Sunday, January 23, 2022

Walder and Trump

Chaim Walder (Arutz Sheva)
There is an unfortunate parallel to  be made between Donald Trump and Chaim Walder. Which is the idea that one cannot support what an individual does while not supporting the individual himself.

It is very troubling to me that people like this are supported. At the same time it is understandable. I was one of the people guilty of that in the case of Donald Trump. There is a reason for that.  As I have said (about umpteen times) - there was no better friend to the state of Israel  than the former President. I am not going to go into detail. Others may disagree about the value in those accomplishments. We are all entitled to our own. These are mine. And the views of many Orthodox Jews of all stripes that supported him. 

Donald Trump (Foreign Policy)
Another reason for that support were the choices he made domestically that favored Orthodox Jews. (Such as appointing Supreme Court justices that had a more favorable attitude toward religious values. Again - others may disagree. But this is how I see those SCOTUS appointments.)

All of that is why I defended Trump while rejecting him as any kind of role model for Jewish behavior. As did many of my co-religionists and others that had politically conservative values. They would say they supported Trump because of his policies, not because of his personal values (Or more accurately the lack of them).

As good as those policies were, did that justify voting for man like that? That was answered in the affirmative by the majority of Orthodox Jews.

But that was not a moral and ethical decision. At the end of the day, you cannot separate the man from his good works. To understand that better, we need only look at Chaim Walder and his books. Which by virtually all accounts were a tremendous benefit to their readers. His children's books were so popular that they are found in the homes of many Orthodox Jews of all stripes. The content of those books was considered a valuable resource for the benefit of children including  how to protect themselves from sexual abuse. To the best of my knowledge there no other books like them. 

And yet the majority of rabbinic leaders have said that those books should be removed from the home, discarded, and never used as any resource for their children. Despite the good advice contained in them. There is no separating the books from the man. The very name Walder as the author of those books will evoke the the evil spirit of the man himself and what he did. That by far outweighs the benefit.

I believe the same thing can be said about Trump. It’s true that the two situations are not identical. To be absolutely clear, there is nothing about Trump that is comparable to Walder’s sexual abuse. The harm Walder caused his individual victims is worse by orders of magnitude to anything Trump ever did to any individual. 

But Trump’s evil is still evil that will cause a different kind of harm. This is a man who did nothing to stop the violence that took place on January 6th of last year. If anything he inspired it. This is also a man that to this day refuses to admit he lost the election – maintaining that the election was stolen - despite assurances by all the people (from both parties) involved in the the election process that there was not nearly enough fraud to have accounted for the huge margin of victory by which Biden won. 

To me this is a no brainer. Either Trump is completely delusional or a brazen liar of the highest order. (Perhaps even both!)  And yet nearly half the country actually buys into that lie! Among them many (hopefully not most) Orthodox Jews. 

That so many people can believe 'the big lie' in our day is shocking. And not the first time in history that has happened. It was exactly the strategy used by Nazi propagandists against the Jewish people during the Holocaust. If you repeat a lie often enough people begin to believe it. Now Trump is not Hitler. Not even close. But he is using the same strategy. 

This is what makes Trump so dangerous. Who knows what other lies he would use in the future to further his personal agenda. Which may or may not coincide with what is best for America. But even if they do coincide - governing by virtue of  'the big lie' is not the way to govern in a democracy. It is the way of a tyrant in a dictatorship.

No one would love to see the enthusiastic Presidential support of Israel return more than I would. And no one would appreciate conservative polices restored in the Executive branch of government more than I do. But the cost of a man who has memorized nearly half the country into believing his lies is way too dangerous to be given another term as President.  And yet there seems to be so many Orthodox Jews that don’t understand this – and actually buy into his delusional claims. 

Bottom line is - you cannot separate the man from his works. Not Walder. And not Trump.