“I can’t keep silent, in light of how my country has changed her face/ Won’t quit trying to remind her in her ears, I’ll sing my cries/Until she opens her eyes.” Israeli poet Ehud Manor as quoted by Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker 1/13/2021
On Wednesday, January 6, I turned on the television to follow the United States Congress’ certification of the election of Joseph Biden as our 46th president. I listened in anger as Donald J. Trump delivered an inflammatory speech to thousands of protesters, egging them on to “take back the steal.” I watched in disgust as thousands of protesters, including one wearing a Camp Auschwitz tee shirt, began their march to the Capitol. And I watched in horror as the insurrectionists, brandishing Confederate flags, Nazi symbols, and pitchforks, breached the Capitol. As members of Congress were evacuated, took cover on the Chamber floor, or hid in darkened offices, the riotors marched through the “People’s House,” vandalizing offices, graffitiing doors, and leaving behind a trail of destruction.
After summoning my husband to come immediately to see what was playing out in real time, I texted my children. “Are you watching the news? Protesters breeched the Capital. National Guard being called in” I wrote.”The entire Congress is behind locked doors away from windows!”
“Mom,” my daughter wrote back a minute later. “Everyone in the world is watching.”
That was confirmed soon after when friends in England emailed me with just a subject line, “What the hell is going on?”
“Another day in Trump’s America,” I responded.
Yes, just another day that many of us saw coming. Since announcing his candidacy and targeting Mexicans as “rapists,” Donald J. Trump has used his vitriolic rhetoric to disparage those who stood in his way and enflame those who supported him. In 2017, the president stated soon after the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia ,that there were “very fine people on both sides.” His repeated inability to denounce neo-Nazis demonstrated to me that the lessons of World War II and the Holocaust meant nothing to him.
I also have been appalled by his comments directly targeting Jews.After the October 2019 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, Trump’s initial reaction was to criticize the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania synagogue. “If there was an armed guard inside the temple,” he said, ” they would have been able to stop him.” In August 2019, he accused American Jews of being “disloyal” to Israel by voting for Democrats. In December 2019, speaking at the Israeli American Council referred to the dual loyalty cliché, and then went on to call Jews involved in real estate “ brutal killers, not nice people at all.” During the Republican convention, Mary Ann Mendoza, a Trump supporter was pulled from the event’s line up after protests of her promotion of anti-Semitic and QAnon conspiracy theories on her Twitter Feed.
His comments and policies have also impacted Latinos, Muslims, Blacks, Dreamers, Africans (“shit-hole countries”), and Asians (“kung fu” flu). Even the disabled—including those who suffered physical or emotional injuries as a result of their military service (“losers” and “suckers”)—have been the target of the president’s disrespect and scorn.
Meanwhile, since George Floyd’s May 2020 murder, the United States has come face to face with its long history of systematic racism. The president has only fueled the flames, In June 2020, in a precursor to last week’s violence, Trump and his administration ordered that law enforcement officers use tear gas and other riot control tactics to forcefully clear peaceful George Floyd protesters.The president then posed for photographers in what he perceived was his “law and order” stance that included his holding an upside down Bible.
Despite his history of disrespect, cruelty, and divisiveness, between 21% and 30% of Jews (depending on poll used) still voted in November to give him another four years, citing what he and his administration had done for Israel (and their pocketbooks). In my opinion, they should be ashamed. Trump is an antithesis to every moral tenet of Judaism. He is a bully, a liar, a cheat, a womanizer, and a self-absorbed, unempathetic narcissist who has no respect for anyone who does not fawn over him—unless they are despots. And now he is being called a traitor to his country.
On January 13, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for a second time. Time will tell if the Senate tallies the 2/3’s majority to convict him. It may take years to determine the political, financial, and legal fallout for him and his sycophants.
In the weeks leading up to the November election, while I was involved in getting out the vote against Trump, I purchased a sticker from the Jewish Democratic Council of America that read “Tikkun Olam: Repair the World. Defeat Donald Trump.” He lost the election. Now he needs to lose all support and credence. Like Haman, may his name and legacy be drowned out by groggers, by history’s judgement, and by the voices all good people who recognize the damage he has done to our country and the world.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish World News, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York.
Featured image by Robert Couse-Baker