Why Won’t Trump Stand Up to His Anti-Semitic Fans?
“On social media, it seems that while not all Donald Trump supporters are anti-Semites, many of the vocal and vicious anti-Semites seem to be Donald Trump supporters.”
That’s what Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and writer often accused of climbing into the pockets of “The Jews,” told me recently.
The widespread anti-Semitism of Trump’s fans hit the news after the September 16 Republican debate, thanks to one of his biggest supporters, Ann Coulter, who tweeted, “How many f—king Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” when several candidates affirmed support for Israel during their closing remarks. Coulter’s comments, coupled with the anti-Semitism on display from her supporters — who immediately started the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAnn — are becoming typical of Trump’s fan base.
What is most shocking on the heels of the general anti-Semitism of Trump’s fans and now with the mainstream exposure of them due to Coulter’s comments is the candidate’s radio silence on the situation. Trump is known for many things, but keeping his lips sealed is certainly not one of them. Since his campaign has taken off, Trump has spent a good deal of energy playing dumb when it comes to the overwhelming nature of the support for his candidacy from white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Worse than Trump’s willful blindness is the rhetoric he uses to stoke racial unrest with a slogan — “Make America Great Again” — reminiscent of the Nazi Party of the 1930s.
Whenever Donald Trump senses he has been personally disrespected, his response borders on clownish. During the debate, fellow businesswoman Carly Fiorina called his business credentials into question. In response, Trump lit into the former CEO. This kind of slight is enough to draw Trump out of his cage and to make him show some teeth. But what about attacks on those close to him?
While Trump’s supporters may not be taking aim at him directly, by virtue of the fact that many of the most outspoken ones are openly and rabidly anti-Semitic, they are attacking his Jewish daughter, his son-in-law, his grandchildren and their extended Jewish family.
Trump certainly seems to care about his daughter, Ivanka Trump: He gave a special shout-out to her when asked during the GOP debate which woman should be featured on the $10 bill. But what of her Jewishness? When she converted to Orthodox Judaism before her marriage to Jared Kushner, she became perhaps the most famous woman to do so. Several years ago, she and her husband were pictured walking to and from synagogue holding a lulav and etrog on Sukkot. Despite the fact that she doesn’t discuss her faith much outside of the occasional brief magazine quote about the special time her family enjoys together on the Sabbath, by all appearances and accounts she is involved in Jewish life and is active in her community.
When his own supporters tweet cartoons depicting Jews as crooked-nosed and sniveling at those who dare speak out against him, Trump and his staff are silent. The candidate stated recently in response to an endorsement from noted white supremacist David Duke that he neither needed nor wanted Duke’s support but that a lot of folks, both liberals and Republicans, support him. Trump failed to note why he was refusing Duke’s endorsement — even when Duke’s message of support included a caveat that he was concerned about Trump’s friendliness with the “Jewish elite.”
Trump credits his campaign with reigniting a conversation about immigration reform on the national stage. Well, immigration isn’t the only topic being discussed thanks to Trump and his candidacy. The blight of anti-Semitism is back on America’s radar, put there by Trump’s supporters, both random Twitter followers and the likes of conservative journalist Coulter.
If Trump is willing to come out swinging against anyone who dares disrespect him, he owes it to America, not to mention to his daughter and her family, to do the same to those who spew anti-Semitic rhetoric in his name.
Bethany Mandel is a stay-at-home mom and writer on politics and culture, usually from a conservative perspective.