Trump And The World

I Support Trump But Firing FBI Chief Comey Was Wrong

Protests outside White House after Comey's ouster.
Protests outside White House after Comey's ouster.
Joe Walsh

-OpEd-

I'm a Donald Trump supporter. I voted for him and — 112 days in — I'd vote for him again. As a former member of Congress, I found his call to "drain the swamp" in Washington particularly appealing. D.C. needs a kick in the rear and I see Trump as the boot.

But I'm not here to be a cheerleader for President Trump, and I'm not on his payroll. When he does something wrong, it's my duty as a talk-show host, and as a citizen, to call him out. I always have and always will, so let me be clear: Trump was wrong to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. And we, his supporters, should be honest with ourselves about it.

Not all my listeners agree. When news of Comey's firing broke Tuesday while I was on the air, I criticized the president and a lot of his supporters didn't like it: Comey had it coming; Trump is playing chess; he's draining the swamp; he's hitting back against the deep state; and Joe, you're getting weak again, time to get on the Trump train are all typical of the calls I got.

But, to me, the debate has never really been about Trump. It's about the issues. It's about freedom, old-fashioned patriotic values and a government that serves regular Americans, not political elites in New York and Washington. When Trump moves the ball forward, I hug him. When he doesn't, I take him out to the proverbial woodshed. It's not always great for ratings, but that's the only way I know how to be.

Firing Comey just keeps Russia in the headlines.

Trump said he fired Comey because "he wasn't doing a good job. Very simply." According to the Justice Department's memo that went along with Comey's termination letter, the administration lost faith because of the way Comey handled the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton. But to believe that's the real reason, you have to believe that Comey — the guy overseeing the investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign — was let go for doing the same things Trump praised Comey for six months ago, when Trump said the FBI director had "guts' and "did the right thing."

There's nothing normal about that. That's tin-pot dictator territory. It's an abuse of power. And not only that, if it was meant to put a lid on the Russia investigation, it backfired. Firing Comey just keeps Russia in the headlines.

Whenever I criticize Trump, I lose listeners and Twitter followers. And I don't take that lightly — I don't want to lose the folks who are good enough to tune in daily to hear what I have to say. But if I start pulling my punches just because I'm a Trump backer, then I'm not really doing my job. It's wrong that he hired so many Goldman Sachs guys for his Cabinet and White House staff. It's wrong that he questioned the credibility of our intelligence community when the Russia story broke. He shouldn't have agreed to Congress's b.s. spending bill, and he should quit stalling on building the wall.

These days, for a conservative radio or TV talker, the easiest way to go is to be pro-Trump 100 percent of the time. Exhibit A is Sean Hannity, who opened his show Tuesday night by calling Comey a "national embarrassment" and a "political hack," and spent most of his time attacking Clinton. Trump couldn't have scripted a better show — but I won't kiss up to him, or anyone else, for ratings.

I believe a true Trump supporter should call him out when he's wrong. It's the only way to help him make good on the promises he made. You do it because you love him, not because you're against him. You want him to do right. That's the only way I can support this president, because at the end of the day, it's not about him. It's about cutting taxes, bringing back jobs, getting rid of Obamacare, building the wall and — yeah — making Mexico pay for it.

Every time he does wrong, Trump makes it harder to get those things done.

Joe Walsh is a syndicated talk-radio host and a former Illinois congressman.

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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