JCC Virtual Book Fair Hosts Author Steve Israel and Representative Elissa Slotkin for More Than a Book Discussion
About 75 people watched Steve Israel and Elissa Slotkin via the Zoom platform and entered into a larger discussion of the Congressional controversies.
Adult mother-daughter discord in the satirical novel Big guns started talking points in a conversation with retired Congressman Steve Israel from New York, author of the book, and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin from Michigan’s 8th District.
The mother, mayor of a small town, promotes legislation banning firearms in the territory she administers. His daughter, a pro-gun lobbyist, opposes the measure to advance his career.
The novel, written by Israel to explore gun control issues, was featured on June 10 as part of the planned digital lecture series by the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit (JCC). The series replaces the in-person programs offered at the annual Detroit Jewish Book Fair.
About 75 people watched Israel at his New York home and Slotkin at his family farm in Holly, Michigan, via the Zoom platform, and entered into a larger discussion of the Congressional controversies. Questions and comments were added via an on-screen chat box monitored by Jaemi Loeb, JCC Senior Director of Cultural Arts.
“I wanted to show the impact of gun violence on a community, so I created a small town with a Jewish mayor,” said Israel, whose previous satirical book, The World War Against Morris, presents any salesman mistaken for a terrorist.
“I have always been fascinated by families with different political ideologies. This dynamic is a wonderful personal story, ”he said.
Slotkin agreed that stories can move people more than policy discussions. She explained how the real stories she hears from voters – about 1,000 a month through calls and emails – affect her approach to work. For example, she has responded to numerous alerts from medical workers lacking the personal protective equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients.
“It just doesn’t make sense that medical equipment and pharmaceuticals are being manufactured outside of the United States,” said Slotkin, who has served as a Middle East analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and acting deputy defense secretary for the United States. international security affairs.
“My big push is that we have to treat some supply chains differently from others. We must push to manufacture medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, at least some of them, [in the United States]. There are laws on the purchase of American military equipment. We didn’t want to depend on another country if we were to mobilize for war.
Israel, who currently works as director of Cornell University’s non-partisan Institute for Global Affairs and Politics while also working on a novel about Albert Einstein, and Slotkin, Michigan’s first Jewish woman to hold office Federal Elective Office, spoke about their experiences as moderates keen to bring about change.
“The redistribution created a Congress of the far left or the far right,” Israel said of the problem of Republican-controlled or Democratic-controlled states organizing districts by party rather than geography. “It’s a lonely club to be in the middle. Until we have more people willing to compromise, I can’t be fully optimistic [about passing reasonable gun legislation].
“If you’re a Republican in a district that was designed to protect you, you don’t worry about a Democrat beating you in a general election. You fear that a Republican to your right will beat you in a primary. Nothing animates primary voters on the right side of the ideological spectrum more than guns. “
Israel and Slotkin both revealed personal experiences of Congress and a love for reading – and learning about history – although much of Israel’s time is spent writing. Slotkin’s commute time around Washington, DC, or throughout her district can find her listening to non-fiction books.
Israel looked into his motivation for satirical writing. In Big guns, the satire appears through a member of Congress promoting legislation requiring firearms to be carried by anyone beyond the age of 6.
“People often contrast satire with parody,” Israel said. “Parody makes fun of people’s physical and personal characteristics. Satire pokes fun at paradigms rather than personalities and must be based on a kernel of truth.
“I think satire is a form of patriotism. It is also accessible. You don’t impose your opinion on others or drag them into a complex story. I think humor can attract them more and make a point.
A replay of this event is available via Youtube. Upcoming digital events will feature author and filmmaker Jamie Bernstein with Ted Chapin, president of Rodgers & Hammerstein on June 25 and the winners of the National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction on July 6. To find out more about future events, visit jccdet.org/artsculturels.