The United States Marine Corps’ hierarchy of loyalty falls in the order of God, Corps and country. Though I am not a Marine, I believe this is meant to be a prioritized order. For the religious, God always comes first. And most who identify with an organized religion would not question somebody who insists that he is loyal, first and foremost, to God, save for, perhaps, one qualification. If you do not believe in my God, or if your religious path to God is not the same as mine, your so-called religious dedication is suddenly thrown into question.
It has become difficult to be shocked by President Trump’s tweets since the start of his presidential campaign. And yet, somehow, he manages to find new ways to surprise us. Put aside, for a moment, that the questioning of Jewish loyalty has long been an expression of nationalist Antisemitism, and consider for a moment that by tweeting Wayne Allyn Root’s absurd description of the president, Trump compared himself to “the King of Israel” and “the second coming of God.” I think you and I would likely agree that US Marines are among the most loyal patriots in our Union. Country comes third in their list, but still, I would never doubt that Marines, beside servicemen and women of the other military branches, are typically unwavering in their patriotism. So if even for them, God is to come first, President Trump, by comparing himself to the second coming of God has demanded loyalty to him even before loyalty to the nation he was elected to lead. If that is not the sign of an autocrat, I am not sure what is.
The American public has known that Trump expects absolute loyalty at least as far back as James Comey’s first revelation of such a demand made of him when the two had a private dinner at the president’s request. And it does not take a critical thinker to notice that individuals who do not show loyalty to the president, either in their words, their actions, or their inactions, become the next targets of an infamous Trump twitter storm.
Trump’s obsession with loyalty is disconcerting. He does not merely expect policy support or light ego stroking. Of Administration members, he demands justice to be obstructed and laws to be broken for his personal gain or protection. Egregious lies are told on his behalf so often that the understanding among his inner circle of the duty to peddle “alternative facts” is perfectly clear, even if unstated.
When he encouraged the Israeli prime minister to bar Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Israel, Trump’s expectation was that the American Jewish community would praise him for supporting the punishment of the two, who many Jews see as unfairly critical of Israel, even anti-Semitic. The loud Jewish outcry in opposition of the banning of the two freshmen congresswomen could only be explained by the Trump camp as ignorance or an absence of loyalty. But the Jews were not merely disloyal to the “greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world,” but also to the very “King of Israel” and the “second coming of God.”
With a nod to his Evangelical base, Trump’s tweet reeked of perhaps the oldest form of anti-Semitism, the accusation that the Jews have forsaken God. To Trump’s narcissistic ego, being unfaithful to him is even worse than treason, it is heresy. By rejecting Netanyahu’s dangerous precedent, and by extension, Trump’s favor to the Jewish people, the American Jewish community turned its back on an act of divine intervention and God, Himself. If the president’s God complex is not enough to concern you, I worry about your loyalty to the founding principles of our great nation.