We have all known people who seem to ignore historical perspective and cultural sensitivity . They inevitably say something that is insulting to one group or another with seemingly no malice. They state obviously inaccurate facts to support their statements and seem surprised when they are challenged. They appear to exist in their own world of twisted history and pompous pronouncements. We often write them off as poorly educated, ignorant and intellectually lazy. We have the luxury of being dismissive and moving on. However, today we no longer have that luxury. We are being led by such people. Yet, in their case I don’t believe that their statements and pronouncements are the result of intellectual laziness, ignorance or lack of education.
There is no more powerful podium in the world than that standing in front of the President of the United States or his spokesperson. The words that are uttered from here carry with them the weight and gravitas expected from serious-minded and knowledgeable individuals with a grasp of nuance and subtlety. They, we have a right to expect, will understand the potential impact of each word and phrase that leaves their mouth. We do understand, that on rare occasion, an impromptu word or phrase will miss the mark. However, this should be the exception and should be rapidly acknowledged and remedied. The White House after all has a full communications department staffed by experienced professionals and access to experts in all fields at a moment’s notice. When a statement is made from that podium there is no excuse for substantive error. Yet, we have seen this occur with such regularity that we must begin to question both competence and intent.
There have been too many occasions on which either the president or his spokesperson has insulted the Jewish Community by either words spoken or the omission of words that should have been spoken. Words such as Holocaust Centers to replace concentration camps and the omission of the mention of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance Day are striking examples of an attempt to somehow minimize the horror that is the reality of the Holocaust. The half-hearted and patronizing statement Trump made about the rash of anti-Semitic acts that occurred recently spoke volumes to his lack of concern. It is hard to believe that these were just words and omissions that were accidental. With a White House filled with highly educated and experienced staff there must certainly be an awareness that words matter. It is therefore difficult to accept that such statements were inadvertent and lacked any intent.
While I am speaking specifically to inappropriate communications related to the Jewish Community, the same has been the case regarding almost every immigrant and minority community in our nation. Yet communication is not always overt and spoken aloud. There are other ways in which attitudes can be communicated. For example, the budget presented by the Trump Administration reflects attitudes regarding science, education, the arts and the underserved. Through this budget Trump and his narrow-minded band of malcontents is attempting to put into practice much of what their words reflect. The fact that Trump et. al. are attempting to push such drastic budgetary changes reflects clearly that their words are no accident. The insults are intentional.
This administration is just a few months old, yet in such a short time it has created, through its rhetoric and actions, an atmosphere of fear and hate across our nation. Within the undocumented immigrant community the shadows have once again become the only safe place. Within the Muslim Community the next accusation is only as far as the next act of terror. We must not allow our nation to be swallowed by a wave of suspicion and distrust. We must fight this onslaught of hate through our own words, actions and at the voting booth.