The tide of hate and the man in the White House
Before Shabbat began Friday night, a Donald Trump superfan had been arrested for a failed domestic terrorism spree against the President’s favorite rhetorical targets.
Trump refused to take any blame for inspiring alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc’s actions and gave a speech in the East Room of the White House in which he called out “globalists” for “cheating our workers.”
Advertisement A fan in the crowd got exactly what the President meant and shouted “Soros.”
You know George Soros is the billionaire who’d been targeted by Sayoc and blamed by many on the right for everything from the protests against Brett Kavanaugh to the overhyped “caravan” of asylum seekers that’s still close to the Equator than it is to the U.S. border.
Another Trump fan shouted, “Lock him up!”
Trump chuckled and said under his breath, “Lock him up.”
Before Shabbat was over, a gunman had killed several members of the congregation and three police officers were killed inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, on the morning of a baby’s bris.
The killer reportedly shouted, “All these Jews must die.”
The President responded to this horror with the NRA-approved pabulum, “If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a much different situation.”
This attempt to blame the congregation for not defending themselves isn’t inventive, but it ignores the fact that when cops arrived, they too were shot.
It’s clear what Trump is saying that it would be better to fill our houses of worship with guns than to take any steps to reduce their availability or reduce the volume of rising hate against all minorities that has seen a historic anti-Semitic hate, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Michael Eisenberg, an immediate past president of the Tree of Life temple, said lives were saved because of active shooter training and exit doors designed for evacuation at the suggestion of the Department of Homeland Security.
It was almost impossible to visit the temple where I trained for my Bar Mitzvah in the mid-80s without seeing a Holocaust survivor.
One of the most indelible memories of my childhood was listening to one of my Hebrew school teachers try to tell us about her experience in the camps. She showed us the numbers the Nazis had etched into her arm. When she looked at us look at her, she pulled down her sleeve and left the room.
Of the many horrors any Jewish person must imagine are the few survivors we have left forced to endure active shooter training in order to visit shul.
The fear of anti-Semitic violence definitely existed in the 1980s, but many, like me, never had to worry about anything but the boredom inside the sanctuary. For Jews across the United States, this is impossible today.
Advertisement I stand with those who blame Donald Trump for his part in nurturing this fear, even though the reported shooter Robert Bowers rejected Trump as being controlled by the Jews, the way anti-Semites believe we control the media, Hollywood, and, sometimes, the weather.
Bowers blamed Jewish outreach to refugees for bringing in “invaders” that “kill our people” and slurred Trump with the same term Trump’s fan used to call out Soros: “globalist.” The anti-Semitism of this smear and the attacks on Soros are clear to me as a Jew and probably even clearer to most anti-Semites.
This may not be clear to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law, because our comprehension is often limited by convenience.
We have one more Shabbat before Election Day. In this time, their father is supposed to hold about two rallies a day in which he will play his greatest hits—incitements to violence and scapegoating barely coated with the plausible deniability of humor and code words.
But everyone knows what he’s doing.
A couple of tweets calling out the obvious anti-Semitism behind the attack in Pittsburgh are meaningless if Trump keeps dividing us with the same old tropes.
That may have worked for his fluke win in 2016 when he was just a guy running a fake college who played a rich guy on TV. Now he’s the President. Or he’s supposed to be.
Trump’s daughter and husband may not be able to convince their dad to pick his words more carefully. But maybe they can convince him to step off the campaign trail until we can figure out what the hell has gone so wrong.
Sattler is a columnist for USA Today.
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Willie Nelson’s musical message to fans ahead of midterms: ‘Vote ‘Em Out!’
Willie Nelson’s musical message to fans ahead of midterms: ‘Vote ‘Em Out!’ By Randy Lewis Oct 26, 2018 | 3:30 AM Texas singer-songwriter Willie Nelson, on his tour bus in Hollywood before a taping of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” has a released a new song titled “Vote ‘Em Out” ahead of the November midterm elections. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times) Like many celebrities, Willie Nelson is doing his bit to motivate fans to take part in the upcoming midterm elections.
But with his latest song, the veteran Texas maverick musician and country outlaw isn’t serving up some soft-sell public service announcement. Advertisement
“If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out,” he sings in the appropriately titled “Vote ’Em Out.”“That’s what election day is all about.”
The idea, he said, came to him in the course of talking with young people at a benefit for March for Our Lives in Maui in spring, where he performed with a longtime friend, singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, and several other musicians.
“It was right after the Florida shootings, and a lot of young people out there were doing protests against the guns, and all the lobbying and everything, and so we did this benefit over there,” Nelson, 85, said on his tour bus earlier this week while in Hollywood to tape a segment for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that is scheduled to air Oct. 30.
“I was talking to the kids about well, you know, if you see something you don’t like out there, you vote ’em out of it,” he said, relaxing on the seat of a small dining table on the bus shortly after a rehearsal run-through of the song for Kimmel’s audience. “I started thinking about it — it took about three minutes to write the whole thing.” “It took about three minutes to write the whole thing.” Willie Nelson on “Vote ‘Em Out” Share quote & link
It’s aimed at all Americans, Nelson said, but he’s particularly focused on the population of young people who will be voting for the first time next month.
“There’s a group of folks coming up to vote that ain’t never voted before and they are very excited about it,” Nelson said. “I think all the activity on both sides of the parties up there have shook ’em up a little bit. They’re saying, ‘Well, maybe we’re important,’ and, of course they are, and they’re going to go out there and prove it, I think.”
A few minutes later, backstage just after performing “Vote ‘Em Out!” for his segment on the show, Nelson met and spoke with Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed in the Parkland mass shooting — an emotional meeting for all concerned during which Nelson and Kimmel thanked Guttenberg for his activism.
The song itself targets no specific party, candidates or issues, but it does tap into the widespread feelings of frustration among voters over the political process, filtered through Nelson’s signature dry sense of humor: If it’s a bunch of clowns you voted in election day is comin’ ’round again If you don’t like it now If it’s more than you’ll allow if you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out.
“It don’t take aim at anybody,” Nelson said. “Whether you’re on one side or the other, whoever you want to vote in or out, it’s something to talk about. If you like who’s in there, leave ’em in. I think it’s important now to take a stand and vote.” Advertisement
Nelson’s politics, however, are no secret.
Nelson introduced the song a few weeks ago at a political rally in Texas for U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. Such political stumping, however, isn’t something Nelson typically does at his own shows. Willie Nelson, left, performs with his son Lukas and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) during the “Turn Out for Texas” concert and rally in Austin, where Nelson introduced his new song “Vote ‘Em Out.” (Laura Roberts /Invision/Associated Press) Midterms 2018: How politics and the arts are colliding »
“My shows are as nonpolitical as you can get,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re a Christian, an atheist, a Baptist or Methodist. I don’t care who you are or what you are: If you like our music, that’s cool. Come on out. We’re not going to bore you with politics. But right at this particular time, I think it might be a good time to say something.”
One reason Nelson avoids delving deeply into political issues at his shows is that he sees music as a unifying force in this era of extreme divisiveness and political partisanship.
“I’ve always believed that music was the equalizer, you know?” he said. “Everyone can relate to music. You don’t have a choice. Once you hear the melody and the words, it goes right into your soul, and you either like it or hate it, turn it on or turn it off, but you can’t ignore it.”
Some projects close to Nelson’s heart involve political issues. Those include the annual Farm Aid benefit shows in support of family farmers who struggle to survive in the age of agribusiness, and his budding operation selling medicinal and recreational marijuana under the brand name Willie’s Reserve. But he leaves the political dimensions of those operations to others.
“It’s something they have to deal with. I don’t have to deal with [anything],” he said with a laugh.
“Willie’s Reserve looks pretty good,” he added. “Canada just went completely legal up there, and we’re represented up there pretty well. So yeah, it’s looking good — and I’m busy testing all the time.”
As for his other current hit, “Vote ’Em Out,” Nelson said reaction from his following “is all positive.”
He adds, “Of course, I thought it was all positive last election too, then someone came along and stole the son-of-a-bitch.
“I’m really curious to see what happens on election day. You don’t know what to expect. I do know we’re looking a little closer at it this time — at least, I hope we are — than we were last time. You’ve gotta hope.” Entertainment Newsletter
The Latest: Germans stress need to fight anti-Semitism
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Latest on a deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue (all times local): 7:20 p.m. U.S. Attorney Scott Brady says federal prosecutors are seeking approval to pursue the death penalty against Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers. Brady says he has begun the process to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ approval as required by law to pursue a capital case against Bowers. Brady says multiple search warrants have been issued in the investigation of Bowers, a long-haul trucker who worked as an independent contractor. Police responding to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue wounded Bowers and arrested him. Bowers is scheduled to appear in court early Monday afternoon for a hearing. ___ 7:15 p.m. Bernice and Sylvan Simon were always ready to help others, and “they always did it with a smile.” That’s how longtime friend Jo Stepaniak remembers her neighbors of decades in a townhouse community on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Eighty-six-year-old Sylvan Simon was a retired accountant with a good sense of humor, the kind of person his former rabbi felt comfortable joking with after Sylvan Simon broke his arm a couple of weeks ago. Bernice Simon was a former nurse. Neighbors say the 84-year-old loved classical music and devoted time to charitable work. Emeritus Rabbi Alvin Berkun says both Simons were “an active, steady,” and devoted presence at Tree of Life synagogue. The couple was among those massacred Saturday at the temple, where the Simons married in a candlelight ceremony in 1956. ___ 6:50 p.m. At least 2,000 mourners packed Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh and thousands more stood outside at a vigil for the 11 who were killed during Sabbath services at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said he began services at 9:45, and the shooting started a few minutes later. He said there were 12 in the sanctuary at the time, most sitting in the back. Myers said: “I helped pull out the people that I could from the front. But, alas, I had eight people in the back. One fortunately survived.” Myers said: “I’m a survivor. I’m a mourner.” He added: “Seven of my congregants were shot dead in my sanctuary. My holy place has been defiled.” ___ 6:20 p.m. The rabbi of the New Light Congregation who is credited with shepherding some of the congregants behind a door and saving their lives during Saturday’s shooting spoke at a vigil in Pittsburgh Sunday night. Rabbi Jonathan Perlman’s voice cracked with emotion as he spoke of losing three pillars of the community who, he said, “would give you the shirt off their back.” He said they volunteered not only at the synagogue but in the community at large. Said Perlman: “What happened yesterday will not break us. We will continue to thrive and sing and worship and learn together.” He added: “We will not be ruined by this event.” ___ 5:55 p.m. Hundreds of people have gathered in the nation’s capital to remember the 11 congregants killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue. A vigil was held Sunday evening in Washington’s Dupont Circle to pay tribute to those killed a day earlier at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Mourners sang and prayed together. Others held lit candles and held signs, including one that read “Tree of Life victims deserve better.” Some in the crowd wept as the names of the 11 victims were read aloud. Police say the suspected gunman, Robert Bowers, told police he wanted to “kill Jews.” Eight men and three women were killed when Bowers opened fire. The FBI said he was armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns. Bowers faces federal and state charges. He’s due in court Monday. ___ 4:25 p.m. Two brothers killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting were an inseparable, warm-hearted pair who never missed Saturday services. That’s according to ACHIEVA, an organization that provides services to people with disabilities and had worked with Cecil and David Rosenthal for years. ACHIEVA Vice President Chris Schopf recalls 59-year-old Cecil’s infectious laugh and 54-year-old David’s gentle spirit. Schopf says the two “looked out for one another” and were “kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around.” Their sister is chief of staff to state Rep. Dan Frankel, who recalls seeing the brothers at Tree of Life whenever he went there. He calls them “very sweet, gentle, caring men.” __ 4:05 p.m. Richard Gottfried was a devoted member of the New Light Congregation, going to the synagogue every Saturday morning without fail. He was killed Saturday as a gunman opened fire inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Stephen Cohen, the co-president of New Light, says Gottfried and another member who was also killed Saturday were the “religious heart of our congregation.” “They led the service, they maintained the Torah, they did what needed to be done with the rabbi to make services happen,” Cohen said. The 65-year-old Gottfried was also preparing for a new chapter in his life. The dentist, who often did charity work seeing patients who could not afford dental care normally, was preparing to retire in the next few months. Gottfried ran a dental office with his wife, Peg Durachko. __ 3:30 p.m. Israel’s president is sending a message of solidarity after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, saying Israel stands with the Jewish victims and the Pittsburgh community. In a videotaped message set to open an interfaith vigil Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin will tell participants: “You are not alone! The people of Israel and the entire Jewish people stand with you!” That’s according to a transcript of the message provided by his office. “We must say loud and clear — this was an act of anti-semitism,” Rivlin says, according to the transcript. “We cannot, we must not, we will not ignore it or tolerate it.” Rivlin, who acts in a mostly ceremonial capacity, will conclude his message of consolation by reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. __ 2:50 p.m. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is joining the city’s religious leaders and other elected officials to condemn the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and vowing to protect the city’s Jewish communities from violence. The Democrat spoke outside a Manhattan synagogue Sunday afternoon with Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Rev. Al Sharpton. De Blasio says the people of New York stand with the 11 victims of Saturday’s shooting and their families. He says, “Violence against people because of their faith does not represent our values.” De Blasio says city police will be out in force to protect synagogues and Jewish centers. __ 2 p.m. Daniel Stein, who was among the 11 people shot dead inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday, was a very visible member of the city’s Jewish community as a leader in the New Light Congregation. The co-president of the area’s Hadassah chapter, Nancy Shuman, says Judaism was very important to the 71-year-old Stein. His wife, Sharyn, is the chapter’s membership vice president. Shuman says, “Both of them were very passionate about the community and Israel.” Stein’s nephew Steven Halle told the Tribune-Review that his uncle “was always willing to help anybody.” Halle says Stein “was somebody that everybody liked.” __ 1:45 p.m. Joyce Fienberg and her late husband, Stephen, were intellectual powerhouses, but those who knew them say they were the kind of people who used that intellect to help others. Joyce Fienberg was among the 11 victims of a gunman who opened fire inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday. The 74-year-old spent most of her career at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center. She retired in 2008 from her job as a researcher looking at learning in the classroom and in museums. She worked on several projects, including studying the practices of highly effective teachers. Dr. Gaea Leinhardt, who was Fienberg’s research partner for decades, says she is devastated by the murder of her colleague and friend. Leinhardt says, “Joyce was a magnificent, generous, caring, and profoundly thoughtful human being.” 1:30 p.m. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have observed a moment of silence at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field for the 11 people killed by a gunman inside a synagogue in the city Saturday. There were other such tributes at NFL games elsewhere Sunday. Eight men and three women were murdered inside the Tree of Life Synagogue. The names of the victims, which included a pair of brothers and a married couple, were released Sunday. In a statement issued before Sunday’s game, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said, “Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community.” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto called the slayings the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history.” __ 1 p.m. A law enforcement official says the man accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue had a license to carry firearms and legally owned his guns. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke Sunday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Police say Robert Bowers killed eight men and three women in the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him. The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97 and included brothers and a husband and wife. Court papers say Bowers made statements about genocide and killing Jewish people. Federal prosecutors have charged Bowers with 29 criminal offenses and state authorities have also leveled charges. Bowers is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday. — Michael Balsamo in Washington __ 11:40 a.m. Condolences and remembrances of the 11 victims of the deadly attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday are beginning to roll out on social media and in emails. They were professors and accountants, dentists and beloved doctors. Former Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Law Claus sent an email to his former coworkers Sunday asking them to pass along his condolences to the family of Jerry Rabinowitz, a 66-year-old personal physician. Claus says Rabinowitz was more than a physician for him and his family for the past three decades, saying, “he was truly a trusted confidant and healer.” He says Rabinowitz had an uplifting demeanor and would provide sage advice. ___ 11:20 a.m. A neighbor of the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre says the suspect kept to himself. Chris Hall said Sunday that he never heard or saw anything to indicate that 46-year-old Robert Bowers harbored anti-Semitic views or posed a threat. Authorities say Bowers killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday during worship services before a tactical police team shot and wounded him. Bowers faces state and federal charges. Hall says nothing stood out about Bowers. He says “the most terrifying thing is just how normal he seemed.” Six others were wounded in the attack, including four officers, one of whom remains in critical condition. Two worshippers also remain hospitalized, one of them in critical condition. ___ 10 a.m. The 11 people killed in the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh included a married couple, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, and two brothers, Cecil and David Rosenthal. The Allegheny County medical examiners’ office released the victims’ names Sunday. David Rosenthal was the youngest at 54. The eldest was 97-year-old Rose Mallinger. The dead also included Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Jerry Rabinowitz, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger. Fellow members of the New Light Congregation say Wax was a pillar of the congregation, filling many roles there. Friend Myron Snider says Wax was a retired accountant who was unfailingly generous. Wax was in his late 80s. Authorities say gunman Robert Bowers made statements about genocide and killing Jewish people. Bowers is being treated for gunshot wounds and is due in court Monday. ___ 9:30 a.m. Authorities have released the names of the 11 people killed by a gunman during worship services in a Pittsburgh synagogue. Officials said at a news conference Sunday that the victims ranged in age from 54 to 97 and included brothers and a husband and wife. Authorities say gunman Robert Bowers made statements about genocide and killing Jewish people. Officials previously said three women and eight men were killed. Bowers has been arrested and is being treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital. The U.S. attorney’s office has charged Bowers with 29 federal counts. Bowers is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday. State authorities have also leveled charges. ___ 8 a.m. German leaders are mourning the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and stressing the need to push back against anti-Semitism. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman quoted Merkel on Twitter as offering her condolences and saying that “all of us must confront anti-Semitism with determination — everywhere.” President Frank-Walter Steinmeier voiced his dismay at the attack, which left 11 dead, in a condolence message to U.S. President Donald Trump. Steinmeier wrote that “this abhorrent crime reminds us all to do what is in our power to advocate against hatred and violence, against anti-Semitism and exclusion, and to counter with determination those who incite them.” ___ 7:30 a.m. Pope Francis is grieving with Pittsburgh’s Jewish community following the massacre at a synagogue, denouncing the “inhuman act of violence” and praying for an end to the “flames of hatred” that fueled it. Francis led prayers for Pittsburgh on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, a day after a gunman who had expressed hatred of Jews opened fire in the synagogue during Sabbath services, killing 11 people. Francis prayed for the dead, injured and their families and said: “In reality, all of us are wounded by this inhuman act of violence.” He prayed for God “to help us to extinguish the flames of hatred that develop in our societies, reinforcing the sense of humanity, respect for life and civil and moral values.” Francis has frequently spoken out against religiously inspired violence and has denounced the easy availability of guns thanks to weapons manufacturers, whom he has called “merchants of death.” ___ 7 a.m. Police say the suspect in the deadly mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue told officers that Jews were committing genocide and that he wanted them all to die. Pittsburgh police said in an arrest affidavit made public early Sunday that Robert Gregory Bowers killed eight men and three women in the Tree of Life Synagogue before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him. A Pittsburgh police officer says in the warrant that Bowers was being treated for his injuries when he said Jews were “committing genocide to his people.” Bowers is charged with 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation. The police affidavit says calls began coming in to 911 just before 10 a.m. Saturday, reporting “they were being attacked.” ___ 12:30 a.m. A gunman who expressed hatred of Jews exploited a vulnerability common in so many houses of worship across the country — doors that are unlocked for worship — to target a Pittsburgh synagogue. Officials say Robert Bowers was armed with a rifle and three handguns when he walked inside the Tree of Life synagogue during Sabbath services Saturday morning and opened fire, killing 11 people and wounding six in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Police swarmed the building and traded gunfire with the gunman, who was shot multiple times but survived. Four police officers are among the wounded. Bowers faces 29 federal counts, including weapons offenses and hate crimes. Law enforcement officials plan to discuss the massacre at a news conference Sunday morning.