Trump’s “Jewish Nationality” Argument Lays Groundwork for the US as a White Ethnostate. Don’t Ignore it.

Many white supremacists admire Israel.* And by “white supremacists” here, I mean self-identified ones–the kind who call themselves “racial realists” and are explicit in their desire to make the US a white ethnostate. They admire Israel as a place that defines itself as for Jews and that uses apartheid strategies to oppress non-Jews within the state. (It also, conveniently for white supremacists’ anti-Semitism, contains about 43% the world’s Jews, and I mean the word contain here–from an anti-Semitic standpoint, it keeps an increasing percent of the world’s Jews out of other nations and in a central location where they are a consolidated target.)

This is important because the Trump administration, in a continued Republican effort to punish “liberal” universities,undercut free speech laws, and rally evangelicals, is working on an executive order to withhold funding from universities that fail to combat anti-Semitism on campus. Now, don’t mistake this for concern about swastikas on campus or white supremacists recruiting on campuses. No, it’s about punishing people who speak out against Israel’s human rights violations of Palestinians. That is, this isn’t for Jews but for End Times Christians who need to keep seeing Trump as their Messiah and any of his opponents as Satanic.

For Jews, it’s a deal with the Devil. For white evangelicals, it’s a way to enact white supremacy while proclaiming to love Jews.

To make this executive order comply with the law, Trump will define Jewishness not as a religion–which isn’t protected under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964–but as a race.

That is, to receive these protections, Jews must have “race, color, or national origin” that is distinct.

This is the first major problem. One of the core strategies of anti-Semitism is that Jews are not of the nation in which they live: they are always, eternally outsiders. They have a “dual loyalty” (something Trump believes about American Jews)–and it is always first to Judaism and other Jews. Anti-Semitism says that Jews cannot be trustworthy citizens, that they will not put nation first, that they cannot ever truly belong. This is anti-Semitism 101.

Yes, I am explicitly comparing Trump to Hitler–and, by now, you should be too.

The second major problem is that this sets up a larger logic that justifies making the US into a white ethnostate. If Jews aren’t Americans, then who is? You can guess.

And who isn’t? The people he’s threaten to force to register. The ones he’s trying not to allow to count in the Census.

Trump’s logic here isn’t about loving Israel. It’s about making the US a white ethnostate. There is no love of Jews in this. The creation of a “Jewish nation” within the US (one we can track and, eventually, expel) isn’t an unintended consequence of his love for Israel; it’s the intended consequence of his white supremacy.

Rebecca

*I’m not linking to primary sources of white supremacists explaining their love of Israel. But if you want to know more, let me know.

Jólabókaflóðið 2019: Books about Totalitarianism and Rightwing Movements

Each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, 606 offers up suggestions for books to tide you through the long winter nights. Pick them up at your library, buy them through your local bookstore, give them for a gift, or pick one up for yourself. We think that books are the best gifts. 

Today’s suggestions are from my wishlist of books about totalitarian and right-wing regimes. Share them with your grandpa and uncles who enjoy military history, especially if they are conservatives. Give them something to think about this holiday season. 

Rebecca

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The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen won the National Book Award for journalist Gessen’s tale of four Russians who were born at a time of hopefulness but who have seen their nation surrender to autocratic rule.

The Future is History would be great to pair with Dancing Bears: True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny by Witold Szbalowki. The book focuses on Eastern European nations and Cuba and helps us understand why people find comfort in authoritarianism.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean examines rightwing attacks on labor organizations, voting rights, public education, and more. This is specifically a history of James McGill Buchanan, an economist who gave intellectual heft to libertarianism.

Enemies of the State: The Radical Right in American from FDR to Trump by Darren J. Mulloy is a historical survey of rightwing political movements in the US.

Gangs and the Military: Gangsters, Bikers, and Terrorists with Military Training by Carter F. Smith ought to inspire us to think more carefully about how we recruit and train soldiers. Consider paring it with Kathleen Belew’s Bring the War HomeThe White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.

American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard. If you like that map that circulates on social media of the 11 nations within the US, you’ll probably like this.

 

Jólabókaflóðið 2019: Books about Race, Racism, and Combatting Racism

Each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, 606 offers up suggestions for books to tide you through the long winter nights. Pick them up at your library, buy them through your local bookstore, give them for a gift, or pick one up for yourself. We think that books are the best gifts. 

Faith of the Syro-Phoenician Woman by artist A. H. Smith. Support his work here.

Today’s suggestions are from my wishlist of books about race, racism, and combatting racism. Why? Because equality was the goal of the early church.

Rebecca

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White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo with a forward by Michael Eric Dyson

Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America by George Yancy

Uncensored: My Life and Uncomfortable Conversations at the Intersection of Black and White America by Zachary R. Wood is an argument for why we have to keep engaging in tough conversations, especially on college campuses.

My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South by Isaac J. Bailey

Twenty-First-Century Jim Crow Schools: The Impact of Charters on Public Education by Raynard Sanders, David Stovall, and Terrenda White

Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging by Alex Wagner is a first person account of one sociologist’s genealogical quest, which is informed by the larger question of why we care so much about “blood” and whether our time is well spent pursuing knowledge about it.

Roots Quest: Inside America’s Genealogy Boom by Jackie Hogan considers the spike in interest in genealogy as part of a broader concern about social change, including a sense of rootlessness that seems to afflict contemporary Americans.

Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, interrogates America’s “stand your ground” culture and the harm it causes to African Americans.

Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics, edited by Vincent W. Lloyd and Andrew Prevot is a collection of essays about how Christianity can oppose racism.

The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism, and Religious Diversity in America by Jeannine Hill Fletcher connects Christian supremacy and white supremacy.

 

 

Jólabókaflóðið 2019: Books about Hate, Evil, and Violence

Each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, 606 offers up suggestions for books to tide you through the long winter nights. Pick them up at your library, buy them through your local bookstore, give them for a gift, or pick one up for yourself. We think that books are the best gifts. 

Above, Léon Cogniet’s Scene from the Slaughter of the Innocents, 1824

Today’s suggestions are from my wishlist of books about hate, evil, and violence. Why? Because as much as Advent is a season of waiting in joyful expectation, it’s also a time of mass violence in pursuit of the protection of political power. 

Rebecca

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The Violence of Hate: Understanding Harmful Forms of Bias and Bigotry, 4th edition by Jack Levin and Jim Nolan takes as its central point that idea that hate-motivated violence is not the work of lone wolves but is supported systemically.

Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence, 3rd edition by Charles Selengut examines the relationship between religion and violence in different major world religions. I’m teaching it in my undergraduate Sociology of Religion this semester, and students seem pretty eager to get to it.

The Evil of Banality: On the Life and Death Importance of Thinking by Elizabeth Minnich encourages us not to underthink life.

Jólabókaflóðið 2019: Books about Immigrants and Immigration

Each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, 606 offers up suggestions for books to tide you through the long winter nights. Pick them up at your library, buy them through your local bookstore, give them for a gift, or pick one up for yourself. We think that books are the best gifts. 

2013-12-17-jesusinegypt.png

Today’s two suggestions are from my wishlist of books about immigration and immigrants. Why? Because his refugee story is central to Jesus’ upbringing.

Rebecca

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The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Catu is a first-person account of a former Border Patrol agent whose work allowed him to see the danger and desperation of border crossers.

Immigrant Experiences: Why Immigrants Come to the United States and What They Find When They Get Here by Walter A. Ewing asks actual immigrants about their motivations. It seems obvious that we should have done this already, but we rarely hear from actual immigrants in debates about immigration.

 

Jólabókaflóðið 2019: Books about War

Each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, 606 offers up suggestions for books to tide you through the long winter nights. Pick them up at your library, buy them through your local bookstore, give them for a gift, or pick one up for yourself. We think that books are the best gifts. 

Above, The Ear of Malchus, by James Tissot.

Today’s suggestions are from my wishlist of books about war and its damages. Consider how these books could help you deepen your commitment to peace during Advent.

Rebecca

Hara Hotel: A Tale of Syrian Refugees in Greece by Terese Thornhill

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

De-Militarizing Masculinities in the Age of Empire by Simona Sharoni examines how we men and masculinities are militarized and de-militarized in the US, Israel, Palestine, and parts of Ireland.

Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History 3rd edition, edited by by Staughton Lynd and Alice Lynd takes us from colonization (William Penn) to the present moment (Standing Rock).

 

Journeying with the grief of our stillborn child

606 contributor has a new piece in the December issue of The Mennonite, which has invited articles on the theme “The Unexpected.” We share excerpts here but encourage you to read the entire piece at The Mennonite and, while you’re at it, subscribe in order to support that magazine’s mission. 

I still remember the phone call I got from my wife while I was at work. “Come home now…. Something’s not right. I can’t feel the baby moving.”

Though we tried to convince ourselves that everything would be just fine on that hurried drive to the hospital, that day in August of 2012 we experienced the pain of a stillborn child. This journey through grief and loss showed us many different hidden elements we were unaware of until walking through this experience.

Theologically, we struggled with comments born out of a faith that would see a puppet master-like God as manipulating our immediate pain for some future goal, or perhaps that our journey was part of a bigger test of our capacity for handling difficult spaces. Though we recognized these comments were born out of a desire to see us move beyond our immediate pain, we also wanted people to provide us with permission to dwell in our grief instead of providing us with ways to move through it quickly.

We also discovered something we had assumed for most of our lives but never tested out. We found that our community had far more capacity for caring for those who are grieving than we ever imagined.

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Read Ben’s fuller story as he reflects on the experience of loss and grief.