Condemning All Support for White Supremacists and Efforts to Undermine the Election

October 1, 2020Rabbi Rick Jacobs

There are moral red lines that must not be crossed by elected officials who are entrusted to ensure the safety of all Americans and the Constitution itself. By failing to condemn white supremacy and by undermining the integrity of the election, President Trump crossed several of those lines during Tuesday night’s presidential debate.

When given the opportunity to condemn the racist, violent ideology of white supremacy, the president failed to do so. He called on the Proud Boys (designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group because of their anti-Muslim, misogynistic, and other extremist views) “to stand back and stand by.” In so doing, he implied that in the coming days, there will be a place for their racist views and the violence they have been part of at recent rallies. These extremists have been cheering the president’s “shout out” ever since.

When asked if he would abide by the results of the upcoming election, President Trump sowed baseless doubts and fears about election fraud. Rather than point to the multiple states in which voting by mail has been a standard and successful practice throughout many elections, and rather than speak of the integrity of our elections overall, he undermined Americans' very faith in the ballot – to the detriment of our democracy.

President Trump’s words cannot be dismissed as simply misstatements; they were reiterations of statements he has repeatedly made. We will not remain silent in the face of such egregious moral failures.

In Jewish tradition, we venerate the Talmudic teaching of eilu v’eilu, “these and these are the words of the living God” (Eruvim 13b), which is used when two morally legitimate views are being debated. Differences of opinion and robust debate are vital parts of our tradition – but when it comes to white supremacy and election integrity, there can be no debate. There are no morally legitimate pro-and-con arguments.

Americans can and do differ on many policies and candidates – but we should all join together to condemn all support for white supremacists and all efforts to undermine the election. We call on elected officials at the local, state, and national levels to support counting all ballots and to say clearly and unequivocally: I condemn white supremacy.

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