President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump today visited Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, site of the deadliest anti-Jewish atrocity in U.S. history. Robert Bowers, a fierce anti-Semite, has been charged as the culprit of Saturday’s fatal shooting of 11 Jews as they participated in a baby-naming ceremony and Shabbat service. This gruesome, barbaric, senseless slaying of innocent civilians has generated both righteous outrage and worldwide outpourings of love for the victims, survivors, and the first responders who stopped further carnage.
While the temple’s rabbi welcomed the president this afternoon, the arms of others were not so open.
“President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism,” declared the signatories of an open letter promoted by a group called Bend the Arc – Jewish Action. “For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”
Some were even less diplomatic than Bend the Arc.
“Republicans hate you,” Drew Magary wrote for GQ, in a piece that is more frantic than fashion-forward. “They’re getting their sea legs back when it comes to hating Jews.”
The charge that Trump stokes the flames of anti-Semitism is as enduring as it is baseless.
While still a real-estate magnate, Trump was the grand marshal of New York City’s Salute to Israel Parade in 2004. As president, Trump relies heavily on the advice and support of his orthodox Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Jewish-convert daughter, Ivanka. He sees them daily and includes them in events and high-level decisions. He welcomes to the White House their Jewish children, who are his grandchildren.
Also welcome at the White House: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in September: “The American–Israeli alliance has never been stronger.” On an official visit to the Jewish state in May 2017 — just four months into his term — Trump donned a yarmulke and prayed at the Western Wall, making him the first sitting American president to do so (as captured in the AP photo above). And — while other U.S. chief executives since Bill Clinton have promised, but failed to deliver — Trump moved the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This cemented that city’s status as the Jewish state’s contemporary capital and its ancient home.
Short of graduating from a yeshiva, this is about as far from anti-Semitism as one can get.
And what of President Trump’s declaration at a pro-Ted Cruz rally in Houston: “I am a nationalist.” This reignited the Left’s hair, with some pundits arguing that this was a rallying cry for white nationalists.
As a black man, this liberal line of argument struck me as one of the most anti-black comments I ever have heard on TV. America is not a white nation. It is a country of many hues, not least 13 percent of the population, which is black. When Left-wing pundits proclaim that nationalism — placing one’s country and its interests ahead of all others — means white nationalism, they slap black Americans in our faces and attempt to yank the shared national identity from the hands of some 42 million of us with my complexion. Shame on the Left for segregating us from this nation!
As for recent mayhem, attempted and otherwise, accused package bomber Cesar Sayoc is a Trump supporter, but also someone with a long record of crimes and erratic behavior. He seems to have been rather unhinged already. But President Trump no more should be held responsible for guiding Sayoc’s alleged actions than Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist – Vermont) should bear the blame for Sanders for President volunteer James Hodgkinson’s armed assault on the Republican Congressional baseball team, which nearly killed Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana and wounded two others in June 2017.
Fingering Trump for Bowers’ synagogue onslaught is even more twisted. Bowers openly disassociated himself from Trump. “For the record, I did not vote for him nor have I owned, worn or even touched a MAGA hat," Bowers said via Twitter, referring to Trump’s Make America Great Again motto. In especially ugly terms, Bowers also said: “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation.”
How can Trump possibly inspire someone who rejects him? And, from Bowers’ perspective, why would he take his cues from someone who is so pro-Jewish and pro-Israel?
Trump often should resist the Twitter temptation and too frequently says things that he should not. Most recently, he praised Congressman Greg Gianforte (R – Montana) for having body slammed a journalist, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian of London, Nonetheless, the news media totally ignore Trump’s many words designed to advance the very national unity that they keep urging him to promote.
• “Whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska,” Trump said in his inaugural address, “they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.”
• President Trump said in his first speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017: “Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”
• On the morning of the notorious racial melee in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump said via Twitter: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for, there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” He added: “We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST.”
While the Left slammed Trump mercilessly for saying that there was violence on both sides of that August 2017 conflict, the ACLU, Associated Press, NBC News, Reuters, Charlottesville’s police chief, and that day’s arrest records all confirmed Trump’s conclusion.
• Trump’s rallies regularly include words similar to those he expressed Saturday in Murphysboro, Illinois: “We are one people. We are one family. With one glorious destiny. We all share the same home. We all share the same heart. We all salute the same flag. And we are all made by the same Almighty God.”
In the wake of recent violence, Trump has said precisely what his critics claim they want: statements that denounce hate and promote national cohesion.
Just hours after the Tree of Life killings, Trump said in Murphysboro, “We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hate. That's what it is. Through the centuries, the Jews have endured terrible persecution, and you know that. We've all read it. We've studied it. They've gone through a lot. And those seeking their destruction, we will seek their destruction.”
Trump constantly says things like this that advance national fusion rather than fission. The Old Guard media ignore or dismiss such comments. Why? These remarks disprove their pet narrative that Trump relishes seeing America at war with itself, presumably with white Christians persecuting Jews and racial minorities.
Unfortunately for President Trump, he is a victim of an iron law of physics: If his expressions of love fall on the plugged ears of Leftist journalists, they don’t make a sound.
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor and an emeritus media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.