Something I have to say to my friends and family. For what it is worth.
During Donald Trump’s campaign for president, Trump was repeatedly asked, by many in the Jewish community, to stop using the phrase “America First” to describe his foreign policy views. The reason is that the slogan was used by people who warned, ahead of World War II, that Jewish Americans were pushing the U.S. to enter the war because they put their own interests ahead of the country’s.
But Trump never stopped using the slogan. And today, he made it a key part of his inaugural address. “From this day forward,” he proclaimed, “A new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.”
The crowd went wild.
People who aren’t Jewish or familiar with history may not realize this, but the idea “America First” makes many people, like me, deeply uncomfortable. In 1941, members of the America First movement campaigned against U.S. involvement in World War II and expressed sympathy for the Nazis, even though plenty of people already knew that Jews were being persecuted in Hitler’s Germany. Even Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator who led the America First movement, knew it.
“It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany,” Lindbergh said in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1941. “The persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race.”
Let me tell all my friends and family, he could have used any other slogan to describe his views. But, his use of the phrase in this very important address today is proof that he has no desire to unite the nation. In fact, to me, it means he clearly wants to fan the flames. He knows the baggage the term carries (because many people have commented on it throughout his campaign) and decided to use it anyway.
I am being asked to give Trump a chance. I have no choice. He is the POTUS. I have to give him a chance, because I cannot stop him. All I can do, is remind my friends and family that he has once again showed his Anti-Jewish bias. (His inclusion of Steve Bannon as a key advisor is another example.)
For me, “Never Again” is not a slogan. It is a real mission.