Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Politics of Hate



I tend to stay out of the political fray when it comes to Social Media. As a rabbi, I have congregants of all political persuasions, and I tend to stick primarily to issues viewed through a Jewish lens rather than focus on candidates. However recent events have reminded me of what transpired eighty plus years ago when a hate monger targeted a small minority and rallied his nation against them. The end result was the murder of six million Jews along with five million other undesirables including those who were gay, disabled, and/or political rivals. 

Not that I like making Holocaust comparisons in modern politics because I am incredibly leery of diminishing the memories of all those who were murdered for simply being who they were. That being said, I feel, what we are seeing today is something that is reminiscent of Jewish history. There is a particular candidate to be the next President of the United States who is using similar language and scare tactics to help his rise in the polls. Donald Trump's rise in popularity due to his continued verbal assault on Mexicans, women, the disabled, and now Muslims demands a response.

So far I have been silent. But in my silence I was reminded of the words of Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor and outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I will no longer be silent. This is not politics. This is hate. And hate has no place in place in our political discourse. Hate only breeds hate. And I am greatly saddened that this man has risen to such popular levels in this country. I for one will speak out because I am afraid for what it says about the soul of our nation.

Let us turn away from the politics of xenophobia and hate and return to the politics of solving problems. Our country faces many challenges both internal and external. We may not agree on how to take them on, but we must not take the easy path of giving into fear and hate. Because hate truly is, in the wise words of Yoda, "the path to the Dark Side."