Maybe the time has come for Jews to start arming themselves. The beast has been unleashed, and I don't think Jared Kushner is going to save us. The alarming spike in anti-Semitic incidents has been tracked by several organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center compiled a list of incidents drawn from media reports and submissions to the SPLC web page. In the 70 days following the election, 1,064 hate crimes, including acts of vandalism, assault, intimidation, and harassment, were committed. Forty-two percent included direct references to the election, the president, or his policies.
Swastikas have appeared in public places and private homes. A wave of bomb threats caused the evacuation of Jewish community centers around the country for the fourth time in five weeks. Fifty-four JCCs in 27 states have received bomb threats, 11 in one day. The Anti-Defamation League headquarters was targeted, and the New York City Police Department reported that hate crimes against Jews have doubled in 2017. If you believe it can't happen here, that's what they said in Germany in 1933. So before the pogroms begin, it's best that the haters know we're armed, and there ain't gon' be no Inquisition 'round here anytime soon.
The most egregious demonstration of hate occurred at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in suburban St. Louis, where over 200 headstones were toppled and hundreds of graves vandalized. Almost immediately, scores of volunteers showed up to repair the damage, including a group of Muslims from a nearby mosque that raised over $20,000 for the cemetery's reconstruction. Soon-to-be president Pence made an unannounced visit to help the effort and make a speech that said there is no room for anti-Semitism in a Trump administration.
But where was the so-called president? After receiving criticism for failing to address the rise in anti-Jewish sentiment, Trump was pressed on the issue while on 60 Minutes. When asked how he might confront the problem, this goon, this slob, looked into the camera and commanded, "Stop it!" Trump then claimed, "I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life." Isn't that a double negative? He could say he was the most pro-Semitic person ever. That would embody everyone from Moses to Muhammad to Jesus, and that should pretty much cover it. After all, some of Trump's best in-laws are Jewish. I don't believe Trump is an anti-Semite, but he sure is surrounded by them. It's ironic how much the evangelicals love Israel. It's just the Jews they don't like.
When acting president Steve Bannon was chairman of Breitbart.com, he declared the site to be a "platform for the alt-right." The term "alt-right" is a smokescreen description obscuring white nationalism, Islamophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. Senator Al Franken recently attacked Trump's senior adviser by quoting headlines from Breitbart.com when Bannon was at the helm. A sampling includes: "Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?" "Gabby Giffords: the gun control movement's human shield," and "Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew."
Bannon told the gleeful crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering of obstructionists, that his objective is the "deconstruction of the administrative state," whatever the hell that means. Bannon said the cabinet officials who hate what their agencies do were "selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction." A conservative legal source claimed the plan was "to eliminate the vast administrative apparatus that does so much to dictate the way we live." In simple terms, they're trying to trash the New Deal and LBJ's Great Society and return power to the very same people who wrecked the economy and left hapless citizens destitute.
Just days ago, it was reported that more than 500 headstones were overturned or vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. That takes some dedication. Within three hours, a contingency of Muslims arrived to help repair the damage. Maybe Trump is bringing us together — only in solidarity against hatred and evil. Imagine how you would feel if it was your family whose final resting places were desecrated. My mother is from St. Louis. My father went to Washington University. Those are my relatives buried in that Jewish cemetery. A list was posted of the names of families interred there. My great grandparents were among those listed. Thanks to social media, I was able to contact cousins who assured me that the graves of our family members were untouched. I guess after the first 200 headstones, the vandals got tired. My relief is cold comfort to those affected by the shockwave that convulsed the St. Louis Jewish community. In this toxic atmosphere, armed guards should be required at every Jewish center that's accessible to the public. To paraphrase Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, when the world's Jewry cries "Never Again," it's not just a slogan, it's a promise.
Randy Haspel writes the "Recycled Hippies" blog.