Life is like a game of pinball. The little silver ball bounces from one side of the machine to the other. It goes where it goes.
You can try to control the ball with the flippers. Good luck with that. In my experience, the flippers are pretty awful for controlling anything.
It wasn’t my idea to become a supervisor at a newspaper in Racine just before the start of the Great Recession. The opportunity afforded me too many chances to sit through meetings about layoffs and doing more with less. Though I’m now honored to work as a Jewish journalist at the Chronicle, I had no idea I’d be doing so at this moment in history, at a time of growing antisemitism. That little ball just keeps bouncing to and fro, doesn’t it?
Likewise, it was not my idea for candidate Donald Trump to call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Or for Trump to feud with London Mayor Sadiq Khan because, well, you know why.
This is your president. His national approval rating hovers at around 40 percent.
I know some of you would prefer to live in a different kind of world, a world where a mammoth chunk of us are not Trump’s America.
In your dreams, multiculturalism is not up for debate. It’s a forgone conclusion, a conversation more outdated than a Walkman with a mix tape. No, you feel the debate should be about pro-life or pro-choice, pro-business or pro-human and pro-gun or pro-gun control.
Not multiculturalism. Never that.
And yet here we are, with a president who I believe has a better than 50/50 shot at re-election (because Democrats). Yes, I mean this president, a president who is quick to highlight crimes committed by dark-skinned people, including Muslims, according to the New York Times.
I’m not going to hold Andy Palec, the writer of an op-ed on page 27, responsible for what Trump has said or done (also see Leon Cohen’s related piece). But I do think the president would appreciate his piece.
I’ll leave whether to support Donald Trump to you, but I will say this much:
- It’s wrong to reject a particular ethnic or religious group. The problem is that I know there are loads of good people in all categories. I’ve met some of them. Plus, of all the people on Earth, we Jews, perhaps the ultimate “Other,” must be sensitive to Othering others.
- The president has tapped into something important. So many people feel he’s speaking for them, not a set of fanciful values pursued at the expense of America’s needs. The left should read op-eds like Palec’s. Know what you’re dealing with. Maybe learn something, even if you disagree.
Put another way, we must recognize that the two sides in this country are not going away.
We need to understand one another. We need to know the other side exists. We need to live in reality.
Good grief, as citizens of this great republic, all of us, of all faiths, have got a government to run together. We’ve got challenges to beat. Within the Jewish world, we’ve got to work together on issues related to community, Israel and antisemitism.
We’ll never have enough control of that little silver ball. It will always get past those flippers.
But if we can better understand the game, we might get better at playing.
Rob Golub is editor of the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.