Yesterday was another of those maniacal news days that have become all too common in the Trump administration, with multiple Top Headline stories overlapping on any given day. Monday, for instance, had half a dozen stories what would normally on their own each be banner headlines that it was so overcrowded I even forgot about one -- evidence that Roger Stone had direct contact with Wikileaks, contrary to his long-insistence lying that it never happened.
And then again today, I was going to delve into the latest menagerie of stories, headed by the big New York Times scoop about Jared Kusher getting loans totaling half-a-billion dollars from two financial institutions that he met with in the White House. Mind you, before that story broke late in the day, while trying to decide among a handful of other headlines, like Hope Hicks resigning, and the spokesman for Kushner and Ivanka Trump resigning, the president calling his Attorney General "disgraceful," and how Billy Graham, someone who had been purely a religious figure, would unacceptably be lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda, the seat of government, against the Constitutional concept of separation of church and state. On top of which Billy Graham, who was a divisive figure throughout his career, was also shown to be anti-Semitic on the Nixon tapes.
But I read something else later in the day which bothered me far more than any of these stories that I've decided to write about instead. Not that it's more important -- on a National News scale, it's minor -- but rather it galled me personally the most. That said, though my reaction here is purely personal, I also think the tiny story speaks to what has been a long-growing undercurrent in American society that has become more prominent and disturbing.
In an appearance on "Fox News, former Congressman Jason Chaffetz -- who's now a crack analyst for the channel -- was discussing the shooting massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School and he said (I swear) -- that among all the debate on assault weapons, the NRA and new gun laws, is that what is perhaps most important to address is that the survivors of the shooting "need a belief in God and Jesus Christ."
Here's the video.
Personally I think it's possible what Jason Chaffetz himself may need is an exorcism. But that's another matter entirely.
So, let's take a step back and take a look at what, to some, may sound like a nurturing call for greater faith in a Divine Being. (I was going to say, "take a closer look," but then I realized that you can not only see it just fine from far away, but also if you get too close you risk your head exploding.)
And it begins with putting aside perhaps the most outrageous and most galling aspects of the comment.
So, forget for the moment that 40% of the school is Jewish, which is a lot to put aside (but easy, since most people probably don't know that), and forget too that six of the people killed were Jewish -- and how the shooter has a history of anti-Semitism, including having written in an Instagram chat that "My real mother was a Jew. I am glad I never met her" (again, easy to forget since it hasn't been much reported) -- and forget how disgraceful it is for Mr. Chaffetz to say amidst all that how believing in Jesus is what is missing at the school, forget ALL that for the moment, which I know is a lot to ask to ignore, the larger reality of what Jason Chaffetz is suggesting is that a belief in Jesus Christ would have saved those 17 killed, and that, in the opinion of the former Congressman now "Fox News" commentator, Jesus must be okay with the 23 deaths in school shootings this year alone. After all, why would Mr. Chaffetz believe that if Jesus cared enough to comfort the survivors, He wouldn't care about protecting everyone in the first place?
Just to be clear, it's important to remind the Jason Chaffetzes of the world who proselytize otherwise that believing in Jesus didn't do much for the nine people killed at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nor did believing in Jesus help the 26 people who were killed at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Faith in Jesus Christ or whatever God one wishes to believe is a fine thing. But it has nothing to do with mass shootings, even if that belief is just to comfort all of those involved, after the fact. Without question, if such faith is what any individual needs for comfort, hopefully that will bring great solace. But to suggest that "Belief in Jesus" is the answer -- under any conditions, but most-especially when 40% of those affected are of another faith entirely -- is egregiously, cold-heartedly irresponsible, ignoring the needs and comforts of others. It is pandering to a political base on the grieving of others
It's pretty sickening to think that Jason Chaffetz was up until recently, when he resigned from the House, the Chairman of the Government Reform Committee. It's hard to imagine that this is the guy you'd want reforming government. Or anything.
Okay, the moment is over. You can stop forgetting all those other things now. Feel free to consider it all. Feel free to consider now that Jason Chaffetz is telling us from his "Fox News" holy pulpit that what the 40% of survivors of a massacre who are Jewish need for solace and protection from gunfire and death is to have faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Feel free to consider it all.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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