Letters to the editor: Oct. 4, 2017

Presidential debate

I read Professor Marty Rochester’s commentary on “Charlottesville and healing the racial divide” (Sept. 27) and stopped what I was reading to make sure I understood the professor’s point.  

According to Rochester, Donald Trump may be inarticulate, scatterbrained and unpresidential, but there is no evidence he is a racist or condones racism.  

At the moment I read this I realized that Rochester probably wrote this before Trump called out African-American football players as sons of bitches for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.   

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Rochester believes the media has painted a false narrative that President Trump is a racist but he suggests there is no evidence to support that claim. The Huffington Post cites 16 times that (Trump) has embraced racism (Aug. 14, 2017).  

One of these times was embracing the narrative that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Was Trump’s embrace of this conspiracy theory, which he gave up only as he neared his nomination for president, due to his inarticulateness, scatterbrained personality, or other excuses Rochester points to?  

Oh, and how about his talk to Jewish Republicans (Dec. 3, 2015) where he told them “You’re not going to support me, because I don’t want your money,” he said. “You want to control your own politician.” 

Trump proclaims he is not a racist and Professor Rochester believes him while ignoring a painful truth about our president. 

Roger D. Lewis, Clayton 

Lost in translation 

I have good news for Lily Hauptman, the Ladue student whose visit to Germany was marred by graffiti (“Nazis jagen”) which she understood as intimidatingly pro-Nazi (“High school senior shares experience with Judaism in Germany,” Ohr Chadash Teen Page, Sept. 13). 

The phrase is actually anti-fascist and translates as “pursue Nazis” or “hunt Nazis (down)” and was likely scrawled in protest against the perceived uptick in anti-immigrant feelings. It definitely was not written in sympathy with Nazism.

The hardest part of translating is when you know all the words, but context and syntax mask the correct meaning. This is true for Torah, Goethe and even graffiti. 

As a young linguist in Germany years ago I recall puzzling over some seemingly menacing graffiti (“Krieg dem Krieg”) until I deciphered its anti-war meaning. Being Jewish in Germany poses challenges, but of the several European countries I have lived in, it probably has the lowest level of overt anti-Semitism today. 

I hope she enjoys the lovely memories of her time in Dortmund.

Matthew Grad, St. Louis