Last January, I posted “The Dirt on ‘American Dirt’” about the criticism of a novel by Jeanine Cummins coming out a best-seller. I hadn’t read it but saw political correctness running amok. Recently, I read the book.

I haven’t changed my mind.

Claims of “cultural appropriation” often go overboard. Personally, I believe a non-Jew can write a novel about Jews, including the Holocaust. Good stories are good stories. What might make me uncomfortable? Jewish characters agonizing over religious adherence and belief. You’re Irish Catholic or Black Methodist—draw on your own experience. But even if a non-Jew takes that leap, I won’t pre-judge. In spite of the odds, the author might get it right.

Authors of serious fiction are skilled at observing and analyzing people. Their writing increases our understanding of others. Most write about their own culture or mix of them. My protagonists tend to be Jews. I can explore certain feelings and behaviors with confidence. Many other characters are not Jews. It’s a big world. If I can’t write good non-Jewish characters, I’m no writer.

American Dirt deals with Lydia, a Mexican bookstore owner in Acapulco. I give nothing away stating that her journalist husband and extended family are murdered by a cartel leader. She knows him; he buys books from her. Lydia also knows that she and her son Luca will not be allowed to survive.

Cultural appropriation? Cummins never has Lydia contemplate the meaning of being Mexican or undergo an identity crisis re living in the U.S. The novel—plot-driven and gripping—might be termed “reportorial.” Lydia and Luca flee, and the road ahead is dangerous. Journalists of many ethnicities have report on the migrant situation tied to violence in Mexico and Central America. So, too, any novelist can write about any subject when the facts have been ascertained and the story is not so much cultural as human.

“I wanted to write about women, whose stories are often overlooked,” Cummins notes in an afterword. American Dirt is the story of a frightened but courageous and resourceful woman who could be of any nationality and ethnicity.

Cummins began four years of research before the America-bound migrant caravans assailed by Donald Trump. She empathizes. Cummins has a Puerto Rican grandmother. She herself married an undocumented immigrant—after he received his green card. He was the one who insisted on waiting. How does she relate to the novel’s violence? When Cummins was 16, two cousins were brutally raped and thrown off a bridge in St. Louis. She wrote a memoir, A Rip in Heaven. Why this particular story? There’s a major universal component. Cummins states, “We seldom think of them [migrants] as our fellow human beings.” American Dirt offers that much-needed perspective.

American Dirt also offers that while great violence exists in the world, so does love. Along Lydia and Luca’s escape route, many people—including fellow migrants and the rooted poor—perform unselfish—and risky—acts of generosity.

Cummins worried about not being Mexican. “I wished someone slightly browner than me would write it. But then, I thought, If you’re a person who has the capacity to be a bridge, why not be a bridge?

At a time when so many Americans build walls to shut out others, we need all the bridges we can get.

As Yom Kippur approaches, I wish all Jewish readers that you be sealed in the Book of Life. And to everyone: Shalom!

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Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain just signed the “Abraham Accords” establishing full diplomatic recognition between the Jewish State and two Persian Gulf nations. President Trump can wear this particular feather in his cap. But as with all agreements, questions arise.

Establishing embassies, exchanging ambassadors and doing business deals are good. Yet Israel, the UAE and Bahrain have participated in under-the-table relationships for years, pre-dating the Trump administration. And this is not a peace agreement. Israel and the two Gulf states never fought a war. Still, the Abraham Agreements hopefully will eliminate any financial support from the UAE and Bahrain—or its citizens—for terrorism waged against Israel and the West.

Watching the event, a few other thoughts came to mind. For one, President Trump mentioned “a common enemy.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called out Iran by name. I noted that Bibi stood to Trump’s immediate right, the position of honor.

Trump mentioned other Arab nations soon coming on board. Speculation includes Oman, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan. As to Saudi Arabia, its aged King Salman insists on a Palestinian state being part of an agreement. (More in a moment.) But his reign will soon end. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman may appease his father now but likely will enter the accords when he becomes king.

Note that these potential signees to agreements with Israel are Sunni Muslim nations like the UAE and Bahrain, although Bahrain has a minority Sunni royal class and a Shiite majority. These countries have lined up against Shiite Iran in a battle—cold and hot—for Gulf dominance. Iran also remains hostile to Israel. An Israeli-Sunni collaboration—again, going on sub rosa for years—will put increasing pressure on Tehran.

Unfortunately, it may not end the threat of regional war and perhaps lead to one.

Iran’s response remains to be seen but may have been foreshadowed during the ceremony when a lone rocket was fired from Gaza towards Ashdod, Israel. What next? Harsher Iranian harassment of Gulf shipping? Fast-boat attacks on U.S. naval vessels? Iranian proxies—Hezbollah and Hamas—staging terrorist attacks on Israel? The UAE and Bahrain? The West?

Meanwhile, the Palestinians, who’ve passed on several chances to achieve independence, seem the losers. Neither Trump nor Netanyahu mentioned them, although UAE minister of foreign affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abdulatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Bahrain’s foreign minister, called for a two-state solution. Sheikh Abdullah hailed a Palestinian state as the foundation of regional peace. That’s unlikely while Trump and Netanyahu remain in office. And they signed the agreements.

So what will the Palestinians do now? And how will Jordan’s huge and restive Palestinian population respond?

A last interesting tidbit. Sheikh Abdullah stressed the UAE’s scientific achievements—a Martian probe and an astronaut sent to the International Space Station. The Sheikh promotes science and its advancement through ties with Israel. His White House host scorns science.

On the whole, Israelis will sense a touch more peace in their lives even as the country struggles with the COVID pandemic and a new national lockdown. All three nations will engage in healthy commercial and cultural opportunities.

Here at home, we should welcome the Abraham Accords. Perhaps they’ll stimulate a culturally and politically divided U.S. to develop our own American Accords.

For all of you celebrating Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year (5781) tonight—Shana Tovah. May this be a good year—certainly better than last. And to everyone: health and peace!

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This past Wednesday, Northern California experienced something resembling the ninth plague with which God struck the Egyptians when Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites. Choshek—darkness—enveloped us. It also issued major warnings.

Exodus 10:22-23 relates, “Moses held out his arm toward the sky and thick darkness descended upon all the land of Egypt for three days. People could not see one another . . .” The Israelites were spared. Two days ago, no one was.

Daytime darkness resulted from thick fog covered by heavy smoke from fires raging throughout California and the West. An orange sky—welcome to Mars—cast little physical light. But choshek might illuminate our thinking.

Two issues come to mind.

First, Western fires have grown harder to fight because the region has grown much dryer and hotter. Blindness to climate change won’t cut it. We need more awareness and action from Washington, which has the big bucks. We also need better forest management by federal and state officials. Prescribed burns and, in some cases, letting forests burn after lightning strikes or human malevolence/stupidity can eliminate fuel that would ignite bigger conflagrations in the future.

Further, the cost to taxpayers and stress on firefighters working under brutal conditions continually increase as Cal Fire seeks to protect communities in remote high-risk areas. I don’t blame the victims for loving beautiful, serene forests. But public support may no longer be sustainable for people who live isolated in those forests and won’t or can’t (re)build homes according to fire-resistant standards. Their insurance premiums are likely to skyrocket—if policies are available.

Building smart isn’t cheap. Not everyone has the assets. But it’s doable. Case in point:

My friend Dan recently built a luxury house in Lake County. An outstanding builder-developer, he situated the house away from others. He specified concrete/stucco walls, a metal roof and fire-resistant windows. The floors are concrete-slab with a stone-tile finish—not wood. The house includes other safety details plus a major water supply and fire hydrant on site. This reflects Dan’s sense of personal responsibility.

Second, the nation is experiencing a darkness of the soul, which many Americans refuse to acknowledge. Wednesday morning, a peek into Bob Woodward’s new book Rage (out September 15) documented Donald Trump’s refusal to tell the American people that in early February, he knew the coronavirus was far deadlier than the flu and presented a major public health problem. Trump didn’t want to cause “panic.” Interviewed after the book’s revelations,  he defended his position.

Really? Would you fail to tell Americans a hurricane was coming?

Had Trump been forthright, Americans could have begun isolating and wearing masks far earlier than mid-March. Many who believed Trump’s public assertions about COVID-19 being a hoax and a Democratic plot might have complied. Tens of thousands of lives—a hundred thousand? More?—might have been saved.

The Jewish New Year (5781)—Rosh Hashanah—begins in one week. Hopefully, the choshek we’ve just experienced will prompt Jews everywhere to further search our souls regarding personal and communal responsibilities and opportunities—and all Americans to consider fact and truth to be our friends, not enemies.

May we find a way to see or—light—by foregoing falsehoods and conspiracy theories, and listening to and respecting each other.

May the memories of the innocent killed on September 11, 2001, including all the first responders and courageous civilians who struggled to save them and others—and those who succumbed later be for a blessing. May the survivors heal. And may we learn.

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I was in the office playing solitaire—real cards—and checking email when the beautiful babe showed up. Big eyes. Long dark hair. Legs up to there. I glanced at the lucky guy with her. “What kind of dog is Gorgeous?”

“Mixed,” he said. “Great genes.” I nodded at the lucky bastard. “And you are—?” I asked. “Citizen,” he answered. “John Q. Citizen.” I trashed an email from my bookie. “What brings you here, John Q.?”

“They say Sam Spadinsky is the best private eye in town. And aren’t you—” I grinned. “Sam Spade was my grandfather. Married late—but right. Grandma Ida made killer matzah balls.” He stared. “Name got changed after my great-grandfather Moishe Spadinsky went through Ellis Island.”

“As to my problem, this could take some time,” John Q. said. “No rush,” I said. “You walked in, you punched the clock.” He stroked the top of Gorgeous’ head. She purred. A dog? “I’m looking for answers,” he said. “Okay,” I said. “Give with the questions.”

“The OakTown caper,” he said. “Valuable big blue boxes heisted.” I placed a red ten on a black jack. “No mystery. Men in blue suits. Work for the Orange Man.”

“It’s not who,” said John Q. “It’s why.” I rolled my eyes. “Election’s coming up.” He glanced at Gorgeous. “But people from both parties vote by mail,” he said. “To make a case in the court of public opinion, I need the real motive.”

Gorgeous yipped her support. She sounded like my ex—who, to be fair, didn’t appreciate my snoring. “It’s all about keeping the wrong people from casting ballots,” I said. “Wrong people?” John Q. asked. “Why shouldn’t everyone be able to vote?”

I took a flask of Scotch from my desk drawer along with a book. The flask was for show. The book was the real deal. “Goes way back. It’s all here. These Truths. A history of America by a gal name Jill Lepore. I’ll read you three passages about the 19th century.”

“Page 234: Abel Upshur, President John Tyler’s secretary of state, on slavery: ‘However poor, or ignorant or miserable he may be, he [a white man] has yet the consoling consciousness that there is a still lower condition to which he can never be reduced.’

“Page 256: George Fitzhugh, this American social theorist from Virginia—‘some [men] were born with saddles on their backs, and others booted and spurred to ride them,—and the riding does them good.’

And page 269: Chief Justice Roger Taney on the 1857 Dred Scott Case argues that Congress has no power to limit slavery in the states because the guys who wrote the Constitution considered people of African descent ‘beings of an inferior order . . .’”

“I had no idea!” said John Q. “It seems beliefs about keeping some people from voting is deeply rooted in our national history.” I raised an eyebrow. “Misbeliefs.” Gorgeous barked her agreement. “How much do I owe you?” he asked. I shook my head. “This one’s on me.”

After John Q. left with Gorgeous, I ran the table on my solitaire game. I felt good. I’d given John Q. the cards he needed. Then I emailed my bookie for the odds on how well he’d play them.

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Donald Trump and Joe Biden are competing to see who can turn the lights back on in America. Biden sees the nation engulfed in darkness. Trump sees Biden as darkness incarnate and said last night, he is “brimming with confidence of the bright future.” I think I see why.

Covid-19 has killed 180,000 Americans. Trump has taken terrible shots from Democrats and the media. His defense shines light on the obvious: He didn’t create the virus. China did. Maybe in a lab. That’s what some people say. Masks? America is all about freedom. We have a higher moral duty than containing a virus that eventually will disappear. The light at the end of the tunnel: A disproportionate percentage of the dead are Blacks, Mexicans and Native Americans. Whites, slated to become another minority around 2042, may extend their majority status as God intends. P.S.: Dead seniors reduce stress on Social Security and Medicare.

Weekly unemployment claims on August 20 again rose above one million. Public-health nutjobs shut down our economy hurting our workforce—and their survivors. Good news: Unemployment among Blacks rose from 6.1 percent in Q2 2019 to 16.1 percent in Q2 2020. Hispanic/Latino unemployment rose from 3.9 percent to 16.7 percent. But whites went from 3.1 percent to only 12 percent. (Source: bis.gov.) Real Americans did better than the minorities seeking to invade our suburbs and destroy the American way of life.

The City of New York and State of New York are investigating Trump’s businesses. Cut to the chase: Capitalism is about making a buck. If fake laws and regulations stand in the way, why should a capitalist knuckle under? Like reporting assets accurately or paying taxes. Losers do that. Our president wants Americans to be winners.

Steve Bannon, a former Trump advisor, is the latest Trump associate to be indicted. Wire fraud? Money laundering? What, you skipped the paragraph above? Maybe Bannon did skim a million dollars or more from a crowdfunding project to build a wall sealing off Mexico. No biggie. A beautiful wall will enable this nation to keep out the murderers and rapists the coronavirus doesn’t eliminate on this side of the border.

Jerry Falwell Jr., resigned as president and chancellor of Liberty University—sex scandal. Seems that the wife of this leader of evangelical Trump supporters had an affair with a pool boy in Florida. Falwell might have been part of a threesome—he liked to watch. Go to the light. A disgraced Christian reveals himself as the sinner we all are, asks Jesus for forgiveness and—maybe—is saved from hellfire. Everyone loves a prodigal son. Hallelujah!

“Joe Biden is basically the Loch Ness Monster of the swamp.”—Donald Trump Jr. Off the top, a very dark thing to say about the Democratic candidate, especially from someone who on Instagram suggested that Biden was a pedophile. But think of the poetic imagery, the literary chops of perhaps the nation’s next poet laureate. Note to Junior: Everyone loves Nessie.

So get real. Donald Trump has been targeted by the forces of darkness with Joe Biden being “the destroyer of American greatness.” But Trump believes that “America is the torch that enlightens the entire world.” True that.

If we don’t burn our democracy down first.

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When you’re married to a woman for nearly 51 years (September 4), you learn a bit about her. So I can say without hesitation, my wife Carolyn is nasty.

My wife is nasty because she’s independent. She thinks for herself. She insists on standing on her own two feet, not under my thumb.

My wife is nasty because she believes that racial justice is long overdue and that Americans must do all that they can to achieve it. Likewise, she supports the broad and varied LGBTQ community. Of course, Carolyn has her selfish side. We have a trans son and a gay son in addition to a straight son.

My wife is nasty because she believes in reason and science. She wears a mask when we go out. More, she sews them. She’s given out over 180. Our dining table hosts her ancient sewing machine—refurbished several months ago—and cotton cloth plus polyurethane for a lining that makes them quite effective.

My wife is nasty because she believes that women, as well as men, can hold positions of power and influence, up to and including the White House. She doesn’t insult men. Neither does she accept insults to women whose achievements are notable and add so much to every component of American life.

My wife is nasty because she believes that every American is entitled to healthcare. She gets it that this is essential to unlocking the full potential of every American and providing comfort to those whose means don’t match ours. That’s only natural, since like so many wives and mothers, she’s the family nurse, always there to provide assistance and insist that when it’s time to see the doctor, we go.

The Book of Proverbs lauds the eshet chayil—the woman of valor. “Her worth is far beyond that of rubies.” In the days of Proverbs’ writing, women’s and men’s roles were pretty much divided. The woman of valor was lauded for performing specific tasks connected to home and family. Yet the woman of valor also is heralded for a particularly important trait—giving generously to the poor (31:20). Advancing only her own family’s status and that of the wealthy never comes into play.

Above all, the woman of valor remains defined by the verse reading, “It is for her fear of the Lord / That a woman is to be praised” (31:30). The Bible, viewed in all its perspective and context, demands that a woman of valor adhere to the deep moral principles it prescribes. Lip service doesn’t cut it—for anyone.

Today, women and men share a great many tasks. Being home, where I write these posts and fiction, I do lots of cleaning, house chores and occasional cooking. Carolyn and my relationship has evolved with the times, not to lessen fear of the Lord but enhance it. We seek to create and maintain a real partnership, reflected in Genesis 2:24: “Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.”

A woman of valor clings to her husband as he does to her but never surrenders her individuality. She champions honesty and kindness to everyone regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender preference or gender identification.

Carolyn truly is an eshet chayil. You can’t get nastier.

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Baseball’s back. Whether the short season will be completed remains in question. But I’m less inclined to look to baseball’s future than its past for memories bigger than the game.

As a kid, I went to Yankee Stadium with my father Morris. I treasured sharing that time with him. Later I went with my brother-in-law Herb. Always a special thrill: the first sight of the field. All that green! After the game, we walked to the centerfield exit across the outfield. I stood in the same place as my hero, Mickey Mantle. As a teenager, still a sports lover, I saw athletes as people and gave up heroes.

I watched lots of Dodgers and Giants games on TV, at first on our nine-inch screen. My family went to several Giants games at the Polo Grounds. We saw a triple play against the Dodgers. My father took me once to see the Dodgers at Ebbits Field.

I regret rooting for the Yankees, who dominated baseball as Amazon does online retail. Like my Aunt Anne and Uncle Moe, who lived in Brooklyn, I should have been passionate about the underdog Dodgers. “Dem Bums” broke the color line in 1947. In 1955, they finally won the World Series—because they broke the color line.

The Dodgers and Giants fled to California in 1958. I was more into basketball. But when the New York Mets expansion team formed, I abandoned the Yankees. I loved the Mets’ disastrous 40-120 first season in 1962, even attended their second home game ever—April 14, Polo Grounds, 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh. I saw Marvelous Marv Throneberry, a mountain of a man, leg out a triple and be called out for not touching second base. To err is human.

At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, I followed the Houston Astros. I went to the Astrodome and saw the San Francisco Giants with Willie Mays. I attended San Antonio Missions’ minor league games.

Moving to San Francisco in 1974, I rooted for my Bay Area teams. At Candlestick Park, former home of the Giants, box seats ran $6 or $7. Lots available. The Giants stunk. But you stay with your team.

I took the family to Giants games. We saw a triple play. In 1989, I took our oldest, Seth—baseball offered us a strong and needed bond—to game one of the World Series against the Oakland A’s. The Loma Prieta earthquake struck. The upper deck behind third base swayed as if it was part of an amusement park ride. We made it. Life, as I’d learned in the army, is fragile.

I’ve gone to spring training in Phoenix and MLB parks across the country. Baseball unites—at least temporarily—diverse Americans. No small thing.

My love of baseball—all sports—has waned. I do follow sports in the Chronicle and on TV. Watching games on TV involves five minutes of killing time.

Still, I look forward to more sunny afternoons at Oracle Park. When the pandemic ends—and it will—fans, including me, will return to live baseball to bask in the comfort of the familiar and reminisce. We need that.

And for those of us who live in cities—including me, two blocks from the Presidio National Park—we’ll still thrill in immersing ourselves in all that green.

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The unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service long has been, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” What does? An American president hellbent on making a mockery of the Constitution and democracy.

Polls indicate that Donald Trump badly trails Joe Biden in this year’s presidential campaign. They’ve put Trump in panic mode.

His bungling response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic crash have turned a great many undecideds to Biden. More, the pandemic has emphasized the need to provide the option of voting by mail to all Americans.

Nothing new here. Voting by mail in the U.S. is common. Trump votes by mail. But our would-be Vladimir Putin condemns “mail fraud” and a “rigged” election. Translation: An election in which all citizens have a vote and so threaten to turn out the incumbent—by a wide margin. Even so, Trump just flip-flopped and “approved” voting by mail in Florida, a state ravaged by the coronavirus. Florida seniors—including Republicans—like voting by mail.

Does that make everything okay? Check out Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. A Trump henchman, he took the position three months ago. NPR’s Brian Naylor reported (5-7-20): “DeJoy has contributed more than $1.2 million to the Trump Victory Fund, and millions more to Republican Party organizations and candidates, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention.”

DeJoy almost immediately cut overtime and hours for postal workers to reduce the USPS’s multi-billion annual losses. How curious that he did so in the months leading to November’s election. Which imperils mail-in ballots. Counting votes beyond November 3—even if Trump appears to have been soundly defeated—will encourage Trump to negate election results and seek to stay in office. We could face a crisis worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Americans must respond. Vote? Of course. Before then? Support candidates—Congressional and state—opposed to Trump. And raise your voice.

Monday, I emailed—through their web sites—several important officials with this message:

Fifty-three years ago today, my buddy 1LT Howie Schnabolk, an Army medevac pilot, was shot down and killed. I write in his memory to urge you to do everything within the powers of your office to maintain every American’s right to vote in this November’s presidential election. This includes making available mail-in ballots to those who wish to use them, and advocating for adequate funding and monitoring the USPS to assure complete and on-time delivery.

As newly commissioned Army officers, Howie and I swore to protect and defend the Constitution. Howie gave his life for it. Please do all you can to uphold Howie’s memory and those of all Americans who died in our wars to protect democracy.

The recipients:

I’m not Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling. But cracks in our political firmament pose a clear and present danger. The ball’s in our court.

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Something ominous has been happening in Portland, Oregon. But Donald Trump’s sending camouflage-uniformed, armed and unidentified federal personnel to attack protestors represents only half the story.

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon governor Kate Brown responded with anger. Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum sought a restraining order against the Department of Homeland Security. It was denied.

Two days ago, an agreement seemed to be reached with DHS. Oregon State Police would secure the federal courthouse. Federal agents would withdraw. As of last night, the feds hadn’t.

Mayhem is counterproductive. Said Rachelle Dixon, vice chair of the Multnomah County (Oregon) Democrats and Black community organizer, “My life is not going to improve because you broke the glass at the Louis Vuitton store.” Violent protestors may seek to discredit Black causes. (See Justin Phillips’ sfchronicle.com column.)

Regardless, Trump found an excuse to stage a dress rehearsal for Election Day.

If/when Portland cools down, Trump can evaluate the nation’s reaction and whether Americans will accept federal security personnel overriding local law enforcement as a new normal. There’s a reason for such audacity.

Badly trailing Joe Biden in poll after poll, Trump is in panic mode. Playing to his base, he identifies threats coming from everywhere—except, of course, Russia.

One “threat” is manipulation (not Russian) of the presidential election. The boogeymen (not Russian cyber invasions) are non-citizen voters and voting by mail. The barbarians stand at the gates. How to beat them back?

Send federal agents bearing assault weapons to secure polling places and mail-collection points. Also, slow down the Postal Service. All a euphemism for harassing minority voters and interfering with legally cast ballots.

Upping the ante? Trump could make an offhand request that citizen-militias join the feds and brandish weapons in open-carry states. Trump will hail their patriotism for assuring a free and fair election while helping him steal it. Shades of Vladimir Putin and all autocrats undermining democracy—or openly mocking it.

Americans—including the media—must pressure Congress, governors, secretaries of state and local officials to uphold the Constitution and the right of all Americans to cast their vote free from intimidation. Governors, mayors, police chiefs and sheriffs must pledge to prevent federal and militia goons from hijacking Election Day. The very police so many demonstrators abhor must show that they take their oaths of service seriously—as so many do—and earn their communities’ respect.

This November could present us with the stuff of fiction and film. In the Oval Office sits a president so inept and lacking compassion he chose not to urge Americans to wear masks to protect against spreading the COVID-19 virus until nearly six months and 142,000 Americans had passed. (The toll now numbers more than 150,000.)

Facing being dumped on the ash heap of history, Trump may try anything. On July 19, Fox’s Christopher Wallace asked Trump if he would accept the results of the election. Trump said he didn’t know. Yesterday, a Trump tweet questioned whether the election should be delayed. (He lacks authority to do that.)

Abraham Lincoln warned that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. He was right. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel is very dark. And still very long.

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Classical music and professional basketball have something in common. The link may challenge some preconceptions about race.

The National Basketball Association, re-starting its season July 30, comprises 80 percent Black players. This racial makeup hardly represents a cross-section of the United States. Problem?

No way. Teams and fans want championships. That requires the best players.

Can you imagine the NBA—which once limited the number of Blacks—deciding that diversity overrides talent? Commissioner Adam Silver announcing that next season, Blacks—13 percent of America’s population—will be allotted 13 percent of roster spots?

Me, neither.

What about classical music? New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini (July 16) suggests that orchestras—heavily white—end the practice of blind auditions to achieve greater diversity. That was blind auditions’ original intent.

I sense a slippery slope.

In blind auditions, musicians play screened from judges. Is a candidate male or female, black, white, Asian, other? Judges hear the mastery of instrument and material. Maybe potential. They hire based on a word that has taken on a negative connotation—merit.

Tommasini believes that blind auditions fail minorities because orchestras don’t represent their communities’ ethnic makeup. Thus 40 percent of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s musicians should be Black. Nearly half the chairs in the Los Angeles Philharmonic should be filled by Latinos. This, while the vast majority of symphony-goers may be white.

I suggest a middle ground between merit and representation. A candidate who stands out at a blind audition should be hired. But a toss-up among several qualified candidates? Hire a minority.

On the other hand . . .

If Black and white hoopers compete for the same spot at the end of an NBA bench—15 active players—should the team hire a white player so the majority of fans can identify?

Back to the symphony world. Tommasini acknowledges a challenge that quotas won’t meet: “Some leaders in the field . . . say racial diversity is missing in the so-called pipeline that leads from learning an instrument to summer programs to conservatories to graduate education to elite jobs.”

True. Pipelines build for the future. Minority communities require increased resources devoted to pre-schools, teachers, WiFi connectivity, healthcare services and job training to improve lives from the bottom up.

In Los Angeles, Kadima Conservatory of Music—my son Yosi studies classical violin there—exemplifies this. Kadima trains young musicians of all ethnicities. Every child and adult must demonstrate talent to enter the program and work hard to stay in it. This pipeline and others like it will send prepared minorities to top orchestras and other classical groups.

If minorities are underrepresented in classical music and other fields—as opposed to the NBA and popular entertainment—encouraging interest in classical music and producing minority artists must begin with young children. This bottoms-up approach places us on a long and challenging road given the environments in which many minority youngsters live. To meet those challenges, Americans must take a step back to understand the dogged patience required—patience we seldom exhibit.

Achieving true equality of opportunity and the results it can produce demands a long-overdue commitment to communities in need. Also the wisdom to understand that shunning talented people because of their race or ethnicity adds new injustices to old ones.

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