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ONTARIO, CANADA – There is little doubt that America is in crisis. Part of that crisis is that Americans are turning on each other, with a component of that crisis being revenge for past wrongs, real or imagined, whether one is Republican or Democrat, Black or White, male or female. Before we address the aspects of revenge, let’s get some perspective.
There is surely a crisis when constitutional freedoms such as Freedom of Expression are anathema to Big Tech and Big Media and become less important than other values. I would argue that the roots of the crisis are in former President Barack Obama’s rejection of traditional American values and embrace of what I would term a leftist-Islamist-globalist agenda.
In my book, The Ideological Path to Submission… and what we can do about it, I argued that Barack Obama showed very early in his administration that he had an ideology that was very different than past American presidents. First, he awarded America’s highest civilian award – the Medal of Freedom – to Mary Robinson who presided over the infamous Durban Conference of 2001, where Islamic countries were allowed to hijack a conference about racism into a hate-fest against the one country in the Middle East (Israel) that has a functioning justice system protecting minority rights.
Then he went to Cairo and showed his intentions to appease radical Islam by accepting that tension between the West and Islam has had nothing to do with Muslim actions against the West, but was “fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”
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And then he uttered the infamous words, equating the glorious tradition of justice, freedom and tolerance in America with that of totalitarian countries like Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia: Obama contended that America and Muslim countries “share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
As a lawyer myself, I can tell you that the American justice system is not perfect, but I would much rather be tried for a crime in America, Israel or Canada than any of the Muslim countries. And, as a Jew, the idea that many Muslim countries, most of which have ethnically cleansed themselves of Jews (and now have been doing the same with Christians) share the same degree of “tolerance” as do we in the West, is, quite simply, wrong, although we have some hope as a result of the Abraham Accord which of course is a Trump achievement.
In fact, I devoted another book to what I see as an ideology of Tolerism – an excessive regard for the value of tolerance, not a value contained in the Torah, but one emphasized by Obama and others whose cultural relativism and moral equivalency took them to a full-blown ideology of tolerism.
In that book, I discussed the views of the great Austrian/British philosopher Sir Karl Popper, who lived through Stalinism and Naziism and concluded that these totalitarian movements created a paradox for philosophical toleration. He said,
“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
And so, Obama’s tolerance of radical Islam or what we call Islamism, created an underlying tension in an America that was founded on Judeo-Christian values that emphasized Justice not tolerance.
Many Americans, especially those from the American heartland had suffered from the closing of American manufacturing with job growth in China rather than America. Moreover many Americans did not accept Obama’s values as their own. Others began to sense the contradictory interests between the governing class, elites who were part of what became known as the Swamp for its corruption, and the Deep State for its out-of-control bureaucracy, and the governed who would not forget Hillary Clinton’s characterization of them as “deplorables”, clinging to religion and guns.
And so, Donald Trump rode to power on a promise to empower middle America, strengthen America by his “America First” policies with respect to China, the Paris Accord, and engagement in Middle Eastern wars without clear aims.
Trump was the worst nightmare for the American elites and occupiers of the Swamp and Deep State. Even before his inauguration, Hillary Clinton and Obama senior officials began plotting to spy on the President, and then undertake whatever steps they could, in cooperation with a compliant media that hated the truth of Trump’s exposure of their biased (“fake news”) reporting to drive him from office.
In an age of baby boomer narcissism and virtue signalling, Trump’s background in New York real estate and Atlantic City casinos, with both major successes and major failures, as an outsider, was a poke in the eye to politicians and bureaucrats for life.
Trump was seen as no more acceptable to old school Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney and the Bush family than he was to Democrats. In fact he had once been a Democrat and he was no mainstream Republican, but more of a populist He broke their rules and in doing so had major successes – in promoting peace between some of the Arab states and Israel, in the Abraham Accords, moving the embassy to Jerusalem and demanding that before Israel give up more land to Palestinian Arabs, Palestinians would have to make moves for peace. Other accomplishment include:
- Restoring business and consumer confidence in the economy and job growth before the pandemic, including gains in Black and Hispanic employment.
- Cutting federal government regulations that had hindered American business innovators and entrepreneurs.
- Moving against China’s trade abuses and negotiating fair trade deals with Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and Japan.
- Eliminating the Obamacare individual mandate.
- Rebuilding the military through investments in defense capabilities as well as securing the largest military pay raise in a decade. This amounted to a peace through strength accomplishment.
- Successfully nominating conservative or constitutionalist circuit court Judges and – nominating and fighting for the confirmation of two originalists, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court and then nominating Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Consistently fighting Democrats to build the wall to secure the southern border.
And so, traditional Democratic politicians, used to dirty politics in the rough and ready Democratic “machines” in big cities, decided that simply being an “opposition” was not enough, and their task was to drive the President out of office at the earliest opportunity. Using spying and abuse of power such as falsely sworn FISA affidavits, and outlandish prosecutions of Trump colleagues and allies such as General Flynn, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort was not enough: the Democrats brought in a Special Investigation under Mueller with a staff of very biased Democrats to try to prove some Russian “collusion” that just wasn’t there. But the goal was not Justice – it was revenge and repudiation.
And so, after their unsuccessful attempt at destroying Trump by the Special Investigation, the Democrats moved on to impeach the President on the very thin grounds of a certain telephone conversation which did not meet the legal standard for impeachment, that is, “high crimes and misdemeanors” The President’s conduct was not nearly as bad as Joe Biden’s quid pro quo of using American money for Ukraine as a way to void a prosecution into questionable conduct by Biden’s corrupted son, Hunter.
In hindsight, neither the Investigation nor the Impeachment trial before the Senate, had much chance of success. But they were done, not to promote Justice but to effect Retribution for Trump’s perceived wrongs or lies toward the established elites running mainstream media, the bureaucracy, and the Democratic Party politicians.
Leading the forces of revenge was Nancy Pelosi, the House Majority Leader whose power derived from the Democrats having a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, after the elections of 2018 and 2020.
The Torah strictly warns us against taking revenge: “Don’t take vengeance and don’t bear a grudge against the members of your nation; love your neighbor as yourself”. (Leviticus 19:18.) It is unethical to slander or denigrate someone if there is any kind of vindictive motive.
Maimonides writes about revenge in his code of Jewish law:
“Taking revenge is an extremely bad trait. A person should be accustomed to rise above his feelings about all worldly matters; for those who understand [the deeper purpose of the world] consider all these matters as vanity and emptiness, which are not worth seeking revenge for.
“The phrase “an eye for an eye” is found in a number of places in the Torah. Isn’t this a form of revenge? Does this mean that we actually poke out the eye of an eye-poker? Contrary to what some would like to claim, this phrase was never understood or applied in the literal sense. Rather, according to the Oral Torah, this is a directive for monetary compensation to the injured party, as evidenced by the Targum’s translation of the phrase.”
In case you are wondering if I have some reason to get revenge against Pelosi by writing this article, I can say that I am a Canadian, and so don’t have a horse in this race, as they say. I do write on both Canadian and American politics but don’t otherwise participate in them.
In his 2019 State of the Union Address, Trump aimed for the high road saying, “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”
Pelosi’s answer to that noble sentiment was to publicly tear up her copy of the 2020 President’s State of the Union Address, at the end of his speech to emphasize her total lack of respect for the President and his words. It was one of the most cringe-worthy acts in the hallowed halls of American democracy.
And that was followed by a contested election with arguments that there was election fraud; then came a huge protest demonstration by Trump supporters where a small group of extremists from both the Left and Right became violent, where a few hundred stormed the doors of Congress. However, despite misleading media reporting, some 99% of the half a million pro-Trump protesters there were non-violent and the violent parties included known Antifa and BLM activists.
Much was made of Trump’s responsibilities in inviting such a large protest, even though he lectured his supporters to be peaceful and go home once their support was recognized. This gave the media and the Democrats a major victory as they used the violent entry as the basis for their second Impeachment effort.
The media and the Democrats did not wait for a proper investigation before continuing their pattern of seeking retribution against Trump. In fact, after a few days, some questions began to be asked why only a few hundred Capitol police were put on guard, and why did the Washington mayor veto more Capitol police.
Trump gave a speech to his supporters, who almost always stay for the whole speech and it has been established that those breaking into Congress did so before the President’s speech was over, so the supporters who listened to his speech were not the ones breaking into Congress. And despite Pelosi categorizing the attack as an “insurrection” this was hardly an attempt to seize power.
Nevertheless vindictive Nancy Pelosi had this to say: “We know that the President of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our common country,” House Speaker Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
These allegations were irresponsible and damaging to the country. They led directly to social media giant Twitter cancelling the President’s Twitter account, which is what he used to communicate with the American people. I understand that both Trump and Pelosi during controversies about the Administration’s performance dealing with the Covid19 virus were particularly nasty and President Trump descended into the name-calling by stating that Pelosi was “incompetent”. Neither party, then, was blameless in this fight.
Cheryl K. Chumley, writing in The Washington Times on January 13, 2020, asks why Pelosi insisted that another impeachment a week or so before the end of Trump’s term, as a result of the January 6th protests when the Senate trial did not have enough time to be conducted before he finishing his term. Pelosi said, without proof, that the second impeachment was a national security issue. She also sought to have Trump removed from office under section 25 of the Constitution on the basis, that in her opinion, the President was mentally incompetent to complete the last 10 days of his term.
Constitutional scholars such as Alan Dershowitz opined that an impeachment trial could not get done before the end of his term and a president cannot be impeached after he has left office.
Ms. Chumley states that Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a “slight hint into why she’s been going gung-ho for so long, so viciously, yet so utterly devoid and defiant of facts, against President Donald Trump: It’s personal.
“It’s revenge. “It’s Pelosi’s way of marking this president for life.”
“This president is impeached for life regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell,” she said on “This Week” on ABC television. A few moments later, she added, “There is nothing the Senate can do that can ever erase that.”
Chumley says that Pelosi’s words on ABC are “the type of thing a scorned woman might say of a cheating husband after a nasty divorce that didn’t exactly go her way: ‘Well, at least his reputation is tainted, or ‘At least his coworkers know what a piece of [bleep] he is.’”
Perhaps Pelosi’s own issues and falsehoods bother her to such an extent she is drawn to vindictive punishment of others rather than self-improvement. There are four cases where she has looked quite ridiculous.
- Too busy with the sham impeachment in January and February of 2020 to pay attention to the spreading pandemic.
- Inviting visitors to San Francisco’s Chinatown when the Wuhan virus had already started and such was against public health advice.
- Telling her hairstylist to open up against the municipal directives and she was seen there on the store’s videocam without a mask.
- Endorsing Congressman John Swalwell to remain on the Intelligence Committee when he admitted to a sexual relationship with a Chinese spy.
In my essay of January 12th for Israel National News, I wrote how cancel culture had become a type of political exterminationism against “enemies (who) might share an ideology or a political culture or simply common values that so bother, or are found so objectionable, to justify a full culture war to repudiate and cancel their very humanity.
Previously, in an essay for New English Review on October 22nd, entitled “The Illiberal Left: Do They Intend to Punish Trump Supporters for Their Thought Crimes?”, I noted that professors like Robert Reich in the U.S. and Mark Bulgutch in Canada want to see some kind of blacklist for those who supported Trump. The former stated: “When this nightmare is over, we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would erase Trump’s lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe.”
The latter after naming various officials in the Trump administration, such as press secretaries, the Attorney-General, and even Trump’s lawyer, said: “Each and every one of his sycophants will have to answer for the last four years”. Has the wish for revenge led us into a new McCarthyism? Forbes Magazine suggested that White House staff and even Trump supporters in Congress should be denied future employment as punishment for their association with Trump.
Twitter is just one of several corporations, including Deutsche Bank, that have announced they won’t do business in the future with Trump. I guess Deutsche Bank doesn’t see the optics of a Germany company boycotting America’s most pro-Israel president. This bank in 1999 published documents that showed it had financed the building of the Auschwitz concentration camp. During the Nazi rule the bank had facilitated the transnational sale of gold stolen from Jews, which infused the Nazi war machine with cash. It seems that it seeks to overcome its past immorality with a virtue-signalling of questionable value.
Will younger Americans support the reversal of Trump’s pro-Israel policies because friendship of Israel by the Trump administration will be seen in itself as a reason to now act against Israel’s interests?
In the American Psychological Association Monitor, June 2009, Michael Price wrote about “Revenge and the people who seek it” from a psychological perspective.
It seems that “if you’re a power-seeker, revenge can serve to remind others you’re not to be trifled with. If you live in a society where the rule of law is weak, revenge provides a way to keep order.”
But revenge, he notes, comes at a price. Instead of helping you move on with your life, it can leave you dwelling on the situation and remaining unhappy, psychologists’ research finds.
Considering revenge is a very human response to feeling slighted, humans are atrocious at predicting its effects.
Social psychologist Ian McKee, PhD, of Adelaide University in Australia, studies what makes a person seek revenge rather than just letting an issue go. In May 2008, he published a paper in Social Justice Research (Vol. 138, No. 2) linking vengeful tendencies primarily with two social attitudes: right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance, and the motivational values that underlie those attitudes. One might keep in mind that authoritarianism is not the exclusive ideology of either the right or the left.
“People who are more vengeful tend to be those who are motivated by power, by authority and by the desire for status,” he says. “They don’t want to lose face.” And so, politicians, such as Pelosi who have excelled in attaining power, have a greater propensity for revenge. She no doubt senses that the more vindictive she is against the President, the more support she gains from the media and entertainers who hate Trump, thus enhancing her own drive for power.
A number of criminologists have studied how jail sentences for crime can merge with victim’s wishes to participate in that punishment. Victim impact statements, have allowed victims to describe their ordeal and offer input on an offender’s sentencing. That still leaves justice in the hands of the state, but allows the victim a way to satisfy feelings of wanting revenge to avoid the type of rumination that many victims carry with them.
Bryan Robinson, writing on the ABC News website on January 7, 2006 notes that revenge can often start an endless cycle of retribution. But the act of revenge is usually only a quick-fix, compared to a long-term solution. Temporary gratification does not accomplish a whole lot other than letting off steam.
Revenge is not Justice. In sentencing guidelines for criminal offenses, it is often said that the sentence should reflect denunciation and deterrence as well as rehabilitation, and deterrence is addressed to both the criminal and society as a whole., but it does not reflect any vengeance.
People who seek revenge are driven by anger and violence and self-righteousness, and have not thought about how to channel their negative feelings into something positive. They have not considered how they could use their negative experience — the injustice they suffered — to bring about change.
So, whether we approach the topic of revenge from a secular or religious point of view, we see that revenge is not an appropriate response. As America fractures, there will be winners and losers, but if we follow Nancy Pelosi and her friends in Social Media companies, and use revenge or Cancel Culture to try to win political contests, we shall all be worse off.