I could go on at length about how disgusting it is for those in media who have been a bottomless well of negativity about Donald Trump and Republicans to blame him for the killing of Jews in Pittsburgh by an anti-Semitic nutjob who hates Trump nearly as much as he hates Jews. But as foul as that politicizing of a shocking tragedy is, some liberal Jewish leaders are making it even worse by trying to blame the killings on fellow Jews simply because they voted for Trump, and arguing that they should be banned from synagogues for holding non-leftist political views. How many of these same people have offered sympathy and excuses for Palestinians who relentlessly target innocent Jews for deadly attacks in Israel?
I would dismantle their offensively wrongheaded arguments, but it’s already been done with great authority by a fellow liberal rabbi, David Wolpe, in Tablet magazine. He is a Trump critic, but he is first and foremost a decent, loving human being and a real spiritual leader. Trust me, this is a must-read:
From the “I Told You So” Desk:
Justin Fox is a writer for Bloomberg News in New York City. He recently had to go to San Francisco, so in hopes of finding column topics, he drove both ways. He took two different routes, crossing a number of states to the north on the way and to the south coming back. And he discovered something surprising that he could have learned a lot faster and easier by reading my book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy”: the people living in the media centers of New York, California and DC are completely out-of-touch with the rest of America.
Fox found that outside the hyper-partisan liberal bubbles on either end of his trip (his office in San Francisco was playing the Kavanaugh hearings in the bathrooms!), people are not obsessed with national politics. They weren’t gnashing their teeth and shaking their fists at the clouds because Trump is President, nor were they physically assaulting each other for holding differing views. They had other things to think and talk about. TVs in most bars and restaurants weren’t tuned to cable news, but to sports or other non-political entertainment. There was talk radio, but you can always listen to music or audiobooks in the car instead, and Fox did.
As a result of not living on a constant diet of partisan political “OUTRAGE!!!”, Americans outside the media centers seemed happy and united in their common goodness. Fox wrote that away from all that constant media negativity, “this country can actually feel like a pretty calm, friendly, well-functioning place. Maybe it is!” Yeah, maybe so! Imagine that!
This began to affect Fox’s mood. He found himself feeling a strange and unusual “sense of calm, remove and, yes, optimism.” But then, he arrived back in New York and plugged back into his usual media outlets and social and work circles. That sense of calm and optimism quickly started to fade.
Fox writes, “Maybe this just means I’m returning to the real world after an escapist journey. But I also wonder if it’s an indication that my normal media diet — even though it’s mostly free of such known toxins as Facebook and cable TV news, and heavy on old books — is driving me a little nuts.”
Let me answer that for you: it’s your normal media diet, which is making your stomach churn up ulcers as surely as a diet of rotten food and rotgut whiskey would.
Naturally, being a Manhattan-dwelling Bloomberg writer, Fox couldn’t break through to self-awareness completely and recognize which was the real America and which was the hysteria-created fantasy. And of course, he couldn’t end his piece without trying to find a way to blame President Trump, “who seems intuitively to understand this new media landscape better than anyone” and “has chosen to use it mainly to foment further division and anger.”
Really? All that anger and division in the media is Trump's fault? Checking out the publication date on my book about how the coastal and DC media people live in bitter and angry leftist echo chambers and don’t have a clue about what people in “flyover country” are really thinking or hold to be important, I find that it was published on January 20, 2015 – almost six months to the day before Trump even announced he was running for President.
I genuinely commend Mr. Fox for doing what virtually no other liberal media writer would try – venturing out of his bubble for a while - and recommend you read his column at the link. And believe me, I feel for him, losing that sense of blessed calm. I only look at the more outrageous stuff myself so I that can write about it for you with a little humor and calm detachment. My motto is, “I read the 'news' so you won’t have to.” And those quotations marks around the word "news" are quite deliberate.
But to answer his other question: No, he definitely didn’t “return to the real world” when he dived back into a 24/7 stream of vitriolic and obsessive liberal politics in Manhattan. Actually, he left the real world and returned to the left world.
Former President Barack Obama has discovered that politicians sometimes lie, which never occurred to him to try. On an unrelated topic, what did you buy with the $2500 a year that he said Obamacare would save you?
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As the week begins, Americans once again find ourselves mourning the deaths of innocent victims of a mass shooting, this time of Jewish worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a sick, hate-filled Nazi lunatic. At this writing, it’s been reported that 11 people are dead. President Trump denounced the crime and said the killer deserves the death penalty. We should all be saying prayers for the dead and their families, and that such hate and violence should never happen again.
Sadly, this being election season, we were already in the midst of an attempt to score political points over mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats by what turned out (allegedly) to be a lone nut with a long history of arrests in Florida. Now, efforts to blame the synagogue shooting on Trump began almost immediately, even though the shooter reportedly hated him nearly as much as he hated Jews because he’s too good a friend to Israel.
Today’s Washington Post actually has two headlines: “Jews are not safe in Trump’s America” and “How much responsibility does Trump bear for the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh?” Shameful and disgusting. This, about a President who has not only been a strong supporter of Israel but whose daughter and grandchildren are Jewish. Columnist John Podhoretz, who is both Jewish and a harsh Trump critic, wrote that Trump can only be blamed for this crime “by people who are so consumed by hatred of him that there is nothing they won’t blame him for.”
Enough. Enough with blaming political opponents and the First Amendment and the Second Amendment for the unconscionable actions of criminals and madmen. Enough with trying to advance a political agenda on the backs of innocent victims. Enough with trying to claim the hatred is all on one side or directed against one group (in recent years, we’ve seen worshipers attacked in a Baptist Church in Texas, an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a mosque in Canada.)
The people responsible for such acts are the people responsible for such acts. They are sick, twisted people who take it upon themselves to do horrific, evil things. Yes, people on both sides of the political aisle should remember that there are such people out there and, as allegedly responsible adults, temper their rhetoric to avoid fueling their passions. But I have argued for years that you can’t blame one person’s horrible acts on another’s speech. We all have free will to act or not. Other people’s words didn’t pull the triggers on their guns.
If you try to stamp out violence by taking away people's rights, you’ll just get more violence. If you blame President Trump for the actions of a vicious Nazi who hated Trump nearly as much as he hated Jews, then do you blame Bernie Sanders because someone who supported him tried to kill Rep. Steve Scalise and every Republican near him?
The first thing to do in cases such as this is show respect for the victims by mourning them and comforting their families, not trying to exploit them for political advantage for either side. And yes, let's have a return to civility in all quarters. Then, we can talk about preventing future attacks, but don’t trot out the same tired arguments that haven’t worked. And don’t pretend that the solution to dealing with people who commit unconscionable atrocities is to blame or take away the rights of people who had nothing to do with it.
Kim Hirsch at the Victory Girls blog also has some thoughts on how the many acts of evil we are seeing are due to a combination of evil and social collapse due to relentless attacks on the traditional moral foundations of society.
While it may be impossible ever to make all spaces safe, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. It’s terrible that any place of worship should have to think about being attacked, but it’s better than being caught unprepared. At the link is an article by Dr. Jeff Sanders, who is both a pastor and a self-defense instructor, listing four steps you can take right now to make your church a harder target for such attacks:
As for individuals, Dr. Sanders also has some advice if you are ever caught in an “active shooter” situation, and there are no police or armed guards nearby. Having a concealed carry permit would be the most effective, but even if you are unarmed, you can improve your chances of survival. However, it may require you doing the opposite of what many self-styled experts keep advising us all to do. For instance, you don’t have to hunker down like a sitting duck. You might be able to escape or disarm the shooter, even if you are not armed.
As John Wayne said in “The Shootist” when his old gunfighter was asked how he survived so many people shooting at him, “It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing.” Read this and it will help you be ready, willing and able to survive, if the worst happens.