The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned the pro-Donald Trump gathering of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Washington D.C. over this past weekend.
Film of the event, organized by the white supremacist group National Policy Institute, featured group leader Richard Spencer reciting Nazi propaganda in its original German, as well as attendees lifting their hands in the Nazi salute following chants of “Heil the people! Heil victory!”
“The Holocaust did not begin with killings: it began with words,” the Museum said in a statement about the gathering. “The museum calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders and the leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking and divisive hateful speech.”
These kinds of despicable acts are what Donald Trump’s campaign has helped embolden, yet a supposed condemnation of the event from his transition team failed to do any actual condemning:
“President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he was elected because he will be a leader for every American. To think otherwise is a complete misrepresentation of the movement that united Americans from all backgrounds.”
After a surge in hate crimes following Trump’s election, more than 250 Jewish scholars and educators signed a letter last week condemning “hateful and discriminatory language and threats,” and called on Americans to “resist attempts to place vulnerable groups in the crosshairs of nativist racisms.”
The scholars also rightfully slammed the President-elect for failing to adequately address these hateful acts — and for having a part in promoting them himself:
In the wake of Donald Trump’s electoral victory, it is time to re-evaluate where the country stands. The election campaign was marked by unprecedented expressions of racial, ethnic, gender-based, and religious hatred, some coming from the candidate and some from his supporters, against Muslims, Latinos, women, and others. In the days since the election, there have been numerous attacks on immigrant groups, some of which likely drew inspiration from the elevation of Mr. Trump to the presidency of the United States.
Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has provoked.
However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out. We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign. Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names.
The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted–language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic. By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.
We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews. More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others. Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity.