President Donald Trump should know: Invoke Adolf Hitler at your own peril. Comparing him to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
If a key, highly educated executive branch operative can be so horribly wrong, what about the average Trump supporter? Let’s spell it out for them.
Not only did Hitler use chemical weapons, he killed 6 million Jewish people with them in the Holocaust. He also used them on the eastern front against Russian troops, along the Black Sea near Sevastopol and in the eastern Crimea.
Spicer’s failed apology made it worse: “… I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust…”
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Uh, no he did not. He made zero reference to the Holocaust and treated the Jewish victims as if they did not exist — in effect, denying there was a Holocaust.
Most telling of all, the White House made this outlandish falsehood on the first day of Passover, a sacred Jewish holiday commemorating their freedom from slavery in Egypt. Passover became evermore meaningful after the Holocaust, when entire Jewish populations were herded, humiliated, beaten, starved and finally killed by Hitler’s henchmen.
This is the second time the Trump administration has dissed Jewish victims of Nazi genocide.
In January, during his International Holocaust Remembrance Day remarks, Trump failed to mention them or the venomous state-sponsored anti-Semitism that led to their slaughter. As Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, wrote in the Atlantic, “The de-Judaization of the Holocaust, as exemplified by the White House statement, is what I term softcore Holocaust denial.”
No surprise, really, for it is consistent with Trump’s courting of the alt-right during his campaign. He claimed to have never heard of KKK leader David Duke, who endorsed him. Once elected, Trump hired raging anti-Semite Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. As Charles P. Pierce wrote in Esquire magazine, this was the same as hiring Duke.
It is a sign of how far we have strayed from the moral meridian that Trump backers are more intent on protecting Spicer than confronting the gravity of the situation. Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “he represents his boss and he does that very ably, which is the job of the press secretary...The press secretary is to represent what the president wants said.”
Exactly, and that’s the problem.
I beg my fellow citizens, let us step back and see what is really happening. For regardless of party affiliation, whether you voted for Trump or didn’t, there is far more that unites us than not. We all care about our country and its values. We would like to see America’s moral leadership in the world continue.
And so I ask, did you ever imagine a neo-Nazi sympathizer placed in a top position of power in our great nation? Do you really want your president appointing incompetent and inexperienced cronies and family members to key positions? Deep down, do you really want the rich and corporate to have all the power, while services to the poorest among us are slashed?
Do you want him treating the world as a playground for his military-school fantasies? Do you support him and his family living in New York and beyond, the costs of his lifestyle estimated to approach $1 billion (about 10 times more than Barack Obama’s)?
None of this is acceptable. Were he a Democrat he’d be attacked unmercifully, and for good reason. It’s only fair to hold Trump to the same high standard we expect from all in that esteemed position.
Most of all, when it comes to injustice, inhumanity and the uncaring indifference that marked so many failed societies throughout history we must hold fast to these two words: Never again.
Richard Dawahare is a Lexington lawyer.