Full text from my blog for those who don't like clicking.
This is 9/11. Or Krystallnacht which occurred ON THIS DAY in 1938.
Friends, famiy and haters alike, I reluctantly write to all of you this morning. You know I am and will always be a New Yorker. I spent significant portions of my life in New Jersey, in Boston, and now in the very red city of Nashville. Don't listen to the people who tell you this place is liberal/blue. Or progressive. It isn't. It is simply red. Only without the cheesy 80s lyrics and cover art.
As I finally mustered the energy to go outside and walk my dogs this morning, I entered the New World. Here is what struck me: This indescribable feeling I had as I look up at the perfectly blue sky is earily familiar. And it is not a good sign. I have only had that feeling one other time in my 43 years on this planet. And that was when I awoke to a loud noise and head up the street to get a bagel... on 9/11/2001.
My country is not what I thought it was. The people in it are not who I thought they were. And if you are not white, wealthy, and christian, I have genuine concern for your health, your safety, and your future. Nashville was never home for me. I am not a conservative. I believe in equal rights. I don't believe in guns or gods. I am not 'a Christian' though arguably neither is any Christian I have met here. In fact EVERY atheist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist has been
more Christian than any Christian I have encountered in the Bible Belt.
So after nearly 10 years, Nashville still isn't home. I came here to advance and continue my career in music and I have no regrets whatsoever about that. The friends I have made here, the records, the greatest musicians and artists in the world, the many tours around the globe, my Music Row recording studio which has become a sacred space for me, my work with underserved kids in the teen center of the Nashville Downtown Library.
But it has all come at great price. Living here has destroyed my soul and obliterated my faith in humanity. It is time to move on. For some people, that means leaving Nashville. For others, that means leaving TN, and for yet another group of people, that means leaving America. And as I contemplate my next move VERY carefully, I support and stand in solidarity with all of them. Also I stand in conflicted tears thinking of those who will be left behind. I have spent decades fighting for them. I will never stop fighting for equal rights, financial equality, education and healthcare, but I can no longer do it from the south with a clear conscience.
My friends in the south who have always counted on me to be that loud New York yankee atheist Jew they hear fighting for what's right in a place where so much is so wrong, I am sorry. I truly hope you can forgive me. I will never stop fighting for equal rights. I'm a Jew. It's in our DNA. But I can't fight all the time. I need to strike a balance. I hope someday you can forgive me.
I just had my first American experience racial profiling: I went to the doctor and a nurse was about to take my vitals. She looked like one of Hitler's super babies: beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes, flawless skin, perfect white smile. I asked if she had voted for Trump. She looked at me like a 'christian' deer in the headlights and I heard a southern black woman say from around the corner yell, "OH SHE SUUUURE IS". I said it that I wouldn't allow someone who voted for Trump to touch me and had that other nurse who turned out to be black came around and we shared a moment. She did NOT support that monster. I said I would only allow her to touch me. Escape can't come soon enough.
After that interaction, we hugged, we cried, she told me about her kids and what she said to them this morning. I have already had three similar conversations with black women I didn't know. Each of those long and difficult conversations about what just happened in America ended in tears and hugs. These were strangers. Good Americans. But we found ourselves instantly bound by grief and mourning for our country and fear of what this means for our future.
My future is bright. Perhaps that is foreshadowing. But no matter where I land, I promise
you I will fight for the rights of women, Jews, minorities, Muslims, the gay community, and black lives until I can no longer draw a breath. I WILL NOT REST. But I have lost the strength to continue this fight from Tennessee, a place I never fit in from day one.
Over the next few months, I will be in Israel (where I am
afforded dual citizenship), LA (which it's own country after all), Holland, and Tokyo. I need to connect with kindred spirits and forge a new path that makes some sense of the great American tragedy that just unfolded before our very eyes.
Trump, while being a truly vile human being, has never been the cause of the problem. The true problem remains the millions of Americans willing to support such an evil racist bigoted misogynist child rapist and the conservative/religious ideology that created that monster. I had no idea how many of you are out there. I am deeply ashamed of America today. And I don't have the answer to the question on everyone's mind: What now?
I still have a studio for now. Come see me. Have a drink or
five. Make a record. Money is meaningless at this point. Pay what you can. It's a limited time offer as my time here has become limited.
I love my country. Deeply. But unfortunately, it no longer exists. And for blacks,
Immigrants, and other non-whites, it never really did. As an atheist, I lack faith, but I believe in hope. I lack god, but I believe in love and kind acts. I used to believe this country was worth fighting for. Now it feels like a scary place to escape from.
As a Jew, we are taught to never forget the lessons and horror of the holocaust. We are taught to learn from the past, to never forget. I am reminded of this very famous poem:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
Pastor Martin Niemöller