Vote Like Your Life Depends On It.
Happy Tuesday, my dear ones, there’s a lot to digest. As I wrote on Facebook, the news of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh shook me.
I care deeply for my spiritual home in San Francisco, a beaux arts Temple perched on California Street, overlooking Pacific Heights, a place I walked into ten years ago and approximately thought “whatever God is, she definitely kicks hangs out in this sanctuary.” My synagogue Sherith Israel is a place of refuge, study and joy. It is inhabited by a vibrant and diverse community.
Welcoming third places are in shorter and shorter supply. As the “How We Gather” initiative out of Harvard Divinity School examines, my Millennial generation struggles to find a place to be that isn’t home or work, a place formerly embodied by religious institutions. I've been lucky - my third spaces in San Francisco are Sherith Israel, Odd Salon, and yoga. What can I say? I'm old school. When I go to services or study at temple, I find music, inspiration, solace and meditation. Sherith Israel is one of my places of safety and comfort and reflection.
I cannot fathom what Tree of Life’s congregational family is enduring right now. And as synagogues around the country re-examine their safety protocols, and allocate already-scarce time and emotional labor to running every worst case scenarios in their heads, we mourn the deaths of congregational members there to commune. Meanwhile, media and politicians awkwardly attempt to “both sides” a story in which one side went to Saturday services to sing and pray and be together, while the other was radicalized online to hate and kill them, shouting “All Jews Must Die” while armed with an assault rifle and three other guns. And hey, don’t worry: the President of the United States says that since the community had an unlocked door, “the results could have been much better.”
Hate is rising to the surface. Anti-semitism is on the rise. There are many reasons to be deeply upset by this, but I am so upset because we've seen this movie before. WORDS MATTER. We are currently in the throes of a national hate speech DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack turned on at the top, the consequences of which is festering and fueling deadly action.
As the Huffington Post points out, last week,
"A man executed two black people at a grocery store, but didn’t engage a white man outside because “whites don’t shoot whites.” A Donald Trump supporter and apparent anti-Semite who looked up to white supremacists sent bombs in the mail to the president’s opposition. An avowed anti-Semite walked into a synagogue and killed 11 people after screaming, “All Jews must die!”
If this doesn't get you to vote, and get you to get your friends to vote, and phone bank and text bank and do anything you can, what does it take?
Because this hate has already seeped into our own discourse, on both the left and the right, and especially online. Look and listen. Talking about "globalization" and cursing Soros is anti-Semitism. Lamenting the loss of the "working class voter" in the last election while working class voters of color made up - and make up! - the bulk and power of the Democratic Party is racism. Telling Spanish speakers in public to "go back to their countries" is xenophobia (and hella racist.) And referring to women as "bitches" and "emotional" and reducing them to sexualized elements of their bodies is misogyny.
And meanwhile, the President of the United States, a week before the most consequential election in the history of the Republic IMHO, stokes jingoistic panic with false talk of a caravan of outsiders “invading” our country, while contemplating eliminating birthright citizenship via executive order.
We live in grave and terrifying times. Vote like your life depends on it.