Avoiding politics no longer luxury in fractured US

I guess I haven’t paid enough attention to the leadership of most American states. I had no idea who Scott Walker was until I received an email asking me if he should run for President.
Then I discovered this two-term governor of Wisconsin, clever enough to have sidestepped a call for impeachment, and to have concocted (or at least approved) this online campaign called “Testing the Waters.” If I want him to run, “Donate any amount you can afford to let me know you’re on my side,” he says.
Suggested numbers run from $10 to $250, ending with the always-ambiguous “Other.” Imagine the possibilities!
I’ve never been a political person before, but I think now, at this time in our country’s life, I must become one. Maybe all of us Jews must do the same. Today’s issues defy solution. Scott Walker’s “solution” to the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision? Call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage altogether. Would that really help unify our fractured United States?
Some of us are old enough to remember that when JFK was campaigning for the presidency, many feared a Catholic holding the highest office of the land: He’ll take orders from the Pope, they said, instead of guiding the country himself.
But today, almost every one of the many who, so far, have declared presidential candidacy are campaigning that religion should indeed rule the governmental roost. But it must be their religion to be welcomed into the White House based on their specific interpretations of Christianity. Maybe even welcomed with guns blazing and Confederate flags flying high …
Today, I’m truly afraid. I’m afraid of candidate Trump, who downtalks a whole group of people as if every one of them must be an inferior creature, a useless clone of every other one in the same group. I’m afraid of candidate Perry, who decided when prompted that maybe the Charleston church massacre wasn’t just an “accident” after all; perhaps it could be upgraded to the status of “incident.”
I have a long-time friend — not Jewish, not even much of any religion — who has deep, fearful feelings about such trivializing, sometimes even insulting, reactions to the big questions of our time.
And he’s not afraid of expressing them. He wonders aloud about how many racists now sit in the privacy of their own homes, silently applauding that “accident/incident,” thanking with secret gratitude a young, possibly demented and deranged — but just as possibly quite sane and purposeful — gun-toting wearer of the Confederate flag emblem, who had the nerve to do publicly what they in their hearts would honestly, truly, love to do themselves.
“All sorts of people want to somehow make sense out of what is incomprehensible,” my friend says, “as long as understanding doesn’t force change on them. They want the mass killer to be considered a ‘lone wolf,’ without attachment to anything held sacred by law-abiding folks.”
Ordinary racists don’t acknowledge that the tortured history they glorify, and the regressive ways of today’s majority, played any part in twisting this perpetrator to kill.
“We grieve now,” he concludes. “And we’ll grieve again, the next time…”
It’s that “next time” I’m afraid of. I’m afraid it may be for us. Despite the newest precautions in all our communal buildings, we are highly vulnerable, even easy, targets.
It’s time to repeat the after-the-fact prophetic words of that anti-Nazi German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoller, who started with “First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew,” and ends with “Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Or perhaps we should be considering these words of America’s own controversial philosopher, Ayn Rand: “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
I’ve decided not to send any money to Scott Walker.

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