The after services Kiddush in my Shul is often a time for small talk, business bantering and political arguments. It seems that I am becoming an ideological outlier more and more as my fellow congregants by a wide margin seem in full lock step with the talking points of the Republican National Committee. Much to the chagrin of my friends and neighbors, they have amongst them someone who is from, dare I say it, “the Left.” That label is scurrilous, used less to define my philosophical bent and meant more as a slur.

Well……

If being from the left means I think too much wealth and power is concentrated on too few elites and oligarchs, I’m guilty as charged.

If being from the left means I believe income inequality and corporate welfare are destructive and wrong then I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means believing that raising taxes on the super rich and raising the minimum wage is good for the economy and not harmful to business then I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that I think that we are over-policed and under-regulated, I’m guilty as charged.

If being from the left means I think it’s unjust that a man can spend more time in jail for possessing an ounce of cocaine than a man who steals an old ladies’ pension fund through fraud and cheating, then yeah I’m guilty as charged.

If being from the left means I believe religion has no place in the public sphere then I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means I believe like a majority of scientists that climate change is destroying our planet, I am 100% guilty as charged.

If being from the left means I believe men shouldn’t have any control over a woman’s body, what she studies, how she gets divorced or married and that she should get equal pay, I am definitely guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that I’m ok with any two consenting adults having the right to marry, I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that I believe racism is a malignancy that is getting worse, I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that we can never use as an excuse the inhumanity of our enemies as a motive for senseless violence in response, I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means I believe scapegoating a whole religion for the wrongs done by a minority is misguided, then I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that I believe a parent who casts away a child because they stray from their religious path is guilty of neglect, then I am ultra leftodox.

If being from the left means I don’t think Barack Obama is anti Israel, an anti Semite nor a secret Muslim set out to destroy Israel and America, then I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that I don’t believe the survival of Israel is dependent on her holding onto all the land it now controls, I am guilty again.

If being from the left means I draw a straight line from hateful rhetoric to violent extremism I am guilty as charged.

If being from the left means that I sympathize for the suffering of Israelis AND Palestinians, I am guilty as charged.

I understand that belonging to certain affinity groups makes it challenging to have a contrary point of view and to think independently. Dissent from religious and political orthodoxies can render a person as “michutz la machane,” outside the camp. Yet to close off all open discussion seems to me to be surrendering our points of view and our right to have nuanced thought. We end up ceding to a generally unelected elite who are not always right, policies that are not always in our interests.

So yeah, the next time you attempt to slur me as being from the left, I will say quite proudly that I am guilty as charged.