Tag Archives: Mexicans

Is ridiculing feelings like Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America

menow

 

We all know the saying, “As American as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”.  I always liked that saying, because although I’m not a car guy and Apple Pie isn’t my favorite thing in the world, at least those 3 things, I do like baseball a lot,  have the ability to contribute positively to people’s lives.  So if Apple Pie and Chevrolet are to be associated with things very American, that only stimulates and strengthens my patriotic impulse.  Unfortunately in the time passed since the election, it appears that a large segment of society thinks there is something else that is the American way, and that is the ridiculing of feelings.

I am white, I am Jewish, I am straight and I am male.  So in all fairness, as much as I genuinely am not pleased with the outcome of the election, the worst of Donald Trump’s campaign statements and his new administration’s potential upcoming policy agenda, at least on the surface won’t impact me directly.  So if I would speak constantly of ongoing sadness and despair, although I would have every right to feel it, I could see the rationale in calling me a cry baby.  But what about those, potentially at least, who feel they will be directly impacted?

The LGBT community has watched as the country has elected a ticket with a Vice President formerly in favor of using HIV funding for conversion therapy and once signed a bill to jail same sex couples in Indiana who applied for marriage licenses.  Are gay people whiners if they express concern and even fear?  Is the cast of Hamilton really harassing the Vice President elect as stated by the President-elect Donald Trump because they use their platform to first welcome him to their show and then call on him to be a public servant for all Americans? Are the feelings of people whose lives could get directly impacted by policy or attitude wrong for having feelings? Not in my America?

What about law-abiding, patriotic American Muslims.  And yes, for those of you on the right rolling your eyes and wondering how a proud Jewish man and proud Zionist could say such a thing, there are significantly more of those types of Muslims in the country than there are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.  Are they wrong for being scared?  Are they wrong for feeling fear of the backlash caused by comments by the President-elect  and his new National Security adviser during the campaign?  Are they wrong for feeling as though they are being made to feel less than welcome in what is also their America?  Is it OK to see them as a threat merely for being born into the religion they were born into?  Not in my America?

But no other group has been made to feel more deeply isolated and frightened by what has taken place during this election cycle than the Latino community.  Addressing those Mexicans who are murderers and rapists in a way that left it open to be interpreted as all Mexicans, rallying people behind the building of a wall between the US and Mexico, and most significantly garnishing support by proposing rounding up all undocumented aliens and deporting them, was all it took to create an atmosphere of fear and despair in much of Latino America.  This is about much more than Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric.  This is also about how so much of the American public took to the rhetoric.  Blaming undocumented immigrants for your poor lot in life is at best a precursor to a dangerous racist society, at worst the creation of it.   So I ask you, were Latinos who were shaking and crying the day after the election crybabies and whiners?  Not in my America.

I have often said that you can dispute facts but you can not dispute feelings.  Someone is not wrong for how they feel.  Their feelings may be based in the perversion of fact, but questioning the legitimacy of feelings is as illogical as saying someone is wrong for liking Pizza or Star Trek.  People like what they like and feel what they feel.  Furthermore, when a large segment of society feels a certain way, especially when those feelings are based on things they have consistently heard for over a year and a half, who is anyone to ridicule those feelings?  Are people who have been the basis and so much of the foundation of Donald Trump’s success wrong for feeling targeted?  Not in my America.

Just as we should not ridicule the feelings of those decent people who chose Donald Trump because they found him to be the best choice moving forward, so too we should not tolerate the ridicule of the people who are not happy with the result.  Particularly those who feel their lives might very well be negatively impacted.  You might say that protesting will do nothing positive and may just make it harder to move forward.  I understand that viewpoint. Rioting and causing damage to property and loss of life should be met with harsh and immediate punishment.  Without question I get that.  But is ridiculing feelings as much a symbol of this great country as Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Not in my America.

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Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

bernie-sanders

Dear Senator Sanders,

I write this letter to you as someone who is deeply disturbed by your stance on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  If I am to take you on your word, something I certainly hope is feasible due to the fact that you are a Jewish man with ties to Israel, your feelings about Israel’s right to exist are not at issue here.  What is at issue is your approach, an approach that not only feeds directly into those that wish to see Israel destroyed, but also puts not only Israel but the Jewish people worldwide in even greater danger than the one that exists today.

To be frank Senator Sanders, I find your words to be not only damaging but terribly irresponsible.  I have been following the election with great interest and have listened to as many of your speeches and soundbites as possible.  I understand that like Donald Trump, you are appealing to a populist movement of disenchanted, angry and concerned voters.  You are clearly a very intelligent and savvy politician.  I am certain that you understand that your words, even if only soundbites, influence a great number of people.  Therefore you must understand that more of your followers are likely to remember the 10,000 number you blurted out, the number of Palestinian deaths you said that Israel was responsible for in the last war in Gaza,  than they will your insistence that Israel has the right to exist in freedom and security. They will take your words and see Israel as the guilty party in the conflict, subsequently making the terrorist organization Hamas, a group very similar to ISIS in their violent and ambitious tactics, as the defenders of the freedoms and rights of the Palestinians. Just as Donald Trump’s comments on Muslims and Mexicans create a perception of all Muslims and Mexicans by many of his supporters, your comments will have the same impact on many of your supporters towards Israel and the Jewish people.  As a smart man I am sure you are aware of the fact that modern day anti-Israel sentiment has translated into a rise in worldwide anti-Semitism.

What I also believe is happening Senator Sanders is a continuing hijacking of liberalism by those who, to be quite honest, are nothing better than blatant anti-Semites.  Clearly, as an individual who speaks openly of your Jewish background I am not accusing you of hating your fellow Jews, but I am going to come right out and say that you are perpetuating the argument of those that do, and in the process putting us at greater risk.  I urge you to listen to the words of Alan Dershowitz, someone never accused of being too conservative, in his wise and educated understanding of the Arab-Israel conflict in which he says,

“whenever I speak to audiences about the Middle East, sometimes audiences very hostile to Israel, I issue one challenge.  Name a single country in the history of the world, faced with threats comparable to the threats faced by Israel, that has ever had a better record of human-rights, a better record of concern for civilians,  a better record towards the sensitivity of legal issues and the rule of law. In a 100 speeches in which I issued that challenge, no one has ever come up with a country that has a better record than Israel faced with comparable threats”.

Even if this is a miscalculation or ignorance on your part rather than a cynical attempt to pander to an audience you feel you need to win elections, your words are still damaging.  I watched the few minutes with Jake Tapper of CNN in which you discussed this issue and was quite honestly startled by how you shrugged off what you referred to as your question of whether or not it was 10,000 people killed in Gaza as not being a big deal.  Senator Sanders, it is a very big deal.   Hamas, the terrorist organization that espouses the very same stance you take of “disproportionate response” by Israel and uses it as justification to murder women and children in the streets of Israel without remorse, does so with a claim that Israel was responsible for the deaths of less than 2,000.  Well congratulations Senator, you just increased their justification more than five fold.   After all, if an American presidential candidate and a Jew from Brooklyn wonders if it was 10,000 people, Hamas might not only be correct, they might be understating the number.

What makes this worse is the fact that you would say that Israel is responsible for these deaths in the first place.  I am far more open minded than you might think.  I recognize the fact that Israel does things wrong and needs to work hard at changing the conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  What I also recognize however is that the main obstacle in making these changes is not the Israeli government but the terrorist groups running the show in these territories.  Millions upon millions of dollars have been squandered and stolen from the Palestinian people, not by the Israeli government but by the very people who claim to want to lead them to a better life.  In truth, these people, the very same people you have empowered with your words, are cynical and devious criminals more concerned about Israel’s destruction and their personal lot than they are about the well-being of their population.

Someone recently made the argument to me that as a Jew you need to overcompensate in order to not seem too biased on the side of Israel.  Even if I do believe that is what you were doing, the question that needs to be asked is, at what cost?  Your words mean something.  If you want to be the leader of the free world, why would you take the side of an organization that not only wants to destroy the freedom of the people of your origin, but obstruct the freedom of their own?  If it is to increase support among your constituency, you are going against the very thing you base your entire campaign on, a different kind of politics.  If you want to be a true leader, a leader that guides the country and the youth of America to a better future, I urge you to first recognize the responsibility you have towards clearly distinguishing between right and wrong.  That Senator Sanders is indeed a very big deal.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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Is it Racist to Attack Islam?

Islamic-Architecture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s an important and relevant question.  I could start by saying Islam is a religion and ideology rather than a race, but in discussing this point that’s merely semantics.  To properly discuss this issue its critical to start from an honest premise, which means asking the right question.  In this case the question to ask may not be whether or not attacking Islam is racist as much as whether or not attacking it is actually justified?

Let’s begin by looking at the definition of racism. racism: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.  This already presents a question.  In a situation where you identify a problem that is prevalent within a group of people, are you saying that all members of that race possess those characteristics or abilities specific to that race.  Comments like Jews are good with money or blacks are better athletes, may not be  bigoted, but in the way they specifically claim these qualities exist in these groups, they might be construed as racist.  This in itself could be a long discussion and quite frankly is mostly irrelevant in this discussion, because the attacks on Islam of which I am referring to are highly indicting and provocative, even if they may be true.

Personally, I find any unwarranted attack on one group of people to be offensive. We’ve all heard these stereotypical attacks. Jews are cheap, Mexicans are lazy, Irish are drunks, and so on and so on.  They’re ridiculous comments.  They speak of negative qualities that exist in all groups and aren’t dominant in any one particular group.  They are comments designed to insult people and be nothing more than statements of bigotry.  They’re offensive and disgraceful and I have always distanced myself not only from these types of comments but from those who make them.  That being said, no matter how liberal people want to be, it’s important that everyone realizes that attacking Islam is a very different story.

Attacks on Islam are not based on unwarranted personal bias.  The 9/11 attacks were committed by Muslims.  The Boston Marathon Bombings were committed by Muslims.  Israel has been getting attacked by Muslim terrorists on a regular basis since the 70’s.  We’ve just watched 3 people get beheaded by Muslims.  Boko Haram is a Muslims terrorist group killing Christians in Nigeria, and the entire western world is on edge because of the threat of attack by ISIS.  For those who wanted to believe the president when he said otherwise, let me be clear.  The first IS in ISIS stands for Islam.  Members of ISIS were just arrested in Australia for a plan to abduct random people and behead them.  They have sent messages online trying to recruit what they call “lone wolves” to set off explosions in Times Square.  Iran, that’s the Islamic Republic of Iran,  is pursuing a nuclear program and wants to destroy the State of Israel.  I can go on and on.  And that’s really the point isn’t it?

It’s not that every Muslim is a threat.  It’s that most of the worst threats today are coming from Muslims.  Should we like them for this?  Should we be tolerant?  I will not discriminate against someone because they are Muslim.  I am capable of making Muslim friends.  But I will want to know that they are not aligned with the ideology prevalent in their religion if I am to have a healthy relationship with them.  That is not racist.  That is prudent.

Do I blame people for lashing out at Islam?  Not I don’t.  I am far more offended by one of my fellow Jews defending Muslims with more vigor than they defend Israel.  There are very large numbers of Muslims who hate me without even knowing me because I am Jewish.  Many of them want me and all my fellows Jews dead. Does that mean they all do? Of course not.  But is identifying this as a real problem make me racist?  Absolutely not.  It makes me realistic.  Most of the people who show hatred for Islam are not unlike me in their basic desire, people who just wants to live in peace and see their people and country be allowed to live in peace. The fact that they hate the people who are not allowing them to do so does not make them racist.  It makes them human.  Something this enemy is not.

I get it. We want to be good people.  We don’t want to hate others.  I respect that, but it’s not that simple.  When I was 19 years old I had a few sessions with a psychologist.  I didn’t particularly like him and didn’t feel he did much to help me back then, but he did teach me one thing I never forgot.  If you think you are a good person but in the process you are not being good to yourself, you’re not a good person.  The same concept applies here.  If in the name of being good to others you are putting yourself in danger, you’re not a good person.  It’s a harsh reality, I know.  But if we ignore it the reality will become a lot harsher.

 

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