Sheldon Kirshner
Sheldon Kirshner

Two Americans Who Tarnish the U.S.’ Image

Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, should be censured for having promoted the outrageous notion that the United States should have only one religion.

At a recent rally in Texas, he said, “If we are going to have one nation under God, we must have one religion.” He added, “One nation under God, and one religion under God.”

Flynn delivered his comments in San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church, whose evangelical pastor, John Hagee, is the founder of Christians United for Israel, a pro-Israel organization. Flynn’s speaking tour was endorsed by America Faith, a Christian news network.

It’s probably safe to say that Flynn was promoting the idea that Christianity should be America’s official religion. Americans like Flynn may think this is perfectly acceptable or appropriate, since Christians form the vast majority of America’s population.

If he had bothered to reflect, Flynn may have realized his proposition is essentially unAmerican and downright dangerous.

The United States is a nation founded on the twin principles of pluralism and the right to freely practice one’s religion, whatever it may be.

Flynn’s ethnocentric rhetoric should be condemned because it “runs counter to American values and threatens the foundations of our democracy,” says the Anti-Defamation League’s chief executive officer, Jonathan Greenblatt.

Interestingly enough, the Cornerstone Church disassociated itself from Flynn, saying it does not endorse his views.

Flynn, an ex-general, is a dicey character.

He was fired by Trump only several months into his tenure after confessing he lied to U.S. government officials about his conversations with Russian diplomats in Washington. And he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the same topic.

Trump, in his infinite wisdom, pardoned Flynn. Since then, Flynn has been a purveyor of unsettling conspiracy theories, one of which falsely claims that Joe Biden’s victory in last November’s presidential election was fraudulent.

It goes without saying that this allegation, unambiguously embraced by Trump himself, contributed to the unprecedented insurrection on Capitol Hill last January.

Misguided Americans like Flynn do an immense disservice to America. Unfortunately, he is far from unique.

***

Recently, a candidate for the U.S. Senate vying to replace the outgoing Republican senator in Ohio, Rob Portman, blundered into the morass of antisemitism.

In an ad, Mark Pukita — a businessman running in the Republican primary — claimed that one of his opponents, Josh Mandel, was campaigning on a false pretense.

Mandel, who’s Jewish, has been courting evangelical voters by underscoring his support of “Judeo-Christian values.” Mandel’s website features a photograph of a church steeple crowned by a cross and a statement attributed to him proclaiming he is “pro-God.”

Attempting to derail Mandel’s candidacy, Pukita reminded voters that Mandel is Jewish. Mandel has made no secret of his Jewish background, but Pukita could not resist the temptation to “expose” him as a Jew.

When Pukita was asked to respond to accusations that his ad was intentionally divisive and inflammatory, if not altogether antisemitic, he defended it. As he put it, “In terms of antisemitism, all I did was to point out that Josh is going around saying he’s got the Bible in one hand and the constitution in the other. But he’s Jewish. Everybody should know that though, right?”

Wrong!

Pukita was clearly pandering to antisemitic sentiments by “outing” Mandel as a Jew.

Pukita’s spokesman, Robert Gray, defended him against charges of antisemitism. ”Mark Pukita is absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably a complete supporter of religious tolerance and of Israel,” Gray said. ”He is not a supporter of phonies and panderers.”

In a tweet, Pukita denied he is an antisemite. ”I’m anti-façade, not antisemitic,” he said. ”Josh is a complete façade. A caricature. An actor. He’s going to evangelical churches, talking about making decisions with the constitution in one hand, the Bible in the other. That’s not something to question?”

Pukita misses the point, of course.

Why was he compelled to remind voters that Mandel is Jewish? The answer cries out for clarity. Because he hoped to turn the bigots among the electorate against Mandel solely on the basis of his religion.

Pukita’s denials lack the ring of truth. Like his fellow American, Michael Flynn, he is guilty of subverting the intrinsic values that have made the United States a great nation, its blemishes notwithstanding.

Americans like Flynn and Pukita bring only discredit upon themselves and the United States.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal, SheldonKirshner.com
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