By: Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi Michael Lerner from the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and editor of Tikkun magazine writes: Many of us spiritual progressives have been in deep grief for the loss of life of Heather Heyer, the woman killed by a Nazi fanatic who also wounded 19 other anti-racist activists.
We are also in grief about the ways racism continues to flourish on so many levels in the US, in our economy and in our political life. While grieving we can also turn our attention to strategies to challenge the depths of racism, and not only amongst the extremists that won the media attention they sought by their violent actions in Charlottesville.
Though the focus of a right-wing rally in Charlottesville this past Saturday was to protest the decision of the local city council to remove a statue honoring Confederate general Lee, a symbol of those who fought to preserve African American slavery, the recruitment poster by one of the major groups sponsoring the rally doesn’t even mention that. It’s message: “Join Azzmador and the Daily Stormer to end Jewish influence in America.” Anti-Black racism and anti-Semitism are out of the closet in Trump’s America, though the media barely mentioned the anti-Semitism and the trauma that quite understandably restimulates in so many Jews who saw the swastikas or read reports of right-wing demonstrators yelling at people they called “kikes” a message that said “you will soon be burning in the ovens.”
Happily the fascists haven’t yet taken over the streets of America and hopefully never will. Jews and other communities of faith were prominently present in Charlottesville’s anti-fascist counter demonstrations and will challenge future attempts by the Right-wing extremists to shape the agenda or claim to be the real representative of those white working class people who are in pain. Yet at a vigil to honor the Charolttesville victims I attended last night in Berkeley where the fascists promise to hold their next large rally August 27th I encountered not only sadness, but fear and confusion as many yearned for a coherent strategy that the American Left sorely needs.