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We are all Jews, and, God Help Us, We are all Americans

I was drinking my morning coffee on Saturday, reading the Santa Fe New Mexican, and wondering how this country would get through the bomb attacks and the midterms. And then we were all confronted with the worst anti-Semitic violence on American soil in history.

My first thought was “We are all Jews.” In my own case, this has a double meaning. My first husband, who died young, was Jewish and one of our sons and his wife are raising their two children as Jewish. My other son’s two children are an interesting mix of Jewish, WASP and Mexican American.

But, at a deeper level, I think we must all share in the pain inflicted on any group. A brilliant, irreverent friend of my father’s, confronted with an anti-Semitic remark, simply replied, “I am one. “

I have also been thinking a great deal about what it means to be an American, and I just read that Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now, has described our current situation as a direct attack on the slow, painful, often retrogressive progress towards our founding ideals. Sadly, this is not just happening here, but also in Europe, and, as of this morning, in Brazil. At this moment, I am holding on, for dear life, to one of the last conversations I had with my late father, who was a philosopher. He died in 2002 at age 89, and I think he wanted to leave me with some hope. He said, “The 21st Century may be the worst in human history, but if human beings survive it, they will have to have learned something.”

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