For a few seconds on Tuesday, I was surprised when I heard the ignorant, offensive, anti-Semitic comments from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. The man has had many low moments these first 90 days, but this was his lowest. In an attempt to justify military actions in Syria, Spencer started explaining how Hitler wasn’t as bad as Syria’s current leaders – which was a completely ignorant line of logic. Then, out of nowhere, he said Hitler never used chemical weapons. Except, he did. For years. He killed millions on innocent people with chemical weapons. He mastered the use of chemical weapons men, women, children, and the elderly. This is Holocaust 101.
Then, the more Spicer tried to fix his screw-up, the worse it got. Spicer eventually issued statement after statement, each with their own new problems.
Soon, I realized it was not that I was surprised by Sean Spicer, but that my mind was just struggling to imagine a scenario in which I would ever say what he had just said.
Because here is the very painful truth, and a huge part of what makes Spicer’s horrendous blathering on Hitler so ugly – it’s actually not surprising at all. Yeah, it’d be surprising for you, or anyone you know for that matter, to say what Spicer said, but it’s simply not surprising for it to come out of the White House. They have a track record that precedes them. Neo-Nazi’s love Trump and his team for good reason. The KKK endorsed him for good reason.
This is the same White House that failed to mention Jews or the Holocaust on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This is the same White House whose Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, who was repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism from his ex-wife – who testified under oath that Bannon did not want his children to attend schools with Jews and that he openly stereotyped Jewish students with insults in her presence. The Anne Frank Center and other Jewish groups have called Bannon out for anti-Semitic statements he has made even in the past few months.
A top Trump aide has deep ties to a Nazi-linked group that he openly represents. This Nazi group recently gushed over how proud they were to see him randomly wearing a medal they gave him to a public event.
Two additional Trump aides were just recently discovered to have worked for designated hate groups.
I’ll stop now, but I could go on and on and on. Trump’s long, direct history of making bigoted comments that offend virtually every group of people imaginable has been widely documented – so much so that I am afraid we’ve grown desensitized to it.
The truth is that what would actually be surprising is if we stopped seeing and hearing this problematic cast of characters saying and doing bigoted stuff. It’s just that bad. The near daily drip of ugliness emanating from the White House is both disgusting and overwhelming. I say overwhelming because as soon as you allow yourself to be genuinely frustrated with something they’ve said or done, they say or do something else horrendously offensive or downright dangerous. It’s hard to keep up.
Sean Spicer should be fired for what he said on Tuesday, but he won’t be. He does so much dirty work for the White House, and tells so many lies for them, that his comments this week are truly just a drop in the bucket. The bar for what it takes to be fired there seems to have nothing to do with bigotry. We’ve reached a new normal where bigotry is fully allowed in the highest forms of government.
And I’ll close with these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Republicans may remain silent about bigotry from Spicer, or Bannon, or Trump, but we must never remain silent – even if the bigotry is not directly targeting black folk. We must never grow complacent. We must never get to the point where we are casual or comfortable with racism or discrimination.