A few minutes from the sparkling new National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. sits the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at the end of the National Mall. Today, President Trump used the backdrop of the African-American Museum to read from prepared remarks concerning anti-Semitism. Although he did not speak “from his heart” on the matter, he did reveal what many of us have already suspected and referenced: namely, that our new President is an anti-Semite.
Why do I make this statement which is contrary to those spoken by our President? Because his most trusted advisor is an open and raging anti-Semite and people may be correctly judged by the company they keep. You do not need the “dog whistle” of key words spoken to know the innermost beliefs of a person, but in Trump’s case it helps. If someone uses the expression “some of my best friends (or relatives) are Jewish” in deflecting charges of racism, they are anti-Semites. Having close relatives who are Jewish is no “get out of jail free” card, either. Trump has relied upon both these tropes with varying degrees of success.
Sadly, the press should know better than to give Trump a pass when quizzed on this topic. His comments last week to a Jewish member of the press were belittling and offensive in the extreme. If someone were to ask you if you did or didn’t like something or someone would you tell them to shut up and sit down? And yet, this is precisely what Donald Trump did to the reporter from the magazine, Ami. When Bibi Netanyahu was holding court at a press conference and one Israeli reporter asked specific questions as to the increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. since the election campaign, Trump provided a non-answer by referencing his electoral college vote number (which was then corrected by NBC’s Peter Alexander in real-time). Deflecting direct answers and not answering specific questions at press conferences is not new in Washington. What is new is to have such questions asked at all in such a public forum and then to receive no satisfactory answer at all.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we were treated to the spectacle of Donald Trump who could not bring himself to say the word “Jew” in his comments on the occasion. There are few more obvious things that scream “anti-Semite” than Holocaust denial. Denying the suffering of millions of Jews by making comments about it happening to other groups really misses the point. His remarks were prepared for him by his staff. His staff share his views or they would not be on his staff in the first place. To date, Trump has made no excuse for anything he has said on this sensitive subject. He also has not ordered his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to establish a special investigative arm at the Justice Department or F.B.I. to look into the several bomb threats made nationwide to Jewish community centers, even though America has hate crimes statutes that apply. This is not an unreasonable expectation of a sitting President. Evidently, it is not something Trump will be entertaining any time soon, nor did the destruction of almost 200 headstones and markers at a Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis yesterday appear to be keeping our President up at night.
Granted, the learning curve of a new President is short. They are expected to soak up massive amounts of knowledge in a short period of time. Intelligent Presidents can manage this acquisition promptly. Ignorant ones cannot because they do not recognize that a problem exists which requires their attention. But here is the problem: someone who is an anti-Semite will not suddenly stop being one merely because they have a new job. You cannot re-train someone who is tone-deaf to the suffering of others to suddenly start listening to their problems and offering lasting solutions. It is doubtful that Donald Trump has soaked up anything more than some sun when he evacuates D.C. each weekend for his taxpayer-funded trips to Florida. It is also highly doubtful that anyone as narcissistic as Mr. Trump will ever do any soul-searching and alter his racist tendencies. Folks with his personality disorder always think they are right and everyone else is always wrong. They will superficially promise to make amends, but they have no intention of ever altering their personally-held views of a lifetime.
If Donald Trump were only an anti-Semite with no other racist views, we could deal with the matter and create a “work around”; however, we are not the only recipients of Mr. Trump’s ignorant views. His new immigration order will tear stable and primarily Hispanic families apart and likewise create a tsunami of fear and trepidation among recent Muslim immigrants, visa and green card holders–not to mention the extreme financial backlash such activities will unleash on the American economy. Trump’s first attempts at restricting those from seven Muslim nations ended with defeat at the hands of the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. May all of Donald Trump’s other racist plans enjoy a similar fate.