In the course of discussions about the events of Charlottesville last week, one of my oldest friends, Bruce Brill, posted a reply to something I said about President Trump’s comment. I wanted to blog here both Bruce’s comment and my response.
In response to my posting about the corporate leaders response to Trump’s Charlottesville comment, Bruce Brill wrote two things:
” I’m a Jew. I found nothing Trump said offensive in any way… the opposite I saw in what he said words of healing, unlike the perennial Trump-bashers’ divisive comments.”
“You know I respect you and your opinions. On the two items that you brought up (1.”that he gave both sides moral equivalency”, and 2. that you saw nothing healing in what he said),…. We can discuss these two items by listening to and analyzing WHAT TRUMP SAID and not what the fake media said he said.”
My response to Bruce Brill’s post is as follows:
Bruce, we have great mutual respect and friendship that dates back 45 years. You prefaced your remark as coming from a Jew. You know my own background as a student of Jewish history and culture and I think you have a copy of my most recent book which tracks a young woman’s search for understanding and meaning of her own Jewish heritage. But, I am not a Jew, and any attempt by me to counter your opinion of Trump from the vantage point of a Jew would be cultural appropriation in its truest sense. I can report that the two most important organizations of American rabbinical leaders have gone public in their disagreement with Trump’s recent comments about Charlottesvile.
Also, I can comment, logically, and from the standpoint of an American, that I found Trump’s statement that there were “fine people” on “both sides” to be contemptible. “Fine people” would not have marched in an after hours foray through a college campus carrying flaming torches while slogans made famous by 1930 Nazis were shouted. “Fine people” would have left before marching alongside armed quasi-military garbed brown shirted men who also wore Nazi-themed symbols. “Fine people” would have had no part in a rally that was organized and peopled by the vilest types of hate groups.
On the other hand, I must admit Trump got a bad rap for his comments that both sides were at fault. Both sides did have organized groups of people who came with shields, clubs and chemical sprays meant to allow physical confrontation with opposing groups. I saw shields brandished and used to attack others that had Neo-Nazi and White Power emblems on them, and I also saw shields likewise used that had Code Pink and Antifa identifying marks on them. There are social media postings by both the Neo-Nazi and Antifa groups urging their followers toward involvement in Charlottesville and warning of intended open hostilities. The right to peaceful assembly and protest in America does not include the right to physically assault the opposing side. A person’s or group’s right to protest stops when the purpose or result of the protest is injury and physical harm to others, or when other citizens, including police, are put in danger by a protest activity. However, Trump’s attempt at communicating what I just said fell woefully short when he tried to say there were bad actors on both sides. He forgot to talk about how the initial protest by the Neo-Nazi groups and their intended threat of open confrontation over the Lee statue was wrong at the outset and that Charlottesville citizens were correct in their right to disagree with that hateful action. That the Antifa attack groups also opposed the neo-Nazi protest is irrelevant to whether the original Neo-Nazi action was a worthy cause.
Overall, Trump handled the entire response to Charlottesville very badly. Trump needs to get professional staffers and speech writers to craft a wise message in cases like this and a message worthy of the office of the President. And, Trump needs to stay on message and not let his spur of the moment comments blacken the image of his office. A little thought and statesmanship needs to be inserted in Trump’s public comments and he needs to lose the Twitter account, or at least hire a thoughtful staff who does it for him after the Tweet has been properly staffed through WH political and national security channels. A statement by the leader of the free world cannot be ad lib banter by a person inexperienced in world affairs, politics and security and law enforcement issues. Trump may be the elected leader, but he needs to learn to think for a moment before opening his mouth or Tweeting and trust the high-priced and experienced staff the US government provides for him and who are able to fully think out the ramifications of a Presidential comment in a very complicated world.
By the way, the book about the Jewish woman seeking her Jewish heritage can be found here, https://www.amazon.com/Angels-were-Jewish-Kevin-Ready-ebook/dp/B01GQRXTQC/