There’s a town of Jewish folklore we all know. It’s had a number of names over the centuries – Schildburg, in the sixteenth century, Poyzn in the nineteenth. Eventually, Chelm. These have all been our city of foolishness.
For some time, I’ve wondered if we have created an American version of this city. It’s a town, though, that is not a mere safe haven for silliness. To be blunt: It’s a city of hate.
A little over a week ago, I realized I was living in this city, and that this city seems to be my native country, actually. I came to this conclusion after the city mayor, a man known as “The Donald,” made another run through Main Street. The Donald is known for running amok through the town, brandishing a weapon called Twitter.
Twitter is quite an effective weapon, actually: It’s fast, furious, and unstoppable.
Using Twitter, The Donald attacked a Muslim family: specifically, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, who died protecting his troops in Iraq in 2004. The attack was heartless and hate-filled.
That’s our town. Hatesville.
I decided to write to other officials of our town, because I wondered if the town’s councilmen and women might feel that the mayor might need to step down, find a nice house in the country, and consider daily meditation to calm his raging nature.
I wrote as a rabbi, a spiritual leader.
Rep. Larry Pittman represents me in the North Carolina legislature. Donald Trump has attacked brave men and women, I wrote. “Why do you not do the right thing and repudiate Donald Trump?” I asked.
I addressed my email: “Dear Representative Pittman.” I signed it, “Rabbi Barbara Thiede.”
Mr. Pittman avoided my title. In fact, he avoided using any sort of address. He wrote: “Trump is not against the American people.”
Hmmm. Maybe Muslims, Americans of Mexican descent, women who don’t fit Mr. Trump’s standards of beauty, and, perhaps, even crying babies are not included among “the American people.” I read on.
“But most of all,” Pittman wrote, “love of God, not God as He is reimagined by those who reject the authority of Scripture, but God as Scripture and personal acquaintance with His Son present Him, and love of country, make it absolutely unthinkable to allow Hillary Clinton anywhere near the White House… I must vote for Trump to save the people of our nation from Hillary.”
Admittedly, from my rabbinic perspective, God is one and all humanity are God’s children. But, if I may say so, many of my closest friends and neighbors here in Cabarrus County have such an acquaintance with the divine as Mr. Pittman describes. They are dear to me and the world because of the goodness and generosity with which they manifest that relationship.
“Are you truly suggesting that a believing Christian can only vote for Donald Trump?” I asked. I signed simply as “Rabbi Barbara,” hoping that a more informal approach might grant me the grace of an address.
No such luck. But Pittman did answer. It turns out that no believing Christian has a “reasonable excuse” for voting for Hillary Clinton. Why? Donald Trump “is the only chance we have to stop a murderous criminal from getting back in power.”
Oy gevalt. The Donald has councilmen supporting him who are clearly with Hatesville.
For centuries, American leaders have been inspired by the Sermon on the Mount to describe our country as a city on the hill, a model of charity and virtue. “These visitors to that city on the Potomac do not come as… Jews or Christians; conservatives or liberals; or Democrats or Republicans. They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still…a shining city on a hill.”
BTW: That was Ronald Reagan.
I think I’d like to move to that city.