I AM JUST TRYING TO DIRECT OUR ATTENTION AWAY, FOR A MOMENT, FROM THE POLITICAL MANIA THAT HAS SURROUNDED US FOR 363 DAYS THIS YEAR SO FAR AND COUNTING. WE HAVE TWO MORE TO GO. WEDNESDAY WE START ALL OVER AGAIN. I WANT TO TAKE A BREAK FROM THAT AND HAVE US LOOK AT 400 YEARS WITH THE ENGAGEMENT OF THE IDEA OF LIBERTY. MY ARGUMENT IS THAT IS THE ESSENCE OF AMERICA, OUR NATIONALISM. IT IS THE EXCEPTIONAL AMERICAN IDEAL. IT IS SOMETHING AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT, WRITING ABOUT, FIGHTING FOR 4 CENTURIES.If this is so, we should all be disgusted by an epidemic of anti-Semitism sweeping this nation.
According to Brookhiser, our obsession with liberty is manifested by 13 documents, starting with the Jamestown papers in 1619. He continues through Ronald Reagan's "Tear Down this Wall Speech" in 1987. He stops there. Like any good historian, he avoids the temptation to cover more recent events.
One of the 13 papers he mentions is the Flushing Remonstrance, a 1657 petition signed by about 30 Flushing residents in opposition to as ban on Quaker worship. It concludes,
The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sonnes of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour sayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour sayeth this is the law and the prophets.This theme of tolerance exists in other documents as well, including William Penn's Charter of Privileges to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania.
So it's clear this religious intolerance is distinctly unAmerican. This is not a Jewish problem, but a stain on American exceptionalism.
Though I am not particularly religious, I intend to visit a few more synagogues in upcoming weeks. Also, like the residents of Flushing, we need to stand up to those who engage in anti-Semitism, no matter how subtle they are.