My 350 on Donald Trump: in a free land according to my conscience

I am blessed, in this western country, to cast my vote.

Shmuel Legesse
29 November 2016

My wife gave birth to a baby boy the day after the historic US election. I am blessed, in this western country, to cast my vote, according to my conscience, for the President. I am truly blessed to reside with my family and raise my children in a free country, in a free land. In keeping with my Jewish religion, we held today a great circumcision party for our new son, with dozens of family and friends. 

My Jewish values from the Bible and Talmud (the Jewish ethics & law book) teach me to remember and share the sorrow of others around me who are suffering, to speak up about others who are being oppressed by evil rulers, even at this time of personal joy. 

From Abraham to Moses, and beyond, all of our great Biblical leaders have refused to stand idly by while others were being oppressed or persecuted. The Torah commands, "lo ta'amod al dam re'echa," don't just stand there while your brother's blood is being spilled. We are enjoined, rather, to act out in protest whenever we see injustice afoot. This applies even where our enemies our concerned. For example, the Talmud instructs us to come to the aid of someone for whom we feel antipathy even before offering help to a friend.

Certainly, then, when our own countrymen suffer, we must mount a forceful defense. Being of Ethiopian origin, I am now keenly aware of, and made distraught by, the oppression of my countrymen, the people of my birth land, who are suffering at the hands of their own government. Anyone using Facebook, Whatsapp, or any other form of social media, anyone watching or listening to international news outlets like VOA, is subject to an imprisonment that is prolonged. People are not allowed to walk in the streets in groups of two or more. The Tigray Liberation-led Ethiopian tribal criminal government, TPLF, has killed many citizens who are not its members. 

This genocide has been reported in the media of many western nations. The Freedom House reported that Ethiopia is the first African country to ban the internet. At my great family party, we took time to remember these offenses and publicly denounce these evil actions against humankind.

How can Americans fight dark money and disinformation?

Violence, corruption and cynicism threaten America's flagging democracy. Joe Biden has promised to revive it – but can his new administration stem the flow of online disinformation and shady political financing that has eroded the trust of many US voters?

Hear from leading global experts and commentators on what the new president and Congress must do to stem the flood of dark money and misinformation that is warping politics around the world.

Join us on Thursday 21 January, 5pm UK time/12pm EST.

Hear from:

Emily Bell Leonard Tow Professor of Journalism and director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia Journalism School

Anoa Changa Journalist focusing on electoral justice, social movements and culture

Peter Geoghegan openDemocracy investigations editor and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'

Josh Rudolph Fellow for Malign Finance at the Alliance for Securing Democracy

Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy 

Further speakers to be announced

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