President Trump Was Right the First Time

President Trump was roundly criticized over the weekend for failing to call out neo-nazis and the Ku Klux Klan by name in his first statement about Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville. Many members of his own party, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Orrin Hatch of Utah, indicated the president should have said more.

Yet the fact that the planned rally turned into a very two-sided violent melee is undeniable.

Let’s look at the statement the president made:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society.

The triggering phrase in those remarks was “on many sides.” Why, the critics demand, didn’t the president immediately condemn the neo-nazis and the KKK by name?

Just days earlier, a friend and colleague criticized a particular organization as being extremely weak, unable to make a public comment on any issue “except to condemn Hitler.” The problem with condemning Nazis is that it is simply too easy. The only ones who don’t regard Nazis as evil are other Nazis.

The question which we should now be asking is: given that the president did indeed condemn these groups two days later, why has he not condemned Black Lives Matter and Antifa by name? This is a serious question.

Which one of these four groups agitated for violence against police, which manifested itself in shootings of law enforcement officers in Texas and Louisiana? Which one of these groups directly threatens free speech on college campuses, forcibly preventing students from hearing opposing views?

I don’t know about you, but I would consider policies and procedures that facilitate the disproportionate murder of young black men to be racist. And although every police force must police itself and remove racism from within its ranks, BLM agitation against police has not only led directly to murders of police officers, but has also facilitated the murders of thousands of young black men.

In Baltimore, the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015 led to riots and the arrest of six police officers (three of whom were black) for following what was standard procedure at the time. This led to police being afraid to do the aggressive policing necessary to get illegal guns off the street before they are used.

The results can only be described as horrific: 2015 was the most murderous year per-capita in Baltimore’s history, with 2016 coming in second. This year is on track to exceed both. And in all three years, young black men have been hugely overrepresented among the victims. A 10-month-old baby nearly died in her car, which remained locked following the murder of her 26-year-old father in May—until a police officer heard her cry.

The fact that the officer was white shouldn’t even deserve mention. The killing fields of Baltimore are a white supremacist’s dreamland, thanks to BLM.

But we don’t like to talk that way. We like to imagine that BLM is a civil rights organization solving a real problem. And this is hardly the only example of particular causes serving as convenient cover for hate and violence.

If we are going to tear down hateful monuments, we should not start with statues of Robert E. Lee, whom most historians consider to be no more racist than many Northerners of his day. We should start with the Arch of Titus in Rome, celebrating that emperor’s military victories. After all, the arch focuses specifically upon the plunder of Jerusalem, and the desecration of the treasures of its Holy Temple. It is an indisputable celebration of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

But that’s exactly why it should not be removed. We need to remember our history, in order to avoid repeating it.

Which one of the following statements has incited more murders in 2017: “Heil Hitler,” or “Free Palestine”?

Again, the answer is obvious. Everyone knows that Hitler is a Nazi. But all too many people forget that “Palestine” is the name given to the land of Judea by the same hateful invaders who built that arch, in an attempt to sever the connection between the land and those whose home it truly is. Forget that Palestine is a name intimately associated with barbarism and ethnic cleansing; forget that it was nothing more than a distant province to its Arab rulers, none of whom possessed it within the past 500 years (save for a brief period of Egyptian control in the 1830s), and you can make “Palestine liberation” sound like a civil rights movement, too.

Yet there are dozens of unquestioned occupations around the world, in places like Tibet, Chechnya, and even Northern Ireland. But only one call for “justice” is used to justify atrocities against civilians.

There is hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. It is easy to recognize the hate of 50 years ago; it takes discernment to recognize the hate of today. President Trump should have named all of the hate groups involved, or none. He was right the first time.


About Rabbi Yaakov Menken

Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, the largest Rabbinic public policy organization in America.

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46 responses to “President Trump Was Right the First Time”

  1. Conservative Jew here.

    Simply, no. Where you OK when he didn’t mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

    What if Obama made the exact same statement?

    He needed to call out the specific groups.

    1. The KKK/White Supremacists/Neo-nazis were there, ready to fight, wanting a fight.

    2. Antifa, for wanting a fight and engaging.

    • Forgive me for doubting the sincerity of your request. Your playing semantic games here. Everyone broadly knows exactly who was involved: racists and fascists fighting each other. There is no need for a laundry list of every group involved (which no one even has since there were many individual organizations on both sides which showed up). Saying all sides covers everyone. The only reason you want a list of names is so you can cry, “Gotcha!” if one was missed then run off crying Trump supports whichever group was overlooked which is exactly what you’ve been doing.

      • You’re wrong and your statement that it was racists and fascists fighting each other implies a false equivalency. Americans fought rebels in the Civil War to end the slavery of black people and Americans fought in WWII to end the spread of Nazi fascism. Confederates and Nazis have no place in America.

      • have no place in America

        Are you advocating lynching or gas chambers? Or is it just the creation of stateless persons who will be without recourse against your violent paramilitary organizations (i.e. Antifa and BLM)? You need to speak more clearly and tell the world what you have planned.

      • Isn’t obvious? I plan to confront the bigotry and hate of white supremacists whenever and wherever I encounter it–as is the responsibility of every American.

      • So I take it with some it will be the rope and others gas, depending on circumstances. Nothing American about that.

      • Melodramatic much? If I recall my history correctly it is white supremacists that did the lynching of black people and the Nazis that used gas chambers. But I agree that there is nothing American about that. Stop with the false equivalences.

      • I will stop with the equivalences when they start being false. I still haven’t answered my question about what you mean precisely by confrontation. Lynching and gas chambers are off the table, eh? What about making them stateless? Still haven’t answered that one. Clearly beatings are in the cards. 2 x 4s and bats. those are A-ok by you, right?

      • And this dude is the voice of reason. He even leveled a charge of tu quoque. How clever!

      • Isn’t it obvious? I plan to confront white supremacist racism and white national hate whenever and wherever I encounter it–as is the duty of every American.

      • Absolute and utter BS. What has no place in America is armed mobs of any ideology roaming the streets with impunity cracking heads open as they see fit. That is anarchy.

      • Tell that to Christopher Cantwell, the self-proclaimed “anarchist” and organizer of the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville. Claiming that BLM and antifa are Paramilitary organizations is both inaccurate and dishonest sophistry.

      • You’re projecting. I don’t do “gotcha”. Say the groups by name, lest there be any doubt. Never forget who they are.

      • You’ve been doing gotcha over multiple threads. Don’t cry because you got called out for it.

    • The leaders of many countries did not make specific reference to the Jews on Yom haShoah (Trudeau, for example). In fact, this seems to be in keeping with the universalizing drift of much of progressive Judaism (including within conservative congregations). I’m not sure if you are challenging Trump’s bona fides (with his Jewish daughter and grandchildren), but compared to the president who inked the Iran deal there really is no comparison. Such symbolic gestures that you are fixating on pale in comparison to these other more important indications of sympathy, or antipathy as was clearly the case with Obama.

      Do the monuments need to come down? Not necessarily. If you know anything about present day Germany, you know there are many monuments built during the Nazi period that still exist. The notion that the US needs to tear down monuments and expunge an important historical period from public memory–in short, to undergo a cultural revolution a la Mao–is certainly not a Jewish one, so why don’t you give the good rabbi a little peace.

      • The “good rabbi” as you call him is just a shill for the far right.

      • Look, an antisemite such as yourself should keep the word ‘rabbi’ out of your mouth. Very bad things start happening to antisemites when they start using such words.

      • I don’t know. Trump does engage in trollish behavior occasionally, but he does not exist strictly to troll real Jews by being a phony internet joo such as yourself. There’s a difference.

      • Occasionally? Trump trolls every time his handlers give him access to Twitter.

      • Clearly you are too stupid and hysterical to debate. I dislike rabbi Jones (not all rabbis) because he doesn’t write like a MAN OF GOD–he very clearly espouses the far right talking points. My avatar is meant to be satirical because I mostly debate with racists and gun nuts but you are too dense to get it. It doesn’t faze me in the slightest when you call me an antisemite because I’m just the opposite. Go take your meds until you can get a grip on yourself.

      • You merrily celebrate extra-judicial violence in contravention to the laws of the land. You propound anti-semitic lies and conspiracy theories. You dress yourself up with the most disgusting hypocrisy as a defender of religious rectitude. You are a disgrace, and exactly the opposite of what you apparently imagine yourself to be.

      • Let’s see you try to REFUTE some of those statements that you call “far right talking points.” Your only excuse for writing that phrase is that you haven’t seen anyone on the Left making the same points. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why you haven’t seen them do it.

      • You’re being too generous. Trump is a sociopathic narcisst. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself–not even his daughter/wife Ivanka.

      • I guess I should have clarified with a deadpan emoji. Newbie here.

      • I’m not an antisemite at all. Apparently you don’t understand what a “shill” is. Try Google.

      • Nice try with the silent edit! Shamelessly passing along the antisemitic conspiracy theory about rabbis with Russian connections.

        hickjustice indeed!

      • Whoa. Doesn’t mean I agree with Trudeau. He gets a heck of a lot wrong.

        Here’s your arguments:
        -“I have a black friend”

        Yes, I know things about Germany. But thank you.

      • Ah, the ever present charge of whataboutism…. I bet you think you’re clever. “Whataboutism’ implies two sides, like left and right in the political sphere. And yet my point is that the Jewish community itself is universalizing the Holocaust so your point about your interpretation of that portion of my argument is erroneous.

        Any real Jewish person would understand the significance of what Ivanka has done and the President’s embrace of her and her husband. To minimize it by comparing it to “I have a black friend” just demonstrates that you are a total phony and just an internet “joo” likely paid to troll the site under this assumed identity. Good luck joo!!!

      • My wife converted. Nice.

        There’s lots of joooos I don’t agree with, especially on the left. So, I don’t agree with the leaving out the joooos in the yom hashoah statements.

        Thanks man.

    • Well I’m glad I got you to drop the silly English butler talk and the piling on of cliched adjectives. Now all you’ve got to do is work on saying something substantive to back up your claims. Good luck!

  2. No, the reality TV president was wrong the first time and what he spouted was nothing but a false equivalence. When he finally and correctly condemned the neo-nazis, KKK, and other white supremacist bigots he looked like he was trying to pass a gall stone. Trump is a fraud and a disgrace.

    • ‘Moral equivalence’ is in the eye of the beholder. ‘Antifa’ is *sales pitch*. BlackMask *are* fascists in the mode of the Black Shirts, Brown Shirts and Silver Shirts. The ‘Nazis’ were only a small (but very mediagenic) part of the demonstration. The ‘Nazis’ were lawfully assembled and lawfully dispersed when the authorities gave the (possibly illegal) order to do so. BlackMask did not (as well as the ‘counter-demonstrators’ who they like to use as human shields). I think the President made a mistake buckling to media pressure by *not* also calling out BlackMask and the unruly, violent portions of the counter-demonstrators. Thuggery is thuggery. The President was right the first time. You’re just an apologist for BlackMask violence.

  3. Before people make comments, they should gather information. As it turns out, there are many, many hours of video footage of the events in Charlottesville – and they plainly show that the violence (which took place mainly when those there for the rally forced their way through protestors) and that there was representation by anarchist groups. In fact, footage of those in the, apparently unpermitted, march down Waters Street were led by anarchists carrying the Antifa flag and the flag of a communist organization. They were stopped at the intersection with 4th Street because their organizers had been told to halt the procession. Now, we may never know what was in the mind of James Fields. There is one thing for certain – some of the “witnesses” flat out lied. They claimed he had no license plates on his car but they are plainly visible. Some witnesses said he was slowing when he hit the crowd – and this is evident in photographs showing his brake lights plainly on. The rabbi is 100% correc

    Now, the Alt-right needs to tone down its rhetoric regarding Jews. Richard Spenser does hold views that are plainly anti-Semitic. However, he wasn’t the organizer – he was there as a speaker. Regardless, he and the other speakers WERE attacked by people throwing hard objects, including water bottles filled with cement and they were hit in the head. There is a media photograph of a black protestor firing a homemade flame thrower at those assembled for the rally. The ONLY blame that can be laid at those there for the rally is that they scheduled it in the first place. The protestors, on the other hand, were there with violent intent in mind, as evidenced by the baseball bats they pulled out when Fields approached the intersection and afterwards.

  4. The biggest difference between Trump and so called “Jews” like DLC: Trump has Jewish grandchildren.