Dear Mr. Trump…

drewshak

A Muslim and a Jew working together to accomplish great things… Take note, Mr. Trump…

Dear Mr. Trump,

In kindergarten, my son met a boy whose family had recently immigrated to New York from Pakistan (and were originally from Afghanistan). We did not shun him, thinking that his brethren might be terrorists. And this was at a time when the bloodshed of 9/11 was a fresh wound—merely two years prior. No, we encouraged the friendship with this devout Muslim boy. As Jews, our faith taught us to embrace those who may not look or sound like us, those who do not necessarily believe the same things we do. And we taught our children this. True Christians believe the same. You Sir, are not a true Christian. If you were, you would not be spewing such virulent rhetoric every single time you open your mouth.

But, I digress from my story about two little boys who met in kindergarten—a Muslim and a Jew—and became best friends. Those little boys are now heading off to college. One will go to Hofstra, where—if you don’t find a way to weasel out of it—you will be torn to shreds by Hillary Clinton in the first debate. Your lack of knowledge on foreign affairs alone (Putin isn’t in Crimea yet? Or wait—no he is, but they want him there. Which is it, Mr. Trump?), puts you at a ridiculous disadvantage. Sorry the NFL refused to play into your plan of canceling the debate, because it’s at the same time as a football game (did you think anyone in their right mind would believe they sent you a letter complaining about it?). But again, I digress…

This is a story about the devout Muslim and the conservative (in religion, not views) Jew. As they grew older, their bond grew stronger. And not only did their friendship flourish, but the friendship of their younger brothers, as well. (This made me very happy—both brothers are smart, respectful and kind, great influences on my boys.) Most summer afternoons could find the four brothers shooting hoops or riding bikes. But, the Muslim brothers have another younger brother who could do none of these things. He has cerebral palsy (we all know how you really feel about the disabled, after mocking the disabled journalist—but yet again, I digress…) and cannot perform even the most basic of self-care tasks. So, what did my son and his friend (remember—the Muslim and the Jew) do? They joined together to design a bathroom for those incapable of self-care. This bathroom design has won many awards, including the Yale Science and Engineering Award, second place honors at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair (LISEF), among many other prestigious awards. I’m beyond proud of both of them. This design can literally change the lives of millions of disabled people. They used their intelligence and strong bond to work together to make the world better place—a devout Muslim and a conservative Jew. Imagine that?

No really, please try to imagine that, Mr. Trump. Please try to wrap your brain around the fact that there are good Muslims in this country. In fact, there are far more good Muslims than those who have been radicalized. The fact that you have sought to link the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Khan to terrorists is reprehensible at best and slanderous at worst. The family could easily sue you for defamation. I hope you lose every veteran vote in this country for your failure to show even the smallest modicum of decency. Khizr Khan was right when he said you have “a black soul.”

This is just the latest serious blunder on your part, in a series of blunders that should really have meant political suicide. How you can possibly disparage pretty much every group, except for white men and still have anyone’s vote (other than your rabid—and hopefully shrinking—base) is beyond me. I blame social media. The rise of social media has coincided with the decline of civility. People can say whatever they want under the mantle of anonymity. It’s much easier for a bigoted person to hurl insults when it’s simply his or her fingers flying over a keyboard, rather than in a face to face conversation. And that has given rise to the vast cesspool of hate swirling around the Internet from which your candidacy has sprung.

And your followers eat it up. Anti-semitic memes smearing Hillary Clinton? Check. Promising an entire religion will be banned from our great country, Constitution be damned? Check. Stating that all Mexican immigrants are drug lords and rapists? Check. (Oh, sorry—you did say, “Some, I assume, are good people.”) Mocking the disabled? Check. Reducing women’s worth to merely their appearance? Check. Even supermodels can’t escape your critical eye with your assertion that gorgeous Heidi Klum is “sadly…no longer a 10.” At least she had the last laugh with her cheeky video and the hashtag #HeidiTrumpsTrump.

And that’s all that I can hope for—that the American people will have the last laugh as you are swept into the dustbin of history, along with other demagogues. You Sir, are no more than a small-minded despot who appeals to the lowest common denominator. (And yes, I know that some Trump supporters are good people, because I personally know some friends and family members who support him—I’m talking about the David Duke types.) I know that you will never read this, Mr. Trump—it’s like the letter you write to a horrible ex-boyfriend, but never send. It’s just cathartic writing it. But, I do hope that this story of a devout Muslim and a Jew accomplishing something great together makes at least one of your supporters think twice about voting in a future so bleak, it scares the crap out of me…

Sincerely,

Stephanie Kepke

As a side note, I was told three years ago not to wade into politics as a writer—I would run the risk of alienating my readers. I have not written a political post since. But it’s my job as an essayist to share my views of the world and to me, this election is about so much more than politics. It’s about where this country is headed—do we want to be a society based on fear and hate or one based on love and acceptance? Do we want to see everyone who doesn’t look like us, who doesn’t sound like us as the “other” whom we need to rail against? Or are we “stronger together?” I’m rooting for stronger together…

I wanted to close this with the famous quote about all evil needing to triumph is good men doing nothing. In researching the quote, I stumbled upon a similar quote by Simon Wiesenthal. It was a very powerful moment. You see, Simon Wiesenthal is my cousin. He was my grandfather’s first cousin. He and my grandfather looked very much alike. When I look at my kids and their first cousins, I think—that’s pretty  darn close. Suddenly, it occurred to me that this desire to right wrongs, this desire to champion social justice is actually in my blood. And that connected me to a bigger world and made me realize that making my voice heard is so very important, scary as it is to send this out into cyber-space, knowing that I might have vitriol slung at me from the depths of that hate-filled cesspool of the Internet…

Simon Wisenthal may have very well predicted the rise of Donald Trump with these quotes, published in 1989:

Hatred can be nurtured anywhere, idealism can be perverted into sadism anywhere. If hatred and sadism combine with modern technology the inferno could erupt anew anywhere.—Simon Wiesental (from Justice Not Vengeance: Recollections, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989)

The combination of hatred and technology is the greatest danger threatening mankind.—Simon Wiesenthal (from Justice Not Vengeance: Recollections, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989)

simonweisenthal

This quote by my cousin, Simon Wiesenthal, is as true today as when he said it…

 

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