I didn’t post about this last week when it first occurred. It is something that any smart campaign corrects and apologizes for, maybe throw an intern under the bus to blame. A one day news story, move on. But oh no, not “The Donald.” This fool has decided to make this controversy the casus belli of his campaign.
Last Saturday, Trump tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton’s face on a background with $100 bills, next to a red six-pointed star with the text: “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”
There was an immediate reaction on Twitter, with people noting that the red star was the shape of the Jewish Star of David on a field of $100 bills, playing into anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as “money-grubbing merchants.” See, Think Progress, How Donald Trump’s Campaign Collapsed Into An Anti-Semitic Vacuum.
Less than two hours after the initial tweet, the Trump campaign tweeted a new image that replaced the six-pointed star shape with a circle. Someone at the Trump campaign obviously took the anti-Semitic criticism seriously, and tried to correct their error. All the campaign had to do was apologize, and it would have been over.
But oh no. Things started going downhill from there. Everything you wanted to know about Trump and the six-pointed star:
Corey Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager [who is now unbelievably] a commentator on [TeaNN formerly] CNN, appeared on “State of the Union” Sunday morning and was asked about the image. Lewandowski blamed the media and Erickson’s “never-Trump” campaign, and said Trump’s tweet was “a simple tweet,” with “a simple star.”
“It’s the same star that sheriff’s departments across the country use all over the place to represent law enforcement,” Lewandowski said. “And to read into something that isn’t there is — is — you know what? I think, again, that’s the mainstream media trying to attack Donald Trump for something that really isn’t there. So, they put a new tweet up with a circle. The message is the same.
This is total bullshit. Sheriff’s departments that use the six-pointed star have globes on the points of the star. One of these things is not like the other.
And then we discovered where the Trump Tweet image originally came from — a white supremacist:
Mic.com tweets its article reporting that the image originally tweeted by Trump previously appeared on June 22, 2016, on an Internet message board, /pol/. That report and subsequent reports from other outlets found the image was posted as early as June 15, 2016, by Twitter user @FishBoneHead1.
The Associated Press reported that the account “regularly tweeted out anti-Clinton and right-leaning messages and images.” By the afternoon, the account was deleted from Twitter. The post on the /pol/ message board also was deleted. (As PolitiFact wrote, you can still find /pol/ message thread through an archived website.)
Here’s a screenshot of the June 15 tweet, included in Weigel’s story:
Dave Weigel reported that Trump was cheered on in white-supremacist forums, “for apparently declaring his solidarity through not-so-subtle code.” A quote from his story:
“The evangelicals will listen to his pro-Israel statements, while we will listen to his signals,” Andrew Anglin wrote in the Daily Stormer, a racist site named after Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher’s notorious tabloid. “By pushing this into the media, the Jews bring to the public the fact that yes, the majority of Hilary’s [sic] donors are filthy Jew terrorists.”
The Anti-Defamation League called Trump’s tweets “outrageous.”
On July 4, the candidate himself, “The Donald,” broke his silence with his weapon of choice, Twitter, attacking the media:
On Monday, the Trump campaign released a statement attacking the Hillary Clinton campaign for “These false attacks by Hillary Clinton trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior, showing an inscription that says “Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever” with anti-Semitism is ridiculous. ”
The same statement was posted on Trump’s Facebook page, along with a comment from Dan Scavino, Trump campaign social media director, again calling it a sheriff’s star shape:
“The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear.
The sheriff’s badge – which is available under Microsoft’s “shapes” – fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it.
As the Social Media Director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image.”
The Anti-Defamation League released a new statement in response to Trump, reading in part: “It’s long past time for Trump to unequivocally reject the hate-filled extremists orbiting around his campaign and take a stand against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate.”
On Tuesday, the “Clinton campaign posted a video of Trump’s previous comments relating to the white supremacist David Duke, in an apparent reference to the current controversy. (For more, see our full chronology of Trump’s statements about Duke.)”
In his radio interview, Duke praised Trump for his original tweet, and said there was “no way” it was a sheriff’s star, Buzzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported:
“We have situation right now where Trump is being absolutely pummeled for, guess what, posting a tweeting that shows Hillary Clinton with a big — in the midst of thousands of hundred-dollar bills — a big Star of David, and the words ‘the most corrupt candidate ever,’” Duke said. “And Trump tweeted this: ‘Hillary Clinton the most corrupt candidate ever.’ Now of course, the media immediately came out and said that this was ‘anti-Semitic.’ But of course, it’s all true. We’re not talking about something that’s not true.”
On Wednesday, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, wrote an op-ed in his publication, the Observer. Kushner suggested Trump was “careless” in retweeting the original image, but was not an anti-Semite or racist:
“My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite.
It’s that simple, really. Donald Trump is not anti-Semitic and he’s not a racist. Despite the best efforts of his political opponents and a large swath of the media to hold Donald Trump accountable for the utterances of even the most fringe of his supporters—a standard to which no other candidate is ever held—the worst that his detractors can fairly say about him is that he has been careless in retweeting imagery that can be interpreted as offensive.”
During a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Trump defended his original tweet (starts around 31-minute mark): “The star — which is a star, not a Star of David — when they told me it’s the Star of David, I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. How sick are they?’” He said he wished his campaign staff had not deleted the tweet carrying the star.
“They took the star down. I said, ‘Too bad, you should’ve left it up.’ I would’ve rather defended it. Just leave it up, and say, ‘No, that’s not a Star of David. That’s just a star. It’s also about ‘Corrupt Hillary, Corrupt Hillary.’”
You really have to watch Trump’s rant in Cincinnati to fully appreciate just how unhinged his meltdown was. Once the event in Cincinnati was over, Trump took to Twitter to drive home his point about being unfairly maligned on the alleged Star of David tweet.
Within minutes, various media outlets pointed out that Trump did not appear to care that the star on the book was not superimposed over a pile of money as it was in his Clinton tweet, nor did he acknowledge that the image he used originated from an alt-right Twitter personality who cribbed it from a heavily anti-Semitic internet forum. (h/t Think Progress).
The media villagers have been brutal to Trump. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote Donald Trump is committing campaign malpractice. The Post’s Aaron Blake added, How not to handle a Donald Trump controversy, in 5 easy steps.
And Charles Pierce of Esquire for the win. This Man Should Not Be Nominated:
Nobody who watched He, Trump throw a public nutty in Cincinnati on Wednesday night can conclude anything beyond the fact that the Republican Party is preparing to nominate for president someone who has left the rails so far behind that he couldn’t look back and see them anymore than the umpires could use the Juno spacecraft out by Jupiter to judge a close play at first base in tonight’s game between the Brewers and the Nationals. The ship, in the immortal words of Micheal Ray Richardson, be sinking.
This isn’t even a close call any more. Even The New York Times can’t wave the Great Wand of Objectivity and make the obvious derangement of the presumptive Republican nominee disappear any more.
Pierce observes,”Bughouse. The man is literally bughouse. He shouldn’t be nominated.”
The controversy continues today with Trump’s son-in-law receiving pushback from members of his own family over using his grandparents’ Holocaust stories in the op-ed he wrote defending Trump against charges of anti-Semitism. Kushner’s cousins say family Holocaust stories should have been off-limits in Trump defense.
Donald Trump’s vigorous defense of an image widely regarded as anti-Semitic has alarmed many Jewish Americans, who are growing increasingly fearful that someone who could be the next president is willing to stoke the kinds of stereotypical attacks that have haunted Jews for generations around the world.
Rabbis and other Jewish community leaders point to a moment of reckoning following a Wednesday night appearance in which Trump, with his voice raised, defended the use of a six-point star, which resembled the Star of David, mounted over a pile of $100 bills as part of an attack against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The image previously appeared on a website popular with white supremacists.
“That was a turning point for many,” said Lisa Spies, a veteran Republican fundraising consultant and former staffer of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “It forced people to say, ‘I’m going to hold off right now,’ or to say, ‘I just can’t vote for this guy.’ ”
Added Bethany Mandel, a conservative writer who has gained attention for past criticisms of the ties between some Trump supporters and hate groups: “This past week has been really scary as a Jew in America.”
The concern expressed by many Jews is that Trump, who earlier this year was slow to condemn former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and has on several occasions retweeted messages from white supremacists, is bringing into the mainstream a sentiment that has largely been relegated to the dark underworld of the Internet.
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To some Jewish clergy, the disregard for their feelings demonstrated by a presumptive major-party presidential nominee, combined with online messages from hate groups cheering him on, was a shocking development.
“He was defending it with such passion. Shouting and screaming and regretting the fact that it was taken off and replaced,” said Philip Scheim, a Toronto rabbi who is president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the New York-based international association of rabbis from Judaism’s Conservative movement. “Before, there was this subtle tinge of anti-Semitism. Once it’s pointed out clearly — somebody took it off his account and replaced it — even then, to still stand up for it, is kind of mind-boggling.”
The controversy has put the Republican Jewish Coalition, a prominent group of GOP donors and activists that endorsed Trump earlier this year, in a deeply uncomfortable position. While the episode has subsumed the candidate’s campaign, the RJC has remained largely quiet. The group did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump was criticized in December after he told an RJC meeting that he was a negotiator, “like you folks,” but that he felt the group was not going to support him “because I don’t want your money.”
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Brad D. Rose, a New York intellectual property lawyer and RJC board member, told The Post that Trump’s tweet was indicative of a “reckless” campaign. He said he does not think Trump is anti-Semitic but that the candidate probably “blindly and ignorantly approved the tweet without being coached as to the connotations that could be derived from the imagery.”
“Donald Trump has made the bed in which he now lies, whether it be by design, negligence, outright stupidity or all of the above,” Rose said.
Read the whole report, it is a brutal assessment of Donald Trump and his campaign.