Friday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. As you may have heard, the White house marked the occasion with this statement:
It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.
In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.
Can you see what's missing?
Jake Tapper at CNN sure did, writing: WH: No mention of Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day because others were killed too.
Trump's staff bristled at the suggestion that anything was amiss. The White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism because "despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered," administration spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN.
But as Anti-Defamation League Director Jonathan Greenblatt told Tapper, the entire point of this day of remembrance is to counter people who say "lots of people suffered, not just Jews," (emphasis added).
The United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only because of Holocaust denial but also because so many countries — Iran, Russia, Poland and Hungary, for example — specifically refuse to acknowledge Hitler's attempt to exterminate Jews, "opting instead to talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what is was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people.
Downplaying or disregarding the degree to which Jews were targeted for elimination during the Holocaust is a common theme of nationalist movements like those seen in Russia and Eastern Europe, Greenblatt said.
Jonathan Freedland also chimed in. His headline in The Guardian, Calling the Holocaust ‘sad’ is the first step towards denying it ever happened, sums up his views. In that article, he wrote:
As anyone who has seen "Denial," the new film about the 2000 libel trial brought by David Irving against the historian Deborah Lipstadt, will know, Holocaust denial can take many forms. In the face of all the evidence, there are those who say that six million Jews were not murdered by the Nazis; or that the gas chambers never existed; or that Adolf Hitler had nothing to do with it. There is another strand, too; one denying that Jews were specifically targeted for extermination. Even though the Nazis infamously referred to their mass killings of Jews as “the final solution to the Jewish problem,” this form of Holocaust denial seeks to negate that core fact — to suggest that the second world war saw lots of people get killed, and that Jews suffered just like everyone else; no more and no less.
In other words, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Trump administration issued a classic Holocaust denial statement. Asked for some clarification, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus doubled down. As The New York Times reported,
Mr. Priebus continued, “I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust including obviously, all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred — it’s something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad.”
He added: “If we could wipe it off of the history books, we would. But we can’t.”
How many code words and dog whistles can you spot in that statement, including the part about wiping the Holocaust "off of the history books"?
But wait, there's more. In case anyone missed that message, on the same day the White House issued "Muslim Ban" orders imposing a religious test, temporarily forbidding refugees and all people from seven majority-Muslim countries where Trump doesn't own businesses from entering the United States — even people already on airplanes with valid visas, and immigrants who had been through the required (minimum of) 18 months of "vetting."
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani explained to Fox News host Jeanine Pirro why the administration is calling the Muslim ban a secular "national security" measure,
So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, "Muslim ban." He called me up. He said, "Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally."..And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us.
Priebus later said that more countries could be added, saying "Perhaps other countries need to be added to an executive order going forward."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's twitter feed highlighted the synchronization of the Holocaust-denial statement and the Muslim-banning executive order,
It Gets Scarier
This, at the Trump-applauding site Breitbart, is one of the scarier things to read about what is happening to our government, Donald Trump’s ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’ is Much Broader Than Expected, (read the whole thing, but this stands out)
This hiring rule means that Trump’s top deputies will use of the White House’s Office of Personnel Management to pick the people tasked with enforcing the new policy. This top-level direction can help bypass bureaucratic opposition within various agencies.
The new rules also create a new office to help spotlight the suffering of Americans attacked by illegal immigrants. That p.r. office will provide a steady supply of news and drama to focus public attention on crimes by illegal immigrants — and it will also help defeat claims by advocates of immigration that Trump is breaking up families of illegal immigrants.
Further, the Trump administration has hired anti-immigration lobbyist Julie Kirchner to help run the Customs and Border Protection agency. Kirchner, a former Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) executive director, has been named chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization that, among other things, tracks white-supremacist organizations. Its profile of the anti-immigration group states:
FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.
Trump was sworn in less than two weeks ago. So far, our government is engaging in Holocaust denial and subjecting visitors to our country to a religious test. The former executive director of a white-supremacist group is being charged with running the office that "rounds up" undocumented immigrants. Despite its own hiring freeze, his administration is creating a PR office that will broadcast propaganda aimed at spreading fear of newcomers. And this list omits plenty of outrages.
After the election "many people were saying" that the worst-case scenario was Trump doing any of the things he vowed in the campaign. That's already a best-case scenario.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their OurFuture site. I am a Fellow with CAF, a project of People's Action. Sign up here for the OurFuture daily summary and/or for People's Action's Progressive Breakfast.