By Ted Belman
On Shavuot I tried to have a political discussion at the dinner table with a couple of people I had just met. Sammy cut me off and said he can’t stand political discussion. He was adamant that I not continue. It seems that Sammy, an orthodoc Jew, was an expert on energy transmission and worked in Wash DC before making aliyah. But when it came to his field he lectured us on liberal policies on energy and the environment. He was convined of his moral superiority. He only wanted to hear himself talk. He had no interest in an exchange of views. He believed in taxing energy so we would use less of it. I fecitiously suggested we should lower our standard of living in order to use even less and he agreed.
Later on in the one sided discussion I said Obama was anti-American. He blew up and wouldn’t hear of it. I said that rather than reject my proposition he should ask me to make my case. But no, he didn’t want to talk about it. That non conversation ruined the dinner if not Shavuot.
Later the next day I got into a conversation with another orthodox person who taught at TAU. When I mentioned that Obama was anti-American she didn’t want to discuss it and said I should show more respect to the President of the USA. She wanted to discuss his policies. I tried to make the case that his motivation was an important part of the discussion and she wouldn’t let me do so because I was characterizing him.
So I shifted to what I thought was safer grounds, Islam. I said that Islam was imperialistic and fascist. That ended the discussion but not before she offered a vigorous defense of the good things in Islam and in Muslims. I was not allowed to rebut. She said, how would I feel if people called me “fascist”. I said that I would have no problem with it so long as I could defend myself. End of discussion.
What they both had in common was the need to protect their sacred cows even if it involved the limitation of free speech.
Later I got to thinking about what was and was not anti-American. When the Left, not only Obama, considers the US imperialistic and militaristic and to blame for much of the ills of the world, I would consider them anti-American. When they refuse to show patriotism by putting their hand on their heart during singing of the national anthem or wearing a flag pin, I would consider them anti-American. When they consider so little value in their country that they have to apologize for American actions, I would consider that anti-American.
I know a young person who loves Obama. He earned a Masters from Harvard and is now finishing a PhD. He loved Obama because Obama was going to make things right in the US. He was highly critical of the US for having so many uninsured people, for having so many people in prison, for a lack of social mobility (he believed that studies had shown that the poor can rarely escape their poverty), for the pollution it creates and on and on. Does that make him anti-American. If it did, all Democrats would be anti-American.
When does a person cross over the line from wanting change to being anti-American? The flip side of this is, when does a person who espouses conservative principles become a heartless bitch.