It was a lukewarm statement at best:
“Anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
It was also a day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes, and noticeably lacking in sincerity. It was a statement that was obviously prepared by a member of his team for Trump to read from the piece of paper he held in his small hand. And it came only after heated criticism for his silence over the past weeks, as anti-Semitic incidents have escalated across the nation.
Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, was unimpressed by Trump’s words:
“His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration. The White House repeatedly refused to mention Jews in its Holocaust remembrance, and had the audacity to take offense when the world pointed out the ramifications of Holocaust denial. And it was only yesterday, Presidents’ Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the President said absolutely nothing. When President Trump responds to Antisemitism proactively and in real time, and without pleas and pressure, that’s when we’ll be able to say this President has turned a corner. This is not that moment.”
In recent weeks, Trump has had numerous opportunities to speak out against anti-Semitism and the recent spate of crimes against Jewish Community Centers, yet he missed the boat on every single occasion. At a news conference last Wednesday, he was asked to respond to a wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the country. Instead, Trump first launched into a defense of his electoral college victory instead of addressing the issue. The next day, another news conference, another opportunity, when Jewish reporter Jake Turx asked Trump how his administration planned to respond to the recent uptick in anti-Semitism. Rather than a response, Trump took the question as a personal affront, declaring that the journalist who posed the question — who worked for a Jewish publication — was not being “fair” to him.
It is no wonder, then, that many of us take his silence on this matter to be a head-nod to those anti-Semites who are committing these crimes. There can be no grey areas here, no middle ground, no neutrality. You either condemn all bigoted hate crimes, or you are in support of them. If you just don’t care enough to comment, and you are the president of the nation, then you just gave your silent assent for the hate to continue.
Trump has surrounded himself with bigots of every sort. His right-hand-man, Steve Bannon, is heavily involved with white supremacist group alt-right, and during his active management of Breitbart, anti-Semitism ran rampant … still does. Last weekend, vandals toppled and damaged more than 170 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City. No word from Trump on Monday, and even his brief Tuesday statement did not mention this incident.
Two people have praised Trump for his brief statement:
“It’s very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-Semitism and it’s important that we all continue to do so in the years ahead.” – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
“I think he’s been very forceful with his denunciation of people who seek to attack people because of their religion, because of their gender, because of the color of their skin. I saw that statement [referring to the statement by Steven Goldstein]. I wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area, and I think that hopefully as time continues to go by, they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.” – Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary
Trump has claimed that he will unify the nation that he spent 17 months dividing from June 2015 until his election in November 2016. He has done nothing toward that goal, but by his rhetoric, his actions, and his failures, has further divided this nation, perhaps beyond repair. His refusal to condemn acts of bigotry, whether against Jews, African-Americans, LGBT, Muslims or others is deplorable and furthers the great divide. This was not the nation we were … but today, thanks to Trump and his minions, it is the nation we have become.
Oh … and one last thing … remember those Muslims that Trump wants to deport, ban, and otherwise denigrate? Those Muslims jumped into action on Monday and have already raised $80,000 in donations to help repair the damaged Jewish cemetery!!!