President Trump’s remarks about the violence in Charlottesville last week still populate the news headlines. Apparently the media has not found anything more damaging since then to replace them with.
You do not hear a word of accolade or even acknowledgment that the president seemingly put North Korea in her place. Need I remind you that three weeks ago there was a looming threat on the continental U.S. of a nuclear strike from that regime? Despite being criticized from both sides of the aisle, judging from the stark silence from Kim Jong-un and the reports of calm in Guam, the president’s approach has apparently worked. May it be His will that it continue to do so.
The fact that the “impartial” left-wing Democrats criticized the president’s remarks regarding violence on “both sides” did not surprise anyone. We even expected some of the left-wing Republicans to condemn the president’s words as well, as they in fact did. However, what was unforeseeable was the rebuke the president received from our Orthodox leaders! In my opinion, they did not represent the Torah on these matters nor their constituents.
First, even had the president actually said something reprehensible, is it our job to reprimand him? Is that in the charter statements of these organizations? Is it possible that they could do more damage with their statements than whatever they sought to accomplish?
And now on to the substance of what they found to be unacceptable: They accuse the president of suggesting a moral equivalency between the white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the “alt left” Antifa and Black Lives Matter members.
I find it hard to believe that anyone who voiced any such opposition to the president’s words even took the time to listen to what he actually said. Not only did he not make such a moral equivalence, one reporter at the press conference actually asked the president about this point blank! The president responded, surprised by the question, that he never made such a moral equivalence and he is not discussing moral equivalence. He merely wanted to condemn the violence on both sides. And for those who are not aware, there were many people on the left who came to incite violence. They came with clubs and instigated the violence. It would seem logical to call out the violence on both sides of that incident.
But there is another danger with following the trend and condemning the president without knowing the facts. In this case the president called out a group that many people are not even aware of, and in fact may be more harmful to our people than the Nazis of today for several reasons. First, there are actually very few Nazis and KKK members in the U.S. today. Second, we know who they are and we will never forget what they did to us, and they remind us openly what they want to do to us. We will know to treat them as an enemy.
Antifa and Black Lives Matter, however, are more discreet. Not too many people even know what they are. The little that most people do “know” is that they are a persecuted minority trying to stand up for themselves. For some reason, since they are made up of minority groups and leftists, their actions are either valid or to be understood. This leads them to murder police and vandalize private property without much repercussion.
When Yaakov Avinu davened to Hashem to save him when he was returning from the house of Lavan, the Torah says he prayed that Hashem save him from “the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisav” (Beraishis 32:12). The seemingly superfluous wording bothers all the commentators; either he should have said “my brother” or “Eisav.” Why did Yaakov say both?
Some answer that Yaakov was praying to save him from “Eisav” – a known enemy who would come at him swinging” – and also from “my brother” – someone who might outwardly act as my brother but is, in fact, my enemy. Such an enemy is far more dangerous. Since he acts as “a brother,” we are not alert.
We know the Nazis and the KKK are our sworn enemies. The fact that we are aware of them enables us to prepare and defend ourselves from them. We are quick to denounce them at any chance, as we should. However, Antifa and Black Lives Matter are also not our friends – far from it. While they are strongly opposed to the Nazis and KKK, they all share one common enemy: us.
Black Lives Matter has a website that presents its platform for what it wants changed in this country. One item is an end to U.S. federal aid for Israel. By providing aid, the platform claims, the United States is “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.” It goes on to criticize the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas, and the arrest of young Palestinians. It claims, “In addition, approximately 3 billion dollars in US aid is allocated to Israel, a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades. Together with aid to Egypt – Israel’s most important regional ally – this figure represents nearly 75% of all US aid dollars.” As you can guess, it calls for the U.S. to halt those payments. It describes Israel as “an apartheid state.”
I don’t think it is relevant which group hates us more. The bottom line is they both detest us and we should be extremely wary of both sides. The president was absolutely correct and very courageous for calling out both sides in the Charlottesville altercation, and he should be commended for doing so. In his address regarding Afghanistan this week, he opened with words of unity. May we all heed his call, which is undoubtedly echoing the words of the One who controls his heart. Amen.