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Monday, August 3, 2020

This is Not Normal and There is No Mandate

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Rabbi Robin Podolsky
Rabbi Robin Podolsky teaches Jewish Thought at California State University at Long Beach and serves as affiliated clergy at Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock. She strives to live and teach a Judaism that is rich with answers and productive questions for people who seek meaning, justice, and kindness in a complex world. She Rabbi Podolsky has published articles in the Journal of Jewish Ethics, the Pluralist, Response, and European Judaism.

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No.
We are not obliged to withhold judgement about Steve Bannon, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Michael T. Flynn or Mike Pompeo, to admire their résumés or to meet their prospective appointments with anything but resistance and disgust.
Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s new White House strategist, as everyone now knows, hosts a digital platform for the alt right, a coalition of white supremacists, Red Pillers seeking revenge on every woman who declined to sleep with them, Jew-haters for whom the Protocols of the Elders of Zion represents reality and people who just resent the culture of “political correctness” for making it socially awkward for them to be as mean as they want to be. Bannon, according to his former wife, has also shared deep personal misgivings about allowing his children to attend a school where many of their fellow pupils would be Jews

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Where to start with Jefferson Session, Trump’s pick for Attorney General? Here’s just one bit of a damning article about Sessions by Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: “Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a man whose views on race once led a Senate committee to deem him unfit for a federal judgeship, is Donald Trump’s choice to head the federal agency that enforces the nation’s civil-rights laws. In his 1986 confirmation hearing, witnesses testified that Sessions referred to a black attorney as “boy,” described the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive,” attacked the NAACP and ACLU as “un-American” for “forcing civil rights down the throats of people,” joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was ok until he found out they smoked marijuana, and referred to a white attorney who took on voting-rights cases as a “traitor to his race.”
Michael T. Flynn, the man Trump has chosen for his national security advisor is a religious bigot who has referred to Islam as a “cancer,” tweeted that “fear of Islam is RATIONAL” (because nothing says rational like capslock) and echoed the right wing talking point that Islam is not actually a religion at all but a political ideology, an observation that would certainly surprise the millions of Muslims worldwide who pray five times a day and give charity, having been commanded to do so by revealed scripture. On Kremlin-controlled media’s dime, he has traveled to Russia where he was the dinner companion of Vladimir Putin who continues to assure us that he absolutely positively had nothing to do with the Trump victory.
Finally, we have Mike Pompeo, the man Trump wants to head the CIA. Pompeo has expressed his extreme displeasure with President Obama’s closure of secret CIA torture sites and his refusal to allow at all the torture of people held by any American force, including the Agency.
This is not normal. This is not something about which people of good will can disagree and which should be discussed civilly. This has nothing to do with economic anxiety. This, should we allow it, represents an attempt to drag our country back into the mud of previous decades.

There is no mandate. Donald Trump did not win the popular vote. Most Americans did not vote for him. Most Americans do not want to return to the days of triumphant bigotry and national shame. This is not a matter for cooperation. This is a matter for no.

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