Just before I went out on Friday night in Lesbos, my friend and sister feminist theologian Judith Plaskow emailed me from New York: “Right now we’re headed down to the Plaza Hotel to attend and try to disrupt a Trump luncheon!” That night, a friend asked me how I felt about Donald Trump. I threw my hands in front of my face and said: “I’m really glad I am not an American anymore.” Of course I am an American, but sometimes I don’t want to be one.
The next morning, I received an update from Judith: “We were part of a small group from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice in New York City who got inside the Trump fundraising luncheon and disrupted it. We were interviewed afterwards by CBS news, AP, Reuters, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.”
I found this on the newswires:
Later in Trump’s speech, about nine other protesters from various advocacy groups stood up to denounce his recent comments to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the U.S., protesters said. “I’m really frightened by that kind of rhetoric,” said Martha Acklesberg, 69, a member of the group Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, who along with Judith Plaskow, 68, paid to hear Trump speech and then disrupted it in protest.
Last week in this blog community, Grace Yia-Hei Kao wrote,
In such times, I find that I am at a loss of words. I feel like I can offer no critique of xenophobia (be it directed at Syrian refugees or at Muslims in general), no argument for greater gun control, or no commendation of nonviolent peacemaking initiatives over the recourse to violence to resolve conflict that has not already been offered by others.
These days I feel the same kind of inertia. I can’t believe what I am hearing. I feel like I have heard it all before. I run the cursor over articles about Trump’s speeches. I have stopped watching MSNBC because I cannot countenance the fact that even the once progressive news forum is giving him so much attention. And the American people who support Trump: I suspect members of my own family may be among them.
I am certain that Judith Plaskow and Martha Acklesberg were impelled to disrupt the Trump luncheon because they recognize that Trump could become America’s Hitler. Like many others, they have wondered why good Germans did not do more to stop Hitler. Was their action effective? Who can know the outcome of any action we take?
For Judith spirituality and politics are inseparable. Judith said this:
The idea was that after those who pushed their way in had been ejected, and the buzz had died down, we who had blended into the crowd would get up in two and threes and protest further. When our turn came, Martha and I sang, “We are a kind and welcoming people, and we are singing, singing, against hate.” When we traveled to see the places where the civil rights movement began last month, we recited the blessing for studying Torah before we visited major sites. Our group recited the same blessing before we went into the Plaza Hotel.
Judith and Martha decided not to be among the good Americans went about their daily lives and did nothing to protest. It is time for the rest of us to join them, taking action in whatever way we can. It may be important for those of us who feel powerless to reflect on the fact that Judith and Martha took the action they did as part of a group. We do not have to do this alone. We can do it together.
Carol P. Christ leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook and twitter). Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology with Judith Plaskow will be released in June 2016 by Fortress Press, while A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess will be published in the spring 2016 by FAR Press. Explore Carol’s writing. Photo of Carol by Michael Bakas.
21 thoughts on “Jewish Feminists and Progressives Protest the Man Who Could Become America’s Hitler by Carol P. Christ”
Is Donald Trump a demagogue?
Does Donald Trump, if elected President, pose a threat to those issues dear to the hearts of progressives?
Should progressives mobilize to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president?
Should progressives disrupt Trump functions?
The U.S. Constitution provides for certain rights.
Among them are freedom of speech and the right to assemble.
Your friend’s actions suggest that she is an intolerant liberal; i.e, someone who supports choice, freedom of speech and the right to assemble IF she agrees with the positions of those articulating them.
That’s not the way things work.
Democracy is not pretty; it never has been.
Those who support disruption of Donald Trump and silencing him should not be surprised if one day someone else tries to disrupt and silence them.
These are complex issues. My sense is that disruption is not the same as silencing or prohibiting the exchange of ideas. These issues become more difficult when–as some believe is the case now–the media is colluding in making Trump into a hero and not providing the public with fact-checking when his statements are not truthful or his proposals are contrary to the law. To bar Muslims from entering the US temporarily or permanently is contrary to US law and contrary to democratic principles.
There are those who think feminists are dangerous.
With your friends’s approach, you open the door to disrupting feminist gatherings.
Would you seriously want that?
As your first line says Carol, these are complex issues. However, it seems to me that “freedom of speech” carries certain responsibilities with it. As someone said: freedom of speech does not mean you can yell “fire!” in a crowded theatre. I also think that denying someone “freedom of speech” is a legal or political action by those in power is what is condemned. Calling someone’s speech into question, especially with facts, is not to deny them their rights, but to insist they be truthful and respectful of others.
Where are the Bishops who are so insistent on criticizing the sexual lives of others but so silent about this arousal of hatred. Too many people have their priorities in shambles.
Great post and discussion. I like Barbara’s clarification that denial of freedom of speech “as a legal or political action by those in power” is what we mean when we defend “freedom of speech.” That’s a whole lot different from having your speech disrupted, especially when you have HUGE amounts of access to venues to have your voice heard. Also, in Canada we have very carefully thought-out laws against hate speech, notwithstanding the right to freedom of expression. I imagine you have something similar in the US. Is Trump engaging in hate speech? The argument could be made. One more point — if feminists were engaging in an ongoing campaign of intolerance, threats and overt racism, classism and sexism, and there was a real possibility that these feminists could move into a position of great power (arguably the most powerful position in the world) with the express aim of promoting racist, classist, violent and discriminatory values using state apparati, well heck yeah, I’d say let’s disrupt them.
Exactly! And that’s our right as well, our freedom of speech. They can throw us out of their venues, but it’s important to make our voices heard. And as herbiznow says below, it’s especially important right now, because Trump’s xenophobic remarks are increasing hate on both sides, making violence more likely. It’s a moral imperative to stop that.
Well said, Laura and Nancy.
I agree completely!
It’s a powerful commentary that Judith and Martha’s singing, “We are a kind and welcoming people, and we are singing, singing, against hate” was disruptive. One imagines Martin Luther King singing “We shall overcome. . .” at a Klan gathering. . . only Trump doesn’t have the power to have them executed, yet.
I think of the disruptions of public vs. private venues and when progressives feel compelled to cross the line – tree sitters defending a grove of ancient trees purchased by private capital and about to be clearcut . Greenpeace kayakers attempting to stall the passage of an oil liner on the Columbia River at Portland so it couldn’t get to the Arctic bringing with it more destructive drilling.
Does Trump’s hateful, destructive speech deserve complete protection? As Carol writes, it is a complex issue.
I’m curious what the media reported of this luncheon. What kind of press did Judith and Martha’s song inspire?
The song was not mentioned.
“Does Trump’s hateful, destructive speech deserve complete protection?”
Well, there is no “hate speech” exemption to the First Amendment and you can read more about it here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/05/07/no-theres-no-hate-speech-exception-to-the-first-amendment/
It’s easy to support free speech when you agree with what is being said.
If we did, there would be a lot of people arrested. I believe the US prohibits inciting violence through speech.
On the plus side, even the conservative elite is fed up with Trump. The great shame of our country is that we have let it get this far. And YES, disrupting that luncheon was a valid thing to do. It is done on both sides, and is itself a form of freedom of speech. It isn’t reported so much when Hillary gives a speech because that “news” doesn’t garner the high viewer numbers. And from a moral perspective it is something we MUST do. We must let the world know that huge numbers of Americans do not support The D. Huge numbers of us are simply disgusted with his views.
Not just the conservative elite are fed up with Trump. His support in Iowa is eroding:
I’ve signed innumerable petitions online that protest against the things Trump is saying. The man is a narcissist and seems to think he could run the nation like he runs his businesses. That just wouldn’t happen.
Nevertheless, he’s very scary because he’s learned to manipulate not only the media, but people too. I’m astonished that anyone thinks he’s qualified to do anything but tell people, “You’re fired.”
(I couldn’t reply yesterday because my computer was crashing. It’s fixed now.)
From Judith and Martha: https://medium.com/@martack779/confronting-donald-trump-7fa832864e02#.uoyralho4
I personally think that Ted Cruz is much more dangerous than Trump.
I teach citizenship classes in Northern Virginia where there are many immigrants whose original languages were Korean, Spanish, Urdu, etc.
Our last class for the Fall Semester was yesterday evening.
My students worked very hard this semster. None had been to the manor born. As my late father Henry ocassionally maintained, “Dukes and queens do not migrate.” Most of us are here because somebody didn’t like the way things were someplace else.
Students often cited being able to vote as a reason to become citizens.
Several weeks ago Donald Trump was mentioned in a class discussion. One student shook her head firmly at the mention of his name. Somehow I don’t think The Donald will be getting her vote or those of any other students in the program.
To defeat people like Trump, one must organize and get out the vote.
Doing so is hard work; there is no easy way.
There are posters on this page who congratulate themselves for disrupting a Trump rally.
They impress me not.
I am impressed, however, by those who work hard to become citizens and I respect them immensely.
It is important to organize and get out the vote. We also have to end Citizens United and stop states from making it difficult to register to vote, esp if you are poor or elderly or as student, and do not have the ID the law requests (in order to keep some people from voting). I wish it were as simple as getting out the vote. In addition we have the media covering everything Trump says and very little of what Sanders is saying. In this situation, those whose voices are not being heard may need to go outside of ordinary channels. Some of us feel democracy is being eroded in the US.
Requiring citizens to produce identification at the polls makes very good sense.
Doing so reduces the possibility of voting fraud and that of the further erosion of democracy cited above.
There are instances of elections which went in favor of the party suspected of cheating.
In 1948, Lyndon Johnson earned the nickname “Landslide Lyndon” for his election by 87 votes over Coke Stevenson in the Texas Democratic Senate primary http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/4937
Many historians have maintained that voting fraud in the 1960 presidential election ensured the victory of John Kennedy over Richard Nixon; others disagree: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/nov-8-1960-john-f-kennedy-elected-president/?_r=0
Sanders has been covered in the media. His appeal is that of an alternative to the HRC stampede to coronation. Sanders, like Trump, has no chance of getting elected.
Presidential politics work like this:
To get the nomination, campaign toward the base (left or right).
To prevail in the general election, campaign toward the center.
Unless HRC stumbles badly, she’ll be the Democratic nominee who can beat any Republican.
There are almost no verified cases of voter fraud consisting of individuals voting or trying to vote under someone else’s name or a false names. The cases you cite did not involve individual voter fraud, but fraud that occurred if it did at the level of the counting of the votes.