It’s unfortunate that the recent Charlottesville episode, which had the makings of a very important learning experience for our country, instead became just another of the issues pressed into the service of those single-mindedly bent on taking the president down.
It was a potentially pivotal moment to seriously consider the very real and growing ideological and physical threat posed by the political left, yet it was lost amid the barrage of slings and arrows aimed at Mr. Trump.
What was particularly unnerving is that several of our prestigious Jewish organizations and their leaders – including the Orthodox variety – uncritically, we think, threw their lot in with the anti-Trump movement and its amen corner in he media and focused, as did many others, on the left’s biased characterization of the president’s comments rather than on what he actually said.
There are those who have no interest in dialing down the relentless condemnations of the president for not having initially singled out the white supremacists/neo-Nazis but instead insisting that there was violence perpetrated both by antifa counter-demonstrators as well as by the white supremacist/neo-Nazi demonstrators or for having declared that there were “fine people” on both sides of the demonstration.
Yet here is some of what he actually said in his remarks on Tuesday, Aug. 15, following the events of Friday and Saturday:
I will tell you something….[Y]ou had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group – you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent….
I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all those people [on the white supremacist/neo-Nazi side of the protest] were neo- Nazis…. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch….[Many of] those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue…[of] Robert E. Lee…. Now, in the other group [antifa] also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers and you see them come with black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You’ve got – you had a lot of bad – you had a lot of bad people in the other group.
So when you read more than a phrase or two yanked out of context, it becomes clear that the president was not downplaying the violent nature of white supremacists/neo-Nazis when he failed to specifically name them. He was performing the important public service of alerting a national audience to the growing dangers of the antifa movement – which, incidentally, is tied to the disruptions, sometimes violent, of Jewish or pro-Zionist activities on college campuses and elsewhere.
It is truly ironic that Jewish organizations that are the first to deplore these outrages have now joined forces with those seeking to undermine a president willing to confront its perpetrators.
We are hopeful that the president will not be discouraged by the immediate reaction to his Charlottesville salvo. Indeed, we hope others will pick up on it. And in this we are encouraged by an important article from Caroline Glick, writing in The Jerusalem Post. This is part of what she had to say:
Trump’s electoral victory was a revolutionary event in U.S. history. Tens of millions of American voters supported Trump because he promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington and serve the needs of the people the swamp cast asunder.
A big part of that swamp is the left that insists it is above criticism while its opponents on the right are deplorable racists unworthy of consideration. When Trump called out the far left along with the neo-Nazis for their violence at Charlottesville, he was keeping his pledge to his voters and upending one of the most cherished myths of the hated “establishment.”
Given that the white supremacists and radical leftists converge in their hatred of Jews, it is important for the American Jewish community and for America as a whole to embrace Trump’s actions. He is not engaging in moral equivalence between good and evil. He is exercising moral clarity. Without such clarity, the forces of Jew-hatred in the U.S. will never be defeated. Without such clarity, the political position, security, and freedom of American Jews will grow increasingly imperiled.
Israel’s job, to the extent it has one in the current fight plaguing the U.S., is to point out this truth, not join the bandwagon in obfuscating it.
Trump is far from a perfect mouthpiece for this essential battle against Jew-haters on the right and left. But at least he is using his mouth to sound the battle cry. For this he should be applauded by Israelis and American Jews alike.