Thursday, July 5, 2018

when wisdom fails

A site run by two of the generally wiser rabbis I know ran one of those "Isn't it a shame that liberals couldn't be civil to Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Can't we all sit down together and compromise?" essays. Here's my response (tl;dr - "No").

 Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not someone whose politics I disagree with. She is a willing agent of a corrupt regime that threatens the liberal (in the old sense) order not just in America but globally, and in that capacity she lies on behalf of that regime to the American public. "I'm sure there are fine people on both sides" may be appropriate for a disagreement among people of good will, but as we have seen it represents moral vacuity when applied to wickedness.

 I'd add also that for those of us who are straight, white, cis-male, and fairly well-off, thinking of Trump and his enablers as Beit Shammai to our Beit Hillel is an affordable luxury. I don't have to worry about my rights to marry, or adopt, or have autonomy over my body. I don't have to worry about the police demanding my papers, or killing my daughter, or sending my relatives from abroad to an internment camp.

Like Trump's chief of staff John ("the lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War") Kelley I can make an idol of "compromise", but compromise about the personhood of some is not wisdom; it's failure. Better to take a page from Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail:

 "I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

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