Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

Donald Trump, relativist in chief

Klan members salute during a KKK rally in Justice Park Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Let’s get this straight, once and for all.

Donald Trump is not a conservative.

He proved that, early on, through his lifestyle. The conservatives whom I know and respect reject Trump’s way of talking.

My favorite conservatives base their world view on the worship of God, as imbedded in a religious tradition, and know that the worship of oneself is idolatry.

They have no tolerance for squishy ethical thinking, for la-de-da notions that “there are many right ways to look at this situation” or that “many people are at fault.”

They abhor such rhetoric when it comes from the Left, and the best of them equally abhor it when it comes from the Right.

We can only imagine what some of them are now saying about  Donald Trump’s post-Charlottesville anemic condemnation of “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

And, just in case you hadn’t heard that last piece, Trump repeated it for emphasis: “On many sides.”

And, just in case you didn’t get it the first time, the White House doubled down: “The president was condemning hatred from all sources and from all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

Let’s make sure you got that right.

Trump was saying that there was no moral difference between the thugs who tried to turn Charlottesville into Nuremberg, and those who came out to oppose them.

He was saying that those who hate and resist haters are as bad as the haters themselves.

I hadn’t heard that philosophical move since a tenth grader told me that “you have no right to say that Hitler was wrong, because he thought he was right.”

Welcome to the moral world of Donald Trump.

Imagine him saying…

  • “Ever since Ivanka converted to Judaism, I’ve been doing some research into how Jews celebrate. I asked Stephen Miller to teach me some stuff. He told me about Purim. He even read the book of Esther to me.

“Frankly, I don’t like how King Ahaseurus comes off. And there is a lot of hostility to Haman. I understand that in the synagogue, when they read the story and they come to his name, they make a lot of noise and make it impossible to hear. Very rude.

“There was an egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

  • “I went to that Passover thing at Jared and Ivanka’s, what do they call it, the Seder. And I gotta tell you: while I have nothing against the ancient Israelites getting out of Egypt, nothing whatsoever, you read that book, the Haggadah, and there’s a lot of anti-Pharaoh stuff in there. And a lot of anger against the Egyptians — those plagues, especially the death of the first born.

“There was an egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

  • “They took me on a trip to the US Holocaust Museum in Washington. True — I was at Yad Va Shem in Jerusalem recently, but I could only squeeze in fifteen minutes there. I walked around the museum. Sad! But when I got to the part about the uprising of the Jews at the Warsaw Ghetto, I saw how they fought the Nazis. I’m thinking that many of them were screaming anti-German things at the soldiers. And I know that about three hundred German soldiers were killed there.

“There was an egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

  • “I was recently reading about the Nat Turner rebellion, where a bunch of slaves and free black people had an uprising against slave owners in Virginia. One hundred twenty slaves died. Terrible. And about 65 white people died.

“There was an egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

  • “I recently went to church. Don’t ask me why; I’m really not sure. Frankly, it’s not something that I do all that often. Anyway, there were a few scriptural readings. One was about Jesus. And then they had something from the Old Testament — except Jared tells me that you’re not supposed to call it that — it’s the (let me see if I can pronounce this right) — the Tanachhhhhh, with that back of the throat sound.

“Or, the Hebrew Bible.

“Bannon says that you have to be so PC with the Jews about this; they get very touchy if you don’t call their book by the right name.

“Anyway, the reading was from the prophet Isaiah (5:20) — ‘Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.’

“Isn’t that a bit judgmental? I mean — what if you actually think that evil is good?”

And the scariest part?

The miscreants in Charlottesville are convinced that Trump has their ideological back.

And if that is a false impression, why isn’t he correcting them?


About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.


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  • Evangelicals are the fount and source of moral relativism. Of course they project this onto anyone who does not share their rigid belief system, moral values so rigid that Gumby looks like Parson weems.

    Kim Davis, her four marriages, adultery, divorces, and refusal to render unto Caesar and do her days work, as Paul recommends. Well Jesus forgave her. Just ask her.

    The graham boy with the multiple adulteries? WEll, Jesus forgave him as well. Just ask him.

    Donald Trump, multiple marriages, divorces, adultery– at the least, lust in his heart, at the most, well, small hands– god picks imperfect instruments, and surely has forgiven him.

    JImmy Swaggart– gay is the worst sin swaggart– but not porneia in all of its glory.
    He begged Jesus for forgiveness, weeping as he did so, and Jesus bought the whole Schtick. Just ask him.

    But ben in Oakland, married to the same man for fifteen years. Well, Jesus would never forgive that. No need to ask at all. But Mr. OBama, married faithfully, an example of grace and fidelity and class– EEEEEEEEEEVILLLLLLLLL!

    The list goes on and on and on and on and on and on.

  • I find it very hard to believe that anyone could possibly be surprised by this. There were multiple times during the campaign when people called on Trump to denounce white supremacists. Every time, he refused to do it.

    Trump knows who his base is. He won the Republican primary on a wave of thinly veiled racism. White supremacists and the KKK were cheering his success all along. They knew that his success was their free license. And they are taking it.

    This is no surprise. People have been pointing out how thoroughly his campaign has been based on racism from the start. Since most of those voices have been on the left, however, everyone on the right either refused to listen or believed the opposite out of spite.

    To be perfectly blunt, I’m rather surprised conservatives are now acting like there is a distinction between hate and strong responses to hate. When BLM is pushing back against police brutality and racially motivated shootings, I don’t see conservatives making that distinction. I see them denouncing the protesters without acknowledging the injustice. When businesses or civil servants face strong public backlash for discriminating against LGBTs, conservatives call it bullying by the gay lobby. This sudden concern for people protesting hate is a pretty new development. I don’t expect it to last.


    For those of us who are political minorities, BOTH of your sides look thuggish. BOTH of your sides SHOWED UP SPECIFICALLY TO FIGHT.

    Conservatives need to own their violent racist protesters, BUT YOU need to own up to your Antifa thugs as well!!

    Because you ALL look like a bunch of violent hypocrites to those of us who are neither conservative nor progressive.

  • There is no moral equivalence between hatred and protest. They are in different universes. We need less hatred and, if necessary, more pushback. Sorry.

  • No difference between allegedly rowdy protest and murder?

    Out of all the unsupported and unfounded claims of counter protesters acting violently or instigating violence, it is telling the only fatality and serious injuries were caused by one side and one side alone. The neo-nazis alone have to take the blame for this. They acted far worse, crossing a line which makes your arguments entirely in bad faith.

    “Because you ALL look like a bunch of violent hypocrites to those of us who are neither conservative nor progressive”

    I didn’t see any reports of “Antifa” or “Leftists” trying to kill or seriously kill the neo-nazis here. But the Neo-nazis not only condoned the act of terrorism they perpetrated there, they congratulated the indifference/silence on the matter by our president. They are proud of it.

    Yet you have the nerve to attack the victims of the lethal violence here. Get bent.

  • Typical. People show up to protest one of the biggest hate-group rallies in recent history. One of those protesters is murdered by a supporter of those hate groups. But it’s the *protesters* who are in the wrong.

    Like I said before, conservatives see no difference between hate and the response to it. Except for the fact they care about the latter, at best paying lip service to condemning the former. People like Trump and Eddie can’t even be bothered to pay lip service. I’d certainly like to see them doing otherwise, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • I agree. The anti-facist movement on the far Left has not been adequately blamed for their incitement of violence. Free speech and assembly is guaranteed for all – even for racist hate groups. The use of violence by either side is wrong but seems to be inevitable these days given the zeal and passion on both sides.

  • I was hoping for a well -thought out and well-written essay…but all I got here was a nothing burger.

  • Where were the police? Why didn’t they act? They were only on-lookers until the murder. They need to be held accountable too. They were there to keep the peace which they did not do. Whoever gave the stand-down order needs to lose his/her job and be held accountable.

  • “And, just in case you didn’t get it the first time, the White House doubled down: “The president was condemning hatred from all sources and from all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”. . . “He was saying that those who hate and resist haters are as bad as the haters themselves.

    In my view, there are no gradations of hatred. It is always truly evil, and it doesn’t matter whether it comes from a thug who runs over a crowd of people, or a self-righteous counter-protester who is filled with righteous anger and passion toward perceived evildoers!

    It may sound like an exaggeration to hear President Trump say, “Those who hate and resist haters are as bad as the haters themselves.” That is essentially true, although awkwardly stated by the president. Those of us who articulate things well tend to feel a little better about these situations when we can fashion a pecking order of different layers of hated. We consider those who hate the most to be much worse than those who hate some lesser amount.

    In the end, anyone who hates will be completely destroyed by their own hatred.

  • that’s it, complain about your appointed as leaders until it angers ELOHEEM enough to give you ingrates with worse. so you! can blame others for what you have personally caused to anger ELOHEEM.

    time and time again, see how ELOHEEM has commanded the torture, torment, and enslavement for their mental attitude against ELOHEEM. and see how quickly you all, forget that ELOHEEM is THE COMMANDER of all your pestilence, plague, and famine till the end of this sixth day again.

    with THEIR Male Child adam and his mate placed in charge as HaMosheeach for the last Torah Day. just exactly like it says, in The Word of ELOHEEM given to Moshe. when you are even told in TheTorah that adam and his sister chaooah are always to be the acting king and queen for the day of rest. and still you do not believe ELOHEEM here in THEIR Giving This Physical ReAccounting of The Whole Torah again.

    and you, had more than one set of racist fools at the rally. both black and white nazi groups, and think there, was not going to be violent thunderstorm? and both sides misusing an inanimate object, as a mental excuse to justify their nazi colonial actions. as the mental demons, were commanded to display their physical demonic intentions.

    what, you think you can blame hitler, for the whole G-Dless wwii commanded to happen because of this whole G-Dless going world? where even the ussr, could not admit the greater G-Dless casualties and suffering. with the more G-Dless nations, suffering from the most casualties and suffering. because you all, still can’t comprehend this is THEIR Physical Theocracy to dictate all physical events.

  • everything that is, physically commanded to happen is a result of our mental attitude for or against ELOHEEM. every mental cause, has a physical commanded effect.

    mental demon-ism, shall never result in your being treated as physical Angels. and complaining to the devils, for help is not going to work out in your idolatry no matter how excited you get about it.

  • Why not? After all, there was no moral difference between the Allies and the Axis powers during WW2, right? I mean, the Nazis only wanted their own land, free from Jews and other undesirables as was their right as good, law abiding, Christian Germans, right? The Allies were clearly in the wrong to fight a war to keep Nazi citizens’ from realizing their right to self-determination.

  • And 50 years back if you were attempting to be married to a black woman Jesus would hate it even more than he hates your faithful marriage to Mr Ben, per all accounts evangelicals were even more full of venom then.

  • They were just a lot more open about it, because they weren’t afraid of being labelled as bigots then. A lot of “the culture” agreed with them.