Back on July 21, Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis, California, called on Allah to “liberate the Al-Asqa mosque from the filth of the Jews” and to _“_annihilate them down to the very last one,” not sparing any. “Oh Allah,” the Imam prayed, “make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this.”
Imam Shahin’s interactive call to annihilate Jews caused something of a stir in progressive Davis and across California. As Ari Lieberman noted, state lawmakers expressed outrage and the Simon Wiesenthal Center asked the Justice and Homeland Security departments to conduct an investigation. The Anti-Defamation league saw fit to issue a denunciation but for UC Davis lecturer Sasha Abramsky, it was as though the sermon had been delivered by Donald Trump.
In the August 13 Sacramento Bee, Abramsky invoked Émile Zola’s 1898 “_J’accuse_” letter, a “stinging indictment of French leadership and its embrace of anti-Semitism for political ends.” Nothing could be more anti-Semitic than calling for Allah to annihilate the Jews and praying that all Muslims participate in the killing. But in his own “J’accuse,” Abramsky had somebody else in mind.
“I accuse you, Donald Trump, of using fear to divide neighbor from neighbor,” wrote the British-born Abramsky, an Oxford grad with a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. The author did not speculate how a call to annihilate Jews might have divided neighbor from neighbor in peaceful Davis and liberal California. But there was more.
“I accuse you of playing Russian roulette with America’s present standing and its future position in the world,” the UC Davis sage wrote. “I accuse you of using your occupancy of the White House not to in any conceivable way improve the general well-being, but to further your narcissistic, vain, and cruel fantasies. You are a morally puny man, Donald Trump, a bloated fellow who feels big only by making others feel small.” In addition:
“You puff up your chest and urge the police to beat up suspects, and urge the military to show no mercy on the enemy, and urge intelligence agents to torture those thought to be terrorists, not because any of this will really make America safer but because in your twisted understanding of the world strength is shown only through violence.”
Since the election, “Trump’s behavior has only gotten more appalling,” with the “grotesque, almost pornographic, spectacle of the most powerful man on earth using his platform to urge police forces to beat up suspects.”
The president, explains Abramsky, “denigrates women” and uses his platform to “attack private citizens” and “promote his nepotistic, almost Mafia-like web of family and business and political interests” and “attack programs that encourage racial and economic diversity in colleges.”
Not to forget the president’s “Nuremberg-styled rallies using barely adolescent Boy Scouts as a background prop.” And the piece, headlined “How Trump and the Republican Party will go down in history” concludes:
“Shame on the whole sorry lot of you. In tolerating a madman in office, you are permanently diminishing the country, you are scarifying its vital democratic edifice, you are coarsening the culture and playing havoc with the lives of millions of vulnerable people. The history books are never kind to men and women of such craven attitude. You are collaborators in Trump’s vile passion play.”
The competition is tough, but that might earn Sasha Abramsky a Pulitzer Prize in anti-Trump boilerplate. On the other hand, readers might recall, in The American Way of Poverty, Abramsky also took issue with the Obama administration for not protecting the “long-term poor” from budget cuts. In fact, many in the president’s inner circle were “avowed moderates who had cut their teeth during the Clinton years.”
Abramsky knows Lyndon Johnson’s vaunted War on Poverty was a failure but duly calls for a “War on Poverty Mark II,” along the same battle lines. Welfare systems, he explains, “work best when they expand automatically during economic downturns.”
America’s “leadership class,” Abramsky laments, began a long march away from redistributive liberalism, but it wasn’t all their fault. America’s progressives “fell victim to a McCarthyite political culture that denounced comprehensive federal safety net systems as being somehow ‘Communist.’”
The author provides no discussion of how actual Communist states fared economically with their “leadership class” in charge of everything. Abramsky dismisses F.A. Hayek as a “free-marketer” while failing to engage the arguments in The Road to Serfdom, which John Maynard Keynes endorsed “in deeply moved agreement.”
The American Way of Poverty recycles classic statist fundamentalism, so no surprise that the New York Times listed it among the 100 most notable books of 2013. It didn’t hurt that Abramsky also writes for the Nation and Mother Jones. In all venues, the social justice prophet displays the inability to think outside the leftist box.
No surprise that such a person would ignore a hatemongering Muslim preacher’s call to annihilate Jews “down to the very last one.” No surprise that such a person would turn his vile passion play on Donald Trump, who opposes anti-Semitism and radical Islamic terrorism more than any recent president. Even in Davis, California, Sasha Abramsky is no Émile Zola.