Welcome! I am Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Madison, Wisconsin. "Pulpit Perspectives: My Observations as a Congregational Rabbi" is published every two weeks to reflect my observations about life in my congregation and with my members. The opinions expressed here are solely my own. I invite you to join the dialogue!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Thank You, Donald Trump

(The following message represents my opinion only, and in no way reflects the synagogue for which I work, nor any non-profit organization with which I am affiliated.)

Thank you, Donald Trump.

Yes, though some have expressed great concern over the candidacy of Donald Trump for President, I think Mr. Trump deserves our gratitude for many lessons he has taught us in the past twelve months or so.

Thank you, Mr. Trump, for helping expose how much more progress our country needs to eradicate racial, religious, and ethnic intolerance. We thought we had advanced in the struggle against hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia. After all, since the moment, 90 years ago when the United States once decided to close its borders to large waves of immigrants, our nation nonetheless found ways to welcome the stranger and increase its acceptance of religious, ethnic, and foreign minorities. Seeing the mindless anger and passions among the people whom you have incited at your rallies with anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican speech, however, has demonstrated that nativist and xenophobic passions still rule the hearts and minds of many Americans, and that our work in the realm of tolerance is nowhere near complete.

And thank you, Mr. Trump, for bringing forth the same prejudicial emotions about Native Americans as well. We see your audiences decrying those who proudly possess Native American ancestry, and it is recalled to us how the struggle for rights of this beleaguered minority must be continued.

Thank you for reminding us that gender equality in America is still a goal to be achieved.  Your sexist insinuations, your degrading of women, your betrayal of the notion of a truly egalitarian society, your willingness to accept women earning 20% less than men, your willingness to endorse the sexual objectification of women: all these have moved many in this country to rededicate their efforts to bring equality to our land.

Thank you for helping us remember the reasons our nation finally entered, fought, and won the second World War.  World War II was, in part, a struggle against authoritarianism, which we sought to overthrow.  You know, as messy as democracy may be, we adopted it as our nation’s system of government 240 years ago. Since then, our country has fought against fascism many times, and thanks to your authoritarian rhetoric and dictatorial approach in your public demeanor and your campaign, you remind us once again of the values that led us to choose to be ruled in democratic ways, and to follow the rule of law.

Thank you for encouraging us to advocate for increased voter registration, convenient and early voting, and ‘getting out the vote’ efforts on election day.  By erecting virtual and real roadblocks to polling places, you and fellow extremists across the nation have energized Americans to widen the voter rolls and bring disenfranchised people to the polls.

Between now and election day, I feel confident that there will be many ways to offer our gratitude to you for enlivening our passions and bringing people together to engage in social justice and social action activities. I am sure we’ll will thank you many times for impressing upon us the preciousness of democracy, the need for citizen involvement, and the preciousness of all of Earth’s children, not simply the ones who look like you.

(The preceding message represents my opinion only, and in no way reflects the synagogue for which I work, nor any non-profit organization with which I am affiliated.)

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