I tend to stay away from politics that I really, really care about — simply due to my background as a journalist and the habit it created over all these years.
But yesterday, while waiting for the final Bastille Day celebration at Eastern State Penitentiary which we ended up not even waiting for because it took too darn long, I looked at Facebook and saw a rabbi friend of mine who I’ve known for years since Miami shared a video that said “Share if he’s your favorite president” and was all about President Barack Obama.
My opinion of President Obama is more negative than positive. However, he did some very good things. There is no doubt he ran for president not expecting to have to clean up the Great Recession. Yet, he did so.
Philosophically, should he have bailed out the car companies? No, but it was the right decision and it worked out.
Concerning Israel, we know he didn’t get along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who I pretty much like and certainly deserves our respect, from his background in Philadelphia, leading to him being known as Mr. Nightline here in the U.S., to navigating Israeli politics so well for so long.
Some people say President Obama was very good to Israel with military help and I honestly don’t know the real truth because others insist the opposite. Some facts are probably secret, anyway, so people on both sides use the issue to their advantage.
Of course, there’s no question that near the end of his term, he had United Nations ambassador Samantha Power refuse to veto a resolution against Israel and I believe he was the first president to do that. So he holds a special bad place with me.
So my rabbi friend, who has lived in places all over the world, including Miami where we met, is now in North Jersey. That Facebook post you saw above said to “Share if he’s your favorite president,” referring to Obama, and he shared it. I don’t know that he should’ve. I think clergy should discuss issues and reasons for their opinions on them, rather than particular candidates. (That could also cause problems with the IRS, but Obama isn’t running for anything.)
I simply and only saw what the rabbi shared, so I responded to him — surprised — with the simple questions, “Favorite? Really?”
Then you see how I got a barrage of hate from someone, a different friend of the rabbi’s or perhaps just a Facebook friend he met once and hardly knows, who pretty much reveres Obama (president #44) and took complete offense for my two quick questions.
It was obviously a knee-jerk reaction because I did not refer to her in any way, much less read what she had to say.
We’re not an old country compared to France (remember Bastille Day) and many others, but we’ve had 44 people as president (remembering Grover Cleveland served as both 22nd and 24th).
We had a revolution, wars, rebellions, depressions, great economies and practically everything else. Politically, with President Donald Trump (#45), we may be in new territory — but don’t tell that to Andrew Jackson (#7) after what the media and Whig supporters said about his wife, Rachel Jackson.
“She was noted for her deep religious piety,” quoting from Wikipedia, but also “the subject of extremely negative attacks … Jackson believed … had hastened her death.”
As I pointed out, if you look closely, my comment is not indented. It was directed to our mutual friend, the rabbi, and not a response to any previous reply from someone who obviously can’t demonstrate tolerance.
She responded that I implied I was “not respectful” of her opinion and then called me an “angry blathering fool” as if I had written anything in an angry manner. Do you see anything written in an angry manner? Do you think I was going to do as told?
Then, considering the circumstances of where I was and what she wrote, I went on and wrote how she makes Fox News people, who tend to be on the right, “look correct when they talk about intolerant radical liberals” and how she belongs on a college campus where too often, invited speakers are not allowed freedom of speech because of protesters who disagree.
That’s not the civilized, right way to disagree. Neither is name-calling.
That was the end of the exchange. I gather, or using her word imply, she agrees she was unnecessarily sensitive as I wrote because she obviously has a big mouth but did not respond.
I woke up this morning and read someone else’s opinion, and while I liked it — both personally and on Facebook — I would not have signed my name to it.
I will say it’s difficult to be a liberal, conservative and especially moderate these days because you’re going to be attacked by anyone who doesn’t agree with you exactly on every position. (See intersectionality.)
This is awful and needs to stop. Americans have to get along and accept disagreements. Isn’t that what coalitions are all about? They’re different parties but come together on issues they both find important, yet don’t merge.
Yet I read on Facebook about people unfriending other people who were once friends. Or being disappointed in how their onetime friends finally had the guts to take their personal opinions out of the shadows, and are showing their true selves, and that’s so disappointing.
I don’t think anyone has unfriended me, or will after reading this. If so, then it is or will be their loss.
In this day in age, leaders on both sides are getting more and more vicious, and their supporters are doing the same. They’re not even listening to the other side. Those are not good examples to young people, whether it’s coming from a president or his most (un)loyal opposition, and they’re paying attention while growing up.
Example, example, example!
It’s probably also leading to more people getting personally offended on instinct — so easily without any reason, as I believe the case above to be — and there’s nothing good to come out of that.
And this all has to stop.
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From my very first blog post, Jan. 11, 2015: