On Saturday, the President betrayed the Jews.
Some 500 white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, VA. They chanted, “The Jewish media is going down!” and hurled the n-word at counter-protestors. Violence broke out. A car plowed into a group of peaceful counter-protesters walking away from the rally, killing one of them.
After waiting far too long, President Donald Trump made a statement. He condemned violence “on many sides.” If it wasn’t clear that he was apportioning blame equally between the people who marched in support of slavery and killing Jews and those who opposed them, he repeated that phrase, “on many sides.”
And that was the moment Donald Trump betrayed the Jews.
Would it have been so hard to say racism and anti-Semitism have no place in the United States of America? The marchers, out to protest the removal of a stature of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, alternated chants of, “You will not replace us!” with “Jews will not replace us!” But Trump– the father and grandfather and father-in-law of Jews– refused to blame them. Refused to hold them accountable. Refused to threaten them with anywhere near the fire and fury he uses to lash out at Sen. Mitch McConnell or CNN or the New York Times.
This is not Republican. Right after the violence broke out, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, tweeted, “’White supremacy’ crap is worst kind of racism—it’s EVIL and a perversion of God’s truth to ever think our Creator values some above others.”
Republican Sen. John McCain tweeted, “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors – Americans must unite against hatred & bigotry.”
But Trump couldn’t do it.
And instead of slapping the instigators of all this violence back, it gives them cover to go on. They can tell themselves, We’re no worse than them – even the President said so. Trump just leveled the playing field between good and evil.
For years Trump and his supporters accused President Barack Obama of refusing to use the phrase, “radical Islamic terrorism” – something President George W. Bush also refused to do.
But here he is refusing to name and condemn the terrorists in his own backyard.
And the cowardice or complicity was echoed by Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In his statement, Sessions condemns hate and intolerance and violence. He doesn’t name white supremacists or the Klan. Those people can read his statement and be perfectly justifiable it applies to the people who came out to oppose them.
The reaction to Trump’s shameful statement has been swift and bipartisan. He may, as he has in the past, come out with a lame, too-late correction.
But the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville today will say he’s just doing it to calm the critics, that he doesn’t really mean it.
And that is one thing those racist losers and I agree on.