Please enlighten me.
Has a former U.S. president ever invited an antisemite and a Holocaust denier to his home?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but no such thing ever happened until Donald Trump, in a horrendous lapse of judgment that normalizes antisemitism, hosted a dinner for two such bigots at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida.
Trump, who recently announced his candidacy for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, shared a meal last week with two notorious figures on the fringes of American politics: Kanye West, the rapper whose antisemitic diatribes forced his German corporate sponsor, Adidas, to sever its lucrative partnership with him, and Nick Fuentes, a self-styled “Christian conservative” who claims the United States is run by a cabal of Jews whom he has branded as a “hostile tribal elite.”
During the course of their meal, Trump reportedly took a shine to Fuentes, who has been suspended from social media sites ranging from Twitter to TikTok. “He gets me,” Trump said without divulging the details of their conversation.
West, a presidential aspirant, disclosed that Trump was “really impressed” with Fuentes.
Fuentes, a despicable character, was a fixture at the infamous 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which neo-Nazis and white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us” as they staged a provocative nighttime march with Tiki torches on the campus of the University of Virginia.
In the wake of that rally, Trump issued contradictory statements. On the one hand, he condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.” On the other hand, he noted that “very fine people on both sides” had appeared at the rally.
It’s hardly surprising that Trump likes Fuentes, a 24-year-old podcaster and one of the founders of America First, a white nationalist youth organization that endorsed Trump’s unfounded and outlandish claim that he defeated Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
On January 6 of that year, Fuentes and his motley followers, known as groypers, went to a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., during which hundreds of demonstrators, including several of his acolytes, broke into the Capitol Hill legislative building in an illegal and vain attempt to nullify Biden’s certification as the duly elected president.
When news broke that West and Fuentes had been Trump’s dinner companions at Mar-A-Lago, Trump issued a disingenuous communique claiming he had never heard of Fuentes: “Kanye West very much wanted to visit Mar-A-Lago. Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
In a post on his Truth Social media website, Trump said that West had “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends whom I knew nothing about.” They included Karen Giorno, who was Trump’s Florida state director during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump, in a third and final press release, said that West had sought business advice from him and “expressed no antisemitism.” In his usual narcissistic manner, he said he “appreciated all the nice things (West) has said about me” on commentator Tucker Carlson’s television show. “I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.”
It’s questionable whether Trump had no foreknowledge of Fuentes, a ceaseless self-promotor in alt-right circles. But with so much information at his disposal, he surely should have been up to speed about Fuentes.
Prior to his presidency, Trump also pretended he had never heard of the antisemitic propagandist David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who supported his run for the presidency.
Tellingly enough, Trump missed the opportunity to denounce Fuentes’ toxic views. And there is no doubt whatsoever that Trump was entirely aware of West’s antisemitic record.
That Trump agreed to play host to West after his disgraceful antisemitic rampages is a stunning testament to his general outlook, his shocking lack of judgment, and his utter unsuitability as a presidential candidate.
Don’t take my word for it.
Trump’s former ally, Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, was equally appalled by the company Trump keeps.
David Friedman, Trump’s former bankruptcy lawyer and his appointee as ambassador to Israel, was similarly outraged. “Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable,” he wrote indignantly on Twitter.
Matt Brooks, the chief executive of the Republican Jewish Coalition, strongly condemned the Mar-A-Lago event, urged “all political leaders” to refuse to meet West and Fuentes, and asked them to reject “their messages of hate.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, blasted Trump’s meeting with West and Fuentes. Condemning Fuentes as an “unapologetic” antisemite, he said, “You can’t say you oppose hate and break bread with haters. It’s that simple.”
Andrew Bates, the White House deputy press secretary, was just as emphatic: “Bigotry, hate and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America — including Mar-A-Lago.”
Trump’s critics are right. West, and particularly Fuentes, are way beyond the pale. Yet Trump coddles them.
Recently, Fuentes described American Jews as a “hostile tribal elite” who drive wars, usury and the desecration of the Catholic church. Likening Israel to the anti-Christ, he dismissed it as a “phoney” and “fake” state.
Three years ago, he questioned whether six million Jews had perished during the Holocaust. “The math doesn’t seem to add up,” he said.
In another screed brimming with malice, Fuentes promoted the idea that the United States is a Christian republic and that Jews are trying to subvert its essential essence.
“America, for what it’s worth, was founded by white Christians. It was not founded by Jewish people. It was not founded by Judeo-Christians. It was founded by white Christians. And white Christians are in the majority. Christianity is the religion of this nation. Not Judaism, not the Talmud, not that stuff. It’s just what it is. It’s just a fact. And, you know what? If we’re going to make America great again, we’ve gotta talk about this anti-white thing that’s going on. And if we want to restore America, we’ve got to make America a Christian nation again.
“And you can understand why influential Jewish people in conservative media are not really gung-ho about that. They’re not promoting white identity. They’re not promoting this. And I don’t think they’re thrilled about the idea of revanchist Christianity. They like the idea of Christianity where we’re all Zionists and we’re all giving money to Israel and this and that, but they’re not really thrilled with just Christianity. They want it to be Judeo-Christianity.”
Fuentes’ rants define him unequivocally as an xenophobe and a racist. Trump should have known better than to invite West, a disruptive rabble-rouser who trades in antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories. And he certainly should have thrown Fuentes out of his house.
Instead, he indulged them, normalizing antisemitism and emboldening white supremacy.
In this self-destructive episode, Trump called into sharp relief his tolerance for extremism, his execrably poor judgment, and his unsuitability as the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States.
Clearly, Trump has become a liability to his party, yet not even one of its current congressional leaders have denounced his misbegotten dinner date with West and Fuentes.
Their silence is deafeaning and a commentary on Make-America-Great-Again Republicanism.