restrictions lived into the 1970s.
It wasn’t until people like my great-grandfather helped support a man who wanted to right past wrongs. A great leader out of the white, Scandinavian-worked fields of Minnesota, was elected Mayor of Minneapolis in 1944. His name was Hubert Humphrey. He knew abusing the Jews out of xenophobia and hatred was wrong. And he lead the way forward out of that dark period.
This is why I’ve castigated Trump for picking Bannon as a senior advisor. Now more than ever, this is the time to come together, while appreciating our differences, and build sturdy bridges to cross our divides. It begins at the top.
Presently, I see Jewish friends defending Bannon as not being anti-Jewish because Jews worked for him at Breitbart. So what?
Maybe, Bannon is shrewd enough to realize that open Jew hatred in business today would isolate and affect his bottom line.
There is always the theory of multiple ethical selves which could be at play in Bannon’s case. This is a concept from the worlds of ethics and philosophy where we operate by different ethical rules in different situations. At home a person might be a loving parent and husband, but at work that same man is cold and ruthless. So, a spouse might find the husband to be supportive and warm, while his co-worker despises his brutal nature. I suspect the Jews who worked with Bannon saw his “friendly to Jews” ethical self. While the rest of us have seen his dark side.
Fanning the flames of hatred, xenophobia, and misogyny is as bad as committing actual acts based on those thoughts and feelings. As an analogy, that’s why our criminal justice system finds that ordering someone to kill another will convict both the killer and the boss of homicide.
While Bannon has the ear of the soon-to-be president, I will not stop speaking out against the hatred. No. I won’t be quiet. I won’t get in line.
While I appreciate what President-elect Trump said to Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes right after the election, imploring his fans to stop harassing people, this is merely a start, not an end. If he is serious about the damage and hurt to minorities in the United States, he’ll dump Bannon and apologize for his hateful rhetoric during the campaign.
I will acknowledge if Trump creates, signs, initiates, or changes something for the better. But no, I will not automatically fall in line behind him after 15 months of unapologetic slurs alongside fueling all kinds of hatred, followed by filling key positions in the White House with people like Bannon.
For those who want to ignore the language from the election season and say, “move on”, the ends do NOT justify the means (winning the presidency). The damage is done. To lead all of We The People, President-elect Trump needs to apologize for the hatred, the harsh words, the mockery, the insults, and bring that apology to life by distancing himself from those who are well known to sow the seeds of hatred and bigotry.
Only then will I get in line.
NOTE:In light of the horrific, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel United Nations resolution abstained by the Obama administration, I am positive that President Trump will be a better friend to Israel. However, I am a U.S.-born citizen and my concern is foremost here at home.