Trump con­demns anti-Semitism, fi­nally

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

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.

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