The 2016 political season has been, notably,
one of extreme discord with the threat of violence right below the surface.
Not since the Democratic convention of 1968 has
there been such a display of radical differences of political opinion. The 1968
convention followed the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King,
Jr. The U.S. military was still stuck in
Viet Nam and many were calling for major social changes. We elected Richard
Nixon as President.
The 2016 election appears to have more to do
with differences of opinion on the quality of life in the United States in the
last fifty years. The two candidates who
seem most likely to receive their party’s nomination, Donald Trump and Hillary
Clinton, have the followers who are the most polarized. 75% of Trump supporters believe that quality
of life has deteriorated in the last 50 years in the United States compared to
66% of Clinton devotees who who believe life is better and express more
contentment with their lot.
At times when perceptions of “enough to go
around” are profoundly different it is not surprising to see the willingness of
those with radically opposing ideas to express these views volubly and
While xenophobia (the fear and hatred of strangers
and foreigners) resides beneath the surface at all times, it is now in the
spotlight. The result is that we have
those who believe that the inclusion of immigrants in the culture is a threat
and those who feel enriched by the resulting diversity.
It is within human nature, when threatened, to
be wary of those with differing opinions.
The more intimidated individuals feel, the more likely they are to
isolate and restrict the way they look at the world. This poses the question: “At what point do homogeneous groups
turn on their own?”
On one side of the equation are those who
above all else. They believe themselves
to be the last “true” Americans and the last “genuine” patriots...The first
amendment guarantees their right to speak their own truth.
On the other side are those who appear to seek
what might be called universal solutions that include larger groups. Neither
side possesses the silver bullet that will lead to the truth. When, however, does the line between loyalty
to one group become bigotry aimed at the destruction of another?
Historically, when a group adopts a “mob” mentality,
they are inclined to blame those whom they believe they can dominate. Very often the group that is earmarked are
those of the Jewish faith.
Faarikhan, a prominent religious and social leader, has noted that Mr.
Trump is the only candidate who will not take money from Jews. Now that uber wealthy Sheldon Adelson, a
devout Jew and ally of Israel, has endorsed Trump, it would appear that Mr.
Faarikhan might wish to reassess his commitment.
David Duke, former KKK leader ,has, as recently
as May of 2016, praised Trump for defeating those he (Duke) described as Jewish
bigots who control the United States.
In the 21st century questions have,
increasingly, arisen regarding the veracity of the press. During this election cycle, it has been
observed, that Jewish journalists have been specifically targeted.
Julia Ioffe, a reporter who wrote a profile of
Melania Trump for Gentleman’s
has faced death threats from conservative voters who were displeased with the
article. Ms. Ioffe, a Jewish emigre from
Russia, has noted that she has not experienced this kind of attack since she
arrived in the United States. She has
been sent images of her own face superimposed on the bodies of prisoners in
Auschwitz. Ms. Ioffe has also received
telephone calls with recordings of Hitler’s speeches.
Many Twitterers (those who write on Twitter)
with semitic-sounding names have received anti-Semitic rants and report having
been “doxed”. To be “doxed” is to have personal information
published on the internet with malicious intent. Radio host, Erik Erikson no longer allows his
children to pick up the mail due to the violent and frightening attacks that
have arrived by post. Ben Shapiro,
former Breitbart employee, now sleeps with a gun because a note with his home
address and his father’s name was published online along with the information
that they are Orthodox Jews.
There appears to be a shortage of respected
figures of authority such as Ronald Reagan, who, publicly rejected an
endorsement from the KKK; or Bernie Sanders, who expressed his disgust at
potential followers who voiced sexist sentiments; or John McCain who reminded
an angry crowd that Barack Obama was a decent person and not someone to be
feared as president. Where are today’s Portraits in Courage?
These events may serve as a reminder of ethnic “cleansings” such
as the Turkish massacre of Armenians in World War I, the mass killings in
Rwanda in the 1990’s and, the Babylonians, Roman and Greeks in ancient times.
In 1856 the country engaged in a Civil War over
differing opinions of ethical, moral, practical, and economic standards.
In 2016 a reasonable and peaceful resolution
would appear to be in everyone’s best interest.
If the goal is for all to have an increased sense of well-being, it
makes sense to concentrate on the tools that promote cooperation rather than
1968 Democratic Convention. (n.d.). Retrieved
May 18, 2016, from wikipedia.org
Berman, R. (2016, March 8). What's the Answer
to Political Polizaration? Retrieved May 18, 2016, from theatlantic.com
Barro, J. (2016, May 3). The Crisis in the
Republican Party is Even Worse Than it Looks. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from businessinsider.com
Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values
and how Life Has Changed in the U.S. (2016, March 31). Retrieved May 18, 2016,
Gambino, L. (2016, April 28). Journalist Who
Profiled Melania Trump Hit With Barrage of Antisemitic Abuse. Retrieved May 10,
2016, from the guardian.
History.com staff. (2009). Ethnic Cleansing.
Retrieved May 18, 2016, from history.com
Mandel, B. (2016, March 16). My Trump Tweets
Earned Me So Many Anti-Semitic Haters That I Bought a Gun. Retrieved May 10,
2016, from forward.
Obeidallah, D. (2016, May 5). Why
Won't Trump Denounce His Anti-Semitic Supporters. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from