Some of Their Best Friends are Anti-Semites (Vol. 52, Issue 1)
A cancer is spreading through the American Heartland — home of the American farmers’ sorrow. The cancer is anti-semitism and the growth of the radical religious right. The victims were once proud farmers who, because of the Reagan administration's “‘no-policy"’ farm policy, have witnessed their worst nightmare: the bank auction. The American farmer, in a desperate fight to save his land, has piled up debts the size of Brazil's and Mexico's. Subsequently, the banks began to foreclose on those who could not pay. This process has turned into an avalanche of despair. Farmers have seen everything they owned and worked for disappear with the sound of a gavel.
For those who watched the farm crisis programs on television, or read about it in the newspaper, it may have seemed a far-away problem — something that wouldn’t affect oneself. But, unfortunately, it does, and in the worst way.
The cries of “Jewish control’’, “Jewish power” and “Jewish racism’’ are back. The spirit of Hitler and Mein Kampf has somehow found its way to the gray skies of Nebraska and to the cold nights of Iowa. “Jewish Power” and “Jewish Control” are suddenly being discussed in small meeting houses, in old family kitchens over coffee, in general stores and in small communities. The Jews are anti-Christ, the Racist Communists and the International Bankers all rolled into one. You may laugh when you hear a young bearded farmer say that the Holocaust never happened. But it's not so funny to think that he has a stock pile of ammunition ready for the holy war: the “New Israel” (White Anglo-Saxon Americans) vs. The Children of the Devil (The American Jewish Community).
The events of the American farmer parallel those desperate days in Germany; days of economic despair, lack of hope and anger. It is hard for someone to admit that he has failed; especially when he or she has to face his children, friends, and family. It is easier to blame someone or something else instead. That blame has easily fallen on that mysterious figure known as the “Jewish Banker.’’ Never seen and never heard from, the radical right has told the desperate American farmer that it is the Jew that is to blame. In his state of Psychological despair, the farmer slowly believes these accusations.
Slowly the news stories started to appear. A controversial Jewish radio host from Denver, Alan Berg, is gunned down in front of his home. A rash of bank robberies shed light on the New Order, a neo-Nazi group. A farmer is killed by police. After entering his home, the police find a cache of guns and ammunition, as well as hundreds of anti-semitic pamphlets books.
Small para-military camps are opening up for the purpose of training white Americans to fight the impending religious war against the Jews. A church group is under investigation by the FBI. It’s leader is one of the most powerful anti-semites in America. Small groups are found by ABC News to be connected to this church — connected by their violent hatred of the Jews. Slowly but surely, this cancer of hate spreads. But what has caused this farm crisis to get out of control? The answer is the Reagan Administration. Those of us who gladly skip to the beat of the Reagan administration see nothing wrong in President Reagan’s ‘‘Rosy World of America.” In this rosy world all the problems will somehow go away. But some of us are aware that it is the Reagan administration that is to blame for the farmer’s economic predicament. We saw through Reagan's lip-service to the American farmer; lip-service that basically said: “Hey guys, you are on your own.”Also, the Reagan administration's cavalier attitude toward the less fortunate in our society is no secret. This attitude was largely ignored by many of the Yeshiva College voters who casted their ballots for Reagan. These “‘new” Republicans proudly stated their support for ‘‘dear Ronnie.” In doing so, they simply ignored the economic burdens placed on a large segment of the lower class, including the American farmer.
Many of them labelled Walter Mondale’s warnings during the 1984 presidential campaign as basic “democratic liberal whining.” And who could blame them? Against Ronald Reagan's “Rosy World of America,” Walter Mondale’s reality had no chance. We allowed ourselves to forget the real picture: the sad plight of many middle and lower class Americans. We traded the problems for four more years of rosy pictures. But the problem is that the Reagan facade has begun to crumble, and we are left with many crucial problems.
Fortunately, what was once labelled, ‘‘democratic whining,” has now been labelled “major problems facing our nation.” The silence by many politicians and citizens to these problems has now turned into a roar for action.
But what about the damage already done? What about the problem of the farmer and the subsequent rise of anti-semitism? The cancer of anti-semitism that is spreading throughout the farm states might be put into remission if the right steps, led by concemed Senators and Congressman, are taken now. But more importantly, Reagan's rosy world of America must also come to an end.
It is also time to rethink our own political values for the upcoming elections in 1986, and realize that a dose of Democratic reality is worth more than all the rosy pictures Ronald Reagan wants to paint for us. For in the end, the rosy pictures eventually appear as they are: a facade. Otherwise, the Jewish community must face alone the cancer spreading through America's heartland.