MADISON, Wis. - President Donald Trump has a unique way of trying to woo Jewish voters to Republican ranks.
“The country is full,” the president told the Republican Jewish Coalition last weekend, adding that the nation’s laws guaranteeing asylum to those fleeing persecution are a “scam.”
We’ve heard that message before. In 1939, for example, a ship carrying Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution came to America and we turned it away. Our country was full. We had no room for Jewish immigrants.
The president in 1939 was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was also president when the country moved Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast and seized their property. This is not a partisan matter.
And, perhaps, the president is right; perhaps he will be able to woo Jewish voters by sneering refugees and suggesting implicitly that America will be “great again” by repressing minority groups.
Perhaps he is right. It does seem sometime that nothing counts anymore.
But one of two things is true: Either the president is ignorant of the fact that a great part of Jewish history is defined by its refugee status – beginning symbolically at the time that Joseph became a counselor to the Pharaoh and welcomed his family to Egypt and continuing through periods of banishment and exile right up to the present, or the president is hoping to corrupt Jewish moral standards by convincing Jews to abandon their championship of the poor and the outcast.
I would bet on ignorance, since the president seems to have an abundance of that quality.
But you can’t overestimate the degree to which Trump compromises the integrity of those he purports to champion.
A good part of the Evangelical movement of the Christian church, most specifically, the white part, is proclaiming to anyone who will listen that the president has been sent from God to right this country’s moral wrongs.
One might think that a politician who paid hush money to a porn star with whom he had an affair while his wife was home with their young son, who lies about everything and who boasts of his great wealth but does not belong to any church that we know of might be a strange champion of conservative moral values. But his biggest supporters are those who warn the rest of us we deserve hell.
The Republican Party once paid at least lip service to the values of balanced budgets, responsible spending and limited government. How’s that going for them?
And leaders of his administration come to work with good reputations and leave debased.
Still, mocking refugees doesn’t seem like a particularly good way of appealing to Jewish voters.
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