Trump—An Inspiration for Hatred
Long before Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, he was an inspiration for hatred and racism. Initially, his targets were people of color; then Mexicans, then Muslims. Being an equal opportunity racist, the President has added antisemitism to his arsenal. Now everyone among his base of white supremacist and Neo Nazi supporters has someone to hate.
His father, Fred passed down his racist ideology to little Donald. An article in a 1927 New York newspaper reported Fred Trump was arrested at that year’s Memorial Day parade. The charge: refusing to disperse from a [Ku Klux Klan] parade when ordered to do so. Of course Donald denies it, but we all know what his version of the truth is worth. Perhaps he’s accusing the media of retroactive fake news.
In 1973 the U.S. Department of Justice sued the Trump Organization for violating the Fair Housing Act. It had evidence Trump refused to rent to black tenants. Though he denied the charge, he signed an agreement in 1975, promising not to discriminate against renters of color. There’s nothing subtle about his bigoted attacks: accusations against the Central Park Five, President Obama’s place of birth, Blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims. An excellent article by German Lopez in Vox details Trump’s long history of racism.
Charlottesville—Trump’s Open Embrace of Hate Groups
White supremacists, white nationalists, Neo Nazis, Klansmen, and other self-identified members of alt-right hate groups gathered in Charlottesville in 2017. Carrying torches, they marched through the University of Virginia chanting their hatred of Jews. With Nazi flags waving and swastika armbands unabashedly on display, it might as well have been Berlin in the 1930’s.
Even though I knew about Trump’s racism, I still expected that as President of the United States he’d condemn these racists and antisemites who were shouting, “Jews will not replace us.” But not this President. Taking note of the counter demonstrators, he said, there were “very fine people on both sides.” People have called that statement a “dog whistle.” I call it a bullhorn, blaring inspiration for racism and antisemitism. He has given these avowed hate mongers permission—one might say encouragement—to openly spew venom. Trump has legitimized the racism they had kept hidden under wraps, and they flaunt it proudly
These groups had supported his election, but I remember him publicly trying to distance himself. Obviously, he has come to see political value in supporting hate groups and in saying outright hateful things himself. The negative consequences continue to grow.
Antisemitism and Loyalty of American Jews
Antisemitic attacks in the United States have been on the increase since Trump was elected. But I don’t think we fully appreciated the depth of antisemitism before breaking out in the open in Charlottesville. Antisemitism has always existed at the margins. But a few old tropes from the bully pulpit or conspiracy theories on social media and it’s back in the mainstream. Trump’s tweets have certainly been an inspiration!
Consider his statement to American Jewish Republicans referring to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, as their Prime Minister. He accused Jews who are Democrats of being disloyal to Israel or having dual loyalty. The point here is to suggest that Jews have a greater loyalty to Israel than the United States. This, of course is the opposite of criticizing Jews for disloyalty to Israel. But then again, no one can accuse Trump of making a rational argument. Following his logic further, we therefore conclude that if Jews don’t support him, they aren’t loyal Americans. All this from the mouth of the “stable genius” and “least racist person in the world.”
Support for Israel and Antisemitism
Some Jewish Americans take comfort in Trump’s strong, unquestioning support for Israel. However, support of the State of Israel does not also equate to automatic support of the Jewish people or acceptance of the Jewish religion as a path to God’s good grace. In fact, many strong supporters of Israel are also antisemitic.
Evangelicals are ardent supporters of Israel. They believe its existence is necessary to fulfill the biblical prophecy of the return of Jesus Christ and the End Times. But while Evangelicals, as a group, tend to take conservative positions, Jews lean toward the liberal. American Jews overwhelmingly support issues such as abortion and gay rights; Evangelicals see them as a threat to the American Christian identity. By no means does this reflect all Evangelical viewpoints. But if you examine speeches made by prominent Evangelical Pastors across the country, it is not unusual to find support for Israel concurrent with muted or direct condemnation of Jewish people, religion and/or political positions.
Trump the Antisemite
This President will continue to make his racist and antisemitic comments because that’s what’s in his heart. And the fact that his daughter converted to Judaism and is married to a modern Orthodox Jew cannot be used to negate his antisemitism. Nor can the fact that his principal adviser on immigration and hatred of immigrants, Steven Miller, is Jewish. What you see is what it is. Trump must believe his public racist pronouncements help him with his base and will drive them to the polls. That is a Trump card, and he’s willing to play it regardless of the damage he’s doing to our country. If it doesn’t hurt him personally, it doesn’t matter.
Domestic terrorism is now considered a major threat across this country, far greater than that of foreign-based terrorism. There are well over a thousand hate groups in the U.S.: Neo-Nazis, skinheads and others who all conform to a white supremacist ideology. Inspired by Trump’s racism and antisemitism, they, in turn, spawn domestic terrorists who put the philosophy into action and are largely responsible for the epidemic of mass shootings. Children are being murdered in their schools. Worshipers are being murdered in their churches and temples. Ordinary Americans are being murdered in shopping malls and concert halls. Yet the only thing this President and his lackeys in the Senate offer are thoughts and prayers.
The FBI has asked to have domestic terrorism classified a federal crime so it can be addressed in a more effective manner. Yet Moscow Mitch McConnell takes no action—he apparently doesn’t want to risk upsetting Trump’s constituency.
Passage of effective gun safety laws could reduce the number of mass shooting victims. Yet Moscow Mitch McConnell is unmoved—he also doesn’t want to upset the NRA, or chance losing its financial and membership support.
Dangers of Trump’s Stress, Delusions and Hatred
The dangers posed by white supremacists, Neo Nazis and other alt-right groups are real and present, but Congress does nothing. Concurrently, the President continues to verbally fertilize the seeds of hatred, stimulating the growth of racism and antisemitism. No one within the Trump orbit can make him behave like the elected leader of a democracy. That is apparently not good enough for him. He retweeted that Israeli Jews “love him like the second coming of God,” and he agrees with them. He has declared himself to be “The Chosen One,” a delusional grandiose assertion that one normally hears on a psychiatric in-patient ward. I wonder what other deity will emerge next.
Trump is under considerable stress. There are forecasts of a looming economic recession and he’s having problems fulfilling campaign promises about immigration, trade and building a border wall. Then there’s the possibility of his tax returns becoming public. And it’s clear that when his stress levels rise, he strikes out at others and becomes increasingly more erratic. An unhinged president is a clear and present danger.
Trump’s blatant public racism and antisemitism are inextricably linked with gun safety. Must we wait for graveyards full of mass shooting victims or a full-blown race war for action to be taken? It’s time for Republicans to stand up to Trump. He is a man without a conscience or moral compass. Congress must act to protect the country from his hate filled rhetoric and the people it inspires.