In visit to STL, Jewish congressman addresses QAnon, Jan. 6 and future of democracy


Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

An audience of about 200 attended a conversation Friday night (Oct. 29) between Jason Kander and Congressman Adam Schiff at the St. Louis County Library headquarters in Frontenac. Kander, former Missouri Secretary of State, and Schiff are both Jewish. It was one of the first return to live events in the library’s author series.

It coincided with the publishing of Schiff’s first book, “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy.” Schiff discussed his workaholic nature, with the consequences of not getting enough sleep, and why he persisted in politics after losing his first two attempts at elected office, as a candidate for the 43rd district seat in the California state assembly: “As my 93-year-old father says, ‘What’s the point of being a Schiff if you can’t be stubborn?’”

Schiff discussed the increased threats of violence he deals with, and misinformation disseminated by some media sources, including social media. He specifically addressed the presence of about a dozen QAnon protestors outside the library before the event:

“You saw the protestors. I’ll sometimes get off a plane and somebody will recognize me and say, ‘I want to shake your hand, you are my hero,’ Another person will see me and say, ‘I don’t want to shake your hand, you lie all the time.’ They can’t both be right. We need to figure out how to be good consumers of information. This downward spiral, particularly online, is dangerous.”

The final question Kander posed to Schiff was related to the congressman’s grim assessment of the political divide in America. Kander asked if Schiff had any reason to be optimistic about the future, and Schiff said the answer is yes. He explained that while the country’s leaders tell him they’ve never previously seen anything like the level of violence seen at the January attack on the U.S. Capitol, “At the same time they recognize just how incredibly resilient this country is . . .

“The country’s endless capacity to reinvent itself and the millions and millions of decent, wonderful people who live in every state. This wave of xenophobic populism didn’t start here. It was already creating the Viktor Orbán, the right-wing populists in Poland, the right-wing parties in Austria and Germany. This is a global phenomenon, and it will not persist if we do our job as Americans.”