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For Jews (And All Of Us), This Election Is A “Then They Came For Me” Moment

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Donald Trump Should Be Judged By The Anti-Semitic, And Otherwise Deplorable, Company He Keeps

There’s an old saying that a man is known by the company he keeps. Try as we might, we’re often defined by the people who surround us. We’ve all had moments growing up where we’ve chosen the wrong friends or found ourselves in the wrong crowd. For whatever reason, many of us are drawn to people who don’t help us to become our best selves. Some of us outgrow that need quickly while others take a bit more time. 

Donald Trump needs more time. 

A few months ago I wrote about the scary familiarity of Donald Trump’s rhetoric. His words and his policies sparked all kinds of comparisons to despotic world leaders of past days. At the time, we thought we were making hyperbolic statements to prove a point. In hindsight, that seems quaint.  

If you’ve been anywhere near Twitter these days, you’ve seen the anti-Semitic tweets that many Jewish reporters have gotten after covering the Trump campaign. They’re sending us email, they’re tracking us down, and they’re not letting go. 

Trump is incredibly popular with anti-Semitic people. He loves their attention. He even likes to make coded anti-Semitic statements himself and somehow wound up participating in some odd display of cultural appropriation while at a church.

It’s certainly not helping that Trump’s own son is helping bring most of these folks into the mainstream. (You’ll remember his gas chamber/Holocaust “joke” from the other week and of course his offensive Skittles analogy.)

It’s not hard to draw conclusions between these Trump supporters and Trump himself. It would be one thing if he were actively working to stop their influence and deny their legitimacy, but that’s exactly the opposite of what’s happening. Trump is playing right into their hands and he’s allowing their messages to move into the mainstream. 

This is the company he keeps.

I’m certainly not the only one to see it. Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a national Jewish organization aimed at “bringing together Jews from across the country to advocate for a more just and equal society,” has been working on a campaign called, “We’ve Seen This Before.”  

Among the centerpieces of the campaign is this video, “A Message from Grandma and Grandpa”:

In any other case, I’d agree with the many who say that a political candidate has no control over what his followers say and do. Yes, there are many folks who follow liberal politicians who are atrocious and disgusting. But here’s the difference: They’re usually the fringe. They’re the outsiders. They’re the folks who are so removed from the mainstream it’s beyond obvious they’re not worth noticing.

And it’s not like these folks are simply being acknowledged and disavowed — on the contrary, they’re being elevated by those in the innermost circle of the Trump campaign, like his chief advisor — who’s also his son. 

As long as Trump and his campaign continue to lift up these voices instead of working to tamp them down, a vote for Trump is a vote for anti-Semitism, in addition to many other bad things.

The news isn’t all bad, though. Longtime GOP-supporting Jews are backing (running?) away from Trump because of his distaste for religious liberty and his racism. FiveThirtyEight reports that the GOP’s Jewish donors are abandoning Trump.  

But it’s not enough for just the Jews to walk away — just like it’s not enough for any one group that’s being attacked to fight back. This is one of those times where what’s bad for some of us is bad for all of us. This is a “then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me” moment.

If a man is known by the company he keeps, then it’s not only true for Donald Trump, it’s true for all of us. Our vote is how we decide the company we keep. Donald Trump has shown us exactly who he is. It’s up to us to decide how we want to be known. 

Robbie Medwed is an Atlanta-based LGBT activist and educator. (He’s also one of them Jew-boys the people on Twitter like to harass so much.) You can harass him, too: @rjmedwed

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Boldly Ignorant’ Ted Cruz Slammed by Retired NYPD Detective for His Suggestions to Protect Kids

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Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” a retired NYPD detective expressed disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over his attempts to dismiss the idea of new gun laws to protect children in schools and instead is insisting America needs to turn schools into fortresses.

In interviews and appearing at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, Cruz has vociferously disregarded the easy availability of high-powered weapons and instead focused on a door that was left open at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.

After host Phang shared a clip of the Texas Republican making his case, she asked former law enforcement detective Marq Claxton his thoughts on what Cruz was proposing.

Calling the controversial senator “boldly ignorant,” he proceeded to rip Cruz’s proposal apart.

“Marq, I was a prosecutor for half my career, I never prosecuted somebody for leaving a door open. How absurd is this proposal by Ted Cruz that the solution is to make sure that we don’t have too many doors at our schools?” host Phang asked.

“Ted Cruz’s statements were boldly ignorant and dismissive of the clear obvious danger that is faced by so many people in society because of the prevalence of violence and gun violence in particular,” he replied. “It really shows just how so many political electeds lack the fortitude to move forward and do the right thing: save lives.”

“Instead of sloganeering, Mr. Cruz and his other elected colleagues really should be working on legislation that provides, or minimizes the risk of damage, and could quite possibly and probably save lives,” he continued. “That is some additional gun restrictions, some background checks, there are other things that are out there that will undoubtedly be effective and save lives, and prevent these gun violence deaths.”

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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‘Taking Us All for Fools’: Critics Decimate Greg Abbott’s Claims and Defense of His Actions in Wake of School Shooting

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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in a press conference that left reporters frustrated defended his actions and insisted his earlier praise for law enforcement’s widely criticized response to the Uvalde school massacre was the result of being “misled.”

“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott declared, blaming others for his “recitation of what people in that room told me.”

Critics aren’t buying his claims.

Abbott, who’s in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, appeared extremely defensive when reporters asked him questions.

“Let’s be clear about one thing. None of the laws I signed this past session had any intersection with this crime at all,” Abbott told reporters when asked if he would call the legislature back for a special session, as The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan noted.

“No law that I signed allowed him to get a gun,” Abbott insisted.

“The answers fell pretty flat,” opined MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who noted the press event lasted just 36 minutes, less time than the police officers “stood outside and did nothing,” which was 47 minutes.

Abbott ended the press conference with many reporters almost begging him to take more questions. As the governor left one frustrated reporter was caught on a hot mic saying “unbelievable.”

Chan, who is the editor in chief of the Tribune, added on Twitter: “Abbott rejects background checks as a simplistic and ineffective fix. Wouldn’t have prevented Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe shootings, he says. Tries to turn focus to broken mental health system.”

Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC delivered a strong rebuke to Governor Abbott’s remarks.

“No amount of free flights, no amount of free caskets, no amount of mental health counseling is going to bring back any one of those murdered children,” Figliuzzi said, referring to Abbott’s announcement an anonymous donor is putting up  $175,000 for funeral expenses of those who were murdered in the shooting and said the state will pay for mental health treatment.

Abbott also insisted that since Texas became a state it’s been legal for 18-year-olds to buy long guns.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, blasted Abbott:

And long guns of today, as Figliuzzi noted, are often semi-automatic “killing machines.”

“The governor seems completely unable to understand that he can easily make a distinction when you’re talking about whether an 18-year-old should buy an assault rifle or not. And all he cares about is a century of history in Texas on long guns. We didn’t have the AR-15 style assault weapons back then.  He can easily make a distinction and say, ‘you can go hunting, here are the rifles you can do, you can buy, you can possess – and here’s an assault-style rifle.'”

“If he thinks that people are stupid and unable to understand that there is a clear distinction between a killing machine and a hunting rifle, that he’s taking us all for fools.”

 

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‘I Apologize for Interrupting Your Press Conference’: Tearful Texas Democrat Urges Greg Abbott to ‘Do Something’ on Guns

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The Texas Democratic State Senator who represents Uvalde stood up during Greg Abbott’s Friday afternoon press conference and almost begged the Republican Governor to “do something” about gun violence after Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School that took 21 lives.

Abbott was trying to place the blame for the school shooting on mental health despite the gunman having no documented issues, and told attendees, “we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”

That was not good enough for Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who politely introduced himself and said, “I’m not making a political speech.”

“My colleagues are asking for a special session, you’re getting a letter tomorrow,” from the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“We’ve asked for gun control changes – I’m asking you now, bring us back in three weeks.”

Gutierrez grew emotional, sounding as if he was choking up, and added, “I apologize for interrupting your press conference about the needs of this community. I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials – this county judge has been working his ass off,” he continued.

“I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to,” he added.

“You have to do something, man,” Gutierrez said, all but begging the governor to take action, and saying his “own colleagues are calling me and telling me this is enough.”

Watch:

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