Donald Trump’s Non-Apology for Online Anti-Semitism Isn’t Good Enough
After Donald Trump spewed racism about Mexicans and Muslims, and Trump supporters increasingly spewed online anti-Semitism at Jewish journalists like me, my editor here at the Forward, Jane Eisner, responded to this hatred by imposing a one-day moratorium on covering the Republican front-runner. The so-called “Trumpatorium” wasn’t received kindly by the Trump campaign. Sad!
Trump’s lawyer and Israel adviser Jason Greenblatt wrote in these pages last week, pushing back against Eisner’s assertion that his boss has turned a blind eye to the anti-Semitism in his camp. Greenblatt said (emphasis mine), “The facts are worth repeating since you will not find them in the Forward: on May 5, 2016, in The New York Times, Mr. Trump emphatically denounced anti-Semitism stating, ‘Anti-Semitism has no place in our society, which needs to be united, not divided.’ Despite Mr. Trump’s explicit disavowal of hate groups, his political opponents and their media acolytes continue to push the myth.”
You are, actually, reading Greenblatt’s “facts” in the Forward, because Eisner has chosen to print them. Say what you will about the liberal bent at the Forward (as one of its relatively few conservative columnists, I’m familiar with it), but Eisner has printed Greenblatt’s own critique of the paper.
And what of that critique? Does Greenblatt think that Trump’s generalized, boilerplate statement on anti-Semitism means anything to me, when in practice the candidate’s Twitter account continues to retweet the vilest anti-Semitism?
It’s not often that this conservative asks of her (former) Party’s nominee to emulate the Socialist who sat on the Democratic ballot just a few weeks ago. But I’d like Trump to consider, just for a moment, how Bernie Sanders has handled the ugliness coming from within his camp. Bernie Bros, a certain kind of male Sanders supporter, spent the better part of primary season spewing sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and her supporters. Salon reported on Sanders’s response on multiple networks in the middle of his campaign:
“I don’t want anybody, anybody, who is engaged in sexism to support me,” Sanders told NBC News’s Kate Snow in New Hampshire on Sunday. “I don’t want that support,” he insisted, calling that type of behavior from some supporters “unacceptable.”
In another Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sanders called the behavior of so-called Bernie Bros “disgusting,” saying his campaign is working to address the issue of online harassment.
Compare that specific and widely disseminated response from Sanders to the vague comments about theoretical anti-Semitism made by Trump when directly asked by The New York Times and the Jerusalem Post. Sanders didn’t respond to theoretical sexism; he specifically rebuked the kind coming from his own side. Despite Trump’s famous hubris, he does not have the courage to do the same.
The results of that lack of courage are, for me, very personal — and very concrete.
If you think that I, and many other Jewish writers, are being dramatic about the kind of online abuse sent our way, consider this. Several weeks ago I noticed I was receiving a good number of hang-up calls. I entered my phone number into Google, and a reproduction of a story I wrote in these pages about getting a gun thanks to the deluge of threats I had already received popped up. Along with my phone number and an address, the photo the Forward ran with my story was Photoshopped with a Star of David with the word “JUDE” inside a bull’s-eye on my back.
I’ve received well over 1,500 tweets according to my best estimate, my face has been Photoshopped onto the faces of Holocaust victims, and several Twitter accounts have become fixated on me, tweeting about me for almost 19 hours straight after an appearance on Megyn Kelly’s show on Fox News.
Thanks to this, several other threats and the behavior of a few online nutcases, my local police department drives past our house several times a day, and a dozen hate crime officials in my state now know our family.
I write opinion columns on politics and culture for a living, so I’ve developed a skin thicker than most alligators’. And I generally loathe playing the victim. But in my years of writing on every controversial subject imaginable (abortion, transgenderism, politics, rabbinic sexual abuse, Jewish conversion, Israel’s conduct during war and more) I’ve never seen anything like what Trump supporters have spewed in his name in the last year.
Back in October I wrote in these pages asking Trump to do what Sanders did to his sexist supporters: loudly repudiate and show the door to those who traffic in the most vile anti-Semitism imaginable while proudly wearing his signature red “Make America Great” hats in their profile pictures. Over eight months later, I’m still waiting.
Bethany Mandel writes on politics and culture, usually from a conservative perspective. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyShondark