The Maddening Whiplash of This Week, This Year, This Presidency

Was it really just yesterday morning that I was playing the clip of Senator-elect Reverend Warnock on a loop for my kids talking about a historic election as won by him and proud Jew Jon Ossoff.  

Tears were in my eyes every time I heard him say, “I think Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Rabbi who said that when he marched with Dr. King he felt like his legs were praying, I think that he and Dr. King are smiling in this moment.” My heart could not have been fuller as Warnock – the first EVER Black Democratic Senator from the south – pledged that “to make them [King and Heschel] proud.”  In an ugly election marked by images of Warnock’s skin darkened and Ossoff’s nose exaggerated, I was profoundly moved by Warnock’s homage to their unbroken allegiance “against the forces that seek to divide us,” through those that came before and his commitment to helping it shape the present and future.  

We have talked so much about Black-Jewish allyship.  How wonderful, how meaningful to see it celebrated and enacted on a national stage.  I felt…hope.  I felt…pride.  I felt – for once – that the conversation I was having with my children about American politics was an easy one that they understood, and cheered. After all, it’s not 2020 anymore. 

But if our recent era has anything to tell us, it’s that nothing can ever feel simply good anymore, even with 2020 in the rearview mirror. Backlash is a powerful force.

The day that marked the definitive loss of Republican control of the Senate, was also supposed to be the day that votes were ratified in Congress.  Perhaps it couldn’t have gone any other way.  Perhaps it could only have ended with domestic white terrorists staging a seditious coup on Capitol Hill, aided and abetted by both the sitting President and numerous Senators and members of Congress. Perhaps the end of this Presidency could only be marked in history by the violence that was fomented and encouraged. 

After all, he was telling us so all along. None of this, not a single aspect of it, is surprising.  Not to anyone who has been the victim of white supremacy.  Not to anyone who has watched it happen. 

But despite all the forewarning, : it’s embarrassing, terrifying and shocking that it came to this. That the rioters were seemingly treated with kid gloves after the brutal crackdowns on Black Lives Matter protesters this summer, and earlier on anti–Kavanaugh protesters, and protests for healthcare at the very same Capitol building.

And it’s bloody exhausting.  

This past year has been hard enough, in so many ways, for so many people. And it’s not over yet.

January 6, 2021–just yesterday–has been a hell of a year, friends.  If someone were scripting it, I’d send it back as being way too packed, way too ironic, way too on the nose. It’s just too much for any one day to handle; the plot needs to be spread out, even just a little.  The audience can’t manage quite this much action; no one can 

Certainly not us Americans, sitting glued to our twitter feeds as we weep for our country, weep for all those who have died this year, and weep as we realize – again and again and again – that it is far from over.  Certainly not us Jews and African-Americans, connecting in solidarity and celebrating the words of Reverend Warnock, hoping to make Rabbi Heschel and Dr. King proud. And praying that we still can.