President Donald Trump has addressed the situation now on three separate occasions, underscoring the importance of what has now become a national conversation. Many people didn’t feel his comments went far enough in condemning the hate, but his commentary expressed the complexity what many of us feel, in that we want to respect everyone’s right to an opinion while drawing the line and preventing moral equivalency. We don’t like it when the media creates a moral equivalency with Palestinian terrorists and their often-defenseless victims, and we don’t like it here either.
In the broader sense of discussion is the issue of what jurisdictions should or should not do about statues that evoke painful memories of a nation divided and a race of people enslaved, while not rewriting history.
As the days turn into weeks and the weeks months, we know that more and more of these statues commemorating the Confederacy could bring about strong feelings of division among Americans. Sometimes those statues, battle flags and other symbols of the 1860s Southern rebellion will be placed in a condition of intersectionality with more modern hate symbols such as the swastika and terms like “storm troopers.”
As Jews, we recently emerged from Tisha B’Av and the days preceding it when we were especially on our guard for language, acts and decisions that could divide us. In that same way, we implore all sides in these difficult recent days to look at it as a national “wake-up” call. As long as people on the right or the left remain talking without harming one another, but in the spirit of trying to understand and hear one another out, we can then move on as “one nation under God, indivisible.”
This is not an anti-Semitic nation nor is it racist. This remains a country where potential and hope are possible for all Americans, white and black, Jew and gentile, and even those whose ancestors fought for the Union or the Confederacy. There is no supremacy.
Sometimes President Trump or any of our elected leaders have difficult topics they need to address. We know that the president would agree that there is no place for violence, anti-Semitism or racism in this great country. There is no moral equivalency to hate.
Last Saturday in Charlottesville was a tragic wake-up call. Now, how we comport ourselves as a free society will be the best way we can teach our children and future generations.
Peaceful dialogue even when we disagree. That’s the way to go.