“A Clarifying Moment in American History”

Elliot Cohen:

“Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.”

. . .

“This is one of those clarifying moments in American history, and like most such, it came upon us unawares, although historians in later years will be able to trace the deep and the contingent causes that brought us to this day. There is nothing to fear in this fact; rather, patriots should embrace it. The story of the United States is, as Lincoln put it, a perpetual story of “a rebirth of freedom” and not just its inheritance from the founding generation.”

. . .

“There was nothing unanticipated in this first disturbing week of the Trump administration. It will not get better. Americans should therefore steel themselves, and hold their representatives to account. Those in a position to take a stand should do so, and those who are not should lay the groundwork for a better day. There is nothing great about the America that Trump thinks he is going to make; but in the end, it is the greatness of America that will stop him.”


Loving the Stranger

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

“To be a Jew is to be a stranger. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is why Abraham is commanded to leave land, home and father’s house; why, long before Joseph was born, Abraham was already told that his descendants would be “strangers in a land not their own”; why Moses had to suffer personal exile before assuming leadership of the people; why the Israelites underwent persecution before inheriting their own land; and why the Torah is so insistent that this experience – the retelling of the story on Pesach, along with the never-forgotten taste of the bread of affliction and the bitter herbs of slavery – should become a permanent part of their collective memory.”

. . .

“Why should you not hate the stranger? – asks the Torah. Because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt. If you are human, so is he. If he is less than human, so are you. You must fight the hatred in your heart as I once fought the greatest ruler and the strongest empire in the ancient world on your behalf. I made you into the world’s archetypal strangers so that you would fight for the rights of strangers – for your own and those of others, wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever the colour of their skin or the nature of their culture, because though they are not in your image – says G-d – they are nonetheless in Mine. There is only one reply strong enough to answer the question: Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.”


Letter to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about the inauguration of Donald Trump

Dear Senator Gillibrand

I’m writing to ask you to stand together with the Representatives of our state who have chosen to stay away from the inauguration next Friday.

Donald Trump won this office through a campaign of hatred toward half of America.  Since his election he has not wavered from a message of hatred toward half the country.  He will be the constitutionally legitimate President of the United States and I have always believed that if you cannot feel respect for the individual you show respect for the office. However, the inauguration celebrations, apart from constitutionally mandated taking of the oath, are fundamentally a celebration of the individual. As long as he displays contempt and hatred toward half the country and makes no effort to heal the wounds he has created there is no obligation of any of us to celebrate this person.

Going back to the constitutionally mandated part of the proceedings, the taking of the oath: This person will take an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. No one has ever doubted the intent of a previous President at the time of their inauguration to faithfully exercise the requirements of that oath, even if we have different views of how we interpret the Constitution. Donald Trump however has made it abundantly clear that he has no knowledge of or any interest in the contents of the Constitution and when he has spoken on topics germain to it he has made it absolutely clear that he is contemptuous of its principles. The taking of this oath on Friday will be a travesty. No one is under any obligation to celebrate this farce and unless between now and Friday he shows that he has acquired some level respect for the Constitution staying away from this farce is a display of love of country. Trump is not normal, and until he takes steps to normalize himself refusing to normalize him in any way is the patriotic thing to do.

I am very proud of your record as our Senator in the United States Senate.  I appreciate that the Senate is a different place from the House.  I will however be prouder of you still if you choose to stand together with our representatives and stay away from this travesty this Friday.

Thank you