Tag Archives: New Jersey

Open Letter to Trenton City Council President Kathy McBride

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Dear Ms. Mcbride,

Although you recently apologized for using the offensive term “Jew her down”, I find there to be 2 peripheral issues that are very possibly a bigger problem than the usage of the term itself.

The first issue is the wording you used in your apology. Your words were as follows:

“I am apologizing to the community at large. Because in my position you cannot make anyone feel insulted or you cannot be insensitive to any ethnic backgrounds, so I am apologizing to the community at large.”

To be blunt Ms. Mcbride, I find your apology to be insincere, cleverly worded and clearly motivated by your desire to put out the fire, not in true contrition.  I base this opinion on the wording you used.  It may be lost to some but not to me that you do not actually apologize to members of the Jewish community.  On the contrary, the term “community at large” is a very clever way of appeasing your colleagues and constituency while avoiding an actual apology to the people you insulted. The Jewish people. It identifies the fact that not only do you not see anything wrong with the term, it gives the impression that you don’t particularly care for Jews in general.  I don’t read anything in your apology that indicates you understand why the term is offensive.  But why not look at your own words to clarify my point?

“I’m sad for her that they were able to wait her out and Jew her down for $22,000 with pins in her knee that can never, ever be repaired.”

So since you and some of your supporters play dumb as to why it’s an offensive comment, let’s play a little game.  Let’s replace the word “Jew” with the word “bargained”.  Does that change the point you are making in your statement?  The point that you in essence felt that a woman got the shaft in a settlement of a lawsuit following an accident.  So “Jewing” someone down is clearly not a term of endearment. It’s a reference to that very old anti-Seimitic trope, the one implying that Jews are cheap and always looking for a bargain, be it fair or not.  But let’s be honest here. You know that and don’t care. You just wanted the controversy to go away. That is why you apologized to “the community at large”.

The second very troubling factor was the defense given to you by fellow council members, George Muschal and Robin Vaughn.  Vaughn’s defense was that “the comments weren’t anti-anything or indicative of hating Jewish people.”  If I am to give the benefit of the doubt to Vaughn that it is not about hatred, something I am not so apt to do, I do have to wonder why it’s only a problem if it is hatred.  Do we have to tolerate insults even if they are not motivated in hatred?  Would she tolerate that towards the community you come from Ms. Vaughn?

Muschal’s defense was even more troubling. He said: “You know, it’s like a car dealer. They wanted $5,000, you Jew ’em down to $4,000. It’s nothing vicious. The expression has been said millions of times.”  Well Mr. Muschal’s response is so preposterous all I can say to that is that there are many terms and words that have been said “millions of times” that are unacceptable.  Words and terms  I would have enough respect not to use.  Not even in this letter to make my point.

So you see Ms. Msbride, your comments are more important than you may be willing to admit.  You have a responsibility you are shirking.  One not only to the “community at large” but believe it or not to your personal history.

On May 14, 1958, the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said the following in an address to the National Biennial Convention of the American Jewish Congress.

There are Hitlers loose in America today, both in high and low places… As the tensions and bewilderment of economic problems become more severe, history(‘s) scapegoats, the Jews, will be joined by new scapegoats, the Negroes. The Hitlers will seek to divert people’s minds and turn their frustration and anger to the helpless, to the outnumbered. Then whether the Negro and Jew shall live in peace will depend upon how firmly they resist, how effectively they reach the minds of the decent Americans to halt this deadly diversion.

These are the words of greatness.  If you want to meet your responsibility to the “community at large”, use words and phrases such as these rather than words of insensitivity followed up by self-serving words designed to get yourself out of trouble.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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“Hitler” is not an adjective

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I’ve watched and listened in thorough dismay as people have thrown around the Hitler comparison. It started in earnest with people comparing current President Barack Obama to the Nazi leader and mass murderer, and has continued recently with numerous statements calling Donald Trump the next Hitler.  Fortunately, only for the sake of this discussion, the comparisons have been thrown around equally both in discussion about a current Democratic President, and now with the Republican front runner for president.  So it’s happened on both sides of the political aisle. Let me be very clear about my position.  Using this comparison is not besides being slanderous towards both, unintentionally diminishes the importance of remembering those murdered by Hitler’s Nazi Party.

It is believed that Adolph Hitler was responsible for the murder of close to 20 million innocent men, women and children.  6 million of these were Jewish victims of a Holocaust of devastating proportions.  The majority were murdered during World War II, but it’s extremely important to note that Hitler’s anti-Semitic intentions were made very clear long before the war started.  Yes Hitler looked to disarm the masses, but when people use this as a reason to draw a comparison to President Obama, all they are showing is a disingenuous use of a political platform.  I am not making any political statement regarding the gun control discussion, merely stating how disgusting it has been to use this issue as a justification to compare our current president to Hitler.  I hate the Iran deal.  I also believe there is plenty of reason to question whether or not this president is a friend of Israel’s.  However, unlike Hitler, there have been reasons to make the opposing argument, like a Chief of Staff with Israeli parents and funding for Iron Dome. Again, I am not making a case for President Obama being a friend of Israel’s or the Jewish people, but I am emphatically saying that he is not only not like Hitler, to say that he is like him is despicable.

Donald J. Trump is loud, abrasive, insulting, and maybe Marco Rubio is right that he is a con-artist.  It’s also possible that he is a straight-shooting successful businessman who loves America and is primarily well intentioned.  I’m not necessarily thrilled about the President Trump scenario.  But I will tell you what I do know.  Donald Trump has had too many positive interactions over the years with minorities to be classified as an outright bigot.  He even has a daughter who converted to Judaism. And yet people compare him to the most disgusting, most proud, most murderous anti-Semite that ever lived? I think a strong case can be made to not vote for Trump merely on his faltering when asked about the David Duke endorsement, but I don’t think he did it because he supports the KKK, I think he did it because all he heard was the word endorsement and it’s hard for Trump not to like anyone who likes him.  That in itself can be a dangerous thing, but it still doesn’t make you Hitler.

For those of you who have read this far, I am sure you are clear on the fact that I am not emphatically standing behind any one politician or viewpoint. I am merely stating something I wish I didn’t have to state.  If you are looking for a Hitler comparison you need to go no further than the leaders of ISIS or Hamas, people who have preached death to the Jews and persecuted and murdered groups that do not tow the line with their way of life.  It doesn’t have to be about murdering Jewish people to merit a Hitler comparison.  The ISIS leader Baghdadi’s sanctioning and ordering the murder and persecution of Christians is already enough to do so.  To compare Obama or Trump to Hitler is not only an insult to the Jewish people murdered by the Nazis, it’s a blatant insult and disregard for the treatment of the Yazidis by ISIS.

Now let me be clear about something. I am not saying I support Donald Trump.  In fact I will accept what former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman said, that Trump’s language regarding Muslims reminded her of “the kind of rhetoric that allowed Hitler to move forward.”  I take no offense to calling Trump a danger. That’s an opinion that may or may not prove valid.  But there is a big difference between calling someone evil, or saying someone’s words creates a fertile ground for evil.

Hitler was a man.  An evil man. He showed hatred to the Jewish people and other minorities from the very beginning.  He spoke early in his career about annihilating the Jewish people.  Sadly he came closer to achieving this than anyone in history.  Millions of innocent men, women and children were murdered by this man.  “Hitler” is not a word in the dictionary that means a politician with viewpoints, sometimes extreme, that represent an opposing and sometimes prejudicial viewpoint.  Hitler was a man who murdered millions of people.  Today we have people using that term to describe people of who there is no evidence they even murdered one.  There are not 2 types of people in the world.  Good and Hitler.  There are many in between.  These may be bad people who people sometimes call Hitler.  But to be a “Hitler” is something that needs to be earned by perpetrating savage, brutal, heartless  torture and murder.  Not by saying things we don’t like or even saying things deemed hateful.  Not even by merely being dangerous. If we minimize the significance of who Hitler was, we minimize the seriousness of what he did.  That may create a simpler path to another mass murdering tyrant than anything else taking place today.

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