Last year we invited two single guys to join us at the Purim seudah (meal). One of them backed out because he was worried about COVID. He was one of the smart ones who realized early on that this is serious. The second person canceled at the last-minute, stating that his relatives were having a meal and he wanted to join them. I will never know whether that was the real reason or if he already might have had COVID, since he died shortly thereafter from the coronavirus. Tragically, he is part of a large group. On Purim 2020 there were 760 reported cases and 23 deaths in the United States. A year later there are 28,554,887 cases and 511,998 deaths. Queens County has the fifth highest number of deaths by county in the country. Right above Queens County is Kings County. The president held a ceremony acknowledging the milestone of 500,000 deaths. I must get used to Biden doing the cross at these events. It is not traditionally done by presidents and it is not something Jewish people do. Nevertheless, in a country where the trend is to be anti-religious, there is something refreshing to seeing its leader use religious symbolism.
On to my main topic. America likes to refer to itself as American exceptionalism. Unfortunately, America has become exceptional in a bad a way. We have the most COVID deaths in the world and have become a nation of victims.
Victimization is the new mantra. Every group is on the bandwagon. It is not disputed that members of almost every group in this country has suffered discrimination or other improper conduct against some of its members during the existence of this country. There is also a debate between groups as to who has suffered more.
However, what has happened is that there is proliferation of the idea that they are victims. There are good reasons why victimization has become very popular. It has its benefits. It removes responsibility for conduct. “It is not our fault. We act this way because we have been subject to discrimination or other improper acts toward us.” Victimization can be used as a weapon to silence opposing viewpoints. It can excuse or justify failure. Also, it can be used to increase the group’s power in society.
The group that has done the best in using victimization to their benefit is LGBTQ. Within a short period of about 50 years, they have transformed society. I have written about this before so I will not repeat myself. I will just mention two recent examples. The first is changing the name of Mr. Potato Head to Potato Head. It is now improper to refer to a toy by gender. The second is the attack against Marjorie Taylor Greene, who put up a sign stating that there are two sexes: man and woman. As you may remember, I am no fan of hers. There are many times where her conduct requires condemnation. This is not one of them. She was criticized because across the hall was a member of Congress whose child was transgender, and Greene was accused of being insensitive. Of course, what was left out was that Marie Newman had first put by her door the transgender flag in support of LBGTQ communities and the proposed legislation. In other words, it is okay for the LGBTQ supporters to state their positions, but how dare you try to state an opposing position.
The start of the LBGTQ movement is claimed to have been in 1968 in Manhattan. Trump is a product of New York City. I cannot imagine that he did not take notice of their tactics. When he was the president and the most powerful person in the world, he liked to play the victim. Although he is no longer the president, he still has not changed. Trump espouses that he has never done anything wrong. It is a witch-hunt. He did not lose the election; it was stolen from him because of fraud. Most of Trump’s supporters believe him. The supporters like Trump because he is one of them since they are also victims.
The theme at this year’s CPAC conference is “Uncanceled.” The irony is that they have cancelled the true conservatives such as Representative Liz Cheney and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley because they had the nerve to vote to impeach or criticize Trump. Another significant portion of the conference is their focus on the unfounded claim of election fraud. It is just another example of the victimization overtaking this country.
This use of victimization is not good for the country. Jews have been subjected to unspeakable physical attacks such as the Crusades, pogroms, and the Holocaust. Yet we have not wallowed in self-pity or used it as a crutch. Instead, we have increased our efforts to grow and improve as a community. The rest of the country should learn from our example.
One final thought. This week’s Torah reading includes the incident of the Golden Calf. This week at CPAC, there was a new version of the Golden Calf, a golden statute of Donald Trump. Just like with the Golden Calf, where a small group of the nation worshipped it, at the conference there was a small group whose devotion to Trump was so extreme that it appeared they were worshipping him. The more things change, the more things stay the same.