On the same day that he signed an executive order temporarily banning refugees and citizens of 7 Muslim countries from entering the United States and barred admittance to Syrian refugees indefinitely, President Trump’s White House issued a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The statement reflected on “the depravity and the horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.” Noticeably missing, however, was any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism.
After receiving harsh rebuke for the statement, the White House defended their position by saying that they wanted to be inclusive of everyone who was persecuted by the Nazis. But this completely misses the point. The White House statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day should give special mention to Jews because the Nazis gave special attention to them as well. Jewish people were singled out by the Nazis for execution.
But the Trump Administration’s defense reveals something more disturbing. By noting that they didn’t mention Jews because they wanted to be inclusive of all people, the WH is suggesting that mentioning Jews would somehow lessen acknowledgement of the suffering that millions of others faced at the hands of the Nazis. This is the same distorted logic that many used to criticize the Black Lives Matter movement and that catalyzed the counter-movement All Lives Matter. Yet, BLM organizers weren’t proclaiming that other lives mattered less; they were drawing attention to the extraordinary challenges that their communities face and declaring that black lives matter too. So too, omitting mention of Jews to promote “inclusion” does the exact opposite. Recognizing that certain people are/were treated unequally is the first step to correcting the problems while ignoring these inequalities perpetuates an inadequate system.
Instead of correcting their initial error, the WH doubled down on their defense, demonstrating that they don’t understand the significance of their actions. And no matter how many times Richard Spencer gets punched in the face, I only feel slightly better.