Go Back Where You Came From

Around the turn of the century (the recent one), I lived in a small city in Northwest Central Indiana. We had a beautiful county courthouse.

Approaching one Christmas, it became apparent that the county government was going to allow a nativity scene on the courthouse grounds. I don’t remember whether it was petitioned, approved, whatever; I just remember it being an issue. There were churches all over the place. There were nativity scenes all over the place, including at least one Living Nativity. Why put one on the courthouse lawn? The only obvious reason was to lay claim to it. The object wasn’t goodwill toward men, it was exclusion.

Members of the Temple I belonged to wrote letters to the County Commissioners asking that they not permit this. The letters were polite and made the point that we as a congregation and others like us felt that this was designed to exclude us.

A county commissioner replied, in writing, to a woman from my congregation. She stated that this is a Christian country, Jews are guests here, and if she didn’t like it she could go back to Israel.

One piece of background information might be in order: My congregation had recently celebrated its hundred and fiftieth anniversary in that community. I knew a man running his great-grandfather’s business. Jews weren’t exactly new to the community. The community included a university and the congregation predated the university.

We were of course quite surprised. We’d love to think that kind of thing was behind us, but somehow it never is. Someone contacted the Anti-Defamation League. After all, this statement was issued by a sitting government official. I don’t know what happened, I never found out the details, but I know she resigned pretty quickly.

Now our President is pulling this crap, treating citizens, including citizens born here, as though they had no right to be here. What’s his party doing? I know what the House Republican leadership is doing. They’re saying a Democratic reaction is “all about politics.” I believe that quote dates from yesterday. Our President can’t be held to the standards of an Indiana County Commissioner.

The Republican leadership has changed hands. When Trump floated the idea of a Muslim ban, Dick Cheney of all people had the perfect reaction to it, a reaction that would apply equally to the President’s and Republican Representatives’ stand on his Tweets to those four Congresswomen:

“That’s UnAmerican.”

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