September 15, 2019

Letters: Trump: Cancer or Chemo?, Concentration Camps and Leonard Cohen

Trump: Cancer or Chemo?
Your point-counterpoint story about President Donald Trump (“The Cancer or the Chemo?” July 12) was interesting because “Cancer” brought out the weakest anti-Trump notions possible. Halie Soifer’s side of the story was based on popular negative opinions. It was totally devoid of substantiated examples. On the opposite side (Chemo), Larry Greenfield pointed out the many achievements of the president. 

What in particular did Trump do to unleash anti-Semitism and harm to the Jews of the world? Trump is a rough-and-tumble deal maker who has a lot of admiration for the Jews with whom he’s dealt. Check out his “The Art of the Deal.” It’s full of people with Jewish surnames in various fields of real estate and law. All of the Washington, D.C., Democratic Party-elected officials took an oath to honor the U.S. Constitution. Many of them are ignoring that document on many fronts.
Chuck Colton, Los Angeles

Bravo to the Jewish Journal for publishing side-by-side cover stories about President Trump, which is responsible journalism. Do Democrats in Washington, D.C., not realize the irony of writing so mean-spiritedly while they are complaining about Trump’s tone?

Larry Greenfield wrote a more nuanced and well-informed take, with California cool. This round to the GOP.
Karen Reissman, Monterey

Having read these two volatile sides, I  agree strongly with the “cancer” theory. Not that Trump introduced the cancer but he certainly provided the impetus for this scourge to spread. His behavior, his language, his pronouncements gave free rein to hatred and bigotry to overwhelm our country. 

I fear that if Trump is elected to a second term, my great-grandchildren won’t be living in a democracy. Trump will join the group of dictators whom he so admires and honors by inviting them to the White House. And I fear that I speak with at least some experience and wisdom gathered during my 95 years.
Rabbi Harry A. Roth, via email

One could write a book about why Trump is a cancer on the presidency and our nation. In fact, someone did. It’s called the Mueller Report, Vol II. If Trump really thought anti-Semitism was a problem, he’d spend as much time attacking anti-Semites and white supremacists on Twitter as he does “fake news,” Democrats, the late Sen. John McCain or singer Bette Midler. And what Trump defenders (including Larry Greenfield) ignore is that the criticism of Trump is not limited to Democrats.

Republicans who criticize Trump are attacked by Trump, including McCain, Rep. Justin Amash and now Rep. Paul Ryan. The speed in which these previous leaders of the GOP are dismissed as heretics is simply Orwellian (see “Animal Farm”). If Trump wins in 2020, his worst narcissistic impulses will be completely unchecked because he won’t be running for re-election.
Mark Treitel, Los Angeles

Here, to present the argument that Donald Trump is “a cancer,” is Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. About a month ago, Soifer appeared on ILTV’s “Israel Daily” with a similar message. She supported her position by declaring that Trump had equated the neo-Nazis and white supremacists at Charlottesville, Va., with protestors at that event, stating that there were “very fine people on both sides.” The host of the program, Aaron Poris, challenged her, suggesting that Trump had not meant to include Nazis and other racists among the “very fine people” at Charlottesville. (In fact, when Trump made that comment, he specifically added, “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”) Poris gave Soifer an opportunity to respond. She said nothing. Yet here she is in the Journal, offering the same argument.

Now, tell us again, Halie Soifer, what is the cancer in American society?
Robert Helfing, via email

In his story “He’s the Chemo,” Larry Greenfield makes an admirable attempt to put lipstick on a pig! Depending on which side of the political spectrum they sit, your readers may agree or disagree with what the author lists as Trump’s accomplishments. No one can disagree, however, with the fact that he is guilty of a single-minded determination, from his first day in office, to obstruct any attempt to head off the climate crisis our planet faces.

Had he not been elected in 2016, the United States would still be an active member of the Paris Climate Agreement, providing the encouragement and leadership necessary to aid developing countries achieve their carbon reduction commitments. We would have qualified cabinet members heading up the federal agencies that are responsible for reducing our carbon footprint. The Clean Power Plan would be taking effect and we wouldn’t be arguing over auto emission standards. Most importantly, we would likely have enacted legislation putting a price on fossil fuels that reflects their true economic and environmental cost. 

There is already such a bill in the House of Representatives: The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This legislation has already gained 54 co-sponsors since its introduction in January. But we know our president will never sign this bill even if it passes despite the fact that recent polls tell us a majority of Americans favor a revenue-neutral fee on fossil fuels. 

Worst of all, when Trump finally leaves office, it may be too late to head off the worst effects of the climate crisis that will face our children and grandchildren. By this act alone, he has cancelled out any good that his administration may have accomplished.
Barry Engelmanm, Santa Monica

Concentration Camps?
What is a concentration camp? 

The unbearable cruelty taking place on a daily basis at the southern border of the United States — detained immigrant children separated from their families, the politics of fear inflicted upon immigrant communities and the uproar caused by the use of the term “concentration camp” when referring to the detention centers at the border — takes my mind to 1938 Germany. I am a third generation in a family of Holocaust survivors.

The Japanese American National Museum held a panel discussion at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Los Angeles about the controversy surrounding the term “concentration camp.” Karen Ishizuka, the museum’s chief curator, spoke about an exhibition she organized and held at Ellis Island in 1995 titled “America’s Concentration Camps,” and the backlash it created within the Jewish community in New York City because of its title.

We learned that the controversy surrounding the exhibit proved to be an opportunity for dialogue and a greater understanding of one another’s experiences. A multigenerational and inclusive audience was inspired to hear veteran actor George Takei speak about his family’s time in U.S. internment camps during World War II and how those experiences inspired his fight for justice and human rights through activism. At the end of the program, a young African American man asked what he (and others) can do to prevent the unjust incarceration of people, and how to truly “reach across the aisle” to engage in dialogue with people you disagree with.

In these times, to resist is to come together. Only through unity and cooperation can we overcome the intolerance threatening the core values of our fragile democracy.
Claudia Sobral, via email

Leonard Cohen
The ’60s had so many singer-songwriters-poets-musicians; however, Leonard Cohen stood out.

Karen L. Bloch’s story was a wonderful glimpse into his psyche. Inspiring.
Enriqué Gascon, Westside Village

CORRECTION

In a story about homelessness (“IKAR Safe Parking Program for the Homeless,” July 12), Naomi Goldman’s title was incorrect. She is a new member of IKAR and communications consultant for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the L.A. County Homeless Initiative over the past five years.