Letter: Cool the Rhetoric

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Letter to the Editor

I hope Democrats resist the temptation to politicize the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. The perpetrator hates President Trump because Trump’s daughter converted to Orthodox Judaism, and his son-in-law, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are all Jews. Throughout his life, many of Trump’s friends and associates have been Jews, which is one reason I was disappointed that Jewish liberals joined in demonizing Trump. I hope both sides cool down the rhetoric now; it would be a worthy tribute to the dead.

I believe the secret to American exceptionalism, and the reason our Constitution has lasted, is because the Declaration of Independence is based on the Hebrew Bible—“All men are created equal …”—which is also why Judaism has endured for 4,000 years, and American Christianity is ascendant. The Founding Generation realized the Israelites, newly liberated from slavery and determined to preserve their freedom, had found the simple code of ethics that, if practiced by everyone, would ensure a just society: the Ten Commandments. It’s based on freedom for each individual, not groups or collectives, and says, simply, don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want others to do to you; everything else you’re free to do. And that freedom comes from God, or if you’d prefer, the universe—not the government or the state—so it cannot be revoked. America’s Founders realized this was the true meaning of the Enlightenment, which Europeans, blinded by anti-Semitism, had failed to grasp. So the Founders struggled mightily to create a Constitution that respected each individual’s rights, denied government the ability to abuse citizens, and thus ensured freedom.

That’s why the American attitude toward Jews was different from the beginning, largely reversing the anti-Semitism of Europe. Unlike the long history of anti-Jewish violence there, culminating in the Holocaust, there’s been relatively little violence against American Jews through the years. What’s changed? Democrats blame Trump’s rhetoric, but I believe President Obama’s contempt for Christianity and Israel are also to blame. In any case, we need to be nicer to each other.

Rueben Gordon