Donald Trump’s suitability as a candidate for the highest office in the land has been called into question yet again.
Trump, whose bluster and demagoguery have manifested themselves time and time again during this divisive U.S. presidential campaign, posted an inflammatory image on Twitter recently that brings to mind classical antisemitic tropes about Jews.
In a post which takes the form of an attack ad, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, blasts Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. Against the backdrop of a field of $100 dollar bills and Clinton’s photograph, the words the “most corrupt candidate ever” are inscribed inside a red six-pointed Star of David.
According to the news site Mic, the image that Trump appropriated for partisan political purposes was traced back to an Internet message board on the Internet popular with with white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
What on earth was Trump doing on such a despicable site? Why was he so foolish to expose himself to charges of antisemitism? These questions require clear answers, particularly because his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, is Jewish and his daughter, Ivanka, is a convert to Judaism.
Trump, in damage control mode, deleted his original post and replaced the six-pointed star with a circle. “Dishonest media is trying to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, cavalierly dismissed the reaction as “political correctness run amok.”
Although Trump may not be antisemitic, his tweet reinforces anti-Jewish stereotypes about Jews and money, as Erick Erickson, a commentator, has observed. “A Star of David, a pile of cash and suggestions of corruption. Donald Trump again plays to the white supremacists.”
Sarah Bard, Clinton’s director of Jewish outreach, also raises serious questions about Trump’s misbegotten post. As she wrote, “Donald Trump’s use of a blatantly antisemitic image from racist websites to promote his campaign would be disturbing enough, but the fact that it’s part of a pattern should give voters major cause for concern.”
Trump, of course, dismissed Bard’s statement, calling it “false” and “ridiculous” and reiterating his claim that the image was a “basic star used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior.”
His rationalization is patently unconvincing.
As is well known, Trump has a history of making racially-charged remarks. His derogatory comments about Mexicans were offensive. His conflation of law-abiding Muslim Americans with Muslim terrorists was unacceptable. And his initial refusal to completely distance himself from the support he received from neo-Nazi propagandist David Duke was revealing, to say the least.
As Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said the other day, “Bigotry of any sort has no place in this campaign, and hate has nothing to do with making America great again.”
It falls on Trump to issue an apology and clear the air as soon as possible. He should admit he erred egregiously in posting an antisemitic image. He should repudiate racism in all its ugly forms. He should state categorically that he rejects the support of racists.
This is what he must do if he considers himself temperamentally fit for the presidency of the United States. Anything less will not pass muster.