Professor Menachem Z. Rosensaft called for an end to the demonization of President Barack Obama in his latest op-ed for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. Rosensaft wrote:
... [I]t was disturbing to hear Gov. Romney’s quip, ‘No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate.’ To be sure, he subsequently dismissed his comments on the CBS Evening News as an attempt to ‘have a little humor’ in the campaign. ‘I’ve said throughout the campaign and before, there’s no question where [President Obama] was born,’ he explained. ‘He was born in the U.S.’
The problem, of course, is that the generally humorless birthers were certain to interpret the ‘birth certificate’ comment not as a joke but as an indication that Gov. Romney was sympathetic to their cause. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd described it as ‘a bat’s squeak calling to the basest emotions.’
Last year, I observed in these pages that Gov. Romney ‘does not come across in any way as mean-spirited,’ and quoted him as telling the Values Voters Summit that, ‘We should remember that decency and civility are values, too.’
Unfortunately, as I have also noted here more recently, there is nothing decent or civil in attempts to depict President Obama as somehow un-American, and to date Gov. Romney has not done nearly enough to dissociate himself from the nastier, unquestionably mean-spirited personal attacks on President Obama that emanate from others in the Republican/conservative camp.
This goes far beyond the birthers who could be dismissed as part of the loony element of the electorate. Accusing President Obama of espousing ‘some phony theology’ (Rick Santorum), charging that he ‘wants to destroy capitalism’ and ‘nurtures a hatred for the white man’ (conservative Christian radio host Bryan Fischer), referring to him as the ‘food-stamp president’ (Newt Gingrich), alleging that his administration has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood (Michele Bachmann), proclaiming that ‘He’s just not an American’ (Rep. Mike Coffman, R.-Colo.) and that he ‘hates this country’ (Rush Limbaugh), denouncing him as an ‘anti-Christian, anti-religious bigot’ (conservative radio host and columnist Jeffrey T. Kuhner), calling him a Muslim who ‘hates the U.S.’ (Hank Williams Jr.), and repeatedly likening him to Adolf Hitler (again, Rush Limbaugh) are part and parcel of an insidious campaign of personal destruction that cannot be countenanced in the American body politic of the 21st century.
The Jewish community has also not been immune from this type of virulent, irresponsible and utterly reprehensible verbiage….
Never mind that the Obama administration recently allocated $70 million over and above the approximately $3 billion in annual security assistance that Israel receives from the United States to fund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system that helps protect Israelis from rocket attacks launched against them from Gaza.
Never mind that no less an authority than Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said publicly that, ‘I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and backing and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events than what we have right now.’ Never mind that President Obama has consistently and fiercely championed Israel’s cause at the United Nations and in the international arena.
Rigorous debate and strongly expressed differences of opinion are central to our way of life. Hate mongering in any form, however, is never a permissible political strategy. As the 2012 presidential campaign shifts into high gear, I fervently hope that we can all agree, regardless of our political affiliations, that the demonization of the president of the United States, or of anyone else for that matter, will be neither tolerated nor rewarded.
Click here to read Rosensaft’s full piece.
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