Beware the Dog Whistle

Once again I turn to my good friend and political junkie Leora Tec for today’s contribution.  Leora is a writer, speaker, and founder & director of  Bridge to Poland.

by Leora Tec

Donald Trump’s interactions with an African-American reporter and a Jewish reporter at his recent “press conference” of February 16, 2017 were deeply disturbing.

What we need to be vigilant of, however, perhaps more than those types of interactions, are the signals this administration has, from the beginning, been sending to the alt-right, to those among his supporters who are bigoted, racist and anti-Semitic. (And no—I am NOT saying that all his supporters fall into this category. I am saying that he appeals to people of this stripe). These signals are called dog whistles because only those whose ears are fine-tuned to pick them up can perceive their hateful tones.

Let’s refresh our memories about what happened at that press conference:

  • African-American reporter April Ryan asked if President Trump was planning to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus. Trump asked if she could arrange the meeting.trump-press-conference_cnn_side-eye_meme
  • Later Trump called on Orthodox Jewish reporter Jake Turx for an “easy question.” Turx asked about an uptick in anti-Semitism in the US.  After telling Turx to sit down, and accusing him of being a liar, Trump proceeded to declare that he (Trump) was the, “least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person…”

Really? When a Jew asks a question about anti-Semitic incidents the “least anti-Semitic person” hears it as an accusation? “The least racist person” thinks an African-American reporter has ties to all Black people and should act as the president’s personal Girl Friday?

The editor of the Daily Stormer  (named after the Nazi-era newspaper Der Stürmer) called Trump’s performance at the press conference “…one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. From start to finish, it was simply beautiful. He blasted the media, the Jews, Mexicans, Obama – all of his/our enemies.” http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.772646

The following week, after visiting the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (with his friend Dr. Ben Carson) Trump did denounce these threats,

“… we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Noble sentiments indeed. So why am I not satisfied?

I am not satisfied because as of this writing no one from the Trump administration has reached out to Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, to work with them on the rise in racist incidents in our country.

I am not satisfied because, as Brooks stated on CNN, the chief architect of the alt-right sits in the West Wing of the White House and has the president’s ear.

I am not satisfied because our Janus-faced president speaks of fighting bigotry as he rolls out a sweeping anti-immigration ban that smacks of intolerance.

I am not satisfied because after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture the President of the United States did not use the word race in his statement, just as he did not use the word the word Jew in his statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary stated that, “It’s ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this it’s never good enough.” No matter how many times, Sean? I think he’s talked about it once.

Here’s a message for the president: It’s going to take more than some hollow recitations of concern, and giving prominent portfolios to your Black friend and your Jewish son-in-law to make us believe that you’re done dog whistling to your alt-right supporters and make those of us who care about an inclusive, multi-cultural and safe America let down our guard.

Beware the dog whistle.

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