Many people are familiar with the saying, “Never blame on malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.” It is this principle which is leading people to blame Sean Spicer’s recent unspeakably awful gafffe, when he said at a daily press briefing that Hitler never gassed anyone, on his incompetence.
Sometimes, however, a cigar is just a cigar.
Donald Trump once told a reporter, “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Trump’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, is an antisemite who ran the antisemitic Breitbart before ascending to the White House. Sebastian Gorka, another advisor on the White House’s payroll, is pretty darn close to being an actual, honest-to-goodness Nazi. Trump’s campaign was laced with antisemitism, he was supported by David Duke and the KKK, he refused to renounce their support, and the KKK praised the ascension of their “savior” on the day after Trump’s election. Trump’s reaction to the dramatic upsurge in antisemitic incidents in the United States since his election was to blame it on his enemies trying to make him look bad. His White House’s official statement about Holocaust Remembrance Day somehow neglected to mention Jews or antisemitism, an omission which they defended when called out on it by individuals, interest groups, and politicians across the political spectrum.
Supposed “gaffes” are a favorite method of politicians for communicating messages they can’t otherwise get away with. This is particularly true of antisemites. Here’s how it works:
- A politician says something awful, or a spokesman says it on his behalf.
- A backlash erupts.
- The speaker issues an apology which, more often than not, doesn’t exactly admit that the original statement was wrong.
- The people who actually agree with the the awful thing that was said, know that the apology was only made out of political expediency, and that they can continue to count on their guy actually believing the awful thing he said.
- The politician now says, “What else do you want from me? I apologized. This is a non-issue. Drop it.” The press moves on.
TL;DR When it comes to antisemitism, past performance is a guarantee of future results. The Trump White House has a proven track record of antisemitism and Holocaust denial. Denying that Hitler gassed people wasn’t a gaffe or a mistake, it was an accurate representation of the White House position on the Holocaust.