Donald Trump did his best the other day to distance himself from allegations that his campaign had used an anti-Semitic image from a white-supremacist website to attack Hillary Clinton in a response to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the Bureau had found nothing criminal in its investigation of the former secretary of state’s private email server.
By now, everyone has seen the tweet: a photo shows her face between two words: “History made.” An additional image, a red, six-pointed star contains the words: “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever." The star is certainly in the shape of a Jewish Star of David.
Although the actual page on which the allegedly anti-Semitic image appears has been deleted, an archival website has the page as it originally appeared. It is not linked to here, because the headline alone is vile, as is much else on the page. (A page that links to the offending page may be found by Googling: Donald Trump's Star of David Hillary Clinton Meme Was Created by White Supremacists.)
Among other noxious comments on that page: “Death to all non-whites,
And further down the page is, indeed, the exact image used by the Trump campaign. It is dated “6/22/16 (Wed).” Not a single change was made.
It’s important to note the date on the image, which is just before Director Comey’s July 5, 2016 announcement. The Trump camp used the image in a tweet almost immediately after Comey spoke, but it was not, obviously, retweeting the white supremacist’s reaction to the FBI report. The supremacist’s post was a reaction to the assured nomination of, as the words in the star indicate, a “corrupt” candidate. As such, it reflects a meme of the Trump campaign and others who oppose Hillary Clinton.
I’m fascinated by some other images that appear on this now-suppressed web page, such as one of Trump . . . as a sheriff, with a star emblem on his sleeve — a five-pointed star, very like the sort of star to which Trump referred in his explanation of why the image used by his campaign is not anti-Semitic: “It was a sheriff’s star!” Sheriffs' stars may be five- or six-pointed. Another Trump tweet complains that the dishonest “media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s star, or a plain star.”
But on that supremacist website, a few entries above the star image sent out by the Trump campaign, is an image that may suggest of the likelihood that whoever in the Trump campaign provided it also provided the law-enforcement “explanation.”
That picture (obviously Photoshopped) puts Trump’s head on the shoulders of actor Tommy Lee Jones in a scene from the film No Country for Old Men. Jones’ sheriff wears a five-pointed star, but the juxtaposition is interesting. Compelling even.
Listening to Trump’s explanation of the image of Clinton (which the putative GOP candidate gave at a rally on Wednesday in Cincinnati), one was almost moved by his evocation of daughter Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism.
On that supremacist web page there is also reference to her conversion, although in the form of an expressed hope that Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s Jewish husband, has allied himself with the Trumps in reaction against his own father, a donor to Democratic causes (including, the site asserts, the Clinton Foundation): “We expect Jared Kushner to value Ivanka and Trump over his own father? I hope there is a genuine, serious rift there and that disgust with his father's activities and corruption are part of why he's backing his father-in-law so strongly.”
The reference to corruption may concerns the elder Kushner’s 2005 conviction for making illegal campaign contributions, for which he served two years in prison.
Well, politics is a dirty business, and all’s fair in love and war, although among anti-Semites any evidence of malfeasance is ipso facto
attributed to religion if it involves a Jew. And further down that supremacist page is an image of eight Jewish faces — the sort of caricatures typical in the pages of German propaganda between 1920 and 1945. The image is despicably titled, “Kike Face Corral.”
None of this means that Trump’s some-of-my-best-friends-are-Jewish disavowal of his campaign’s association with anti-Semitism is entirely disingenuous. It’s actually easy to believe that he was not initially involved in a decision to use the image of Hillary Clinton from the white-supremacist website, even that he had no idea about its provenance. When you launch a presidential campaign with no previous political experience, this sort of thing can happen.
Yet rather than condemning the source of that image, which as the timing proves is beyond dispute, he has defended it. Referring to the campaign’s decision to remove the offending tweet:
Trump insisted that he told his media staff: “‘You shouldn’t have taken it down!’ I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it.”
But how is it defensible, given its source?
Still, son-in-law Jared Kushner quickly responded to the controversy with the assurance that his father-in-law is not an anti-Semite: "If my father in law’s fast-moving team was careless in choosing an image to retweet, well part of the reason it’s so shocking is that it’s the actual candidate communicating with the American public rather than the armies of handlers who poll-test ordinary candidates’ every move."
I’ll extend to Mr. Kushner the courtesy and respect of stipulating that this is true.
Stipulation aside, why, it must be asked, is anybody in the Trump campaign trolling the darkest corners of the internet for its media imagery?
This particular matter ought to be of concern to Catholics. As Robert P. George and George Weigel wrote
earlier this year, the Trump “campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity,” and the candidate’s performance over the last several days has confirmed it.
Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is a former literary editor of National Review. His book, "The Compleat Gentleman," is available on audio and as an iPhone app.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.