Many American Jews, myself included, cheered Congressperson Elise Stefanik of New York as she questioned Harvard President Claudine Gay during the Committee on Education and Workforce hearing on “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.” Here is a transcript of the Q & A between the two women cut and paste directly from her website
During the hearing, the committee chair, Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, called anti-Semitism a “grave danger inherent in assenting to the race-based ideology of the radical left.” She doubled down and said. “The buck for what has happened must stop on the president’s desk.”
Let’s be clear: I am not an apologist for the so-called “radical left.” I profoundly disagree with most of its platform. While I agree with Foxx that the buck stops at the president’s desk, I also strongly believe that Stefanik and other Republicans have the wrong president!
The buck for the rise in anti-Semitic behavior, activities, violence and speech clearly stops at the desk of former president Donald J. Trump. And where are these Republicans in denouncing Trump when on multiple occasions he uttered anti-Semitic tropes? Nowhere.
Stefanik has spent 5 terms in the House, 1st elected in 2014. Foxx has been in the House since 2005. In other words, both women were in office for the entire campaign and presidential term of our undistinguished 45th president of the United States.
According to the Advocate’s Trudy Ring, Foxx is an anti-Gay, Trump-Loving, Mike Johnson supporter. As for Stefanik, she continues to support Trump and validate his conspiracy theories, a political move that helped catapult her to national prominence.
Both women were in Congress for Trump’s 2016 campaign for president, his entire presidency, his failed campaign for re-election, the January 6, 2021 insurrection, and Trump’s re-emergence as the leading Republican candidate for president in 2024. Both have strongly supported his two campaigns. I haven’t heard either woman utter a peep about Trump’s multiple offensive comments about Jews, Hispanics, or Muslims.
Where were these women when marchers in Charlottesville chanted “Jews will not replace us” and Trump responded that there “were very fine people” in that group of marchers? Where were they when Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States?” Did they criticize Trump when he accused migrating Hispanics of “bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and they’re rapists,” or when he recently asserted that that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” Did they call for congressional hearings when Trump refused to condemn the Proud Boys or Qanon for their anti-Semitic conspiracy theories or all of his anti-Semitic comments and insinuations dating back to his attack on comedian Jon Stewart in 2013?
You get the idea. When it is university presidents and anti-Semitic protestors in blue states, these Republicans are warriors against on-campus anti-Semitic behaviors and protest. I am pleased that they condemn the universities’ failure to stop the madness. I applaud their activism in the face of these dangerous activities. However, as Virginia Representative Bobby Scott said:
“You can’t have it both ways. You can’t call for action then hamstring the agency charged with taking that action to protect students’ civil rights.”
He was referring, of course, to the Republican proposal to drastically cut funding to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which investigates discrimination claims. And to his “you can’t have it both ways” comment, I would add that you can’t cherry pick hate speech or activism for condemnation. You must be consistent and condemn it all, equally.
If we want to stop anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or any other type of discrimination, we must develop consistent and bipartisan laws and policies strongly opposing and penalizing such behavior by perpetrators and enablers. We cannot call ourselves a democracy and permit a culture of racism, discrimination, and anti-Semitism.
We also can’t pick and choose, in a partisan manner, which racist, discriminatory, or anti-Semitic speech or activity we will criticize. Our effort to create an American melting pot, a society where all races, creeds, religions, and cultures, live in peace and harmony, must be a uniform effort of all our leaders, Democrat, Republican, and Independent, from the President down to local council people. When one party refuses to condemn and is poised to nominate (for a second time) a self-professed bigot as its standard-bearer, we will never end the scourge of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, or discrimination. Until our country unites against hate, stops its internal partisan bickering, and harshly penalizes the perpetrators, no matter how prominent they are, we will continue to fail to deliver on the promise of America.
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