Emhoff: ‘Hate epidemic’ exists in the US, must not become the norm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, said Wednesday that a rise in anti-Semitism in the United States shows that an “epidemic of hate” exists in the country and must not become normal.

Emhoff, who is Jewish, led a White House discussion on the issue with Jewish leaders representing the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox faiths. They were also discussing ways to combat hate.

“There is an epidemic of hatred that threatens our country. We are seeing a rapid increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts,” he said. “Let’s be clear: words matter. People don’t say the quiet parts out loud anymore. They literally shout them.

He said such attitudes are dangerous and should not be accepted.

“We cannot normalize this. We all have an obligation to condemn these despicable acts,” Emhoff said. “All of us, all of us, must not remain silent.”

The second gentleman, as Emhoff is known, said there was neither side on the matter. He is the first Jewish spouse of a US president or vice-president, and has become increasingly outspoken about growing prejudice against followers of the Jewish faith, and hatred in general, in the United States. He said what was happening was “painful” for him.

“Everybody, all of us, have to be against this, have to be against anti-Semitism,” he said.

The roundtable, which was also attended by various White House and other officials, follows an outpouring of anti-Jewish vitriol from public figures, including a famous rapper and other figures.

Former President Donald Trump recently hosted Holocaust denier white supremacist Nick Fuentes at Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Rapper Ye – formerly known as Kanye West – expressed his love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to be promoting an anti-Semitic film on social media. Neo-Nazi trolls clamor to return to Twitter as new CEO Elon Musk grants ‘amnesty’ to suspended accounts.

Emhoff said Wednesday’s roundtable was the start of a conversation.

“And as long as I have this microphone, I will speak out against hate, bigotry and lies,” he said.

“I’m proud to live openly as a Jew and I’m not afraid,” Emhoff said.

The White House said roundtable participants include the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Agudath, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Committee, Orthodox Union, Jewish on Campus, National Council of Women Jews, Hillel, Secure Community Network, Religious Action Center, Anti-Defamation League, Integrity First for America and American Friends of Lubavitch.

Among the participating White House officials were senior presidential advisers Susan Rice and Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Deborah Lipstadt, special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.

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