And why do I hope she continues her journey?
As principled journalists say farewell to no-longer respectable newspapers and magazines, they are migrating to a new platform, Substack, to share their ideas and investigations. Among them is the very talented, courageous, ex-New York Times writer, Bari Weiss. She left the paper with a bang—a strongly worded article decrying the illiberal culture at what used to be a trusted newspaper. Subsequently, she began a newsletter of her own, Common Sense, on Substack.
Bari has broken stories that one or two weeks later I see highlighted in other conservative media. She is an excellent and passionate writer and also a proficient host on her accompanying podcast. But she still is taking only baby steps in leaving her liberal identity. She seems somewhat surprised each time she finds that her proud old liberal identity has been hijacked by close-minded, hate-filled and vicious former-fellow travelers.
Identifying strongly with her Jewish heritage, Bari gets particularly emotional on topics relating to Jews and Israel. While I understand her fervor, I think it reveals a blind spot of hers. Furthermore, I don’t think she yet has an understanding of the majority of Trump voters or of conservative Christians. She responded vehemently to the absurd initial response of the FBI that the Texas hostage situation this past weekend had nothing to do with Jews. This nonsense was dutifully repeated by the White House and her old home, the mainstream media. I thought her piece revealed some missing puzzle pieces in her understanding of what is happening in America today. As a paid subscriber to her column, I replied to her with my own words. I would like to share those with you now. I do recommend that you keep an ear out for these newly independent voices and support those you find most worthwhile.
Here is my comment:
Bari, I respect your work and the courage it took to walk away from what at one time must have seemed like achieving a life goal, a position with the New York Times. However, coming relatively recently to recognizing that the thinking of many of our most educated citizens and previously classical liberals has gone seriously astray, I think you are missing a major point.
I am Jewish, and identifiably so based on where I pray, how I look and what I do. In the 1980s, my husband began standing up to what he termed anti-Christianism, warning that if that became entrenched in America, all Americans, but especially Jews would suffer. To our shame and upset, many Jews actively participated in anti-Christian bigotry. In the 1930s, the French kept their eyes on the rear-view mirror, setting up their Maginot Line defense positions before World War II based on their World War I experiences. They did not recognize how different the 1930s were from the 1910s, and with that error, they left themselves vulnerable and were quickly conquered by the Nazis. Likewise, Jews in America have spent decades being similarly blind. Too many American Jews, and especially Jewish organizations, based their ideas and strategies for today by harking back to the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the pogroms in Europe that emanated from the Catholic Church, without acknowledging that America was, since its founding, of a different nature. Of course, things weren’t perfect, but this new American world had no parallel in the old European world.
American Jewry’s—and Israel’s—safety belt is America’s Bible Belt. The American experiment, as attested to by the words of its founding fathers, depended on America’s Christian sentiments. We were not to have a theologically driven government, but we absolutely were founded as a Christian nation. Attacking that foundation has weakened the entire structure, and the hatred for Jews that is growing in America is one tragic result. The book my husband wrote in 1992, America’s Real War: an Orthodox Rabbi Insists that Judeo-Christian Values Are Vital for Our Nation’s Survival, became a best-seller in the Christian community. It put us in the cross-hairs of liberal-leaning and irreligious Jewish organizations and individuals. For a few years we received grotesque and vulgar letters from Jews. Letters arrived at our door, bearing death threats in Hebrew or Yiddish along with angry condemnation of our respect for the role of Christianity in America’s founding and our friendship with many of the country’s leading pastors. The Jewish religious community, for the most part, ignored us.
After 9/11 and the second intifada in Israel, the situation changed within the religious Jewish community. All of a sudden, many of the same people who thought we were off base were calling to ask my husband to connect them to Christian leaders. And as the years went by, others, including you, began to see that America was crumbling. Diminishing Christianity did not leave a benign secular America; it left an America with a sinister new religion that included socialist leanings and wokeism. And, that America has serious anti-Semitic tendencies. These cannot be addressed without recognizing that they go hand-in-hand with an abhorrence of what are traditionally considered to be American values.
Jews always suffer when societies go awry. But in this case, the canary in the mine was America’s Christians. When only a few notable Jews vehemently protested the hatred and vitriol against Christianity in the 1990s and 2000s, we laid the groundwork for increased anti-Semitism. And the cure will not be showing stronger outrage when a synagogue is attacked than when a church or Christmas parade is, or for being more upset when a Jew is murdered than when an Asian is, or by conferring different and privileged victim status on any group.
Some of us have been in the struggle to try and preserve America longer than you have, Bari. You are playing a vital and important role. Please take the time to learn from our experiences. You are more than welcome to join us for a Shabbat meal where we can talk at length.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Susan’s Musing article.
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