Friday, January 4, 2019

Brink Lindsey's essay on small-r republicanism in National Affairs

"This essay is addressed to those conservatives and Republicans, from leaners to stalwarts, whose loyalties to movement and party are now badly strained or even severed," Brink Lindsey writes in his essay "Republicanism for Republicans" (National Affairs, Winter 2019). Strained or severed, that is, because the Republican Party "has been overrun by people or ideas you find repellent. And the things that attracted you in the first place — the intellectual seriousness of the 'party of ideas,' the optimism and idealism, the record of real-world policy accomplishments and skillful statesmanship — don't seem to count for much anymore." He acknowledges the "immense" nature of the project "to reconstruct the American right," given that the Republican Party "is overwhelmingly under the spell of Donald Trump and seems determined to plumb the depths of intellectual and moral self-abasement in the service of a cult of personality."

He wants conservative intellectuals to return to discourse about a small-r republic, "the ideal of political liberty achieved through popular self-government," an ideal which "saw political liberty not as the expression of some spontaneous general will, but as the artifact of constitutional structure: limits on power, checks and balances, and the rule of law." This form of government "rests on the civic virtue of the people, bound together as fellow citizens, who are called upon to uphold the public interest and safeguard it from corruption." Among the "small group of academic philosophers" who are interested in "republicanism as a theoretical alternative to liberalism," he counts Philip Pettit and Robert Taylor, saying that they emphasize "freedom as non-domination."

This kind of conservatism is not the opposite of liberalism; rather, it coexists with liberalism and draws from it. Liberalism, after all, cares about "individualism and the rule of law," and, in his view, it depends on "family, faith, community, and nation," so conservatives should have no argument there. When conservatives abandon certain liberal principles, they produce heinous results. "Among the repugnant lowlights" of conservative sins in today's American politics, he names: "animus against the foreign-born carried to the point of orphaning and caging children; acquiescence in blatant corruption by the president and top officials; mindless trashing of the liberal international order and the global economy; restricting the franchise for some voters rather than insisting it be preserved as the bedrock of a republican form of government and confidently competing for the votes of all Americans; and systematic subversion of the rule of law to stymie investigations of foreign tampering with our elections."

He wants opposing factions to stop demonizing each other, and he aspires to see "that partisan identity once again cuts across demographic and cultural identities instead of politicizing them."

"Republicanism," he says, "begins with love and unity: the patriotic love of country, a love that unites all of us regardless of party. However much we may differ from one another, however many distinctions we draw among ourselves in a modern, sprawling, pluralistic society, there is one thing that binds all Americans together as moral and civic equals: the res publica, or commonwealth, under whose laws we all live and within whose institutions we can all participate to make those laws better." In this, I see echoes of Mark Lilla and Ross Douthat. Lindsey says he'd like to see patriotism, "a fundamental moral passion of the right," recast "in civic rather than ethnocentric terms." Republicanism would distinguish itself from the left in its "support for a stout national defense" and its "valorization of the nation's protectors in the military and police."

A few issues here.

In today's United States, citizens are not, in fact, defending democracy. Corruption is unchecked and the public interest is not being served. A political theory may say that citizens ought to do better, but since in fact they are doing poorly, the political theory needs to have a realistic account of that and a pragmatic response to it if the theory intends to be relevant and useful.

He acknowledges that current events represent the country's "darkest impulses," and that "the Trump presidency is not a freak accident, but rather the culmination of developments that have been corrupting the conservative movement and the Republican Party for many years." What I'd like to see is acknowledgment that these dark impulses belong not just to humanity nor even to something particular to the American self-concept (though surely that is true), but that they belong to the conservative movement and the Republican Party, as that is the political house that was corrupted here, and therefore that special ownership for causing and fixing the problem lies with conservatives and Republicans. In one instance, he blames "the left" for its "open-borders cosmopolitanism and outright hostility to nationalism of any kind and American exceptionalism in particular," saying that such advocacy pushes the right toward its reactionary "conflation of patriotism and white identity politics." It is certain that warring political factions indeed fan the flames of their rhetoric when responding to each other's arguments, but pointing out that phenomenon is often intended to blame one's own intemperance on the other side. In this article, it would be nice if that observation were followed by a suggestion about how conservatives could please stop practicing white identity politics regardless of their anxiety about something they heard someone else say about borders and imperialism. He says "a republican movement on the right" could "criticize ethno-nationalism as fundamentally unpatriotic and unfaithful to American exceptionalism." OK, but it seems that movement does not exist yet, so, meanwhile, why can't conservatives simply stop endorsing white supremacy? Why does a highly academic movement need to arise from ivory tower mist and tell them how to behave according to their own alleged principles? Why can't they just stop being racist if they are not racist?

He does say — and he makes this central to his argument — that many white Christians on the right are guilty of "utterly poisonous" rhetoric. He wants "to resist populist ethno-nationalism in the name of genuine conservatism." The problem I have is that he does not explain exactly where this poison comes from. He deems it "deeply un-conservative," a judgment that could function as an excuse for intellectual conservatism to avoid fully reckoning with how it arose within the conservative movement in the first place. If these ideas are not attached by strings to conservatism, why do the bearers of these ideas call themselves conservatives? He begins to blame the terminology of the conservative movement where he says: "under contemporary conditions, the language of conservatism pulls its users naturally and almost irresistibly toward the ethnocentrism and dark divisiveness..." This is at once reassuring (since he is assigning some responsibility to conservatism) and alarming (since it isn't obvious to me what is worth saving about conservatism if the very words that describe it seduce people toward evil). He is a little more specific when he says that language meant to argue against progress, in a social context where the progress being discussed is the civil rights of oppressed groups, "slips all too easily into a defense of the status quo by the traditionally dominant groups." Yes, that is true. He also suggests that today's conservatism uses "divisive culture-war theatrics to mobilize support" because it isn't actually "helping real people to improve their lives in tangible ways," which is to say, if the movement would just talk more and do more about jobs and other material concerns, maybe white people would be more curious and less angry and would channel their energies toward productive conversations and lose interest in being racist. Maybe. But I wonder why white people don't already lose interest in being racist and go forth and have their own more productive political conversations about jobs and other things they care about.

The argument to me sounds like, if only white conservatives would understand what they actually believed, and if only they would stop feeling antagonized whenever they hear a dissent or challenge such that they jump into endorsing some hostile position that they don't actually believe. My concern is that they do actually believe the things they say they believe.

An article like this written by someone who wants a political movement that "cuts across demographic and cultural identities" should also explain why Black people and people of color should want to be in a movement that not only tolerates but indeed draws its lifeblood from white people who are difficult and whose ideas are frankly dangerous to them. These are people who (the author argues) need a counter-movement or revival to indirectly nudge them to stop being racist. Black people and people of color aren't responsible for teaching white people how not to be racist (nor for coming up with gentle paternalistic techniques to persuade or trick them into not being racist in a way that does not require conscious effort from the white people, nor even indeed for waiting around for them to suddenly stop being racist), but then, if they're not part of the new small-r republicanism counter-movement, it will be just another white conservative movement that lacks diversity.

This particular failure is set up in part by the chosen audience for the article: those disaffected Republicans who newly feel "politically homeless." How many non-white Republicans stuck around after the Republican Party's positions during the 1960s civil rights movement? Who are the Republicans of color who found the party appealing for the last fifty years, yet find Trump (OK, maybe George W. Bush) the last straw, but not that much of a last straw that they aren't willing to immediately return as long as all the Trump supporters smile and say sorry and briskly wash their hands? Some can surely be found, but not many. Not enough to Make the Republican Party Diverse Again. What this article needs, then, to succeed in its visionary agenda of rebuilding a conservative movement is to reach out to potential new converts to conservatism and explain what conservatism has to offer them and why the people they'd be hanging out with are not dangerous or obnoxious to them because the new improved old-guard white Republicans who are now new small-r republicans have already done their Amazing Grace (and then some, we hope), all on their own. The movement has to be demographically diverse from the beginning. It can't just be the same white people declaring themselves reformed because they asserted a New Year's Resolution to be slightly less racist and who are then wondering why people of color haven't yet shown up to their party. This is going to take a while. Yes, the Republican Party may face its "day of reckoning," but two years into the Trump administration that hasn't happened yet, and meanwhile vulnerable Americans (and people the world over) are still being targeted, damaged, and alienated, so the bloodshed needs to stop before anyone wants to reckon in a cheerful, fraternizing way with that party or people who were recently in that party. To put it another way: Any discussion of apology, repentance, and reconciliation includes not just the offender's change of heart, not just the offender's changed behavior toward other people going forward, but apology and restitution to their previous victims, which includes being sensitive to the needs and wants of the people to whom they would make apology and restitution, and the possibility that the victims may choose not to forgive or may move forward in their own ways. The "reckoning" is not just an inventory, reclassification, and housecleaning of one's own ideas but a reckoning with other people who are affected. The way to make a political party that "cuts across demographic and cultural identities" is to actually include people of other identities by actually listening to them and adjusting your positions in response to their needs.

Any revisionist narrative that says A great wind blew the MAGA hat up in the air and it accidentally landed on my blond head and stayed stuck there for a couple decades, but now I've decided to take it off, and now I think the sun and rain will grow brown-haired people from the ground in my front yard and they are going to want to hang out with me and collaborate politically with me and with the institutions I like is missing the part about the apology and rectification. All the people involved have agency. Certain things were done, and real work will have to be done to begin to fix it. There is no reason to treat the offense with kid gloves. Treat the offenders with civility so that they are able to participate in the dialogue, yes, but be honest with them about what they need to change.

"White identity" concerns are toxic and cause real damage, so it is important not to use language that is too accommodating toward them. Here is an example where I called out that language in a New York Magazine article by Andrew Sullivan.

An important note about sex/sexuality/gender: When he says that republicanism could "embrace traditional values" (whatever those are — this is a mysterious comment within an article that previously claimed to reject "excuse-making for sexism, [and] demonization of homosexuality"). He cautions: "Those values must truly reflect the broad contemporary moral consensus as opposed to a particular, sectarian conception of the good." This seems to up-end everything else he says in the article. In the article overall, he says that revolutionary small-r republican academics should teach ordinary Americans how to identify and speak better about their true values, but, in this sentence, he says that republicanism can accept some bigotry as long as it's popular bigotry ("the broad contemporary moral consensus") and not elitist bigotry ("a particular, sectarian conception of the good"). Not sure why there would be separate rules for sex and gender topics (where popular bigotry is allowed) and race topics (where he expects values to be more principled).

Lastly, his call for the "valorization" of soldiers and cops seems out of sync with his main point that conservatives today are far too excitable over MAGA-hat jingoism and that they need to tone it down and be more sober and intellectual over material concerns in their day-to-day lives. It is one thing to appreciate the role of soldiers and police, and another to deliberately develop hero-worship. I also don't think that this is enough substance to distinguish right from left. If right and left make peace with each other and can more productively discuss civic issues of mutual concern, such that their only difference is who is attracted to a valorization cult of men in uniform, that relatively shallow rah-rah team spirit (or resistance thereto) will start to pull them apart into dysfunctional factions all over again.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Two major federal actions against transgender rights in the US - Nov. 23, 2018

On Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, the Trump administration made two major moves against transgender rights.

Proposed U.S. ban on transgender soldiers may jump over appeals court and go directly to Supreme Court

On Friday, the administration "asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual legal process to take on...President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from military service." (Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2018) Trump proposed the ban in July 2017 via Twitter. He ordered Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to develop a plan for implementing this ban, which Mattis did. The ban was challenged, however, in part on the basis that Trump's directive was groundless ("the result of discrimination, rather than a study of how allowing transgender personnel affects the military"). Jennifer Levi of GLAD said that "the open service policy that was thoroughly vetted by the military itself and has been in place now for more than two years. Lower courts upheld those challenges. Trump administration "Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco asked the justices to consolidate the challenges to the ban," the Washington Post article said, "and rule on the issue in its current term."

"The Trump administration has taken an aggressive posture when lower courts have ruled against it on important issues. It has asked the Supreme Court — with varying degrees of success — to accept the cases before they have run through the normal appeals process. ... The effort has drawn criticism from those who say such requests puts the Supreme Court in position to be seen as doing the administration’s bidding."

The New York Times reported the same day that "The Supreme Court does not ordinarily intercede until at least one appeals court has considered an issue, and it typically awaits a disagreement among appeals courts before adding a case to its docket." The ban on transgender soldiers has not yet been ruled on in an appeals court, although arguments have already been heard in the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco which has not issued a ruling yet, and another appeal is scheduled to be heard in the District of Columbia Circuit next month. Cases from federal trial court may jump the line, without being first heard by an appeals court, and go directly to the Supreme Court, if the case is shown to be of "imperative public importance as to...require immediate determination in this court.” Solicitor General Francisco claimed in his brief that the ban on transgender soldiers indeed meets that standard. Joshua Matz, a lawyer who filed an amicus brief for challengers, wrote: “Trump’s lawyers fail to understand that the government is not entitled to play leapfrog whenever it loses in federal court.”

Detailed guidance about the rights of transgender federal employees is removed from the Office of Personnel Management

Also on Friday, it was noticed that information had been removed from the Office of Personnel Management's website sometime earlier in the week. The Office of Personnel Management oversees all federal employees. The website "still state[s] that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited — consistent with an executive order President Obama issued that is still in effect." However, all the previous detail, "ensuring that trans workers could dress according to their gender identity, that they were called by their preferred names and pronouns, and that they were allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity," is gone, unannounced, according to an article in ThinkProgress.

Climate change will reduce U.S. GDP by 10 percent by the end of the 21st century

In the New York Times on Nov. 19, 2018:

"Reports of the threats from a warming planet have been coming fast and furiously. The latest: a startling analysis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting terrible food shortages, wildfires and a massive die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040, unless governments take strong action."

And the New York Times on Friday, Nov. 23:

"A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday [today] presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.

The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth."

* * *

"...in direct language, the 1,656-page assessment lays out the devastating effects of a changing climate on the economy, health and environment, including record wildfires in California, crop failures in the Midwest and crumbling infrastructure in the South. Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, the report finds."

CNN reported the same day about the same publication, saying that it "delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP — by the end of the century."

"Coming from the US Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was put together with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 leading scientists, roughly half from outside the government.

It's the second of two volumes. The first, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.""

Thursday, November 15, 2018

On Jewish, Black, and transgender hate crime statistics

About this new statistic that's floating around. Here it is in a recent article in the New York Times:

"Contrary to what are surely the prevailing assumptions, anti-Semitic incidents have constituted half of all hate crimes in New York [City] this year, according to the Police Department. To put that figure in context, there have been four times as many crimes motivated by bias against Jews — 142 in all — as there have against blacks. Hate crimes against Jews have outnumbered hate crimes targeted at transgender people by a factor of 20."

- "Is It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?" by Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, Oct. 31, 2018

This statistic excites some people, perhaps because they like to show that their group is more oppressed than others. But, of course, we should not perceive hate crimes statistics as a competition; the desirable rate for all groups is zero. As someone who is both transgender and Jewish, I do not feel better—neither more assured of my own safety nor more righteously outraged—knowing that there are more crimes against one of my identities than another.

It's also important to unpack various possible meanings of these numbers before we rush to interpret them.

First of all, there are 20 times more Jews than transgender people in New York City. New York City has a population of 8.5 million, including (on a low estimate) 1 million Jews. Transgender people are currently estimated to make up about 0.5% of the total population of the United States, which would predict about 50,000 transgender people in New York City. One possible explanation of why 20 times more hate crimes are reported against Jews than against transgender people is that there are 20 times more potential Jewish individual targets than potential transgender individual targets.

Then again, it may not be especially relevant how many individuals there are in the targeted group. What might matter more is how many haters there are, because they are the ones committing the crimes. This would require an analysis of active hate groups. It may indeed be true that hate groups focus more on ethnic/racial/religious identity than on gender/sexual identity.

I do not know what to make of Bellafante's report of the NYPD statistics that four times as many anti-Jewish crimes were reported than anti-Black crimes, since there are twice as many Black people as Jewish people in New York City. Many black people fear interacting with the police even to report crimes against them, or they expect that it's at minimum a waste of their time to do so because they believe their reports will not be pursued. Many of the Black people in New York City are recent immigrants, so they may be even less likely to report hate crimes, or, when they do report them, these crimes may be categorized — I am speculating — as representing bias on the basis of nationality or religion rather than race.

It's also important to note that hate crimes do not always target individuals. Sometimes they target institutions. There are far more visible Jewish institutions (synagogues, community centers, non-profits, political action committees, Israeli-American or Zionist organizations, Judaica stores) than transgender institutions, so it is (sadly) predictable that the visible institutions might be targeted more often.

Furthermore, once a hate crime has occurred that affects multiple members of an organization, it seems that is more likely to be reported than if it had occurred to an individual. When the janitor finds hateful graffiti on the door of a synagogue, she reports it so that the synagogue members can be aware and feel that the issue is being properly addressed. The janitor does not necessarily report graffiti on the door of her own home, for any number of reasons: she is too busy to speak to the police in her "free time," she needs to use her "free time" to clean up the graffiti and once she cleans it up it won't be there anymore to show to the police, she rationalizes it as being "just kids" and not a real threat, she worries that it is a real threat and that she will endanger herself more if she reports it, she is battling intense emotions (shame, anger, sadness, fear of more attacks, anxiety about not being believed) that reduce her available energy for reporting it, she doesn't have a witness to corroborate her account and help her with the administrative task of reporting it, she worries that she knows who did it and that she'll need to take them to court and she can't afford a lawyer, etc.

Many transgender individuals — unlike most Jews — also worry about being "outed" to their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers — and to the police. Even if they are comfortable stating their transgender identity, their gender may be complicated to explain to others, and they may find it a hassle to explain why they believe an incident was a hateful attack on their gender. This may reduce their willingness to report hate crimes against themselves to the police. And, due to pressures they face from their other identities — their race, nationality, language, immigrant status — they may be further reluctant to interact with the police to report encountering hateful attacks based on their gender.

Therefore, in repeating the New York City statistic that appeared in the New York Times, I would be wary of misusing it to downplay the occurrence of hate crimes that are motivated by bias against Black and transgender people. We can combat anti-Semitism while also combatting other forms of racism and bigotry. In fact, we have to combat all kinds of hate simultaneously. Hate groups have multi-faceted agendas out of which their attacks grow. Deciding selectively which kinds of attacks are more important to each of us personally is missing the broader threat. We can't bat down visible, reported anti-Semitism without also batting down what those same hate groups are doing to other groups. If we don't care about all of it and support each other, we will still find ourselves targeted on whatever basis "they" come up with.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Zayn Malik doesn't identify as Muslim: "I don't believe any of it"

In the British Vogue, Giles Hattersley writes of Zayn Malik:

...it’s a simple “Zayn” these days, ever since the 25-year-old boyband survivor from Bradford with perfect hair and poptastic falsetto dispensed with his surname and went fully Cher. That was a year after he fled One Direction, in March 2015, when the world’s most successful group was at the hormone-addled apex of its fame. For a brief moment, Zayn was the YouTube generation’s answer to John Lennon (or Geri Halliwell, at least), devastating millions of fans across the globe with his shotgun exit, then thrilling them a year later with a record-breaking, Billboard-topping debut album. He moved to the States, clocked up billions of streams, dueted with Taylor Swift, shot campaigns for Versus and endured the peculiar menace of having a dozen paparazzi camped outside his door every day. He also became an international figurehead for biracial success and anti-Islamophobia. And I mentioned the hair, right?

While he's "routinely touted as Britain’s most famous Muslim," he told the interviewer that he believes in God, but not in Hell, and that he prefers to keep his beliefs private and wouldn't call himself a Muslim today. He simply wants to be "a good person" and "behave well," and he hopes that this will result in his being "treated well" so that "everything is going to go right" for him.

He says: "I don’t believe you need to eat a certain meat that’s been prayed over a certain way, I don’t believe you need to read a prayer in a certain language five times a day. I don’t believe any of it."

Some may see this as lending new meaning to the lyrics to his song "iT's YoU" (you can listen to it on Apple Music or buy it on iTunes):

I won't, I won't, I won't
Cover the scars
I'll let 'em bleed
So my silence
So my silence won't
Be mistaken for peace

That is, we cannot consent to let others continue to hurt us, and if they do hurt us, they cannot expect us to take it silently. When we acknowledge what is hurting, we may be seen arguing (not keeping the peace), but that argument is essential to honesty and survival. For some, this may describe how they feel affected by religion.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

LGBT people struggle to survive a purge in Tanzania

In Tanzania, the Dar es Salaam regional commissioner has asked the public to report gay people. "Give me their names," he said on Oct. 29. "My ad hoc team"—a committee of 17 police and media officials—"will begin to get their hands on them" in just one week. The next day, he reported that he'd already received over 100 names in over five thousand messages. Although the Tanzanian government clarified that this regional effort does not represent the national government's official policy, it was not clear if the national government intended to stop the Dar es Salaam regional purge.

The organization Jinsiangu, supported by the International AIDS Alliance (donate), has helped people relocate internationally to Nairobi, Kenya for their personal safety.

Background

Tanzanian law, an inheritance from British colonialism, punishes men who have sex with other men with 30-years-to-life in jail.

CNN reported:

"According to 2014 UNAIDS data, 17.6% of men who have sex with men in Tanzania are living with HIV — a rate more than four times higher than the 4.5% in the nation's general adult population. * * * Being forced into hiding also means people do not want to engage in any way with health services and will not test for infections or go to collect HIV treatment. People will avoid anything that will link them to being LGBT and subject to identification, [International HIV/AIDS Alliance executive director Christine] Stegling said."

Recently, LGBT organizations have been shuttered. In February 2017, Tanzania's deputy health minister claimed that homosexuality is not found among animals, only exists among people who live in cities, and is a social construct. The health ministry prohibited HIV/AIDS clinics from running their programs, and then arrested 13 people—including deporting three South African lawyers—who met to discuss how to challenge that new policy. The shutdown of the clinics and the arrest of the activists was done on the grounds that it is illegal to promote homosexuality.

According to a Guardian article: Geofrey Mashala, an activist who is "making a documentary about the Tanzanian LGBT community," said that, considering “all the steps we made as LGBT activists" over the past several years, "it’s like we have to start over again.” Erin Kilbride of the human rights group Front Line Defenders interviewed 80 LGBT people and sex workers earlier this year; "all but two said they had been sexually assaulted or raped by police in custody."

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ways one oughtn't respond to anti-Semitic domestic terrorism

On Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, eleven Jews were murdered while worshipping in a synagogue in Pennsylvania. The President tweeted this:

Later that evening, the President appeared at a self-promotional rally and joked about nearly having canceled it — not because he believed the morning's tragedy warranted more attention or solemnity from him, but because standing in the rain to give a news conference about the attack had caused him to have a "bad hair day."

To cap off the evening, he tweeted:

By Monday, Oct. 29, the President returned to his usual authoritarian line that the media is the "enemy of the people." His press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, came up with a "both sides" explanation: "I think the president has had a number of moments of bringing the country together. Once again, I'll remind you that the very first thing the president did was condemn the attacker. And the very first thing the media did was blame the president." Kellyanne Conway, an advisor to the president, suggested that late-night television comedians in particular bore responsibility for triggering anti-Semitic violence. She Christian-splained that the Jews "were there [in the synagogue] because they're people of faith," that comedians have unfortunately made a culture in which it's usual "to make fun of anybody of faith, to constantly be making fun of people that express religion," and that what is needed is more religion in "the public square." (Diaspora Jews, on the whole, have always been really quite skeptical about religion in the public square.)

The President, for his part, took a different tack in claiming that he had not meant to generalize about "the media," but had only meant to refer to the media that is "fake."

Meanwhile, the Vice President invited clergy of the Messianic Jewish religion — a religious movement that most Jews recognize as Christian and that they resent for being culturally appropriative and theologically deceptive in their deliberate mimickry of Judaism — to publicly speak about the matter. The Messianic Jew prayed for Republican victory.