The Larger, Longer Work

Rabbi Robert Dobrusin, Rabbi Emeritus

I am very grateful to share a piece that my friend, Rabbi Rob Dobrusin, wrote the day after the assault on the U.S. Capitol building. I appreciate the ways he challenges us toward the larger, longer work we have to do to confront white supremacy and violence in our country. He writes,

It is definitely my inclination (and I think it is a good idea in general) to react to an event like yesterday’s with relief that it is over and to find a glimpse of hope for the future. But, then after that deep breath, it is essential to look more critically at some of the issues that we must confront in looking ahead.

First, I agree with all of those who say that while President Trump and some of his closest advisors and supporters are to blame for inciting the protestors yesterday, the ideas and the attitudes that were reflected in the protests began before this administration and will remain long after Jan 20. President Trump gave them legitimacy in a more blatant way than previous presidents did but he is not the first to use language and take actions which inspire hate filled individuals to feel empowered. Still, from the very beginning of his candidacy, his continued statements which fueled actions of this kind were clear and unmistakeable.

But, those attitudes are still going to remain. One of the best statements I heard yesterday was from a commentator quoting Winston Churchill: “Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry”. This administration will come to an end on Jan 20, if not sooner, but the ideologies of hatred and bigotry and radical nationalism will still be there and will have to be confronted. This movement is fueled by President Trump but it has enough fuel without him at the head.

Secondly, the reality which so many have raised and occurred to so many of us yesterday must be addressed clearly. Why were these individuals able to get access to the capitol building? Why did we see pictures of police and guards stepping aside or smiling with the protestors (even taking pictures with them). Why were there so few arrests? The contrast between the peaceful black lives matter protest in June outside the White House which was broken up with tear gas and this atrocity yesterday could not be more clear and speaks again to the issues of racial inequality and injustice in this country. How could a black lives matter flag be deemed offensive and “anti-American” while those carrying confederate flags were told by the president; “We love you”?

These issues will not go away now that the horror of yesterday has passed. I’m glad we can breathe a sigh of relief but once we do that, we have to confront these issues which are not going to disappear with the end of this administration.

— Rabbi Rob Dobrusin

Rabbi Rob Dobrusin is the Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Israel Congregation of Ann Arbor. He hosts a beautiful podcast that I highly recommend to you, entitled, Wrestling and Dreaming: Engaging Discussions on Judaism.

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