Anti-Semitism: The Importance of Trump's Refusal to Acknowledge America's Increase

On Oct. 27, a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, resulted in the deaths of 11 people, with seven others being injured. This incident is currently the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in United States history, but it is also an example of the United State's troublesome increase in anti-Semitic sentiment. People are devastated by this act of violence, and many have been posting about their thoughts on the shooting, as well as the correlation between the current presidential administration and the heightened anti-semitic incidents in 2017.

A study by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 57% in the United States in 2017. This includes incidents such as vandalism and harassment, and incidents at schools and campuses nearly doubled. In response to this shooting, President Trump said, “This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe and, frankly, something that is unimaginable," adding, “If there were an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop them. Maybe there would have been nobody killed except for him, frankly.”

Contrary to President Trump's words, however, these acts are not "unimaginable," especially given the statistics from recent years. Trump’s words insinuate that the shooting could have been stopped, and contradict his claim that he understands the acts of 'pure evil' that go on in this country and his hand in their increase.

According to a detailed study by the Network Contagion Research Institute, an recent increase in hate speech on social media has been discovered, specifically with the use of ethnic and racial slurs. It was also summarized in their findings that the use of ethnic and anti-Semitic terms was influenced by real-world events, such as the increase in the usage of the word "jew" around the time of Donald Trump's inauguration. 

In another instance, the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA. resulted in white supremacists displaying swastikas and Confederate flags while chanting anti-Semitic messages such as, "Jews will not replace us". In response to this incident, President Trump refused to condemn the white supremacists, which angered many.  "I think there is blame on both sides," said President Trump.  "You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

The president also expressed his belief that alt-left groups were also violent: “Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?", asked President Trump. 

After seeing Trump's response to situations like this, the lack of understanding surrounding the magnitude of these hateful messages is clear. By saying that both sides were at fault and not condemning people for their message of inequality and hate, the president is allowing the for the continuation of such acts. Though this is just one example of the President's response to an act of hate, it is an occurrence that happens frequently, especially considering the amount of hate crimes and shootings that have increased dramatically in the past few years. 

It is devastating to see continued attacks on minorities, and it is extremely noticeable considering the attacks related to white supremacy and bigotry that are increasing in our country. Acknowledging these incidents is the first step, and so is finding ways to combat these attacks while being supported by those who lead our country.


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