November 20, 2008
The spirit of Jonathan Swift, Rotbart should apologize
It Can't Happen Here
I was shocked by Rob Eshman's article wherein he found an unnamed organizer telling him that a coalition of blacks and Mormon leaders have begun laying the groundwork for a 2012 ballot initiative that would ban Jews from marrying Jews ("It Can't Happen Here," Nov. 14). I immediately went to my spiritualist, and he put me in contact with that great English satirist, Jonathan Swift, so I could get his opinion on the article and on Proposition 8.
As a Westside liberal Democrat and Barack Obama supporter who voted yes on [Prop.] 8, I needed assurance that my position was correct. Swift agreed with me that homosexuals should have all the contractual rights and obligations that heterosexuals get when they enter into a marriage contract. Swift also agreed with me that the word marriage should not be changed in its meaning and that some word should be found for homosexual contracts.
He also agreed that modifying the word marriage to include homosexuals, in fact, changes its meaning, thus giving confusion to the English language. It would be the same as if we eliminated either the word homosexual or heterosexual from English and applied only one of those words to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.
I hope that Mr. Eshman, who is a journalist and words craftsman, agrees with my position.
Leon M. Salter
Your very poor attempt at satire was the most appalling article to come out of this newspaper, particularly since you decided not to include the disclaimer in the printed copy of the paper. I suggest you grow up and take it on the chin.
Proposition 8 did not pass because the majority of Californians did not agree with it. Smearing other minority and religious groups is a shameful act that is not becoming of us Jews. I'm sure our Mormon and African American friends agree.
By concocting a story about a black-Mormon coalition conspiring to ban Jews from marrying each other, Rob Eshman tries to scare the 8 percent of Jews -- and 52 percent of Californians -- who voted for Proposition 8 into changing their minds about gay marriage. With all the subtlety of an after-school special, he attempts to teach us a lesson in intolerance. The comparison, however, is ridiculous.
The op-ed piece's anti-Jewish conspiracy fantasy -- labeled as satire on The Journal's Web site but, irresponsibly, not in the paper -- does not lend legitimacy to the argument that homosexuals' legal rights have been trampled upon by the passage of Proposition 8.
Those rights are secured by domestic partnership laws. For those against Proposition 8 because of church-state separation issues, then I'll counter that gay marriage should never have been voted on and passed by the California Supreme Court. Once it was, the church-state line had already been crossed, and the people of California needed to be heard.
Through our democratic process, Californians have spoken. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman. I guess if gay rights activists, the ACLU and Rob Eshman disagree, then democracy be damned.
In your Nov. 14 "It Can't Happen Here" column, you failed to make an important point. If the proponents of an anti-Jewish marriage initiative want to outlaw Jews marrying Jews, should they not be condemned for failure to propose -- using the same "logic" -- that Mormons not be allowed to marry Mormons, blacks not be allowed to marry blacks, Christians not be allowed to marry Christians, etc., etc?
Do those advocates -- using any degree of common sense -- think their biased proposal can, under any circumstances, be constitutionally upheld?
Your editorial, "It Can't Happen Here," mocked the passage of Proposition 8 and its ban on same-sex marriage by suggesting that one day Scripture might be used to ban Jews from marrying Jews.
However, the ban on same-sex marriage has nothing to do, necessarily, with either Scripture or equal rights. The demand for same-sex marriage, with its eligibility to adopt children, denies the biological reality of male-female differences and ignores children's developmental needs, which same-sex marriages could never provide, no matter how loving the two dads or two moms might be.
It is bigoted to deny that men and women are different and that these differences are precisely what children need from their parents as role models and as sources of male and female nurturing. Yet, ironically, by rejecting the other gender as sexual partners, homosexuals validate these male-female biological and psychological differences.
No homosexual couple has ever, or could ever, produce a child, and only traditional male-female marriage reflects the undeniable, biological reality of male-female differences, with their necessary psychological consequences for children's healthy development. Biology trumps social agendas, and adults' desires are secondary to children's needs.
The people of California have now spoken twice, and they've made it resoundingly clear that they don't want gay marriage. The majority rules in this country.
Your protestations simply sound like sour grapes.
In "It Can't Happen Here" Rob Eshman erroneously stated that the Mormon Church gave $22 million in support of Prop. 8. That number is an estimate of the amount members of the Church donated to Prop. 8 at the urging of the Church. Also, the column was satirical, or, rather, was an attempt at satire.
As an open-minded Jew and Green Party member, I would like to apologize to other open-minded Democrat and Green Party Jews for Dean Rotbart's fear-mongering and hate-inspired article ("I Apologize for the Jewish Vote for Obama," Nov. 14).
Rotbart needs to realize that the Jews of today are not the scared and uninformed Jews of the past. Jews of today use the Internet, communicate with all religions, including Muslims, and still manage to love Israel and care for other Jews.
Saying that Jews in America do not care about Israel because of an Obama vote is ridiculous. More Jews chose to vote for Barack Obama because he is against the war in Iraq, wants to help the poor and middle class and is far more intelligent than both John McCain and Sarah Palin combined.
Rotbart wants us to feel guilt, regret and fear; the very emotions that the conservative party and our past presidential party have been trying to make us feel for years now. I'm happy to say that we voted for change, and the days of Jews being stuck in an uninformed past are over.
Rotbart, kindly leave your racist views out of The Jewish Journal!
I want to let Dean Rotbart know that he should not include me in his apology to the most reactionary forces in America for my proud vote for President-elect Barack Obama.
Those of us who voted for Obama are actually following a political philosophy that has been a central part of Jewish life in America. Jewish immigrants started many of the labor unions in this country; they supported the civil rights movement and social programs to help the poor.
As one of the nearly eight out of 10 Jews who voted for Barack Obama on Nov. 4, I strongly reject Dean Rotbart's apology on my behalf. I voted with hope, pride and confidence for a candidate who represents the best in what America is and what America can become.
How dare Rotbart reduce my vote to political correctness and voting for the feel-good candidate.
While The Jewish Journal can and should print the opinions representing a range of views, I would urge The Journal to stop short of providing space, and thereby legitimizing, this type of hateful speech.
I apologize for the 22 percent of Jewish voters who voted Republican and gave demagogic credence to the poisonous venom that spews like raw sewage from the convoluted minds and mouths of conservative television and radio hosts.
I apologize for the 22 percent of Jewish voters who voted Republican and embraced hatred, bigotry and fear, while eschewing the traditional Judaic values of love, acceptance and hope.
I apologize for the 22 percent of Jewish voters who voted Republican and want the continuation of the war in Iraq, a war that has left Israel with more enemies and fewer choices and options to chose from.
I apologize for the 22 percent of Jewish voters who voted Republican and abandoned the majority of non-Jews who elected a president that carefully addresses the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio and seeks to end the Wild West shootout that has become the Republican substitute for thoughtful diplomacy.
And finally, I apologize for Rotbart and his ideological cousins at the RJC, who believe that in Orwellian doublespeak, a fact is an epithet and a falsehood is the truth.
I have never written a letter in response to an opinion piece before, but I was so troubled by what you wrote, I felt compelled to respond.
Your assertion that those of us who voted for Barack Obama don't have good sense or the intellectual maturity is condescending and elitist. Your fear of Obama is nothing more than Republican talking points that I have heard bellowed from every host of a FOX News show. Get a new narrative -- this one clearly didn't work.
Your veiled comparison of Obama to Hitler was the last straw. Obama is not even president yet, and the reason why we are "teetering perilously on the brink of catastrophe" is because of President Bush, Dick Cheney and all the other neocons that John McCain embraced in his campaign.
I hope in the weeks and months to come, your ears will hear what we hear (an intelligent, pragmatic voice in the White House) and your eyes will see what we see ( a world standing with the United States again). Instead of publicly apologizing for the 78 percent of Jews that did see past the fear-mongering, angry rhetoric and lies, you should be thanking us.
Dean Rotbart's opinion piece, in which he apologizes to Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin for the Jewish vote for Barack Obama, was wildly off the mark and remarkably offensive.
Rotbart and others who share his view need to take a close look at themselves in the mirror. Do they want to continue supporting people like Ann Coulter, who said that Jews need to be "perfected," and Sean Hannity, who invited Andy Martin, an anti-Semite, as a guest on his show?
While I do not believe Rotbart to be an anti-Semite, nor do I believe that Rotbart thinks that Jews need to be perfected, I do know that the 78 percent of Jewish voters who, according to exit polling, chose the Obama-Biden ticket have no need to apologize.
You do deserve an apology for Rotbart's use of "the gathering clouds of Holocaust II" and his outright statement that the "nuclear holocaust won" in this election.
Rotbart does need to write an apology letter; he just addressed it to the wrong people.
Marc R. Stanley
Chairman, National Jewish Democratic Council,
I guess Dean Rotbart would have voted for President Bush again if he had had the choice. Talk about hubris. No wonder his insulting viewpoint is considered, if one counts the votes, flawed by the vast majority of the Jewish voters and clearly shortsighted.
Israel needs not only a committed ally in the United States but also a competent ally if it is to achieve all of its goals. Most American Jews seem to agree that what benefits Israel most is a strong and internationally respected America.
I just read Dean Rotbart's brilliant tongue-in-cheek apology for the Jewish vote for Barack Obama. The tip-off, of course, was his naming of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Mike Gallagher as deserving of an apology.
These talking heads -- with Rush Limbaugh -- have committed one of the worst of Jewish sins, i.e., malicious gossip. Rotbart even repeats some of them in his positive take on guilt by association and fear-mongering.
Unfortunately, as Rotbart points out, there are about 22 percent of Jewish voters who will look upon his opinion piece as being serious, which supports President Lincoln's observation that you can fool some of the people all of the time.
Gilbert H. Skopp
The Kids Are All Right
I wanted to thank Marty Kaplan for his article, because it helps me to believe that maybe others in your generation can look upon mine with kindness and appreciation ("The Kids Are All Right," Nov. 14).
We have been told our entire lives that we're indifferent, apathetic, lazy and isolated. On election night, one chant united us in our enthusiasm for the country: "Yes we can."