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Column: The President’s Speech: Stammering on Israel-bashing Allies

“Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?”

The forceful, stammer-free President’s Speech launched the 10-month election cycle to remove the Republican “dagger held at the throat of America” – while enabling political allies who persist in vilifying American Jews.

So far, Joe Biden is testing positive to his question of whether we will live “in the shadow of lies.”

Biden and the rest of the Democratic leadership must confront the unseemly conduct of Democrats who cannot criticize Israel without wallowing in anti-Semitic tropes. Democratic candidates cannot escape retribution from voters next November without cleaning their own house.

In effect, Biden is stammering over the conduct of Israel-bashers on the Democratic side of the aisle in the House of Representatives. Biden shared similar obstacles with stuttering as King George VI of England. King George was trained to overcome stuttering so he could counter Hitler’s aggressive speechifying, as depicted in “The King’s Speech.”

Our current president accurately recounted our former president’s culpability with the mob that stormed Capitol Hill and terrified his own vice president and 535 members of Congress on Jan. 6 one year before to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. That’s not to mention causing the death of one Capitol police officer, possibly the suicides of a few other police and the severe physical and psychic injuries that many officers suffered.

Donald J. Trump certainly incited the rioters, granted them the four hours to wreak havoc and professed his love for them. The event recalls the 1789 storming of the Bastille in Paris, Britain’s burning of the White House and Capitol on Aug. 24, 1814 and the destruction of Germany’s Reichstag in 1933. These historical episodes involved an enemy army in 1814 and authoritarian rule in Paris and Berlin. The target in 2021 was the bastion of our revered if flawed political system which the hooligans sought to blight.

The President’s Speech on the first anniversary appeared to be patriotic and political at the same time. Biden has been serious in addressing the nation’s countless domestic woes that vulnerable citizens endure each day. But he does have future elections to face, most notably the 2022 midterm elections when Democrats will strive to hold onto control of the House and the Senate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, stressed the “political.” What’s political is the timing, for the course of the mid-term campaign that naturally runs from now to Nov. 8. Biden could have, and perhaps should have, uttered these words at any given point in the past 12 months.

There are understandable reasons why Democrats nearly lost its House majority and failed to elect more Democrats to the Senate: The ongoing Israel-bashing, the out-of-control politically correct machine, the sometime lawlessness in the name of Black Lives Matter and the curious cries to “defund the police.”

Democrats must come to grips with these and possibly other issues. The party faces conflicts between what are labeled “moderates” and “leftists,” and cannot afford to lose either faction in large numbers.

They lost an estimated 41 percent of Jewish voters in Florida in 2020, no doubt contributing to Trump’s win in that state. On average, three-quarters of American Jews cast their votes for Democrats.

Jewish voters in Bucks County, Pa., could well account for GOP Rep. Brian Fitzgerald’s survival because of his staunch support for Israel. The county’s 50,000-plus Jews, out of a county population of 623,000, could decide elections in close races, and have probably done so.

Pennsylvania has turned into a pivotal state that had the last word in electing Biden in 2020 and gave Democrats four extra House seats two years earlier, and they kept it that way in 2020. Depending on redistricting, at least two Democratic seats could be imperiled. Democrats could expand its Senate majority if a Democrat wins the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who was elected to two terms by the narrowest of margins.

I cannot comprehend most of the concerns that drive Trump’s followers, but I do know that political correctness angers many white males. There is a reason for political correctness as a backlash to prejudice and ethnic insensitivity. It benefits me as an American Jew. More Christians wish people “Happy holidays” or “Happy Hanukah” to signal that they understand that there are actually American citizens who do not celebrate Christmas.

However, the politically correct crowd often overreacts. At work and educational institutions, the powers-that-be often respond to a range of offenses – even those equivalent to jaywalking – with firing or expulsion. I get the feeling that they conclude the accused to be guilty even where there is reason for doubt. Some conduct sloppy investigations in which investigators fail to tell the accused their rights.

Proven offenders should be punished in proportion with their offenses and standing within the organization. Those who do not deserve to be fired or expelled should nonetheless be disciplined coupled with sensitivity training.

Democratic leaders need to search for ways to tone down the influence of political correctness so that it is employed in a more even-handed manner.

At their height, the out-of-control Black Lives Matter demonstrations enraged and frightened many white people, even those who sympathized with the concerns that led to BLM’s creation. They also balked at the phrase “defund the police” when some felt the need was to reform the police. Advocates of “defund-the-police” explained that tax money must be made available to resolve social problems.

Whatever they meant, couldn’t they come up with a more clear and acceptable label?

Democrats can prove their message is credible only by addressing their own transgressions, a process that will be hard. The answer lies in the President’s Speech: “The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it. I believe the power of the presidency and the purpose is to unite this nation, not divide it; to lift us up, not tear us apart; to be about us – about us, not about ‘me’.”

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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