“May You Live in Interesting Times,” the quote often inaccurately attributed to the Chinese as a Chinese curse, is quite apropos in light of the recent elections in the United States. Having a large personal and business social media presence because of my position as Museum Director of Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue/Museum in New York City, I have been inundated with comments and questions from around the world as to my thoughts on the Trump administration and my feelings on the recent election results. Many Trump supporters from outside the USA (especially those from Israel) have taken issue and expressed confusion and disagreement with my criticism of Trump. May I make myself clear, I strongly feel that those who are not citizens of the USA, while they understandably might be interested in our election proceedings and the candidates, they should keep these opinions to themselves or, in gentler terms, not weigh in on the elections of a country they are not a citizen of. I would certainly (no matter what my private thoughts might be) weigh in on internal politics of Greece, Israel or, in this instance, Australia.
As a US citizen, these have been troubling times. Our strong relations with former allies have been compromised, I am unable to visit countries I love because the incompetency of Trump has led to constant upsurges in COVID 19, I am embarrassed by the leadership in my country and frightened by the resemblances to Fascist regimes in the past.
Many voted for Trump because they were tired of politicians. Understandable. Well, what we got was a man who knows nothing about the running of government, has no idea what the Constitution (the document he swore allegiance to) actually says and acts not as a leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world but, rather, as a reality “star,” which is what he is. He, certainly, could have appointed people who were knowledgeable in positions of power in his government but, instead, appointed family and friends who know nothing and look on their positions as a means to further themselves. So for Secretary of Education, we got a woman who knows absolutely nothings about public education; for the Director of Housing, we got a man who is a Black doctor whose only claim to knowing anything about housing is that his family lived in the projects (low income housing), a claim that practically every person of color can state.
While initially I was elated about the election results, I am now quite troubled since people in the administration are spouted lies as to the voting results and Trump is holding up funds for the transition. This too shall pass. The challenges we now face as a new administration takes office are not insurmountable and I am sure that a competent, knowledgeable President elect and Vice President elect will work to resolve them.
I feel that we have learned a lot from the results of the election in 2016. As a country, many of us, myself certainly included, did not understand the underlying mood of many who were uncomfortable with a Black president and still fostered an underlying racist attitude. Electing a man like Trump gave them a forum to vent their views and a look at the ugly underbelly in my country. No, racism is not dead in the USA. We have a lot to do.
I also feel that the media, especially social media, enabled lies and untruths to spread unchecked. We, as a country, and we, as the world, must confront this and find a means to contain it.
I have lived long enough to have passed through troubling times but the divisiveness that now exists is especially troubling. The USA has a history of political parties, existing primarily to express different viewpoints but, never before, have I seen the venom and hatred being expressed (on both sides) just because someone is of a different political party.
We must get back to normalcy, to civility and for respect of another’s views. We must get back to a period in time when the President of the United States was a respected head of state and a man that our children could respect.
It is my hope that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, two articulate, experienced leaders who exemplify civility and respect for the other and the less fortunate, can heal the deep wounds that Trump has inflicted on the American psyche.
Marcia Haddad-Ikonomopoulos is a Greek Jew and the Museum Director of Kehila Kedosha Janina, NY. The views expressed her are the private views of Marcia Haddad-Ikonomopoulos and not the views of Kehila Kedosha Janina.