Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Politically Correct Outrage

There seems to be a bull market in anti-Semitism (incident on Monday, below) President Trump's USA  as

At least 17 Jewish community centers across the United States were targeted with bomb threats in the third wave of such mass disruption this month....

On Jan. 18, some 30 Jewish institutions in at least 17 states received bomb threats. On Jan. 9, such threats were called into 16 JCCs across the Northwest and South, forcing the evacuation of hundreds.

An NBC News correspondent posted on Twitter the response which he received from Presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer, which read "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."

No, he hasn't, but never mind. With the statement slammed as inadequate, the President's daughter attempted to fill the breach with the tweet "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC."

She, too, was criticized.   Writing in the Huffington Post, Lee Moran posted several negative tweets, most of them noting that Ms. Trump/Mrs. Kushner would more usefully convey her message of tolerance to her father, who is President of the United States.   One of them pointed out "seriously, #Ivanka? Are you so tone-deaf, drowining in hubris, that u don't realize how disingenuous & ironic this tweet is?"

Notwithstanding the power of Steve Bannon and the insensitivity generally of the Administration toward anti-Semitism, the irony is limited.   Ivanka is an Orthodox Jew, as is husband Jared. However, there is less to her tweet than meets the eye.

No one, not even the religiously tolerant, would argue that the USA is not a country built upon the principle of religous tolerance, although that tolerance- initially- was granted primarily to Protestants.

More significantly, however, "we must protect our houses of worship & religious centers" means next to nothing. It is akin to the all-purpose apology "..... if anyone was offended by something said...."   Ezra Klein tweets, "What is the point of not using the words 'Jewish,' 'Jewish Community Center,' or anti-Semitism' in this context?"

The question is rhetorical or at least should be. We know what the point is. Fans of her father, even his base of alternative right supporters, have little quarrel with the bland "our houses of worship & religious centers."  But many of them, especially ones of the alternative right, have a problem with Jews.  Additionally, quite a few of Trump's supporters across-the-board believe that it is Christians who are discriminated against and need protection.

Presumably, Donald J. Trump is not anit-Semitic, and not only because he has a daughter who converted to Judaism and married a Jew.  Rather, there may be many things Trump says or fails to say, does or does not do, in which he does not believe. But a fellow who correctly understood that he could publicly "shoot somebody and not lose voters" knows who his voters are and the many ways to appeal to them.

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