Totalities

The United States got a chance to view a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Most of the country only saw a partial eclipse, with a narrow band of the country from South Carolina to Oregon witnessed the solar eclipse in its totality.

The Solar Eclipse 

The “totality” was a remarkable site to behold. The sun was completely eclipsed by the moon passing before it, rendering the sun as a dark orb, and bringing darkness to that section of the country during daylight hours. The phenomena was short – just three minutes – but its impact on those in its path was amazing.

Total Solar Eclipse
(photo by Ari Mendelow, August 21, 2017)

One would imagine that witnessing such a dramatic event would be easy to see and capture, but it wasn’t. Due to the overall brightness of the sun, one needed to look at the sun through special glasses to capture the sight.


The eclipse through special glasses
(photo: Ari Mendelow)

For those not in the path of totality and without the special glasses, the hours from the very beginning of the eclipse through the end passed without incident. There was no perceptible difference in sunlight during the hot summer day.

Visible Anti-Semitism

August 2017 also brought to light the scourge of anti-Semitism in the United States.

A protest march in Charlottesville, VA about the removal of Confederate war heroes revealed ugly shouts against Jews by White supremacists. Their hatred was laid bare and much of the nation was in shock at the vile display of hate.

However, many advocacy and educational groups – including First.One.Through – have been writing about the rampant anti-Semitism for years. They have repeatedly shown the bias of the media to downplay anti-Semitism, whether in the United States or in Europe; the sad slanders in governmental bodies such as the United Nations and the Obama Administration.

But despite the many articles and videos about prevalent Jew-hatred, people have been dismissive. Much like the millions of people in the United States that did not wear special eclipse glasses, they could not see the hatred that was happening all around them.

Anti-Semitism – like solar eclipses – has always been present. Sometimes the blatant anti-Semitism – a “totality,” to borrow eclipse terminology  – is so overwhelming that the ground becomes darkened as it was in Charlottesville, VA. The hatred was actually visible, and people were astonished.

But such moments come and go. The solar eclipse moves on, to appear in another part of the world, in part and in totality. We will read about the totality events far from our shores. We will be unmoved.

People trying to highlight the incessant anti-Semitism in the world may benefit from a moment of pause, even in the shadow of the great solar eclipse of 2017. One cannot convince people to view the world through the special glasses which highlight the anti-Semitism. It may be there, but only those people that go through the effort of donning the glasses or happen to be in the path of totality will recognize it.

It may be that the best form of education is nature. Educating people to not look at the sun as it will damage their eyes benefits from being both simple and selfish. Perhaps the best message for combating anti-Semitism would be  something similar, like avoiding hating anyone. The blanket message covers sunny and cloudy days, those areas with and without eclipses, hating Jews, Muslims, gays or anyone else.

Totalities are moments in time to acknowledge prevailing realities – not just the unusual moment itself. The moon always circles the earth and anti-Semitism is all around us. Let’s acknowledge the moment and absorb important lessons for a healthy life and society.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

The Long History of Dictating Where Jews Can Live Continues

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

The Monumental Gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump

There were two events that occurred in June 2015 that have defined race relations in the South. One of them has been seized by the media as the root cause of the explosion of racism embodied by the fights in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017. Yet the other is arguably the more clearly identified source of the tension.

June 2015

On June 16, 2015, real estate titan and media personality Donald Trump announced that he would run for president of the United States. The political novice declared that it was time to turn the country around and bring back jobs – good jobs – to America, to “make our country great again.” The Trump tagline was coined “Make America great again,” and he would go one to become the 45th president of the United States.

On June 17, a white supremacist named Dylann Roof walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot and killed nine black worshipers. Roof’s “manifesto” was found in his house which detailed the many reasons he hated blacks and Jews.

Roof’s view of patriotism had nothing to do with Trump’s pride in America, but a pride in being white.

“I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke. People pretending like they have something to be proud while White people are being murdered daily in the streets…. How about we protect the White race and stop fighting for the jews as well.”

One week in June began a process of bringing a political lightweight to the presidency to “make America great again,” while a racist sought to “make America White again.” Each set in motion a series of actions and reactions in America which were deeply felt in August 2017.

Nikki Haley Talks Down Hatred
and Takes Down the Confederate Flag

The Governor of South Carolina was quick to respond to the shooting of the black church-goers. Gov. Nikki Haley spoke to her state and the country on June 22nd in a remarkable speech. She spoke of her pride in her state and gave consolation to the wounded and injured. She was clear in her rejection of hatred and bigotry, while also noting that many people who are proud of their southern heritage have no malice toward minorities. In short, she brought comfort to all sides and stabilized the situation.

And then she addressed the flag. The Confederate flag that flew by the state capital.

“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.

The hate filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism…

The evil we saw last Wednesday comes from a place much deeper, much darker. But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds. It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us.”

Nikki Haley called for taking down the Confederate flag over the government grounds. She did it while noting that most people in the state respect the flag, but there are some that use it as a vehicle to violence. She said that she respects people that chose to keep that flag in their homes; it is a matter of free speech and expression. However, she concluded that in light of the history of pain and suffering in the name of the flag, the Confederate flag no longer should be endorsed by the government.


Gov. Haley after shooting at black church
June 2015

A Republican female minority governor decided it was time for the southern states to remove the emblems of the Civil War fought 150 years earlier. Standing beside two Republican senators from South Carolina she declaredThis flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.” Mainstream media would barely recognize the fact that it was Republicans – and a female minority Republican – that would shake the south.

Haley’s actions set in motion a rethinking of the various symbols of the Confederacy. In May 2017 several statutes were removed from public spaces in New Orleans. Other southern states were in the process of reviewing the status of their Confederate statues – which is what brought the White supremacists to Charlottesville, VA in August 2017: a protest to stop the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee.

Donald Trump Talks Up Division
and the Press Focuses on Trump Instead of Hate

Donald Trump’s road to the presidency from June 2015 was remarkable in many respects. He not only beat out a field of respected Republican politicians to win the nomination, but he did so while alienating many groups along the way.

Muslims were insulted by his call to ban Muslims from entering the country until the country devised a more thorough vetting process. Women were outraged when they heard a recording of his proudly groping women. The Latino community was appalled when he referred to the many immigrants that came to the USA from south of the border as “bad hombres.” The list would go on.

Along the way his colleagues in the Republican party would abandon him. In a remarkable occurrence in American politics, one Republican leader after another would say that they were appalled at Trump’s comments and would not vote for him. The press ate it up. They ridiculed Trump and blamed him as the source for disunity and bigotry in the country.

But he won the presidency anyway.

Trump would not give roles in his cabinet to the Republican politicians that bad-mouthed him. Only Governor Nikki Haley – who distanced herself from Trump’s comments, but not the man – would get a role in his administration, as US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Over the first months of his presidency, Trump would continue to make remarks that angered wide swaths of the country. The media continued to state that Trump was a racist, by not disavowing the support of White supremacists, and making laws alienating minorities – whether a ban on Muslim refugees or edicts to expel illegal immigrants.

By August 2017, when the Charlottesville, VA White supremacy protest came to town, Trump’s comments could be predicted.

Once again, Trump fueled the media’s wrath with his comments. They admonished him for endorsing racism and allowing it to rear its ugly head in the country once again.

The monumental gap between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump was clear. Haley took decisive action to turn back divisive symbols in the country, while Trump called for keeping them in place. Haley calmed the situation with language that reached out to ALL parties, while Trump used language that only appealed to a sliver of the public.

And the media gave Haley little credit for calming the situation while it blamed Trump for everything.

Racism has always existed in the United States; it is not new in the age of Trump. White racism has actually been on the decline for several years according to FBI reports, and it is much less common in the South than liberal northern states like Massachusetts.

It is both unfortunate that Trump aggravates a tense situation, and that his impulse to attack the media – and the media’s impulse to attack him – takes away from the important debate about the symbols of the Confederacy in our country. Haley talked about it clearly and with conviction. But Trump and the media can only talk about each other.


Related First.One.Through articles:

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

If a Black Muslim Cop Kills a White Woman, Does it Make a Sound?

New York Times Finds Racism When it Wants

New York Times’ Small Anti-Semitism

Your Father’s Anti-Semitism

“An anti-Semitic Tinge”

“Jews as a Class”

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis