Saturday, December 14, 2019

Consider Whom Trump Pals Around With

God is in the details, it is said (as is the devil, which must set up some interesting confrontations). Sometimes, however, we can miss the forest for the trees. And so it is that lawyer and Slate columnist Mark Joseph Stern writes

The New York Times published a bombshell report on Tuesday claiming that President Donald Trump planned to sign an executive order that interpreted Judaism “as a race or nationality” under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI governs federally funded educational programs, so the Times warned that the order might be deployed to squelch anti-Israel speech on campus. “Mr. Trump’s order,” the Times further claimed, “will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.”

That turned out to be untrue. The text of the order, which leaked on Wednesday, does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality. It does not claim that Jews are a nation or a different race. The order’s interpretation of Title VI—insofar as the law applies to Jews—is entirely in line with the Obama administration’s approach. It only deviates from past practice by suggesting that harsh criticism of Israel—specifically, the notion that it is “a racist endeavor”—may be used as evidence to prove anti-Semitic intent. There is good reason, however, to doubt that the order can actually be used to suppress non-bigoted disapproval of Israel on college campuses.

The text of the order.... does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality.  Sorry, but no.  The text includes "Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual's race, color, or national origin."

If the order does not begin to redefine Judaism as a race or nationality, the sentence in italics would not have been necessary. When discrimination is based on an individuals' race, color, or national origin, it is (as acknowledged in the new order) already considered to be discrimination.  Jews are not under Title VI exempted from protection on the basis of being Jews and thus there is no reason to specify that discrimination against Jews may be based on an individual's race, color or national origin- unless the intent is to link Judaism to national origin.

But I don't want to miss the forest for the trees, arguing legal trivia with a lawyer. what is said about economists applies also to lawyers: get seven lawyers together, there will be eight opinions.

President Trump signed the order at a Chanukah reception with many prominent individuals in attendance. They included Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and New England Cheaters owner Robert Kraft, who are both Jewish- and Robert Jeffress, who is not. Reverend Jeffress in 2009 claimed

Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, not only do they lead people away from the true God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell. You know, Jesus was very clear. Hell is not only going to be populated by murderers and drug dealers and child abusers. Hell is going to be filled with good religious people who have rejected the truth of Christ.

The statement seemed to many people to be thoroughly and inaccurately antagonistic to "Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism," and clearly Jeffress should have been bumped by a minister more with a more ecumenical outlook .

Aside from that, however, Christians recognize that that Judaism leans upon the Old Testament, one of the two testaments fundamental to Christianity. It is the book that Jesus read, a necessary prelude to the New Testament. Believing and discerning Christians would realize Judaism should not be lumped in with Islam or Hinduism.

Moreover, those four religions do not lead people away from God the Father or God the Son.  Orthodox Christianity, which Jeffress would identify with, teaches that people are in a state of sin ("original sin"), thanks to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, and that darned apple (which may not have been an apple at all, an interesting and insignificant notion).  Individuals inevitably resist the will of God and in a state of enmity toward God but many are drawn toJesus Christ and saved without merit. They are not dragged away from him by Judaism, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, or any other creed.

We cannot be sure what President Trump intends with his Executive Order, nor is it possible to determine with certainty what Jeffress truly believes. But the latter has been known to bear ill will toward Jews and was invited to the White House to be part of an affair celebrating an order which can legitimately, if not justifiably, interpreted as suggesting that Judaism is a nationality instead of, or in addition to, a religion.

It would have been much tougher going for Chancellor AdolfHitler had he not convinced many German Christians, Protestant and Catholic, that German Jews were not German.  Donald Trump claims that he has been "chosen by God" but some people, Stern among them, may be loathe to acknowledge the President's intention absent even more overt remarks or actions. By then, in a second term, it may be too late.

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