Trump condemns anti-Semitism, finally
This editorial appeared in The Baltimore Sun:
Even in these politically turbulent and divisive times, there are certain core beliefs that should unite us as Americans. One of these is an embrace of religious freedom and tolerance and a rejection of antiSemitism. Jews have been victims of too much hate and prejudice over the centuries to ignore the rise of a familiar pattern of Nazi-like language, vandalism and threats when such behaviour rears its ugly head.
Given that basic social value, it’s been more than a little troubling to watch President Donald Trump struggle over a simple question: Would he condemn the recent spate of anti-Semitic actions in this country? Finally, on Tuesday morning during a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the president found his voice on the issue, calling these incidents, including a wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country and a weekend desecration of 170 Jewish grave sites in Missouri, “horrible” and “painful.”
“This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The 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,” he told reporters.
Why did that take so long? This isn’t a president who seeks to steer the country toward greater acceptance and understanding of our individuality and religious differences. This is a man who rode a nationalistic and xenophobic fear of foreigners, Muslims and Latinos especially, to the nation’s highest office and to whom a direct connection to the “alt-right” movement, the farright extremists who proudly wear of the mantle of white supremacy (if often couched in more polite terms), causes no particular discomfort.
This isn’t nitpicking, as Sean Spicer might describe it, but further evidence of the president’s reluctance to criticize the white supremacist wing of the coalition of voters who got him elected. That reluctance doesn’t go unnoticed; it’s likely helping fuel the very anti-Semitic actions that have frightened 54 community centers in 69 separate incidents during the last two months.