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Conservatives have probably never felt as criticized and condemned as they are now. We are called white supremacists, labeled Nazis, and are viewed as alien to a culture that expects everyone to toe the line of conformity to the Progressive cause. The ostracizing and censuring that the Right is experiencing goes far beyond the extremes of the past. Due to the level of malevolence, we are being marginalized and hated by the most radical of the Left. Even those who aren’t as radical are buying into the propaganda.
I believe the current environment is leading to the development of an unconscious mindset for Conservatives that is debilitating and destructive. I call it “the Ghetto Mind of 2020.” I hope that by shining a light on this mentality, we can make a conscious effort to free ourselves of this subtle yet pervasive mindset and use this awareness to strengthen our roles in, and our impact on, America.
To provide some background, I base this mindset on the Jewish ghettos of Europe. (Although blacks in America have also lived in areas called ghettos, now the inner cities, the Jewish example is much older and creates a clearer model.)
The first ghettos were formed in the 12th century, but the one created in Venice is one of the best known and was used as a model for the ghettos established by the Nazis:
The ghetto in Venice was enclosed by a wall and gates that were locked at night. Jews had to observe a curfew, and were required to wear yellow hats and badges to distinguish themselves, a practice that the Nazis would later adapt in the 20th century. The ghetto in Venice was crowded, and therefore it was necessary to add new floors onto existing buildings, leading to the first so-called skyscrapers. While the 1516 law creating the ghetto limited Jews’ freedom of mobility, to some degree it was less severe than policies elsewhere in Europe, where Jews were often forced to leave altogether. Inside the confines of the ghetto, Jews had the autonomy to govern themselves and to sustain their own social, religious and educational institutions.
Ghettos were varied in their purposes, restrictions, and constructions:
The ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe — primarily Poland — were often closed off by walls, barbed-wire fences, or gates. Ghettos were extremely crowded and unsanitary. Starvation, chronic food and fuel shortages, and severe winter weather led to repeated outbreaks of epidemics and to a high mortality rate. Ghettoization, however, was seen as a temporary situation, and in many places the ghettos existed only for a brief time. With the implementation of the Final Solution in 1942, the Germans began to destroy the ghettos by deporting the Jewish occupants to forced-labor and extermination camps.
Although there are a number of areas in cities throughout America that house Jewish communities, usually Orthodox Jews, living in these areas is voluntary, and until recently, Jews have not been limited in their activities in those areas.
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You may ask, what in the world do European ghettoes have to do with the people of America? Remember that Ghetto Mind has to do with attitude, beliefs, and values, not location. Let me provide examples.
Outsiders: Jews were nearly always seen as outsiders. In most cases, non-Jews knew very little about Judaism, the reasons they wore distinctive clothing, and the reasons they were such a strong communal society. Jews were sometimes blamed for tragic events, such as causing the plague or economic downturns; they were the epitome of the scapegoat.
If you look at Conservatives today, they are not understood by non-Conservatives, and the far Left prefers to demonize them rather than learn their ideas. The polarization that has emerged is separating the Left and Right, particularly on social media and the mainstream media in general. The Left has worked hard to isolate the Right from sharing its ideas in most venues, through written attacks, physical threats, and threats of firings. The Right is blamed for most of the social ills, often with President Trump as our leader, so COVID-19, the disrupted economy, the strained relationship with China and Iran—all of those difficulties fall at the feet of the political Right. We are being condemned, marginalized, demonized, and rejected in many ways.
Religion: All Western religions are being criticized and rejected by many on the political Left. (Eastern religions and Islam are free to practice.) Christianity and Judaism in particular are labeled archaic and primitive. During the virus lockdowns, religious communities were especially targeted for longer shutdowns and limited access to facilities. Groups that tried to find creative ways to be together were sanctioned (like those who met by staying in their cars). Religion not only honors a Supreme Being but empowers Him uniquely above any other belief system.
Values: The motivations of the Left are alien to the beliefs of the Right. At this time, the Left is calling for revolutions, social disruption, and condemnation of systemic racism. In diametric opposition, the Right firmly holds to the original American values of individual rights, liberty, rule of law, property rights, gun rights, and freedom of speech. None of these are held in high regard by the political Left; they interfere with their socialistic and Marxist goals, and anyone who practices them is not only suspicious but should be found guilty of obstructing their plans.
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The many reasons that the Left condemns the Right justifies, in their minds, the efforts to marginalize us, subtly moving us to Ghetto Mind:
They see us as suspicious outliers. We should be rejected for our ideas which are rarely fully understood but are condemned anyway. We need to be banned from places (locations, media, institutions) where we can distract others from the “true way” and try to convince them that the Left’s ideas are wrongheaded. Our voices, actions, and efforts need to be stopped and silenced.
We develop Ghetto Mind when we feel we only have each other; when we feel our children are being shut out from the schools due to the propaganda that is taught; when we feel unsafe at our jobs because we don’t “fit in” and if found out, may be fired; when we wonder if there is anywhere we can go and be welcomed, given what we believe; when they discourage worship and the belief in G-d. We may be finding more ways to isolate ourselves from non-Conservatives and the larger society.
I believe Ghetto Mind has already made inroads into the Conservative mind. I don’t assume, as with the ghettos of Europe, it will be temporary. President Trump can’t fight alone for this country.
He will need every one of us to be behind him.Published in