When does stupidity become evil?
Well, we now have the answer.
You know, we’ve been hearing a whole lot recently about Syria having crossed a red line. But there are all kinds of red lines.
Which brings us to President The Donald and the collection of wackos, crazies, fascists, unfeeling, heartless, lying cretins he surrounds himself with.
Now, on one level, it’s all kind of amusing. It was fun to watch how Miss Spinmaster Kelleyanne Conway made a fool of herself time after time. Pushing Ivanka’s fashion line from inside the White House. Assuring us that Michael Flynn had the “full confidence of the president” about three hours before he was fired. Bemoaning the lack of media coverage for a terrorist attack that never took place. Warning us to be careful because our microwave ovens might be eavesdropping on us.
Insane, inappropriate, untruthful, immoral, but kind of funny. Things started to stop being funny when the Trumpinistas pushed hard for a healthcare plan that would rob 24 million people of health insurance, would end the ban on not accepting people with pre-existing conditions, thus once again allowing health insurance companies to be the heartless bastards they are, refusing to cover people who are sick, kicking off people who get sick. But the Trumpettes made such a botch of pushing their own plan that it all was sort of amusing once it was clear their insane plan was going nowhere.
But I’m not laughing anymore.
I take the Holocaust very, very personally. My father was in several concentration camps. His father, my zayde, for whom I was named, was worked and starved to death in a concentration camp. His mother, my bubbie, his sister, my tante, were murdered shortly after arriving at Auschwitz.
All that, all that loss and pain, has shaped my life in ways I understand and in ways I do not. And so when our imbecilic president issued a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and did not once use the word Jews, I was not happy. And when he three times in two days at two press conferences, refused to condemn anti-Semitism, even insulting an Orthodox reporter in the process, I was really not happy.
But now the Trumpees have crossed what is a red line for me. What press secretary Sean Spicer said made me literally sick to my stomach. What he said was that my zaydie, bubbie and tante were not in concentration camps but in “Holocaust centers,” which makes them sound like some kind of spa. What he said was that Hitler wasn’t all that bad, I mean certainly not as bad as Bashar Assad, since Hitler didn’t ever use chemical weapons and Assad has.
“Someone who is despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” he began. And when a reporter was nice enough to ask him if he really meant to say what he said, thus giving him a chance to redeem himself, Spicer made it even worse. Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way Assad is doing,” Spicer said, adding that the Nazis only used chemical weapons in “Holocaust centers.”
The stupidity is truly stupendous. So much so that it crosses a red line and goes way beyond stupidity to evil. And yes, I know the power of the word evil.
But what but evil is it for the chief spokesman for the president of the United States to say Hitler may have been bad, but Assad is worse. Yes, of course, Assad is barbaric, has killed tens of thousands, but Hitler, need we be reminded, killed six million. Including yes, some who were his own citizens, were citizens of Germany. Not that that makes a damn bit of difference. They were human beings, they were Jews, and they were murdered in cold blood because they were Jews, were considered not to be human beings.
Spicer’s obscenity that sure, Hitler was no boy scout but at least he didn’t kill his ‘own citizens,’ as Assad has, is way bad enough. But to not use the word concentration camps and instead refer to them as the absurdly innocent sounding ‘Holocaust centers’ is even worse.
But worst of all is to blatantly deny the existence of Nazi gas chambers, to insanely deny the fact the Nazis did use chemical weapons. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed in “gas vans” – sealed trucks with the engine exhaust rerouted into the luggage compartment. The trucks were loaded with people who suffocated from the toxic fumes during the ride.
The fact is that millions of Jews were murdered in gas chambers in the Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz concentration camps by means of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and especially by the cyanide-based gas Zyklon B. The fact is that it was Nazi scientists who created and weaponized sarin gas, Assad’s killing agent of choice.
Spicer insulted all Jews alive today, insulted the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, gave aid and comfort to all Holocaust deniers out there, put his obscene words out there for the entire world to hear.
Hitler used chemical weapons to kill more people than anyone else has in all of human history. That’s not a minor fact, not something to be brushed aside by a press secretary eager to make a buffoonish clown like Trump seem like a military hero. To minimize the horror of the Holocaust is not a small thing.
Holocaust denial, trying to make Hitler seem less evil, is the very definition of evil. That the words were uttered in the White House by the president’s voice to the world, requires the creation of a new word signifying an evil that is mind blowing and heart shattering.
To be so desperate to justify something the Donald did, namely bomb Syria, by painting Assad not only as a new Hitler but in fact as worse than Hitler, requires a lack of knowledge, of history, of decency that is stunning. To make it seem as if the Jews of the Holocaust died by more innocuous means, that they were not herded into gas chambers, murdered by Nazis using Zyklon B, and that it all took place in ‘Holocaust centers’ is the very embodiment of evil.
And to show just how much it’s all politics for these Trumpards, how making the Donald look good is more important than anything, it was nauseating to hear Spicer, when he was forced to issue a meaningless perfunctory apology, make sure to apologize for hurting Trump. “I didn’t want to be a distraction from the president’s agenda.”
Are you kidding me? What the hell place did saying that have in a two sentence apology for having desecrated the memories of the six million. Could he not just have apologized about the insult he made to Jews without making sure to leaven it with gee, I’m sorry that it took attention away from The Donald’s tax reform plan.
If you want to hear what a statement should sound like listen to the words of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect: “On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death. Spicer’s statement is the most evil slur upon a group of people we have ever heard from a White House press secretary.”
There’s no more humor in all this, nothing funny about all this. It’s not funny that such an ignorant president would pick such an ignorant press secretary and not funny that such an ignorant press secretary thought he was doing his job, puffing up the president’s brilliance in handling Assad, that he either knowingly or unwittingly lessened what Hitler did and who Hitler was, made it out that there were no gas chambers, that the Holocaust victims were somehow not as dead because after all they weren’t Hitler’s ‘own citizens.’ I mean killing Jews is nothing compared to Assad killing his ‘own people.’
Trump somehow couldn’t bring himself to use the word Jews in commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Sean Spicer somehow couldn’t bring himself to say concentration camps when talking about the places Jews were sent to be gassed to death.
Words matter. History matters.
What in the hell is the matter with the people running this country? Nothing is easier than denouncing anti-Semitism. Nothing is easier than mentioning the Jews in a statement about the Holocaust. Nothing is easier than saying that Hilter killed more people than anyone ever has by using chemical weapons, and that he did so in concentration camps.
And yet Trump and his ventriloquist dummy couldn’t, didn’t, wouldn’t do even that.
Spicer may have said that Hitler could have been worse, but no one can deny that there has been nothing worse in all of American political history than what Sean Spicer said.
Research assistance by Golda Shira