Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

The worst lesson parents can teach

Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer were arrested on burglary charges after bringing children to take items from the Islamic Community Center in Tempe, Ariz., on March 15, 2018. The two videotaped themselves during the event. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) — This is really bad. Multiple levels of bad.

Here is what happened. Two women, Tahnee Gonzales, 32, and Elizabeth Dauenhauer, 51, were arrested on Thursday (March 15) after they recorded a video while taking things from the Islamic Community Center in Tempe, Ariz., near Phoenix. They also insulted Islam, which the police said might be considered hate speech.

It gets worse.

They brought three children along with them.

“Look at this mosque, this ugly mosque, here in our backyard in America,” Gonzales said in the video. “This is the infiltration of the Arabic Muslim coming in and destroying America.”

The women can be seen opening an unlocked gate with a “No Trespassing” sign on it, entering a courtyard, collecting pamphlets, removing items from a bulletin board and encouraging the children to do the same.

So, let’s talk.

First, about the nature of hatred. Remember that song in the old musical, “South Pacific”: “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.”

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Children are not born hating (or, for that matter, loving or tolerating). Someone has to teach them, either hatred or compassion.

Second, let’s talk about the nature of parenthood.

When Jews pray in memory of their parents, they speak of abba u-mori, “my father/my teacher,” or imi u-morati, “my mother/my teacher.”

The Hebrew word for “parents,” horim, has the echo of “Torah” within it.

To be a parent is to carry a Torah, the Hebrew Bible, into a child’s life.

Recently, a young woman became bat mitzvah in our synagogue. Her mother has been home-schooling her (she will soon attend a “conventional” school).

But, in fact, all homes are also schools.

The Tempe Police Department booking photo from March 15, 2018, of Tahnee Gonzales, one of two women arrested on burglary charges after spouting hate speech while removing items from a Tempe mosque. Gonzales was expected to be fitted with an ankle monitor and released March 16. A status conference in the case is set for March 29. A preliminary hearing is set for April 5. (Tempe Police Department via AP)

The women in our story made their homes into finishing schools for fanaticism.

Third, let’s talk about the nature of America itself.

I am struck by the name of one of the women.

Not Dauenhauer.

No. The other one.


Gonzales railed against Muslims and wished them and their institutions harm because they are insufficiently American for her.

It was not that long ago — in fact, it is true even and especially today — that home-grown American bigots would have also considered this woman’s name and ethnic background insufficiently American.

While Pesach (Passover) is coming, I am still hung up on the Jewish holiday of Purim, and on the character of its archvillain, the genocidal despot Haman.

Haman had complained to King Ahasueurus about the Jews of Persia. “There is a certain people … whose laws are not the same as our laws.” The Jews were the quintessential “other” within Persian society and therefore, according to Haman, intolerable.

Which is interesting, because Haman himself was an Agagite, and no more a “real” Persian than Mordecai or Esther. Quite often, the hater himself or herself comes from a group that is not the “real deal” in the country of origin.

As Hitler was, for example, not really a German, but an Austrian.

My first emotion, upon reading the story of this woman and her hateful curriculum, was deep anger.

But, that anger soon migrated over into profound sadness,  sadness about how the moral aspect of parenthood had become so corrupted.

Perhaps we now understand the real reason behind the oft-repeated biblical commandment — to love the stranger, “because you were strangers in Egypt.” The experience of slavery should serve as a moral university for the Jews. We take our very otherness and integrate it into our beings.

That otherness, theoretically, inspires us to activism on behalf of the least-loved of society. At the very least, that otherness should inoculate us against the temptation to hate.

Pesach (Passover) is coming. In Jewish households, seder preparations are now underway.

I have a homework assignment for Jewish parents and grandparents — and even, blessedly, great-grandparents.

This year, at the seder, read that story to the children. Talk about what it means to be trapped in an Egypt of the soul.

And then, remind the children in your family why we are forbidden to hate strangers.

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin


Click here to post a comment

  • Hate is of course a two way street:

    The hate, terror and aggression via a Partial and Recent and Not So Recent Body Count

    As the koranic/mosque driven acts of hate, terror and horror continue:

    The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

    ■”The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. ”

    and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

    and more recently

    1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

    1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

    2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

    3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action,  and 928 in non combat roles. Iraqi civilians killed as of 05/10/2013/, 113,249-123,978 mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, and

    4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

    5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

    6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

    7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

    8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

    9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

    10) – Afghanistan: US troops  killed in action,  killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

    11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

    12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

    13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

    14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane’s wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

    15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

    16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

    17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

    18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

    19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country’s controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

    20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

    21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

    22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) — Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

    23) “October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. ”

    o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
    BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi’ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq’s al Qaeda affiliate.
    The bombing on a Shi’ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country’s fractious Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions.”

    25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT

    (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

    26 ) September 12, 2012
    Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

    27) Boston Marathon horror – April 2013, four dead, hundreds injured and maimed for life.

    28) San Bernardino massacre, December 2015, 14 dead, 22 seriously hurt,

    29) Orlando Massacre- June 2016, 49 killed, hundreds injured by radical, koranic Muslim.

  • Yup another horrendous example of parenting based on hate and ignorance. However, this does not need to be a flash point, nor do they represent the vast majority of Americans.

  • Islam should be insulted. RNS is always promoting its gay agenda yet Islamists hang gays. Hypocritical RNS. As long as it is gay, Marxist, Islamic…anything but American and Christian, RNS will promote it.

  • This is another really good article by Salkin. The Old Testament command to love the stranger because Jews were once strangers has a New Testament parallel. We are commanded to love sinners, even our enemies, because we are sinners and we were once enemies of God.

    This article is important because of why it tells us to treat others as equals and that we should teach our kids that lesson. Of course, sometimes it is the kids who teach the parents the lesson that we are equals.

  • BTW, you are making absolutely no sense. But nice to know another good Christian doesn’t believe in freedom of religion, except for himself.

  • So, you have a leg up – you’re consistent – you don’t believe in freedom of religion for anybody.

  • Children are sometimes more aware than we give them credit for. MAYBE, they will realize that IF they behave like their mothers they too will be arrested and forced to wear an ankle monitor.

  • American Christians want gays murdered too. They even lobby for it to be done in other countries. There is nothing less honest than a Christian Fundamentalist attacking others.

  • Speaking as an American Christian, and for all (if I may) the American Christians that I know, which is quite a number across a fairly broad category of sects and ethnicities, none of my fellow believers want any harm to come to gays, or any “others” that exist in our society. That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have reservations about the present culture, government, and status quo of America.