Donald Trump, using Jewish people like me as a shield against accusations of racism doesn’t work when you’re antisemitic

Right wing politicians often summon concern for bigotry when it’s targeted at Jews or comes from the opposition, but Trump’s deflections are even more egregious since he dabbles in the same hatred he denounces

Matt Greene
Thursday 18 July 2019 10:14
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Trump supporters chant 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar

The president of the United States is a racist. We know this because he enacts racist legislation and consistently says racist things. This week, the shrivelled fig leaf of his deniability took another shredding as he defended a tweet suggesting that four Democratic congresswomen of colour “go back” to the countries they “originally came from”, and later doubled down on his position at a rally on Wednesday night.

This is not subtle stuff but the kind of racism that gets drunken uncles blacklisted from family weddings. At this point, it’s worth remembering that no scintigram has ever uncovered a racist bone in someone’s body.

Sent out to defend the president, his most loyal and media-savvy attack dog Kellyanne Conway answered a Jewish reporter’s question by demanding his ethnicity. It shouldn’t need stating how dangerous and irrelevant such a question is but that the reporter was Jewish was coincidental and played, infuriatingly, into the White House’s hands; Conway later tweeted a further defence against charges of her own racism by attacking Ilhan Omar, one of the aforementioned congresswomen, who in February apologised for a tweet that employed an antisemitic trope in reference to a pro-Israeli lobby group.

That Donald Trump is a supporter of Israel has been interpreted by many to mean he’s a supporter of Jews – as opposed to right wing authoritarians with little patience for democratic process. That his son-in-law is Jewish is also wheeled out as further proof of his graduation from the Chris Finch school of racist apology: “How can I hate minorities? My daughter’s married to one.”

But Trump’s willingness to employ Israel in general – and sometimes Kushner in particular – as a human shield against accusations of his evident bigotry tells you all you need to know about his true feelings towards communities often falsely assumed to be aligned to his interests.

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On this side of the Atlantic, we’ve become used to right wing politicians finding special reserves of concern for racist words when they’re targeted at Jews and spoken by members of the opposition but Trump’s deflections are even more egregious since he dabbles in the same hatred he denounces. Witness his closing ads before the 2016 election, his so-called Argument for America, which featured a series of antisemitic dogwhistles from which the prefix “dog” could probably be omitted. Over blanched-out footage of the prominent Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros, a long-time bogeyman for the right, accused variously of fixing elections and funding anti-Trump protests, the soon-to-be-president warned of “those who control the levers of power in Washington” and “global special interests”.

Earlier in the campaign, attempting to tie Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs, he tweeted an image of her superimposed over a sea of dollars next to copy that labelled her [the] Most Corrupt Candidate Ever! The copy was contained inside a six-pointed star.

No doubt the president had broadened his sites since taking office, as his latest comments chillingly show, but next time he tries to legitimise his hatred by claiming kinship with the Jews it’s important to remember that they, along with Muslims and Mexicans and just about every other minority, as usual, were the canaries down the coalmine. It shouldn’t need saying, and in sane times wouldn’t, but Jews and racists do not make good friends.

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