BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the U.S. are increasingly hopeful that they’ve got a comrade in the White House. On February 19, Haaretz's Allison Kaplan Sommer reported that "At the website The Daily Stormer – named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer – editor Andrew Anglin wrote that the [Trump] press conference 'was one of the greatest things I've ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.'"
And, in a classic blame the victim stance that appears to come out of an Alex Jones playbook, Trump seemed to accuse his opponents of initiating anti-Semitic incidents in order to defame and disparage him.
During the one-hour and fifteen-minute presidential advertorial, Trump lashed out at Jake Turx, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish reporter from Ami Magazine, for asking what was basically a "softball" question about how Trump intended to deal with rising incidents of anti-Semitism in the U.S. Turx's question came after he "first flattered the U.S. president by using the Yiddish name for grandfather," according to Sommer.
After telling Turx to "Sit down, I understand the rest of your question," Trump said: "Number one: I'm the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life," Trump continued. "Number two: Racism. The least racist person." When Turx attempted to complete his question, the president, who proceeded to call him a liar, cut him off again: "Quiet quiet quiet," he said. "You see, he lied about he's going to ask a simple question. It's not a straight simple question. Welcome to the world of the media."
Sommer pointed out that "Another Stormer writer, Eric Striker, honed in on the exchange with Turx in an article headlined 'Trump Dismisses 'Anti-Semitism' Wolf-Crier, Identifies Fake Hate Crimes as Fake.' Striker seized on Trump's assertion that anti-Semitic writings and graffiti were concocted artificially to make him and his supporters look anti-Semitic."
In The Daily Stormer Striker added: "[T]his lice infested ghetto Jew will be getting hardcore press coverage and made into a folk hero for a month straight or more. But on the bright side, Jews will gasp when they realize that A) nobody is listening to their fake news or celebrities anymore, and B) everyone is pretty damn sick of Jews."
Using the parentheses that have become "alt-right" code for Jews, Striker added: "Every time Trump has a press conference, (((journalists))) demand he use the government to 'tackle anti-Semitism' (suppress legal criticism of Jews). Know that a larger proportion of Mexicans in America voted for Donald Trump than Jews, and most representatives in the Jewish community refuse to even recognize Trump as the President (#NotMyPresident), yet they still demand special rights and privileges not afforded to any other group of Americans."
According to Haaretz, "Anti-Semitic rhetoric in the United States has reached levels unprecedented since 1930s Germany, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt warned in December. 'Anti-Semitism has wound its way into mainstream conversations in a manner that many Jews who lived through Nazi Germany find terrifying,' he said at a meeting at the Knesset, which was convened to discuss the plight of American Jewry under the incoming Trump administration. Since the U.S. election, Greenblatt noted, 'hundreds of hate crimes,' including against Jews, have been reported throughout the U.S."
One of the more curious responses by Trump to the question about the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. was his assertion that these incidents were being carried out "by our opponents": "You do know that? Do you understand that? You don't think anybody would do a thing like that?"
The president continued: "Some of the signs you'll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump, they're put up by the other side and you think it's like playing it straight? No. But you have some of the signs and some of that anger caused by the other side. They'll do signs and drawing that are inappropriate. It won't be my people. It will be people on the other side to anger people like you."
Trump's theorizing about his opponents coincides with a meme that David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard has been circulating. According to Sommer, Duke tweeted "a photograph of a Jewish community center that was evacuated in the latest round of threats, he commented: 'I wonder who could be placing all those calls? Seems they'd be able to track that down rather easily ... such a dramatic photo.'"
As Haaretz's Asher Schechter pointed out there are numerous troubling incidents in Trump's recent history, including "his repeated retweets of white supremacists, his initial hesitance to disavow the endorsement of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and let's not forget the 'Sheriff's Star' controversy." There were also the incessant "anti-Semitic dog-whistles," and the appointment of campaign CEO Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor.
Trump's shabby treatment of Turx also followed on the heels of a woefully inept White House statement about Holocaust Remembrance Day, which left out any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism.
Perhaps most frightening and difficult to explain is Team Trump's desire to eliminate neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the US government's counter-extremism program by moving it to focus exclusively on Islamist terrorism.
Trump's next steps on this front may be unpredictable, but one thing's for sure: He is definitely not the "least anti-Semitic" person any of us will ever meet in our lifetimes.