Letters: Gaslighting, Salad Bowl

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Attempted Gaslighting
Gerard Leval’s Aug. 24 op-ed (“Tossing Out the Melting Pot Gave Us Antisemitism”) offers a case study of attempted gaslighting.

Without offering evidence, Leval posits that Jews melted into American society to the point of being indiscernible as an ethnic group, but that happy state of invisibility changed suddenly when we were outed because “the new identity politics sprang into high gear.” As soon as Jews thus became “more noticeable,” says Leval, it followed naturally that antisemitism became “resurgent.”

Leval never defines “identity politics,” but his intent becomes apparent when he specifically indicts, as a cause of increased levels of acts of hate against Jews, “the move toward ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’, which highlights differences …” Ah, so, what Mr. Leval means by identity politics is the same as what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis means by the term “woke.” In other words, what has caused white-supremacist Christian nationalists to more openly express their latent hatred of Jews is these insidious programs designed to open opportunities to those affected by deep structural disadvantages attached to skin color, national origin, gender identity and religion.


In short, Leval’s baseless theory is utter sophistry. He tells me I shouldn’t believe my own lyin’ eyes when I read that it was, in fact, the former president’s enthusiasm for bigotry in 2016 and 2017 that was the primary driver of the spike in antisemitic acts that the ADL reported in 2017. The ADL’s data and analysis establish that resurgent antisemitism is the product of MAGA rage purposely unleashed by the former president’s unsubtle encouragement for his followers to feel free to express all forms of hate without guilt.
Jews will never stop working for social justice, even at the cost of being, God forbid, visible.

Howard Dansky, Elkins Park

Salad Bowl, Not Melting Pot
I agree with Gerard Leval’s premise (“Tossing Out the Melting Pot Gave Us Antisemitism,” Aug. 24) that the spike in antisemitism is related to our cultural move away from the melting pot premise toward favoring diversity.

The flaw in his argument is that the melting pot did not cause antisemitism to disappear. It caused Jews (and others who did not identify as white, Christian, straight or nondisabled) to disappear. Jewish identity melted into the dominant culture, which then minimized the Jewish presence.

My grandfather escaped Germany in 1938 and ascribed fully to the melting pot idea. This likely protected him from some of the horrors of being Jewish during that time, but it also contributed to people outside his family not knowing he was Jewish.

It still plays out today. We live in an area that has very few Jews. At home and at our synagogue, we proudly celebrate being Jewish, Shabbat and the holidays. But under the melting pot premise, when my child started public school, she melted into the dominant culture and could not express this identity (which she loves) to the people she spends a large amount of her time with.

This protected her from antisemitism, which is easier as a parent. However, the tradeoff was her self-described yicky feeling of not being authentic with a major part of who she is in all spaces. For us, this was an unacceptable tradeoff. Diversity can increase the visibility of hate, but not expressing our authentic identities creates other problems.

The melting pot premise has got to go. If we must use metaphors, the salad bowl is a much better premise. Everyone gets to keep their own flavor. When brought together, instead of a “bland product,” the combination of flavors produces something much more delicious than the sum of the parts.

Darcy G. Lindy, Spring City

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