Trump Holocaust Statement Threw A Bone To Anti-Semites (TWEET, VIDEO)

It’s no secret that anti-Semites flocked to Donald Trump like moths to a flame during the campaign. It’s also no secret that whenever word got out that a Trump critic was Jewish, that person was the target of graphic, disgusting, and borderline criminal attacks on social media. Through all of this, Trump did absolutely nothing. Indeed, he actually veered into anti-Semitism himself. He swiped a blatantly anti-Semitic meme from an alt-right message board and used it to attack Hillary Clinton on Twitter. One of his last stump speeches was filled with anti-Semitic dog whistles, and formed the basis for his final campaign ad.

Well, it looks like Trump may have gone over the line once again–though in a slightly more subtle manner. You may recall that when Trump issued a statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, it mentioned the “victims, survivors, (and) heroes of the Holocaust.” There was no mention of the six million Jews who died in that mass slaughter–an omission that didn’t sit well with Anti-Defamation League president Jonathan Greenblatt.

In response, White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that her boss wanted to acknowledge “all those who suffered,” not just Jews. She pointed reporters to a Huffington Post article that took note of Hitler’s other victims. Just in case the point wasn’t made, press secretary Sean Spicer blew a gasket when asked why the statement didn’t specifically mention Jews. Watch here.

When historian and Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt saw this roll across her phone while visiting the Anne Frank House, her alarm bells went off. Trump was embracing “a calumny rooted in anti-Semitism”–the notion that Jews are “‘stealing’ the Holocaust for themselves” to the detriment of the millions of others who were butchered by the Nazis.

Lipstadt believes that Trump was engaging in what she calls “softcore Holocaust denial.” In contrast to “hardcore” denial, which flatly refuses to acknowledge the Holocaust ever happened, “softcore” denial minimizes the facts of the Holocaust, primarily by means of “de-Judaization.” That is, it attempts to gloss over the undeniable evidence that the Nazis embarked on “an organized program with a goal of wiping out a specific people.”

As any student of history knows, the Nazis were already building a “New Order” in which “useless eaters” would have been wiped out en masse. Lipstadt reminds us of one key difference between these killings and the slaughter of the Jews. Hitler placed such a high priority on wiping out European Jewry that he decided it couldn’t wait until after Germany had conquered the Continent.

“(I)t was only the Jews whose destruction could not wait until after the war. Only in the case of the Jews could war priorities be overridden. Germany was fighting two wars in tandem, a conventional war and a war against the Jews. It lost the first and, for all intents and purposes, nearly won the second.”

Lipstadt puts it bluntly–this isn’t “nitpicking,” as Spicer would have you believe. She rightly notes that acknowledging that the Holocaust was a systematic attempt to eliminate Jews is “a matter of historical accuracy and not of comparative pain.” Apparently the State Department understood this as well. On Thursday, it emerged that the State Department was ready to issue a statement that acknowledged the Jewish victims–only to have it vetoed by Trump.

But even before then, it was awfully hard to give the White House the benefit of the doubt. Remember, this is a president who, while on the campaign trail, more or less blinked at blatant anti-Semitism in his name and even blew a few anti-Semitic dog whistles of his own. All things considered, the only plausible conclusion is that Trump knew exactly what he was doing when he issued that statement.

(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.