When I heard that President Trump would be giving the keynote this Tuesday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Day of Remembrance, I was both sickened and angered: sickened that he is speaking, and angry that he was asked to do so.
While every president since 1993 has delivered the National Day of Remembrance keynote, the idea of Donald Trump standing up there feels so disingenuous, it makes my stomach turn: as a Jewish woman—and as a mother of young kids growing up in this very divided country.
As many media outlets have noted, this is a president who didn’t mention Jews or address the rise in anti-Semitism in its statement honoring International Holocaust Remembrance Day back in January … and didn’t see a problem with it. This is a president who has knowingly put white supremacists and anti-Semites in his Cabinet. This is a president who supports French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, a known anti-Semite who has Jews in France fearing for their lives. And this is a man who, as recently as the campaign trail, made “Jew jokes,” which he probably thought he could get away with because of the Jews in his family. (Note to 45: just because someone has a Jewish daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren doesn’t mean you have free reign to crack anti-Semitic jokes that just ignite stereotypes).
Furthermore, this is a president who has flirted with hate and intolerance, trying everything in his power in these first 100 days to lock up our borders, including turning away Syrian refugees. None of the people he’s targeted have caused a terrorist attack in this country, but all of them need a safe place to call home and have gone through the painstaking but appropriate channels to get here.
The American way should be to reach out, to extend a helping hand to those suffering and in need. But that’s not 45’s way. Trump is exactly the kind of person who, I believe, would willingly allow another Holocaust–or genocide–to happen simply because of his “America First” stance (which flies in the face of the connected/interdependent world which we live in today).
How could a man like this ever be a role model to my children!?
And yet … This man will stand up there Tuesday in the Capitol rotunda and speak to us about the horrors of the Holocaust … when humanity–by turning a blind eye to Hitler and his people–allowed the extermination of six million Jews.
I hate the phrase “I can’t even” but in this case I have to say it … I can’t even.
In his speech, he may even read the words, “Never again,” or “Never forget,” but I won’t believe a word he says. How can anyone believe that this man has any a shred of empathy in his body when he spent the entire campaign season spewing hate? How can we trust him to look out for us (Jews) when he’s surrounded himself with people who hate us? His closest advisor even uses arguably anti-Semitic terms against Trump’s own son-in-law.
Honestly, I wish the National Holocaust Memorial Museum had bucked tradition and asked someone else to speak this year instead of the current president. Because while I fully understand it’s customary for the president to give the address, having him speak just feels like slap in the face to Jews everywhere and to the memories of the six million Jews who perished in concentration camps at the hands of a madman.
While I haven’t yet explained the horrors of the Holocaust to my kids (3 and 6), it’s one of those things I know we’ll have to talk about eventually–like 9/11—and rest assured, we will when the time is right.
But I can tell you with 100% certainty: unless I plan to give my kids a lesson on hypocrisy, the time will not be right tomorrow, when in the ultimate irony, Donald Trump stands up to deliver a speech commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day.