One way Donald J. Trump and the GOP won the U.S. presidency in 2016 was leveraging and promoting racial division and prejudice. They attempted a similar strategy in 2018, but lost the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Yet, according to many, in order to win Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in 2020, the White House will try to appeal to prejudice and resentment and try to characterize Democratic Party candidates and the media as “Un-American” and in bed with four elected Freshman POC congresswomen, known to some as “the Squad.” A recent study showed that level of racism was a better predictor of how a person would vote, than party affiliation. A Reuters/Ipsos poll completed yesterday showed that AFTER the tweets,
A taste of this strategy fed America over the past three days, after President Trump sent tweets that were translated as saying that members of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan should “go back” to their countries of origin (even though three of the four were born in the United States).
In response to the tweets, foes of the President criticized the statement as racist and xenophobic.
Supporters of the President characterized it as inappropriate, but not racist.
On Monday, the four congresswomen denounced President Trump’s comments. It reinforced the resolve of their supporters, but also helped Trump’s re-election strategy, giving the four more of the spotlight and painting Democrats as just these four lawmakers.
Several GOP leaders mentioned “Israel” in their support of the President.
Peculiar? Or a dog whistle? Nope, just a calculated tactic to invoke Israel as a wedge issue.
On Tuesday evening, the House voted on a resulution repimanding the President for his tweet. The vote followed party lines with Democrats voting to condemn the tweets and Republicans voting to support the President. Only four Republicans and one independent voted with the Democrats.
Democrats will try to use this to increase their appeal to first generation American voters.
America Magazine, the Jesuit review, wrote that Trump’s comments were “racist, xenophobic and sexist,” and wrong. The editors wrote that the president’s lack of restraint unified Democrats in outrage, but had little impact on Republicans.
What about the Jewish media?
I didn’t find any editorials from the major American Jewish media sites.
Except from The Forward
The Forward featured half a sozen essays criticizing Trump. In one, Michael Koplow, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, wrote that Trump invokes “Israel” to shield his racism.
As for pundits:
The E.D. of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called Trump the nation’s “Racist in Chief” and denounced his tweets
The current leader of the Anti-Defamation League called the comments racist and xenophobic. He also did not like Trump’s use of Israel to defend his racism.
The past leader of the Anti-Defamation League wrote that the tweet was “one of the oldest xenophobic prejudiced comments expressed by bigots in our country.”
The American Jewish Committee wrote that it is possible to debate policies without resourting to issues of personal identity or family origin
The Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized the tweet with the hashtag of #racism
Rabbi Jonah Pesner of the RAC – Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism tweeted, “There is nothing more American than going into public service. It’s unacceptable to suggest any U.S. citizen — naturalized or native born — belongs anywhere else. Leaders across the political spectrum must condemn the president’s discriminatory language.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs of TRUAH wrote, “These tweets were absolutely racist. Full stop. . .It was an attempt to use Jews as a wedge issue. His racism has nothing to do with Israel, & the Jewish community is not standing for it”
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg tweeted, “We already knew Trump was racist.”
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis stated, “Our increasingly polarised world calls out for the kind of strong moral leadership which will quench the flames of hatred and bigotry and bring healing to our divided societies.” The appalling “go back…” comment “will achieve just the opposite.”
UK Jewish Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said the comments were “appalling and unjustifiable…. Whatever one’s political disagreements, telling people to ‘go back home to where they came from’ can never be the right response. It is also wrong to drag Israel in to these undignified tirades.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said the tweets were “corrosive, disgraceful and undermine the true meaning of democracy….. These despicable words must be condemned”
Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger said she was “shocked by his racism, shocked by his obvious belief that they do not ‘belong’ in American society, and even more shocked by the fact he neither apologised nor retrenched”.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg described the comments as “shameless” which “shows [Trump’s] racism, sexism and contempt for democratic political process”.
Rabbi Danny Rich said the comments were “inimical to the Jewish ideal of a single humanity under the sovereignty of a single God… Trump demeans his Office as President of the United States by his foolish, ignorant and sometimes even misogynist and racist tweets which are designed to appeal to the worst of human thought and behaviour. The unity and strength of a democratic nation lies in the celebration of its diversity.”
Mia Hasenson-Gross of René Cassin said: “We deplore Trump’s attack against these four congresswomen of colour, which is so clearly rooted in racism and misogyny….Migration and the seeking of asylum are central to the Jewish experience and as Jews we must condemn his words. We must also condemn the inhumane treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, including children, who are locked up in immigration detention as a result of Trump’s hostile policies.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition retweeted that Senator Lindsey Graham was “not wrong” when the Senator, following the playbook to characterize opponents as anti-America wrote that “AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists.. .they’re anti-Semitic. They’re anti-America.” It also tweeted “They accuse people who support Israel of doing it ‘for the Benjamins.’ They’re anti-Semitic. They’re anti-America. Aim higher. We don’t need to know anything about them personally. Talk about their policies.”
Rabbi Yaakov Menken of his Coalition ? for Jewish Values supported the president and wrote, “If you think offering to show an Antisemite the way out of America is hateful or racist, the Founding Fathers would want a word.”
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin write that “I don’t find them racist.”
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action called Trump a “white supremacist.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) remarked that the president is “a liar, a fraud, a narcissist and a bully.”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY, Senator Minority Leader) tweeted, asking whether the silence from his GOP colleagues was agreement or embarrassment over his “racism”
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) called the comments “racist and hateful.”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY_ tweeted that Trump’s comments were “xenophobic”
Rep. Debbi Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) tweeted “The President didn’t just spew racist, xenophobic statements about Members of Congress – he held a press conference to double down on his hate. Disgraceful and reprehensible.”
(((Rep. Jerry Nadler))) (D-NY) tweeted “This language from the President of the United States is racist, ignorant, misogynistic and xenophobic. We cannot become immune to this disgraceful administration or the rotten ideology at its core.”
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) tweeted. The women he’s attacked represent America, and they represent districts made up of all cultures and all religions. We have an occupant in the White House who’s completely disconnected from what actually makes America great and is instead fueling racism and white supremacy….. Trump’s continuing hateful comments are not only disgusting and unbecoming of the President of the US but are completely unproductive for this country……”
Rep. Adam Schiff(D-CA) tweeted “Since when is it okay for a president to tell Americans to “go back” to where they came from and engage in other racist rhetoric, But it is not okay for the Speaker of the House to call him out on it? Since Trump became president and the GOP became a cult of his personality.”
Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) called for a “strong bipartisan rebuke” of the president’s comments and not just partial critiques of Trump’s words as “wrong” or “over the line.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) tweeted “Telling a minority to “go back where you came from” is the textbook definition of racism. The fact that the other political party disagrees is insane. ”
Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL) retweeted a tweet from Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), who wrote, “Unlike 3 of the “Democrat Congresswomen” Trump attacked today, I was actually born outside the US. Does he think I should go back? This is exactly the sort of rhetoric that inspires disturbed people to violence, against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs – anyone they see as the “other.”
Rep Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) wrote, “The offensive comments made this morning about my colleagues are totally unacceptable and wrong. There is no place for it (in Congress or anywhere in our country).
Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) wrote, “It is deeply troubling to see this kind of race-baiting targeted at these hard working Congresswomen. It’s divisive, distracting, and wrong. We should all hold ourselves to a much higher standard.”
Rep Kim Schrier, MD (D-WA) did not speak on the topic but tweeted, As a member of Congress – and a Spanish-speaking pediatrician – I felt compelled to assess the treatment of children and families at the border. There’s no question we are facing a humanitarian crisis there.
Lee Zeldin (R – NY) wrote, “Anyone in the US w(ith) a blame America 1st mentality for everything needs to do some serious self-reflection, especially if they are a Member of Congress.” in support of the president.
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, when asked by a Jewish reporter about the comments, replied by asking what the report’s ethnicity was, and then saying that her’s was part Irish. On Fox News she said tha tthe four congresswomen represent a “dark underbelly,” and she (or we) was are “sick and tired of people denigrating that American flag, the American military, veterans and America.”
Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) said that her opposition to her “socialist colleagues” had absolutely nothing to do with “their gender, with their religion or with their race.” But rather, just their policies.