Have A Nice Day
Have A Nice Day

Face up

Email sent: May 14, 2021 8:31am
The Independent’s US politics newsletter
The Independent
Inside Washington

Inside Washington

 Written by Andrew Naughtie | May 14, 2021

The White House yesterday celebrated its first day going mask-free as fully vaccinated staffers found themselves no longer bound by CDC advice to cover their faces. Of course, many of their predecessors in the last administration never bothered to cover up anyway, something that may explain why Donald Trump contracted Covid-19 himself, but this day has been a long time coming, and the relief must be palpable.


But it sounds like the atmosphere on Capitol Hill is rather different. In a Congress that includes many Republicans who mock mask-wearing as Democratic nanny-statism and even cast doubt on the merits of vaccination, the odds of a return to barefaced normality are less clear. Asked yesterday about whether members could remove their masks, Nancy Pelosi insisted that they will still be expected to mask up on the floor of the House – where certain Republicans have made a habit of wearing the word “silenced” emblazoned across their face as they speak into a microphone.

Kamala Harris listens as Joe Biden delivers the news of revised CDC mask guidelines (EPA)

The view from Washington

Noah Berlatsky has this analysis:


I have never visited Israel, and have no particular desire to do so. I don’t have family or close friends there. I don’t see it as a refuge. If I were to live somewhere other than the United States, I’d much prefer Canada, where I’d still be close to family and speak one of the languages. As an American Jew, I can honestly say that Israel is not especially important to my sense of identity or my sense of self.


This would, apparently, shock Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield. Stinchfield feels strongly that American Jews belong in, and to, Israel. “If you are Jewish and you are a Democrat and you are living in America today,” he fulminated rhetorically in a recent segment, “how do you support an administration that turns its back on your home country?”


For Stinchfield and many of those on the American right, Jewish people are eternal aliens in what they see as an American Christian nation. For them, Jews are useful and tolerated only when we fulfill our subservient role in their ethnonationalist fantasies. That’s antisemitic, no matter what your position is on Israel.


More than three-quarters of American Jews voted for Biden in the 2020 election, which is broadly in line with Jewish voting patterns over the last 30 years. Republicans, who have embraced belligerent, Islamophobic right-wing governments in Israel, have been frustrated. Why, they wonder, aren’t American Jews more enthusiastic about their policy of Islamophobia, militarism and invasion in the Middle East?


Stinchfield, then, is echoing a common theme in right-wing discourse. Former president Donald Trump also on several occasions claimed that Jewish Democrats were demonstrating “disloyalty” to Israel. He’s also tweeted that he himself was the “King of Israel.” If Trump is the King of Israel, and American Jews owe loyalty to Israel, then it follows that when they don’t vote for Trump or support Democrats, American Jews are betraying their Jewishness and their country.


Which country is “theirs”, though? Trump, and Republicans, have increasingly become a party spearheaded by white evangelical Christians, about 80 percent of whom voted for Trump in 2020. Yale Sociologist Philip Gorski argues that white evangelicals love Trump “because they are white Christian nationalists.” In other words, many evangelicals believe America should be a white Christian nation, dedicated to empowering white people and purifying the country of foreign interlopers. Trump described himself as “the chosen one” when he talked about his trade war with China. That language resonates with white evangelicals who see a white Christian US triumphing in an apocalyptic conflict over non-Christian, non-white evildoers.


Evangelical white Christians believe that Israel has an important role to play in the endtimes. But they also see it as a sort of white provisional bulwark against the evils of nonwhite Muslims. Stinchfield praises Israel as “our one true ally in the Middle East… [because] Israel provides stability to a region that is in absolute chaos.”


When Stinchfield talks about chaos to a white evangelical audience, he, and they, know he’s not talking about actions. He’s talking about who rules. Similarly, Trump constantly evoked Chicago as an example of violent anarchy, not because Chicago is in fact especially violent (I live here; it’s not) but because it’s associated with Black people. Order is when white people are in charge; disorder is when they aren’t. Therefore the Middle East is always in chaos for Stinchfield and his ilk because its people and governments are (perceived as) not white and not Christian.


Israelis are for the most part not Christian either. But as long as they support a Middle East policy of subjugation, white Christian evangelicals are willing to see them as junior partners in empire. Jewish people who are not sufficiently onboard, though, are treated with suspicion. If we American Jews object to Israel killing Palestinian children, what use are we? Why don’t we know our place?


That place, Stinchfield wants us to believe, is not here in America. His commentary evokes the “dual loyalty” trope – the idea that Jewish people are always more committed to other Jews around the world than to the country they live in. But it’s also part of a rising American Christian fascism, which sees American identity and white Christian identity as inseparable. Jews can be here as long as they understand that they really belong in Israel – and as long as we vote for the right white Christians to lead us.


So why don’t Jewish people vote for the nice Christian supremacists? I can’t speak for all Jewish people, obviously. But I can say that for this one Jewish person, Stinchfield succinctly explains why I vote against Republicans whenever I have the opportunity. The party of white Christian nationalism is not a party that has my best interests at heart. On the contrary, historically, white Christian nationalism and racist fascism have been very dangerous for Jewish people.


I don’t think Jewish people who vote for Republicans are “disloyal.” Jewish people don’t owe allegiance to me, or to Democrats. I do think, though, that Jewish people who embrace the Christian far right, for whatever reason, are being extremely unwise. And I wish Americans – right and left, Jewish and otherwise – would accept that for American Jewish people, our homeland is here.

Daily Briefing

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH: As the Israeli military continues its devastating attacks on Gaza and Hamas fires back rockets in response, the US has pulled approximately 120 military and civilian personnel out of Israel altogether. A CNN report citing a State Department official said that the staff were evacuated thanks to the continuing violence and lack of commercial air travel options as Ben Gurion International Airport was targeted with missiles. Joe Biden, meanwhile, continues to come under pressure from the left of his party over the conflict. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave an impassioned speech on the House floor yesterday in which she asked if Palestinians’s lives mattered to the US government. “The president and many other figures this week stated that Israel has a right to defend itself, and this is a sentiment that’s echoed across this body. But do Palestinians have a right to survive? Do we believe that? And if so, we have a responsibility to that.”


BACK OFF: Speaking of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman is in a new row with extremist Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who accosted her outside the House chamber this week to harangue her over the Green New Deal and her supposed support for “terrorists” – meaning antifa and Black Lives Matter. Ms Ocasio-Cortez later compared Ms Greene to a barroom drunk. “I used to work as a bartender,” she said. “These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time.” The incident has fueled calls to sanction Ms Greene’s aggressive behavior in the name of member safety; Nancy Pelosi, whose execution Ms Greene has alluded to in previous social media posts, threatened consequences for the “verbal assault”.


RECKONINGS: Besides Derek Chauvin, three other police officers were present at the murder of George Floyd. Thomas Lane, J Jueng and Tou Thao have been fired and are awaiting a state trial – but a judge in Minneapolis has now delayed those proceedings to allow a federal case to proceed first. All three are currently allowed to remain free on a $750,000 bond. Should they be found guilty of aiding and abetting Mr Floyd’s murder, they could face 40 years each in prison, though Minneapolis sentencing guidelines could see this reduced to 15 years.


THE HEAT IS ON: The unpicking of the Trump legacy continues as the US resumes reporting climate change data gathered by the EPA. During the last administration, the data posted on the agency’s Climate Indicators site was not updated at all, but will now resume. The agency’s reporting measures 54 separate indicators to give a picture of how climate change is affecting Americans’ everyday lives. The newly released data shows that 2016 was the warmest year on record, 2020 the second-warmest, and and the last decade the warmest on record since thermometer-based records began in 1880.


NYPD BLUE: The New York mayoral race is rolling along, and eight Democratic candidates took things up a notch yesterday with their first joint debate. The encounter saw them clash over the future over the New York Police Department, one of the top national targets of last year’s “defund the police” movement. With the city counting 146 homicides this year, current frontrunner Andrew Yang came out on the NYPD’s side, saying that “the first thing I’d do as mayor us go to our police force and say, ‘This city needs you.’” For his part, the deeply unpopular incumbent mayor, Bill DeBlasio, gave a bizarre briefing on the state of the Covid-19 response in which he ate a burger and fries from Shake Shack while explaining the point of vaccination. It did not go down well.


TRUMP’S LAW: The legal problems engulfing Donald Trump’s associates continue to take new turns, the latest being the news that Rudy Giuliani has hired two lawyers who represented convicted serial sex offender Harvey Weinstein. Mr Giuliani is facing a defamation mega-lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems as well as a probe into his dealings in Ukraine. His former boss, however, may have caught a break: according to a report from Politico, if Mr Trump is charged in a still-rumbling case in Manhattan, his loyal Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could potentially block his extradition.

On the Record

“So all of us, let’s be patient. You know, some may say, ‘I just feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask’. They may feel that way… Please treat them with kindness and respect. We’ve had too much conflict, too much bitterness, too much anger, too much politicization of this issue about wearing masks. Let’s put it to rest. Let’s remember: we’re all Americans. Let’s remember that we’re all in this together.” – Joe Biden on the rollback of certain mask-wearing instructions

From the Commentariat

“Stefanik voted against the Equality Act this year; she had voted for the 2019 version. Sort of like Paul Ryan voting for LGB ENDA and then against it after it became LGBT ENDA” – Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis as the ascendant Elise Stefanik’s voting record is re-examined

Essential reading

More stories

Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post: Don’t freak out about inflation yet

If you can spare a minute we’d love your feedback on our newsletters.

The Independent

Join the conversation or follow us

Facebook Twitter

Please do not reply directly to this email.


You are currently registered to receive The Independent's Inside Washington email.

Add us to your safe list of senders


If you do not want to receive The Independent's Inside Washington email, please unsubscribe.

If you no longer wish to receive any newsletters or promotional emails from
The Independent, you can unsubscribe here.


This email was sent by Independent Digital News and Media Ltd,
2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF.
Registered in England and Wales with company number 07320345.

Read our privacy notice and cookie policy.

Other emails from Have A Nice Day

Have A Nice Day
Jun 18, 2021
Putting producers on the hook for plastic pollution | G7 summit fizzles | Botched protest at Euros
Have A Nice Day
Jun 18, 2021
Bizarre and grotesque: DUP forces out new leader
Have A Nice Day
Jun 18, 2021
Ministers ashamed of failure to prosecute rape
Have A Nice Day
Jun 17, 2021
'I think the last thing he wants is a cold war'
Have A Nice Day
Jun 17, 2021
Five stories to read this week
Have A Nice Day
Jun 17, 2021
Hancock denies being hopeless