I was both shocked and appalled by The Chronicle’s decision to run “Pittsburgher gets national position with John Birch Society” (Feb. 9). The John Birch Society has a long, documented history of racism and anti-Semitism, which the article, for the most part, casually dismisses, apparently, since the Anti-Defamation League classifies it as an “extremist group” only and not specifically as an “anti-Semitic group.” However, the ADL has called out the JBS and its leaders for engaging in anti-Semitic activity, including denying or minimizing the Holocaust, since the 1960s.
The fact that a Jewish periodical would celebrate a recognition bestowed upon a local by a group whose members have espoused hate speech against many, including Jews, is nothing short of mind boggling. While The Chronicle should provide a wide range of views and cover all types of Jewish-related news in our region, it should not be a space to celebrate groups or organizations that, either officially or “unofficially” through the words of their most prominent members, have attacked and demonized Jews for over half a century. Doing so merely serves to “normalize” the JBS and other hate groups at a time when we should be making sure to keep such groups where they belong: on the fringe.
We cannot remain silent
As a member of the Reform movement who believes in the tenets of Judaism, prominently featuring the commandment to help repair the world and to welcome and aid the stranger and the persecuted, I was pleased to read The Chronicle’s “Reform movement’s challenge: protesting Trump and remaining inclusive” (Feb. 17).
We have elected a president who not only is coarse, crude, undignified and unqualified to be our leader, but also has fundamentally changed the character of our nation, embarrassing us on the world stage through consistent demonstrations of his hatred and the ignorance in which he revels. The truth is always a casualty in the “alternative fact” administration, yet many continue to lap up everything that the president says.
There is justifiable fear not only among Americans, particularly our minority populations, but also overseas, given the bluster and chaos that have emanated from this administration, the contradictory and sometimes threatening messages that have been generated toward our allies by the tweeter-in-chief. It is stunning that Donald Trump subordinates have had to reassure foreign leaders that they should not believe what they have heard from the president.
Israel and Jews have no way of knowing whether today’s policies will be tomorrow’s. The president initially indicated that Israel would be given a free hand on settlements and that the American embassy would be swiftly moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now, Trump publicly asks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off on building new settlements and says not that he will move the embassy but that he would like to see it relocated. (I agree with the current Trump positions).
This is a presidency unlike any other, piloted by a man who believes that he is a dictator, one who is unable to accept any criticism or discord without issuing a nuclear-grade response, seeking to denigrate and demolish his opponent.
Years from now, we will be asked what we did to prevent the Trump presidency from rolling over us and stomping on our freedoms. We cannot, we must not, remain silent amid what is being inflicted on us.
Upper Saint Clair