by Shmuel Klatzin
Most of us are most comfortable when things are under our control. We like using the skills and powers with which we have been blessed to make life better, both for ourselves and for others.
Sometimes, life just hums along and we confidently play our winning hand. Success is attainable; we know the way to get it and we are motivated to achieve it.
But in the year 2020, the unknown broke through our dreams and our pretensions. It is frightening, especially if we are not used to humility. It is uncomfortable to see that the bright focus of our human competency is always surrounded by a very much larger realm that is not subject to our control. If we are at all awake, we are learning that an appreciation of the mysterious and the transcendent is not an indulgence of the weird and the religious, but a vital and necessary part of a common-sense approach to the real universe in which we live.
Living with the reality of the mysterious enables us to turn away from despair. The fact that we are confronted with our inability to control the pandemic will only sink those who believe that we already have all knowledge. How much better to be amazed at the mysterious that is within us as well, where viruses exist in our bodies peacefully by the billions. So instead of rejecting the mysterious as something that lessens our knowledge, we can come to a common-sense appreciation that our knowledge is always surrounded by mystery. That does not compromise or lessen the knowledge we do have, but it should lessen our pretensions. And that’s good, because pretensions make for bad thought, bad religion, and bad science
And bad politics.
We are at a moment of chaos in the post-election, just as we were in the pre-election. But whatever the present uncertainties, we are not devoid of all insight, and we must acknowledge that although we must operate on presumptions when there is little sure knowledge, some presumptions are more reasonable than others.
Presumptions must be based on evidence — the stronger the evidence, the more reasonable the presumption. We have a great deal of evidence of widespread, corrupt behavior behind the broadly organized attempt to end Trump’s presidency, beginning from before he won election in 2016 and continuing without respite until the Senate’s dismissal of the House’s articles of impeachment, and the emergence of the pandemic as the overriding concern in our national life. There is hard evidence of the involvement of upper echelons in the FBI and the intelligence community in committing fraud against the FISA court, in using the mechanisms of law enforcement to intervene in a political campaign, and then later to forward a political attempt to overthrow Trump’s presidency.
We have evidence of the toleration of behavior that regularly results in prison for those without A-List political connections. The destruction of tens of thousands of emails under federal subpoena and of smartphones and computers of deep interest to investigators are first of all the responsibility of Hillary Clinton and her staff. But one will search unsuccessfully to find any note of criticism of this behavior from Joe Biden or those involved in his bid for power.
The large and accumulating body of hard evidence and first-hand testimony of corruption in the Biden family’s dealings with Ukraine, China, and other places were never given serious, evidence-based refutation by Biden and those supporting and hoping to gain by his victory. The usual reaction was derision of whoever dared to ask about this, and a coordinated and deliberate lack of interest by the ever more politically driven old media and a thorough and active silencing by the social media monopolies of any mention of this issue.
This evidence is not all of the same quality, but it clearly contains much that is far more robust than the endless anonymously sourced articles of the New York Times and Washington Post and many lesser lights that tried to build a momentum for impeachment.
Based upon on what we may presume from this evidence, with a proper respect for the fact that we certainly do not know everything about what we presume, we should ask what is most reasonable to assume about what has happened and is happening in our election.
A presumption is not evidence, but it nonetheless seems that there is little basis to believe that those so deeply involved in the serious perversions of law and political norms to which we refer above would be free of similarly corrupt actions with respect to any process in which their power is at stake.
As much as I would like there to be peace, I know that if its price is a passive assent to the establishment of a political power immune to the limits of the law, the Constitution, and the will of the People, then such a peace would be ephemeral. In Jeremiah’s words, “ ‘Peace! Peace!’ But there is no peace.”
Right now, distrust of what has happened so far in this election is healthy. Let’s use the institutions of our great democracy to clarify what has gone on. Let’s all commit to following the evidence as the only way to reasonably overcome very reasonable and very grave doubts.
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Shmuel Klatzkin is a rabbi and serves as senior editor at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. He received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and writes and teaches extensively.
Photo “At the Polls” by Julie Carr/Tennessee Star