Yes indeed: by anyone's reckoning, last week will long be remembered -- depending on one's point of view -- as one of the most significant (or disastrous), uplifting (or depressing), hopeful (or frightful), and progressive (or backsliding) in many, many years. But regardless of what one's package of predilections might be, it was one for the books. Within the course of a mere 168 hours, both the Supreme Court and Congress affixed exclamation marks on President Obama's two signature issues, healthcare and international trade. Then too, in deciding Obergfell et al v. Hodges, the court decreed that love and marriage are no longer the exclusive purview of heterosexuals and, in the far less-noticed (but equally ground-breaking) Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., et al, ruled that policies that segregate minorities in poor neighborhoods, even if they do so unintentionally, violate the Fair Housing Act. And of course, there is now a tidal wave of sentiment about removing the Confederate flag from state capitals, government buildings and even Wall Mart.
A great week, to say the least; for many, many people there is one heck of a lot to cheer and high five about.
On the other hand, there are also segments and factions out there growling, complaining and issuing prophecies of doom. Progressives (myself included), who worked to deny President Obama fast track authority, are feeling terribly let down; far from giving a boost to American labor, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we feel, will be far more a boon to corporate America than to American labor. And while we Progressives have nothing against corporations making money (regardless of what Conservatives believe), we do question the wisdom of sending American jobs to countries and subsidiaries that pay sub-human wages, have next to no environmental protections and care little about the sanctity of intellectual property.
Predictably, a majority of those who were dead set on destroying Obamacare before the court's 6-3 decision in King et al. v. Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services et al are still of the same mindset. Few if any Republican presidential hopefuls have said anything remotely like "Well, the Supreme Court has ruled; now it's time to live with Obamacare, recognize that it is the law of the land, and get on to other issues." One by one, those seeking the GOP presidential nomination have issued press releases condemning a court they once considered to be America's last great hope:
Sen. Marco Rubio: “I disagree with the Court’s ruling and believe they have once again erred in trying to correct the mistakes made by President Obama and Congress in forcing Obamacare on the American people” Rubio further said he was “committed to repealing this bad law and replacing it with my consumer-centered plan that puts patients and families back in control of their health care decisions.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, showing off his Ivy League education grumbled that ”robed Houdinis transmogrified a ‘federal exchange’ into an exchange ‘established by the State’” and accused the court’s majority of acting for “nakedly political reasons.”
- Sen. Rand Paul, whose state already has its own exchange and would not have been affected if the court ruled the other way, said the ruling “turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head.” And, in perhaps the fiercest response,
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – a longtime critic of federal judges – labeled the court's 6-3 decision “an out-of-control act of judicial tyranny.”
From all indications, the GOP plans on once again making the destruction of Obamacare a central focus of their national platform. While this may make a bit of political sense during primary season when candidates are courting the party base, it will be an absolute albatross in a general election where both parties are seeking votes from the sensible center.
This past week, as sensible people have urged removing the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina state house, others have strenuously objected. The "Over-the-Top-and-Out-of-His-Mind Award" undoubtedly goes to Lee Bright, Sen. Ted Cruz's Presidential co-chair in South Carolina, who likened the removal of that flag to a Stalinist Purge. "It's not just a flag," an apoplectic Bright told Politico, "They want to take down the Confederate monuments. I’ve gotten emails from people who want to rename streets … anytime you want to basically remove the symbols of history from a state, that’s something that just is very bad … these are honorable men who fought for their homes, their home state, to disgrace them in the name of political correctness is just wrong. They’re not here to defend themselves."
But of course, the loudest, strongest and angriest complaints and prophecies of doom have been reserved for the court's 5-4 Obergfell decision.
From the very moment the court's decision was made public, America's religious right went on the warpath, declaring once again that Christianity is being targeted for extinction. Most of the GOP hopefuls declared that an "unelected panel" of judges had made the supreme mistake of driving a stake into the heart of religious freedom. Governor Huckabee went so far as to as to declare that he would not accept the court's decision, and would "not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat."
And so, in a week in which many are celebrating an expansion of freedom, liberty and equality, others are crying out that they are being victimized . . . singled out for their beliefs and practices.
This coming Saturday, the 4th of July, a far-right group is planning a rally and Talmud-burning in Golders Green -- the heart of London's Jewish community -- against what it calls the "Jewification of Britain." For many months, various nationalist, white supremacist and pro-Nazi groups have been planning the 4th of July rally, billing it as the "Summer of Hate." According to one website, the rally will include speeches on such topics as:
The illegality of the Shomrim (the Jewish "police force" which helps protect the community;
- "What is Jewification?"
- "International Jewry: The Devil's Own Hand";
- Why the 'Halohoax' Never Occurred;
- A Recorded Audio Speech by Joshua Bonehill, the U.K.'s most notorious anti-Semite.
(Bonehill was recently arrested for inciting racial hatred. One image on his website proclaimed: Liberate GOLDERS GREEN . . . an Anti-Jewification event. We've become complacent and allowed for weeds to grow in the cracks of London. Its time to clear them out with Round-Up and liberate Golders Green for the future generations of White People. Join us on July 4th for what promises to be an absolute gas!)
It should be noted that the majority of Jews living in Golders Green -- as indeed, the majority of Jews living in the U.K. -- are observant, which means they will be walking to shul (temple) on Saturday July 4th, the Jewish Sabbath . . . right past the cordons of hate. Bonehill's minions are looking forward to a having a physical confrontation between themselves and the Shomrim.
This is what victimization looks and feels like. Being part of a people who are hounded, defamed, hunted down and murdered merely for being who they are . . . this is victimization. Being accused of exercising malevolent control over the world's finances and mass media and having been in conscious cahoots with one another for untold centuries . . . this is victimization. And less one think that the Golders Green "Summer of Hate" is an aberration of our crazy British cousins, guess again. The United States has a plethora of groups dedicated to the extermination of the Jewish people. Take a gander at such web sites as StormFront, Jew Watch, The Ugly Truth and Daily Stormer to get some idea of what it means to be in the crosshairs. I defy the Huckabees, Cruzes, Jindals and Robertsons of the world to show us websites that target Christians in this manner. The fact of the matter is that they cannot. You, who are not being targeted for destruction, who are not being accused of malevolently steering the world to perdition for your own purposes (neither of which would be true in any event), are crying "Victim! Victim!" Jews, who certainly do have enemies who would destroy, uproot and extirpate if given the chance, who are accused of malevolently steering the world to perdition for our own purposes (likewise hogwash) do not scream "Victim! Victim!" Ironic, isn't it?
For those who would wish to do something -- anything -- from a distance to lend support to the Jewish community in Golders Green, might I suggest sending a message of support to Aryeh Feingold, one of the leaders of that community? I know, it's not much . . . but it's better than nothing, and I'm sure Aryeh will appreciate your concern.
Indeed, this past week was a stunner. May the week to come continue offering hope to one and all . . .
Copyright©2015 Kurt F. Stone