An Open Letter to The National Holocaust Museum:
I called you yesterday to try to find out what in the world you were thinking when you decided to invite Trump to deliver the keynote address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance. You said someone would call me back— maybe because I mentioned that I’m a second generation Holocaust survivor and I mentioned the members of my family who were killed in the concentration camps. As you know, they were death camps, not Holocaust centers.
You never called me back. From what I read, Trump spoke today and used his best words and did his homework this time. He got the numbers right, even if he pronounced Nazi weirdly.
Yes, I understand, every president since the museum opened has given this speech. But, and correct me if I’m wrong, no other president has been endorsed by someone who has Imperial Wizard of the KKK on his resume. No other presidential campaign has been cheered on with the slogan: “Kill the Jews, Vote Trump.” No other president has inspired graffiti that said “Trump is going to finish what Hitler started.” And just to remind you, your keynote speaker never condemned this hate speech.
Inaction speaks louder than words. Even when they are the best words. Trump made the decision to not speak out or call out white supremacists when he most needed to. The White House even tried to pull an “All Lives Matter” when they omitted mention of the Jews in the Holocaust and muddled the facts more than once. Now you have helped Trump repeal and replace his administration’s very distressing anti-Semitic image.
Today, at your Days of Remembrance ceremony, Trump said, “We mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again. I say it, never again.” Which is quite a bit more eloquent than his plea that those engaging in post-election violence should “stop it.”
By giving Trump a platform to spew hollow words, you, National Holocaust Museum, have given him an opportunity to soften his image and perform yet another publicity stunt to dupe less informed Americans. And you have lent a hand in normalizing this presidency. When you try to proceed with decorum and respect you are doing exactly what Trump counts on.
No one wanted to say that not only does the emperor have no clothes, but the emperor is a morally bankrupt Machiavellian opportunist who has laid down in a basket of deplorables. He made a calculated decision to not alienate his racist, white supremacist supporters. In his mind, this isn’t at odds with the fact that he loves his Jewish son-in-law and his daughter who converted to Judaism.
I know he loves Ivanka— he even tweeted his anger that Nordstrom’s was mean to her. I don’t recall him tweeting about the recent reports that confirmed that anti-Semitism is on rise in the US. The Anti-Defamation League just reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 86% in the first quarter of 2017.
Never again is, in fact, happening again. And not just to the Jews. Unicef has said that the Syrian refugee crisis is “the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II.” And I hope the parallels are as clear to you as they became to me, when my daughter and I protested the Muslim ban at the airport in January. Someone gave us a sign with a picture of Anne Frank. It said “Let them in.” I learned that Anne Frank’s father had applied to the US for refugee status two times. He was denied.
Today Donald Trump pledged never again, even as his actions speak otherwise.