Friday, December 09, 2011

Response to Rick Perry's Campaign Ad

Like many millions of people, when I watched Texas Governor Rick Perry's "Strong" Campaign ad for the first time on YouTube I was deeply troubled. "I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian," Perry begins. "But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school."

My first thought was of the gay men and women currently serving in uniform who are risking their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe to protect our country. I immediately decided to film a parody of Rick Perry's video. I wanted it to be a spoof of his video in order to show the ridiculousness of his message.

The response to my video has been great so far. After only 15 hours there have been about 800 likes and only 10 dislikes with almost 5,000 views. The most meaningful aspect has been the comments on the YouTube video. One viewer wrote, "i'm an atheist but i would sure would vote for rabbi jason over any of the idiots that are postulating themselves if i could." Another wrote, "As a non religious person raised as a christian in the church, i strongly support this, I have friends of all religions and believe our differences is what makes this country great! THANK YOU FOR YOUR EDUCATED WELL THOUGHT OUT OPINION."

I have been pleasantly surprised that there have not been more negative, hate-filled comments in response to my video. I will not censor any comments because I believe it's important that everyone sees the hate that exists in some people's hearts and the ignorance that exists in their minds. Here's a comment that made me feel very good this morning: "Bless you, Rabbi! Thanks for retaliating in such an intelligent, focused, and humorous video! Every time I'm reminded that there are people like you in this country, I have hope for it again... Hope you and your family have a bright and beautiful Hannukah! Cheers! -from Agnostic, Gay, Christopher :)"

Here is the video, which was filmed and edited by Adam Luger:

I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a Jew -- Heck, I'm even a Rabbi... but you don't need to be in shul on every Shabbos to know there's something wrong in our country when gays can serve openly in the military and yet they still can't get married legally in most U.S. States.

Our Jewish kids in public school have to watch as their peers celebrate Christmas -- a holiday they don't observe. They have to sit quietly as the Christian students pray in school. That just seems uncomfortable.

As President, I will fight to end this crazy talk that there's a war on religion. And I will fight anyone who discriminates against others simply because of their sexual orientation.

Intelligence made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I'm Rabbi Jason Miller and I think it's too cold to film a video outside in Michigan in the winter. Who approved this?


Constance Parten said...

I can't thank you enough for your smart, witty retort to Rick Perry. Knowing people like you still exist in this country gives me such great comfort. Now get back inside where it's warm!

Jim Hiller said...

I hope you will accept this criticism without any ad hominem response.

Whatever Perry's belief is it is no crazier than Neturei Karta or the even some of the other extreme aspects of our own religion .
I find no humor in someone who has a significant following alienating a group who has a very strong history of supporting Israel unconditionally and who is actively cultivated by the Israeli Government for tourism and monetary support.

While you may think your parody is cute it is misplaced in the larger cause which we both serve.

Please consider the consequences ,
Jim Hiller

Lexie Sittsamer said...

Hi Rabbi Jason,

Love the video. It has definitely been watched in many states! There is a BBG (b'nai b'rith girl) Facebook group and everyone has been posting your video as well people just regularly posting it all over Facebook from different states. Again, great video.

Shabbat Shalom.


Dave Puskala said...


You nailed it. Some of the young in my family have commented on Governor Perry's video. It seeks to divide by using religion as the edge to cut our community into warring factions. Your particular perspective injected a gentle, humane humor into this discussion. The young people are all native Michiganders and most are Hindu. I am proud to have them in my Minnesota Catholic family. I have posted a link to your video and am eager to see their response.

Thanks again for your thoughtful approach to this effort to divide our community.


Dave Puskala,
White Bear Lake, MN

Anonymous said...

After watching your video, I realized that I don't spend any time at all with observant followers of Judaism. I don't have anybody to ask, so I'll ask you:

How do you reconcile your views on homosexuality with what you read in the Torah?

I'm not for discrimination of anybody, but I was surprised to find a rabbi so strongly in favor of homosexual marriage. Could you outline your view for me?


Stealthy Mom said...

Loved it, loved it, loved it! Thank you for the great video!

Stephanie said...

This is my first visit to your blog. I am not Jewish, but I love your blog, and the video is spot on. :-) Thank you for sharing it and speaking out against Rick Perry's nonsense. And you're a brave man. If I lived in Michigan, I doubt I would ever set foot outside in winter. ;-)

A Reader from Virginia

Anonymous said...

Love the 'ad'

responding to Jim, I can;t find a single group or country that i would support 'unconditionally' including israel. When people are dead wrong we point it out, and republicans seem to be happy to openly discriminate against minorities and only support israel because it suits their agenda. How can you not see that hate is caused by people forcing Christianity in our schools, this is an attack against gays, jews, Mormons, catholics, atheists and any other minorities in this country.

George from Canada said...

Brilliant! I am not gay, or religious, but I will fight to the death anybody's right to be either, free of discrimination. The christian bible is full of stories of people that stepped beyond their faith or ethnic backgrounds to aid others, but Rick Perry seems to have skipped those parts.

George from Canada said...

Just another thought:
Gays and lesbians as a group likely suffer that most discrimination and persecution of any group in the world, and the sad part is, it is so endemic that it is part of the culture in almost every society.
If Rick Perry had substituted "Jews" for "Gays and Lesbians", he would be prosecuted for hate crimes.

Roland Hansen said...

Rick Perry is our man; if anyone can destroy the First Amendment, Rick Perry can! (sarcasm intended)

Samantha said...

Rabbi Jason,
Thank you so much for putting this video up! I love it - it makes a really important and true statement, but it's witty too. Though I don't know you personally, you seem like a great, intelligent person. The world needs more people like you! Hopefully your message gets around (I'm a Christian in Tennessee, so it seems to be doing alright).
Samantha :)

Reverend Joseph M Cherry said...

Dear Rabbi Miller,

Thanks for a couple things.

#1) Representing Michigan (Man, I'm home sick)

#2) Speaking up on behalf of the BGLTQ community. Vocal allies are a big help.

I hope you get a lot of positive feedback for your efforts.

Blessings to you, my friend!

Reverend Joseph M Cherry
(New) Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County, CA

Edna Garte said...

Isn't it ironic that Rick Perry is also promoting himself as a super-Zionist! He's going to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. If he know how to do that, why doesn't he inform the Whitehouse now? It's as consistent as Michelle Bachman's experience on a kibbutz. Hopefully other Jewish people will see through it.

Eric Heidelberger said...

I can't express how much I love your spoof on Rick Perry. I hope he does not get elected, he honestly scares me although I believe he does not stand a chance, I'm still baffled about how George Bush was twice elected. Keep up your good work.


Eric Heidelberger

Marla Schram-Wolfe said...

that was fantastic and hilarious and I sent it to several people! marla schram-wolfe

Tara Lazar said...

This was awesome. Shared it on my page already. BTW, I am Catholic by birth but converted to Judaism when I married my husband and we're raising our children Jewish. I was appalled by Perry's message of intolerance. I think he just put the final nail in his Presidential coffin.

A. Robert Spitzer said...

Actually, as Jews we should be working vigorously in favor of school prayer - but ONLY in the original language that God speaks!! In HEBREW!!!!!

(maybe if we push this idea HARD enough the idiots will get it - the concept of intolerance. With idiots you have to "play stupid". There is no such thing as intelligent conversation.)

Deacon Fr Finbarr-Peter Brandt-Sørheim said...

B.Peter Brandt-Sørheim
Dec 9 (1 day ago)

to me
Dear Rabbi Jason,
Just now watched your video:
It is a delight and is being shared.
Thank you!
Deacon Fr Finbarr-Peter Brandt-Sørheim
Mount Morris, NY
PS Grandmother Anna Frenzel Brandt was a nice Jewish girl

Faraz said...

Hi Rabbi Jason,

Thank you for your video...I am's not just the Jews that have to suffer thru Christmas...It's us to along with the Buddhists, Hindus, etc etc. I loved your video spoof against Rick Perry. It's not fair for any of us to have to SUFFER against hypocrites like Perry forcing their religion down our throats. I live in Texas and unfortunately we have him as governor....Hopefully we never have to see this man as President.

Thanks again and great video!! Shalom to you and your family and Happy Hanukkah!!

Rabbi Carl Perkins said...

Yasher Koach. It took a lot of courage to produce this. I commend you for it.
Carl Perkins

Andreas Kiefer said...

Dear Rabbi Jason,

I'm sitting here in Rwanda, working here as a surgeon for a German development organisation since two years and while surfing in the internet I encountered in a German newspaper the ridicolous spot of Rick Perry, Then I saw yours and I really liked it. It made me laugh, which is currently very needed because I was beaten up by some Rwandas two days ago when I was bringing a friend of mine to the airport in the capital Kigali. Thank you so much, what a nonsense talking of war against religion. One day I, being a German christian operated together with my collegue who is an Ugandan muslim on a Rwanda child, probably not belonging to any religion at all. And that is the nice thing about surgery, once you look under the skin we are all the same, no matter what religion, no matter where we come from. Sorry for getting philosophically and probably wasting your time.

I wish you all the best, would like to get to know you personally and talk, but Michigan is a bit far away. Wish you a nice Chanukka,

Kind regards
Andreas Kiefer

Grant Taylor said...

I LOVE your youtube knock off of my governor. I am NOT proud of him and I did NOT vote for him.. I hope he goes down fast for what he is starting off with his STRONG video... THANKS for what you came up with... I posted it on my facebook page.. I hope it goes quadruple viral!! congrats.

Amelia Mavis Christnot said...

Many of the responses to Rick Perry's monotheistic thinly veiled hate speech ad have been humorous, but yours is funny, intelligent, and makes some excellent points along the way. Thank You!

Gabriel Lampert said...

Rabbi; I loved what you had to say in the response to Rick Perry! Kol ha-kavod! ... and shavua tov! Gabriel Lampert

Jim Allberry said...

I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a committed Christian. I'm also not ashamed to say "Bravo" for your Perry parody. I cheered. I clapped. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Zohar Freiberg said...

Dear Rabbi Miller,
I just visited and saw your parody on Gov. Perry's election ad...
I couldn't stop laughing...
I forwarded Gov. Perry's original ad and your parody to my sister...
Zohar Freiberg
Kiryat Hayim - Haifa

Sadie Rosenthal said...

I don't know how you kept a straight face! It's one of the most brilliant pieces of political parody I've seen in a long time (next to Jon Stewart, of course).

Saverio Spagnolie said...

Brilliant and well done. A pitch-perfect response to the shameful Perry ad. Bravo, and best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Excellent! I grew up in Metro Detroit (Oak Park) and wish I was still there right now soI could go to your shul!

José Fisher Rodríguez said...

Dear Rabbi Miller,
I first heard of you by watching your video response to Rick Perry's "Strong" advertisement. Then I visited your website. Basically, I don't have any special reason why you should feel obligated to reply to me, I just like the idea of more thinking people around the world being in contact with each other and sharing information, opinions, knowledge, and ideas.
As for me, I was born in the United States (San Mateo, California to be exact), and since 1995 I've been living in Thessaloniki, Greece. I'm a translator and interpreter by profession.
I'm not ashamed to admit that while some of my ancestors were Jewish, I'm not - it's just not something that I was raised in or actually ever felt a connection to. However, I don't believe in any sort of religious discrimination or professed superiority of one religion over another. I'm a baptized Orthodox Christian, but I really think that what we do in practice is more important than any label we attach to ourselves.
One issue I would like to discuss with you is how religion could be enlisted in efforts to reduce and ultimately (hopefully) end cruelty to animals. Honestly, every time I see the word "rabbi", I can't help connecting it with another word that is rather important to me: "rabbit". (both as a childhood nickname and as a current member of my family)

If you have time, I look forward to hearing from you.

José Fisher Rodríguez

Jake Goodman said...

Right on! This is awesome. Well done - and thank you!

rachel kapen said...

I know where Jim Hiller is coming from. Indeed the Christian Evangelists are the best friends Israel can ask for in a time when the Jewish statre could use any friend no matter its religious motive, but what's right is right. The part humor part serious retort to Gov. Perry's ad against allowing the gays to fight for our country and for Christian prayers in our schools is courageous and of course funny and witty and it should be commended.

Elizabeth Huller Eisemann said...

Rabbi Jason,

Your video was very cool. Rick perry is an idiot.

My favorite Rick Perryism is so stupid .............. the voting age in the US is 21! oops

I grew up in Brockton Mass about 20 miles south of Boston.

My early friends were Jewish kids. I made my first friends in a Jewish nursery school and Jewish day camp.

I liked my elementary school but most of the kids were not Jewish and Christmas in the 60s was a big deal.

I loved to sing Christmas songs in the Cafeteria while my Jewish friends just sat there and did not sing.They were terribly afraid they would be struck down; by

what I am not sure.

I believed (even at 10) that carols are just pretty songs and do not mean anything if you do not believe in what they say or stand for. I actually remember

saying that to Barry Margolis in the sixth grade! Jason, Kids don't have to sit bored with Celebrations that aren't specifically for them. Teach them it is okay to

openly enjoy the spirit of of any holiday with their non Jewish and Jewish friends alike. Children do not need to dread exposure to other religions.

The colored lights alone are enough to make it worthwhile!

Reality is that the US has more Christians than Jews. I AM frightened by the Christian right for political reasons (they are nuts)

But Isn’t it time to rejoice in all of humanity and teach our children to celebrate our differences, our differences are what make the world a joy to take part in!

It would be awfully dull otherwise.

Keep up the satire it's terrific ......

Thank you