Open Thread: Mike Pence (R-Gilead), Chieftain of the ‘Prayer Warriors’

Today, per the NYTimes, “Pence and Ailing Senator Deliver Votes to Block Family Planning Money“:

Senate Republicans, aided by Vice President Mike Pence and an ailing Georgia colleague who hobbled into the Senate chamber on a walker, voted on Thursday to proceed with a measure to undo an Obama administration rule preventing states from blocking funding for family planning clinics that also provide abortions.

The vote was one of a string of showdowns to reverse Obama-era regulations, but this one unfolded with all the drama of numerous past conflicts over abortion funding — with Mr. Pence casting the deciding vote in his role as president of the Senate.

Taking money away from Planned Parenthood has been a longstanding goal of congressional Republicans, but each effort has been blocked by Democrats and President Barack Obama.

Even full control of Washington by Republicans has not made the process easy…

In case anyone was wondering about the ‘Mike Pence is suuuper weird devoutly religious, you guys!’ articles earlier this week — now you know. The GOP was signalling to its Talibangelical base: Pay no attention the foul-mouthed Commie-loving free-spender in the Oval Office; when push comes to shove, Our Man Mike will cast the deciding vote against slutty women, uppity browns, and every other unsettling social development since 1956.

From the Washington Post, “Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield“:

Friends and aides… say she is the Pence family “prayer warrior,” a woman so inextricably bound to her husband that even then-candidate Trump understood her importance and consulted her in critical campaign moments…

The Pences were married in a Roman Catholic church in 1985 but later became evangelical Christians.

In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.

Supporters and critics alike cite her as a force behind her husband’s socially conservative stances, including his opposition to gay marriage and the religious freedom law he signed as governor of Indiana, which opponents worried would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians by citing religious concerns.
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Open Thread: Professional ‘Christians’, Whited Sepulcher Edition

Let it not be forgotten — Erick ‘Voice of the GOP Gated Community’ Erickson is studying for a theology degree. He knows his interpretation is the very opposite of what his professed Messiah preached, but he knows even better that the GOP leaders he’s sucking up to worship Ayn Rand a lot more fervently than that antique domestic terrorist Yeshuah ben Joseph. Nick Kristoff, in the NYTimes:

Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”

They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”

“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”

Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.

“Why, they can pray for a cure,” Pious Paul explained. “I call that universal health care access.”…


Read more



Today In Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Insufficient Responses

For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.President Washington’s Letter to the Jewish Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island

In yesterday’s post on this subject I referenced that 98 US Senators had signed onto a letter decrying anti-Semitism.

Today all 100 Senators have now signed on.

Yesterday White House Spokesman Sean Spicer made the following statement at his press conference:

“I want to acknowledge that there’s been an additional wave of threats to Jewish community centers and Anti-Defamation League offices,” Spicer told reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“I share the president’s thoughts that he vehemently hopes that we don’t continue to have to share these reports with you. But as long as they do continue, we’ll continue to condemn them and look at ways in which we can stop them,” he said.

Today the Jewish Community Center Association of North America called on Attorney General Sessions to:

“We are frustrated with the progress in resolving this situation,” the letter reads in part. “We insist that all relevant federal agencies, including your own, apply all the resources available to identify and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators, who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in communities across the country, to justice.”

“JCCs have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past several weeks, relying on long-practiced measures to ensure that we can safely and effectively serve communities across the continent. We will not allow anti-Semitism to get in the way of our providing our invaluable programs, and we urge Attorney General Sessions to be an even stronger partner to us.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

While the letter signed by all 100 Senators, Democratic and Republican, and the White House statement are appropriate, they are, frankly, insufficient. They are insufficient because this is not just an issue of harassment and violence directed at Jewish Americans. There has been an increase in attacks against religious and ethnic minorities, as well as LGBTQ Americans of all religions and ethnicities since the election. Churches with predominantly Hispanic and LatinX or immigrant congregants are being targeted. As we’ve documented here several times, Indian Americans – whether Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian – are being targeted. LGBTQ Americans are being targeted.

A man shouting antigay slurs attacked two men at a restaurant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York City in the early morning hours on Sunday, leaving one man stabbed and the other with a slashed face.

Gothamist said that police are looking for the suspect, whose face was briefly caught on surveillance video before he attacked the other men and fled.

The New York City Police Department said that the unidentified suspect entered Crown Fried Chicken at about 5 a.m. on Sunday and attacked a 34-year-old man with “a cutting instrument” while shouting antigay slurs.

After slashing the man’s face, the suspect stabbed a second man in the torso and slashed his shoulder, still hurling insults and homophobic invective.

Here’s the surveillance video (does not include violence) of the alleged perpetrator (h/t RawStory)

The response is also insufficient because the only significant change over the past several months is the election and inauguration of the President. There hasn’t been a spike in unemployment. The stock market hasn’t crashed. There hasn’t been a major national disaster with effects that could possibly be correlated with these incidents. There hasn’t been a foreign inspired/orchestrated attack on Americans within the US. The US and its coalition partners are winning the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Every possible indicator we would even conceivably consider as an explanatory variable to explain the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and to be very precise in the terminology, domestic terrorism* is the election and the inauguration.

Now I want to be very, very, very, very clear: I am not accusing the President of being an anti-Semite. Or a racist. Or anti-Muslim. Or a bigot of any kind. And that’s why the letter signed by all 100 Senators and Sean Spicer’s statements are insufficient. It is insufficient because it doesn’t matter at all whether the President or anyone who works for him and with him are any of these things. The leadership and much of the membership of the various Klan, neo-NAZI, white supremacist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim (Islamophobic), anti-immigrant (legal and/or undocumented) groups and organizations have all come out in support of the President and his agenda. Many of them, both leaders and members, have stated that the President’s message speaks directly to them. That he has been the biggest boon to their recruiting and activities in decades. That what he says and what he is proposing doing/is doing is what they both think needs to be done and what they want to see done in the US.

It is this sad, unfortunate reality that makes the official Senatorial and Administration responses insufficient. A sufficient response would include the President giving a prime time address denouncing all of the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism* directed at American religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and visitors to America in no uncertain terms. Additionally he should make it clear in such an address that these types of activities are un-American and are intolerable to Americans of good conscience regardless of political party affiliation, ideology, religion, and ethnicity. Finally, he should create a Federal Law Enforcement Task Force to investigate and prosecute the sharp increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism since his election and inauguration. This would be sufficient. Every other response is simply fluff.

* Domestic terrorism is defined in 18 U.S. Code § 2331. The relevant part has been emphasized.

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
(Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)

 

 



Today, Last Friday, and Every Day in Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence

The weekly bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and the Anti-Defamation League is now back to Tuesdays.

The Anti-Defamation League says it received bomb threats at four of its offices Tuesday, the same day more Jewish Community Centers across the country were also targeted in a new round of threats.

The JCC Association of North America also released a statement, saying “several JCCs have received either emailed or phoned-in bomb threats overnight and this morning.”

This lovely fellow was arrested over the weekend for vandalizing a synagogue.* He’d also, apparently, upset quite a few people at a church with a primarily Hispanic congregation earlier in the year.

Another Sikh-American was targeted and shot last Friday because he was mistaken for being Muslim.

Kent police are searching for a gunman they say opened fire in the East Hill neighborhood.

Officers say the victim, a 39-year-old Sikh man, was in his driveway working on his car Friday around 8 p.m. when another man approached him and began yelling, “Go back to your own country.”

Police say the victim was shot in the arm. Authorities expect the man will make a full recovery.

The shooting suspect is a white male about 6 feet tall. Police say the man has a stocky build and was seen in dark clothing and a mask covering the lower half of his face.

Detectives are investigating. The FBI is also involved in investigation the possible hate crime.

Also last Friday another Indian-American, Harnish Patel, was shot dead in Lancaster, SC.

Patel was the owner of a Speedee Mart and was targeted on his way home. It is unclear from the reporting at this time if this was a robbery-homicide or if Mr. Patel was targeted because of his ethnicity.

Patel was the owner of the Speedee Mart on Pageland Highway.

Police said that he closed his store and left in his Toyota minivan at 11:24 p.m. Thursday.

Investigators believe he drove from the store directly home, where he was confronted by his killer when he got out of the vehicle.

Authorities have not made any arrests but are urging people to come forward.

“We ask anyone with information he or she thinks might be related to this incident in any way to please contact us,” said Sheriff Barry Faile.  “If you saw anything at the store, in the area of Craig Manor Road, or anywhere in between, let us know.  Even if you think it is not important, it could be the lead that solves this case.”

Anyone with information about this or any other case should call the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 283-3388 or email Crimestoppers.

Mr. Patel is survived by a wife and young child.

And it is important to remember, despite the fact that the anti-Semitic incidents, and, of course, those involving physical attacks, injuries, murders, and significant property damage, get a lot of press and coverage, we definitely need to keep in mind that every day in the US is today in anti-Muslim domestic terrorism and stochastic violence.

Most Americans don’t actually know any Muslims — at least, not personally.

More than 6 in 10 have seldom or never had a conversation with a Muslim, according to a study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Most Americans also say they know little (57%) or nothing at all (26%) about Islam.
Those numbers have barely budged in 30 years, even after 9/11, two American-led wars in Muslim-majority countries, local and national outreach campaigns by Muslim mosques and organizations, dozens of terrorist attacks worldwide, high-profile congressional hearings and copious media coverage of Islam. All of which suggests that Americans are not just widely ignorant about Islam and Muslims, they are also oddly incurious.
Muslims have been shot and killed, execution-style, in their living rooms and outside of their mosques. They have been fatally stabbed on their way home. They have been beaten in their stores, in their schools and on the streets. They have been kicked off airplanes, egged outside Walmart, scorched with hot coffee in a park, shot in cabs and punched while pushing their children in strollers. Their clothes have been set on fire and their children have been bullied. Men have come to their door and told them that they would burn down their house if they did not move away. They have been fired for wearing hijabs and for praying. They have seen their cemeteries vandalized and their Quran desecrated. A Muslim congressman has received death threats, and business owners have posted signs advertising “Muslim-free zones.
Heavily armed men have protested outside mosques in Texas and Arizona, arguing that it’s their patriotic duty to protect the country from Islam.
People have covered the doors of a mosque with feces and torn pages of the Quran, left a severed pig’s head outside a mosque, firebombed mosques, urinated on mosques, spray-painted the Star of David and satanic symbols on mosques, carved swastikas and crude drawings of penises into signs at mosques, set fire to mosques, threatened to blow up mosques and kill “you Muslim f****,” fired rounds from high-powered rifles into mosques, wrapped bacon around the door handles of mosques, left hoax bombs and fake grenades at mosques, threatened to decapitate congregants at mosques, sent suspicious substances to mosques, written notes saying, “We hate you,”“We will burn all of you” and “Leave our country” to mosques, rammed a tractor-trailer into a mosque, thrown bricks and stones through the windows of mosques, pelted Muslims with rocks as they left mosques and stood outside mosques shouting, “How many of you Muslims are terrorists?”
American Muslims have been told that a mosque, unlike churches and synagogues, cannot serve as an election polling station. Dozens of communities have fought to keep Muslims from building mosques in their neighborhoods, sometimes threatening violence.
From 2001 to 2015, there were 2,545 anti-Islamic incidents targeting 3,052 Muslims, according to the FBI. Last year, anti-Muslim hate times surged 67%, reaching a level of violence not seen since the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and many Muslims believe hate crimes are underreported by victims and not pursued vigorously by police and prosecutors. This year, the FBI has begun counting anti-Arab incidents as well.
Much more excellent reporting by Daniel Burke at the link.

Here’s the link to the FBI’s 2015 Hate Crime Statistics information, which also captures the increase in anti-Muslim hate groups and actions. The 2016 has not yet been finalized.

In February I wrote that this is:

…an ongoing, coordinated campaign of terrorism. The point is to make the children attending these schools be afraid to go to school. It is to make their parents afraid to send them. And to make the teachers, administrators, and other staff afraid to go to work. It is intended to coerce all of these people, as well as members of the wider Jewish American community and the communities of other religious and ethnic minorities in the US. It is also intended to coerce and intimidate the neighbors, commercial or residential, of these institutions to demand they relocate in order to minimize the threat to themselves.

It is important to add that the campaigns of violence directed against Muslim-Americans, including the attempts to prevent them from opening new mosques or cemeteries or expanding existing ones is particularly dangerous. It is dangerous because the perpetrators can’t tell the difference between Americans of Arab, Iranian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Sinhalese/Sri Lankan, or Tamil (of Indian or Sri Lankan origin) descent, and other Americans of color and just assume they are all Muslims. This results in attacks on Americans who are Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or any other religion they may identify with. The anti-Muslim animus among non Muslim-Americans is particularly dangerous because those who have it are not only ignorant about Islam and Muslims, they’re ignorant about Americans who are of North African, Horn of African, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and Southeast Asian descent. The ignorance of the attackers increases the potential target populations. And these actions – both the physically violent and the non-physically violent – contribute to the ever present, ongoing, low level campaign of domestic terrorism and stochastic violence against the members of these communities.

And here too, as is the case with the attacks on the Jewish Community Centers and synagogues and Jewish-American organizations, the intention is to intimidate and coerce the victimized population to either change their behavior or leave. It is also intended to intimidate and coerce the larger American citizenry to take action against the victims. To push them to demonstrate against them because they are perceived as a threat or because by being targets they increase the likelihood of an attack. To rezone areas so mosques, community centers, and cemeteries cannot be built – again because they are a threat or because by existing they increase the threat profile within the community. To make Muslim Americans, and those mistaken for them, feel unwelcome in their homes, businesses, places of work, and places of recreation. To collapse the public into the private – destroying the Grey Zone, the civil space of American life – and then deny the victims and potential victims even the private portions of their lives as refuge. So that they feel unsafe in public and unsafe at home. To deny them any safe havens or respite.**

And while this is a good start, it does not go far enough.

This needs to be broadened to include anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh, anti-Indian American, anti-Arab American, anti-Pakistani American, anti-Hispanic American, anti-African American, anti-LGBTQ American, and any other at risk demographic. And they have to put the power of the public purse where their mouths are. They have to introduce and pass legislation that prohibits DHS from turning its Task Force on Violent Extremism into a Task Force on Countering Islamic Extremism or Radical Islamic Extremism. And to fix its problems and expand its scope, not narrow them in the pursuit of an ideologically incorrect agenda.

As always, we leave the last word to 18 U.S. Code § 2331, highlighting the relevant part:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
(Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)
* I wonder if jackboots are deductible?
** This is also the purpose of the changes in immigration enforcement activity that have been reported over the past several weeks. Including actions taken against US citizens and legal permanent residents simply moving about the US. Though given that it is being directed by the state against the citizenry and non-citizen population, using the power of the state, it is state terror, rather than terrorism.


Today In Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Copycat Edition

I just wanted to take a quick moment and follow up on BettyC’s post from earlier. My initial thoughts have now been confirmed. Pete Williams, NBC’s justice correspondent, is reporting:

It is important that they were able to make this arrest and to do so fairly quickly. It is important because 1) it gets a clear copycat who was using the threatening calls for his own purposes – to harass his ex girlfriend – out of the equation and 2) it demonstrates that the threatening calls are being taken seriously and a proper investigation is being done. But it also shows that these investigations aren’t easy. As I wrote back in February, the person making the threats:

…may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology.

For instance, back in early 2016 a number of bomb threats were made against churches in Boston.

The rash of emailed bomb threats targeting local schools appears to have originated in Russia.

Many high schools in Massachusetts have received emailed threats throughout this year Schools in three Rhode Island cities got similar threats last week.

Police in Rhode Island said the emails have been traced to St. Petersburg, Russia. The emails were generated by automated robo-calling programs.

So far, Russian authorities are not cooperating with the investigation.

The alleged perpetrators weren’t in the US, they were in Russia ( 🤔 ), and they used an automated robo-calling program. These programs have become a scourge as it makes it easy for someone to just spam email or inundate cell phones with calls. It makes it easy to engage in activities from the annoying to the dangerous. It was reported yesterday that investigators have indicated that spoofing technology was being used and that it is making the investigation more difficult:

The latest bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the U.S. were reportedly carried out using “spoofing,” technology that makes a call appear like it’s coming from a “friendly” or known source, while in fact it is not.

The threats came in the form of prerecorded “robo-calls” in some cases and live calls in others. In both types, the callers used voice disguising technology. Experts believe the calls are coming from a single source, though the phone numbers have were made undetectable. Thus far, no actual bombs or other signs of a physical threat have been found at any of the locations.

By removing Thompson from the equation, the Federal investigators have removed some of the extraneous noise, which will allow them to more accurately identify the signals or signals they’re looking for. Unfortunately today’s arrest will not end these threats and they may actually cause an escalation. The perpetrator or perpetrators of the majority of these calls (not Thompson) may feel that they’ve had their publicity stolen or have had their motives and reasons, and therefore the credibility (in their eyes) of their actions called into question by Thompson piggybacking on their efforts to harass his ex girlfriend. If this is the case I would expect to see an escalation in the frequency of the calls, to include making them on the Jewish sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and Jewish holidays (Purim is a week from today), not just on a Monday or a Tuesday, and/or an actual physical attack at some point – more vandalism or attacks on Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and/or other Jewish institutions.

This will likely get worse before it gets better. It is important to remember that these threats, Mr. Thompson’s dangerous shenanigans aside, are:

…an ongoing, coordinated campaign of terrorism. The point is to make the children attending these schools be afraid to go to school. It is to make their parents afraid to send them. And to make the teachers, administrators, and other staff afraid to go to work. It is intended to coerce all of these people, as well as members of the wider Jewish American community and the communities of other religious and ethnic minorities in the US. It is also intended to coerce and intimidate the neighbors, commercial or residential, of these institutions to demand they relocate in order to minimize the threat to themselves.

The good news is that communities are pulling together, specifically the Jewish American and Muslim American communities. In the case of the former, Jewish Americans have both offered the use of their synagogues to Muslim Americans that have had their mosques burned down and/or raised funds to repair them.

The Muslim man who started a crowdfunding page to help repair a mosque in Tampa damaged in an arson attack realized that many of the donors were Jewish after noticing the gifts came in multiples of 18.

Karim’s campaign raised nearly $60,000 in less than a week, surpassing its $40,000 goal.

“I couldn’t understand why people were donating in what seemed like weird amounts to the cause. There are sums of 18, 36, 72.00 dollars etc. then I figured out after clicking on the names Avi, Cohen, Gold-stein, Rubin, Fisher…. Jews donate in multiples of 18 as a form of what is called “Chai”. It wishes the recipient a long life,” Karim wrote Monday in a Facebook post.

“You learn something new every day. The Jewish faith has shown up in force to support our New Tampa Islamic community. I’m floored,” the post continued. It concluded with the hashtag #chaidelieverd.

And Muslim American veterans have offered to protect Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.

Stay frosty!



Today in Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Your Weekly Jewish Community Bomb Threats

We appear to have entered a period of a campaign of terror against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish day schools, and synagogues across the US. The first few weeks the threats were called in on Tuesdays. Last week it switched to Monday.

This is on top of a bomb threat being called into the Anti-Defamation League.

As I wrote last week:

Here’s what I think the security issues are going forward:

1) We’ve got some knucklehead who gets his gratification calling these in and seeing the news coverage. He may or may not be a hard core anti-Semite, but he’s basically in it for ego gratification. And based on decades of criminological research into deviance, delinquency, and offending, it is highly likely it is a he. So step up your game ladies! He may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology. And he may never intend to do anything but make these calls.

2) Or he intends to eventually escalate. Specifically after he feels that he has made enough of these, or other copycats have, to create a sense of complacency for the folks at the JCCs and synagogues. Basically emergency alert fatigue. At that point he actually plants a bomb at one of these locations because he figures he’s got a reasonable expectation of casualties because the threats have become commonplace and are no longer being taken seriously.

3) Or, even worse, he never originally intended to escalate, but because the threats have become commonplace the coverage drops way off. He doesn’t get his gratification and as a result escalates in order to get his rush. Basic addictive behavior pattern. Also, serial criminal pattern.

4) Or, also even worse, he never intends to escalate beyond calling in the threats, but someone else who does want to do real, physical damage to property and harm to people does. This individual or individuals waits until the coverage begins to drop off because the calls are every week or every other week like clockwork and the local news decides it needs to cover something more important. And then this person that wants to cause real harm and actually hurt people decides its time to strike because complacency has set in and some synagogue or JCC isn’t going to take the threat as seriously.

And I fully expect that this pattern will at some point be fully extended to mosques and Hispanic and Asian churches, as well as Sikh temples. I know that the Hispanic and Asian churches in my area have seen an increase in both vandalism and threats, just as the synagogues and mosques have, because they are viewed as immigrant places (of worship) and therefore acceptable targets despite being churches.

I think it is also very important to point out and recognize that one of the targets of this campaign of terror are children.

While no one has been physically hurt so far as a result of these threats and the vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, this is now an ongoing, coordinated campaign of terrorism. The point is to make the children attending these schools be afraid to go to school. It is to make their parents afraid to send them. And to make the teachers, administrators, and other staff afraid to go to work. It is intended to coerce all of these people, as well as members of the wider Jewish American community and the communities of other religious and ethnic minorities in the US. It is also intended to coerce and intimidate the neighbors, commercial or residential, of these institutions to demand they relocate in order to minimize the threat to themselves.

As Chemi Shalev wrote today in Haaretz:

What’s even more dismaying is the fact that Trump is being buoyed by a cadre of enablers and apologists, many of them Jews, who are doing their best to make light of the attacks, to ridicule the growing Jewish apprehension and to absolve Trump of any complicity in the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment. The arguments of these Trump apologists are multilayered:  A. Anti-Semitism isn’t growing; B. If it is, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump; and C. Where were you when Obama was president and anti-Semitism was almost official state policy?

All three claims are pathetically nonsensical. If anyone can come up with a precedent in the past few decades for over 50 JCCs being evacuated over the course of a few weeks because of repeated bomb threats, two large scale desecrations of Jewish cemeteries and a flood of anecdotal evidence of widespread harassment of Jews in public schools, please do. Definitive statistics are unavailable, awaiting an official determination by the police and FBI about the exact nature of each and every incident, but one would think that warnings by Jewish leaders all across the country, including unaffiliated federation leaders, would at least give Trump’s defenders pause. Do they believe that everyone is in on some left-wing conspiracy to inflate anti-Semitism? Have Jews been consumed by mass hysteria?

As for Trump’s culpability, well, give me a break. Of course it’s hard to pinpoint any direct link between the president and the outburst of animosity towards Jews and no one is claiming that he has any interest whatsoever in seeing anti-Semitism rise. But there is abundant evidence to suggest that the president has been playing with anti-Semitic fire ever since his presidential campaign started in mid-2015. He has been sending subliminal signals to those who would do Jews harm, using well-worn dog whistles even if he doesn’t intend to, and stubbornly refusing to forthrightly project his abhorrence of anti-Semitic incidents.

The list of such messages and gestures is long and well known by now, including Trump’s own stereotypical depiction of Jews in his appearance last year before the Republican Jewish Coalition, his use of the phrase America First, his refusal to disavow the blatantly anti-Semitic imagery of Hillary Clinton with dollars and a six pointed star behind her, and that’s before we even mention his continuing flirtation with white nationalism and supremacism. And despite all the explanations and justifications, the White House omission of Jews from its Holocaust Day announcement and its steadfast refusal to back down, even when apprised of the anguish they caused Jews and the jubilation they sparked among anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, remains inexplicable and inexcusable. (much more at the link)

We will once again leave the last word to 18 U.S. Code § 2331, highlighting the relevant part:

(5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B)appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
(Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)

 



Today In Be Careful What You Wish For: Not So Strange Bedfellows Edition II

Shortly after the election the American Jewish Congress and the Islamic Society of North America formally entered into a civil rights protection and promotion and civil society defense agreement. Today, in response to yesterday’s violence and vandalism at St. Louis’s Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, Linda Sarsour and Tarik El-Messidi have started a fundraising campaign to help repair the damage done.

You may remember Linda Sarsour, the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, as one of the co-chairs for the Women’s March. Tarik El-Messidi is the founder of Celebrate Mercy, an educational outreach program intended to inform both Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammed.

So well done currently unknown dickheads and domestic terrorists – your stupidity has just drawn Muslim and Jewish Americans closer together. Give yourselves a round of applause for achieving exactly the opposite of what you intended to achieve: to scare Americans of different faiths and ethnicities in order to drive them apart and make them easier to prey upon in the future. Morons!