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Trump Is Ignoring Anti-Semitic Threats & Violence, but They’re Still Happening With Alarming Frequency

We’ve talked a lot recently about the rise of American anti-Semitism and the troubling silence (or worse) coming from the White House by way of response. Last week, after multiple waves of bomb threats were made at Jewish community centers and schools, Donald Trump finally made a brief statement acknowledging and condemning these threats. Many saw it as far too little, far too late, and it very well may have been. At the very least, it’s still symbolically important to have these actions denounced at that level.

But the threats haven’t stopped since Trump made his comments, and not only has he failed to move forward in any sort of plan in dealing with these threats of violence, but he’s retreated back into silence. He’s also remained silent on the recent horrific acts of violence perpetrated in the name of Islamophobia.

And when you look at what’s going on with this violence and threats of violence, it’s hard to understand how anyone–let alone someone in a great position of power–could remain silent.

Just in the last week, hundreds of headstones were toppled and vandalized in Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri.

In addition to the disrespect and destruction of cemeteries, the threats aimed at children are bewildering. There have been waves of threats over the last few months, but just yesterday, in one day alone, there were at least 20 bomb threats reported in 11 states.

These threats targeted community centers and schools. And even if there were no bombs or violence, children–pre-schoolers, even–are being threatened on the basis of religion.

How can anyone see that picture and remain silent? Probably the same way so many could see this very similar picture over a month ago and stayed silent.

Trump needs to speak out against these acts of intimidation and violence, if only for the symbolic importance of hearing a President condemn violent bigotry aimed at children.

If it were just his silence we were condemning, that would be bad enough. But he has history with anti-Semitic rhetoric himself, as well as having brought into his close fold Steve Bannon who still, to this day, uses barely-concealed “dog-whistles” (language intended as a sort of wink-wink code for groups who already know the language) smearing the Jewish people.

Beyond mere silence, Trump himself is doing serious damage to Jewish communities, both directly, as with a reported budget plan that involves cutting envoy positions assigned to deal with anti-Semitism, as well as, well … whatever this is:

What exactly does “sometimes it’s the reverse” mean? No one knows. It sure sounds like Donald the-least-anti-Semitic-person-you’ve-ever-seen Trump is saying something along the lines of “sometimes Jews perpetrate violence, too,” but it seems more like “they could be faking it, you know.” What other “reverses” are there? Is he really going to say that something he claims to see as “reprehensible” is also not a problem and is being faked?

Now, as Dustin Rowles at Pajiba (who has children in Jewish day schools and has written beautifully and heartbreakingly about what it’s like to have a bomb threat called into your child’s school) points out, ending this epidemic of bigoted violence and potential violence goes beyond Trump.

And I know this for a fact: Trump’s words and condemnations matter symbolically, but I can also say that — no matter what Trump does or does not say — the FBI, Homeland Security, and local law enforcement are taking these issues very seriously. They’re reaching out. They have been kind, responsible, receptive, and protective. They have been treating these bomb threats as hate crimes/Civil Rights violations since the beginning. There may be institutional problems, but at an individual level, the law enforcement community has been outstanding on this particular set of crimes.

In other words: Trump is a disaster, but our government bureaucracy is stronger than any one man, and most of the men and women who are actually being called upon to protect us are paying more than lip service. They’re doing their jobs.

The knowledge that there is a huge system in place to tackle this problem, and to hear, even anecdotally, that it’s functioning well, is heartening. And Mike Pence, who, for all his many terrifying faults, seems to be in prime ready-for-impeachment position, and did speak out against these acts last week. Via Politico,

“Let me be very clear: We condemn these acts of vandalism and the people that perpetrated these acts in the strongest possible terms,” Pence told a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering here. “Hatred and anti-Semitism have no place in American society.”

That feels like the bare minimum someone with such great power can do to put down these horrible acts, right? So what is to be done? The right has taken to branding anyone calling out Trump or Trump’s fallout as “hysterical” or even “incredibly dumb.” Even Jon Stewart has branded the media as “whining,” which is a fantastically effective way to discredit any actual criticism.

So what are we supposed to do? Are our only options to “whine” or to ignore this type of intimidation and violence, as well as Trump’s off-the-wall rhetoric?

Then fine. I’m fine with “whining.” If that’s the only option beyond ignoring images like these:

Well then, I’m okay with that moniker. This is worth “whining” about.

(image via Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.