And Yet President Trump, in His Classically Inartful Way, Was Absolutely Right
I just did something fascinating. I just watched the President’s entire 14-minute impromptu news conference at Trump Tower on Monday that sparked all the latest barrage of anti-Trump screeds from the left media that will criticize him every day, no matter what he does, augmented by the “Never Trump” Republicans and neo-conservatives who will not rest until they can re-conquer the political party they lost because of three terms of two failed Bush presidencies, followed by the two failed Presidential candidacies of Sen. John McCain and of Gov. Mitt Romney.
Not the reportage about the conference, but the entire 14 minutes unedited, uninterrupted. I found myself agreeing with his every word. I did not find his tone or demeanor “unpresidential” in the least. He sharply and explicitly condemned the Nazis and White Supremacists unequivocally. He also condemned the extreme leftists who premeditatedly came armed with weapons to smash up a demonstration that, rightly or wrongly, had been granted a legal permit. (I personally wish that ACLU liberals were not so proactive in advancing the right of Nazis to get permits to rally at public venues, but the demonstration had a permit. Meanwhile, the Antifa Alt-Left thugs came with flame-throwers, bats, and shields, and they came to fight.) All the while, the police did nothing for much too long. Chaos and violence ensued.
The media get exercised when President Trump does not parrot their scripts, but they never minded that Barack Obama would not call out leftist rioters and violent leftist organizations by name. As inner cities would burn, with innocents watching their life savings go aflame as mobs would burn down their inner-city stores in cities from Baltimore to Ferguson, the Obama Administration avoided planting blame or naming hate groups. When a Jihadist murdered Americans serving our nation faithfully at Fort Hood, Obama attributed the murders to “workplace violence.” Obama never could articulate the term “Radical Islamist terrorist,” as though he were Lou Costello fearing what would happen to him if he said “Niagara Falls.” When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot by her own former supporter, a mentally ill clinger who had backed the Democrat, the media blamed the violence on Republicans like Sarah Palin. When Rep. Steve Scalise was shot, and others were wounded, by a Bernie Sanders supporter who had set out to kill Republicans, the media avoided pinning blame on a left ideology and overheated rhetoric of leftist hate. But when the President of the United States rightly excoriated law-breakers and thugs on all sides of a street conflagration, he came in for a torrent of media abuse, forcing even level-headed bystanders to take cover.
In archaeology, the Rosetta Stone was an historic find that enabled scholars to decipher ancient writing. For me, the Rosetta Stone in defining Donald Trump’s attitudes towards minorities is the meme that dogged him throughout the Republican presidential primaries, and through the presidential general election, alleging that Trump is an anti-Semite, a Jew-hater. I would listen to CNN panelists call him an anti-Semite, read articles in the New York Times and Washington Post calling him an anti-Semite, listen to spokespeople for certain national Jewish organizations that now are in the pocket of the Democrats and hear them call him an anti-Semite. They blamed him and White Supremacists with whom he supposedly sympathizes for a spate of anonymous phone calls threatening violence at Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) around the country.
That was my Rosetta Stone. Donald Trump an anti-Semite? Really? His daughter Ivanka is an Orthodox Jew. She observes the Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday, maintains a kosher home, apparently does not even take phone calls on the Jewish Sabbath. Does the President want to put her into a gas chamber? His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Ivanka’s husband and an Orthodox Jew. Some fathers-in-law hate their sons-in-law, but President Trump deeply values Jared Kushner, has him in his inner circle, adores the guy. Does Trump want to put him into a concentration camp? The Kushners have two children. Does Donald Trump want to have those Jewish grandchildren of his put into ovens? Indeed, other of President Trump’s children are married to Jewish people. Moreover, the President is an incredible friend of Israel. He has stopped the endless calls by the Obama-Kerry-Clinton Administration for Israel to retreat to borders that former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban called “Auschwitz borders.” This is an anti-Semite?
If Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, please find more anti-Semites like him, as many as are willing to seek public office, and I will vote for all of them, and so will 90 percent of all American Orthodox Jews, one of the strongest pro-Trump conservative voting demographics in the United States. Orthodox Jews, the fastest-growing community of American Jews whom the Pew Survey now forecasts will comprise a majority of New York’s Jews in a few decades, the community who observe Judaism’s kosher laws and Sabbath practices and traditions as set forth in the Torah and Talmud, are now among America’s most solid Republican conservative constituencies.
So that is my Trump Rosetta Stone. That is the archeological discovery that makes clear how false and defamatory are all the media canards accusing this good, though deeply egotistically flawed, man of unfairness based on social group. Through all his public life, until he became the Republican conservative political leader, he had no meaningful problem with any minority group. No one accused him of racism through scores of years in public life under the microscope to which he willingly subjected himself, even yearned for. Comedians loved him. Talk show hosts loved him. NBC gave him a national weekly television platform for years and years. He was under constant scrutiny, and race identification never was part of his mindset, and no one ever suggested otherwise.
(And, oh yeah, by the way: The spate of threatening telephone calls to Jewish Community Centers around the country? None were perpetrated by White Supremacists or Nazi-wannabes. Rather, the perpetrators ultimately were revealed to be a mentally ill African American who somehow thought that telephoning a threat to a JCC would get his former girlfriend in trouble, and an even more deranged Israeli Jewish millennial who used some computer technology to call in his anti-JCC threats from the Middle East.)
But, wait: Didn’t President Trump say that some of the Caucasians at the Charlottesville protest rallies were fine people? What about that?
Unlike many Northeast liberals, I have traveled America’s deep South with some intensity, the states of the Confederacy. As an Orthodox Jew with a Brooklyn accent, easily spotted because I wear my yarmulka as my religious convictions require, I traveled throughout the region with some awareness that I stood out as a Jew. Wherever I went, I met many wonderful people. I would talk with people at length about their lives, their hopes, their dreams. I also walked the streets. At the time, I was startled to see so many monuments of Dixie, the Confederacy, the Civil War. I remember wondering about the initials “CSA,” evident on monuments everywhere in the South, which I soon learned was the acronym for “Confederate States of America.” I came to learn, first-hand, that there are many fine, high quality, decent people in the South who truly recoil from the haters on the Right, who truly despise the bigots of today and are ashamed of the bigotry of the past, but who sincerely honor the memories of fallen war heroes of the South. They peacefully protest removing statues of Confederacy heroes like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson because they see them as having been true military heroes and patriots who gave their everything to protect Virginia in particular, and the South in general, from being overrun by invading armies that threatened critical aspects of their way of agrarian life. Consider, as one example, the devastation and horror that General Sherman and his army wreaked upon the South, burning and looting Atlanta and burning and looting other Southern cities along their march. Lee and Jackson were not politicians, pushing for a social agenda. Rather, they were men who felt duty-bound to serve their patrimony. Gen. Jackson actually lost his life a result of a terrible incident of friendly fire at Chancellorsville. And Gen. Lee, who had been offered by President Lincoln the opportunity to lead the Union armies, felt obliged to defend his native Virginia; as a result, his wealth and property were confiscated, as the North converted his mansion and land into Arlington National Cemetery.
There is no easy answer for the statue issue. I have seen that issue for years and years, long before it became the Issue du Jour. In my travels for several months through the South and at the great Civil War battlefields, I saw the monuments everywhere: in main throughfares along Monument Row in Richmond, at the State Capitol in Nashville, at street corners. At the South Carolina state capitol in Columbia, they have preserved the broken walking stick attached to the monument of George Washington, so as never to forget how Sherman’s men ransacked the state and even desecrated the monument of Washington. Similarly, they have refused to repair Union cannonball damage to the building, preferring instead to cover gaping holes with metal patches that starkly remind visitors of the attack that happened there. I have seen the aesthetic beauty and passion that went into sculpting those monuments, and I have read the inscriptions that breathe not a word about slavery nor the social injustices of the Confederacy but of brave young boys, who never owned a slave — the vast majority of Southerners never owned slaves — but who gave their lives for their communities, for their honor, in some cases even for their women.
As a Jew hailing from the North, whose persecuted East European ancestors did not even arrive in this country from Russia and Poland until a quarter century after the Civil War, I also perceived that those monuments constitute a horrible daily insult and vile dishonor to African Americans and, frankly, an incomprehensible curiosity for a country that had defeated the Confederacy and had reunited. What indeed were all those monuments to the losing side doing all over the place? I came to a sense that perhaps those monuments should be moved to Civil War museums, to the great preserved battlefields at Antietam/Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, Bull Run/Manassas, Fredericksburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Shiloh, Lookout Mountain, Cold Harbor, Vicksburg, and Petersburg. (Gettysburg already has its full complement.) Perhaps move them to cemeteries where Confederates lie buried.
But I do believe, as President Trump tried to say in his way, that many of those at the demonstrations indeed were decent people motivated solely by wanting peacefully to preserve the heroes of their history, oblivious to the ramifications — that, sadly, their history includes much that is shameful, even if Lee solely was motivated by a soldier’s rules of honor and service, as taught at West Point; even if Jackson was motivated solely by that same code of a soldier’s honor and service, amplified by a religious believer’s sense that he had a duty to country.
President Trump sadly is correct. George Washington owned slaves. So did Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and James Madison at Montpelier. So did many who signed the Declaration of Independence. Shall we take down the Washington Monument? Shall we rename the nation’s capital and the state where the liberal Democrats of Seattle govern? Should we tear down the Jefferson Memorial? Is there now yet another reason to change the name of the Washington Redskins!
And, while at it: How about encouraging some violent street-fighting in Manhattan, tearing down the Peter Stuyvesant statue in Manhattan and renaming that eponymous public school? He was the most vicious anti-Semite of pre-independence America.
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