The Kushner Conundrum

The Kushner Conundrum

By KAIA ORDAL | June 7, 2017

He was born in New Jersey, into an affluent Jewish family. He went to prep schools for the entirety of his primary education. He graduated from prestigious universities, and he thrived in a competitive and elitist environment. He has excelled in politics and business, earning both a law degree and a business degree. This description of such an individual is reminiscent of many men who have attended Emory, both past and present. This type of upbringing is commonplace among many gentlemen I have encountered at Emory. However, this article is not a description of one of my classmates at Emory. It is an analysis of Jared Kushner.

For many Americans, Jared Kushner was a beacon of hope amidst a political campaign that was shrouded in a fog of bigotry and hate speech. The scope of Kushner's influence over a seemingly discriminatory president has been impressive given his Jewish roots. The fact that a man with Holocaust surviving grandparents could have an impact on a president who has preached borderline nationalism and Alt-Right values was not only surprising, but it also left a portion of the American population with a shred of hope for what might be in store for the U.S. under such a presidency. But instead of using this influence to instill positive change, 36 year old Jared Kushner will live in infamy for a much different reason.

There are few details that the American public knows with certainty, but one thing is for sure: Jared Kushner is the first individual the Trump Administration chose to sacrifice in the current American witch hunt to determine who is responsible for initiating illegal governmental involvement with Russia. After Steve Bannon was deposed from his position on the National Security Council in April, Kushner's influence over Trump experienced a dramatic increase. In Trump's recent international trips to the Middle East, Kushner was by his side for almost the entirety of the trip. There have been many similarities made between Trump and Kushner's business tycoon families, which perhaps explains why they get along so well. But at what point did Kushner transition from a position as just the President's son in law to one of the most powerful men in the White House? What was the catalyst? More importantly, how did Jared Kushner become the Benedict Arnold of our time?

I want you to imagine Jared Kushner as a freshman in college. Consider the details about this gentleman that I outlined in the first paragraph. He was once 18 years old. I'm sure he once took a Political Science 101 course. And I imagine that he, too, once had to live in a freshman dorm. I have no idea what Kushner's hopes and dreams were when he was 18. But for the sake of argument, let's say he wanted to make some sort of difference in the world. Perhaps he wanted to earn a certain amount of money by the time he was thirty. Maybe he even wanted to be the first Jewish president. Regardless of what his actual hopes and dreams were, one thing is certain: he was once a student just like us. When I began writing this article, I originally wanted to try to humanize Kushner in order to better understand his actions. Although that goal did not come to fruition, I realized something else about him: his story turned from an American success story to an American tragedy. The grandson of Holocaust survivors committed treasonous acts to aid a country that is almost as dictatorial as Nazi Germany once was. The bottom line is, what can we do now to prevent the next Jared Kushner from being created? How can we compel our generation to be a string of success stories, rather than tragedies? In order to analyze these questions, perhaps we should first ask why Donald Trump is our president.

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