“Today I am a Muslim. This country sent away my people, the Jews, and they were slaughtered in concentration camps. Stop the hate! Remember the SS St. Louis.
Unite children of Abraham!”
My brother posted this cry on his FB page early Tuesday morning. When my own clock radio roused me with the news of Donald Trump’s so-called proposal to ban all Muslims, I felt a similar outrage.
As I listened all day to denunciations of the candidate, analysis of the impact on the presidential campaign, and Gov. Baker’s characterization of the proposal “ridiculous,” I appreciated the swift condemnations. But my brother’s post brought home a reality that goes beyond any one candidate, beyond decrying hatred and beyond flimsy dismissals.
Trump is no longer a joke. He is not ridiculous. He inflames the basest tendencies of humanity: anger and hatred. His unreflective, unrepentant rhetoric validates evil. His words encourage white supremacy, extremism and violence.
Even if he is defeated in the polls, Trump has given voice to a dangerous element in American society. With his words, he has unleashed a destructive force that even he cannot stop. Even if he never explicitly encourages violence, his words condone it. Innocent Muslims and immigrants have already been attacked. Who will be next?
More disturbing is that we cannot pin responsibility on one candidate alone. Trump’s ideas would have no impact without the fertile ground of divisiveness cultivated by others. Irresponsible pundits and candidates have polluted political discourse with toxic statements of their own. While they attempt to distance themselves from his inflammatory speech, their own docile espousal of similar sentiments have made Trump’s words acceptable.
Tonight is the fifth night of Hanukkah, and today is also International Human Rights Day. Today is the day for us to remember the best of what is means to be human and to work to overcome the worst evil in the human heart.
It is up to us to work to implement the ideals espoused in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When we light our candles, we must dedicate ourselves to bring more light into a world that seems darker every day. It is up to us—Aleinu—to stand up, to speak out, and to act with love in order to overcome the power of evil.
Today I am a Muslim. Today I am an immigrant. Today I am a refugee.
Today I am also an advocate for truth, compassion, repentance, equity, and justice.
I can’t do this alone. Join me. It is up to us.
I was proud of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston (JCRC) to issue this statement condemning incendiary language against Muslims.