When President Donald Trump questioned the loyalty of American Jews who support Democrats, he crossed a line that should concern Jews, Christians and perhaps anyone living in the United States.
Yes, many will argue, the president was referring to Jewish loyalty to Israel as well as to the Jewish people, but the underlying message was clear. American Jews need to support the political party that, in his mind, protects them. If not there will be, on some level, consequences.
Yet, Mr. Trump, in invoking the issue of loyalty, pushes a historical button that should concern all of us.
As Michael Rosenwald pointed out in a column in the June 9, 2017, edition of The Washington Post: “In 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order that called for investigations to root out ‘disloyal or subversive’ government employees to ensure ‘unswerving loyalty to the United States government.’”
Well, what exactly did that mean and who was in a position to determine who rose to the standard of loyalty that was expected and who did not?
In short, the issue of loyalty is a potentially dangerous one because it enables anyone in power to look at someone with a different party allegiance, religious tradition, ethnicity, or race as a potential “enemy of the state” for daring to think differently.
It was Dr. James Buchanan, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, said that: “In a constitutional democracy, persons owe loyalty to the Constitution, rather than the government.”
We would argue that allegiance to the Constitution definitely comes before party loyalty or any sort of allegiance to a sitting president as well.
Rabbi/Cantor Mark J. Perman, Joy Kroeger-Mappes, Rev. RebeccaVardiman, Nayano Taylor-Neumann, Rev. Vicki L. Hammel, Rev. Marsha Spain Bell, Thomas F. Hawk, Betsey Hurwitz-Schwab, Sandra L. Roeder, Yvonne Perret, Val LlewelynEllen McDaniel-Weissler, Rev. Martha Macgill, Judy Stone MD, Rev. Daniel Swanson, Riaz Janjua MD, Rev. Gene Gall and Evan E. West