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WHAT do we do with the extremist next door?

05/21/2019 11:20:41 PM


Rabbi Brent Spodek

Way back in the second century, the sage Rabba taught that no person can say that their blood is more precious than the blood of another.

It's a remarkable statement, really - we Jews have always been a particular people, with distinct customs and traditions which at times we have thought represented the very will of God. That heritage which we value heritage teaches that at the most fundamental level of life itself, we all bleed the same red blood.

Unfortunately, not all our neighbors agree.

There is a podcast called The Daily Shoah, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls  “one of the white supremacist movement’s most popular and effective (audio) propaganda hubs.” It is recorded right here in Hopewell Junction by folks who, in 2017, hosted Richard Spencer and other white supremacists had a book burning in Fishkill.

With some truly extraordinary reporting, Chip Rowe of the Highlands Current lays out in The Extremist Next Door that the Hudson Valley has the unfortunate distinction of being an important center of white nationalism.

This is not far away and this is not theoretical. Here, in the area where we make our lives and build our community, are people who produce a podcast which, in its own words, says the only realistic option for solving the “problem” of Jews, blacks and other non-Aryan groups is “un-ironic extermination.”

So what do we do?

  • We should continue to take steps to defend and protect ourselves, both at home and at BHA.

  • We should continue to be in coalition with people of good conscience, with African Americans, immigrants, LGBT folk and others who are targeted by white supremacy.

  • We should continue to hold our elected officials accountable for how they protect us from domestic terror.

And most of all, we should live our values as proudly and loudly as we can. One of our core values is that we all - in our different hues and faiths - are all images of the One God and we all bleed red just the same - no one life is more valuable than another. So with that in mind, I want to invite all of us - Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and all people of good conscience, who find the ideology of blood purity repugnant, to live our values at the Units of Love Blood Drive on June 2 as a form of protest.

The blood collected that day will not go just to Jews or just to African Americans or just to Muslims. It will go from human beings, who literally open their hearts to other human beings in pain, suffering from accidents or from cancer.

I recognize that the US blood system has had a complicated racial and ethnic history, and that even to this day its treatment of LGBT donors is deeply problematic. Nonetheless, I cannot imagine a better rejoinder to our white supremacist neighbors, who think their blood purer than ours, than to fill the blood system with the donated blood of Jews and Blacks and Mexicans and Muslims.

May our blood supply be so diverse that the white supremacists refuse medical treatment, lest they be tainted with our blood. And may we soon see a day when the distinction between O+ and B- is the only blood purity anyone tries to maintain.

Sat, January 25 2020 28 Tevet 5780