Donald Trump is under fire for a tweet describing Hillary Clinton as “crooked” and the “most corrupt candidate ever.” The problem is that the tweet levels these accusations on a red Star of David on top of a pile of $100 bills. Moreover, the image apparently originated on a white supremacist movement message board.
Does this tweet mean that Trump is anti-Semitic? No. Trump is vehemently pro-Israel and his daughter converted to Judaism. Only someone who already despises Trump would conclude that he dislikes or is negatively disposed towards Jews.
But perhaps Trump, though he has nothing against Jews, wanted to appeal through this tweet to those who do. You know, the dog whistle and all that.
I find this theory quite implausible. The political cost of a tweet that many will view as anti-Semitic far outweighs any gain to be had via a nod to anti-Semites. Trump very quickly took the offensive tweet down for just this reason.
How, then, do we explain this tweet? In all likelihood, the image migrated from the white supremacist message board into the twitter-sphere. Someone on Trump’s team saw it and, without realizing its overtones, put it to use.
On a star with five points, this would be a brilliant tweet. On a star with six, it’s offensive, but not so obviously offensive that a hack operative necessarily would see it as such. Sometimes a star with six points is just a star with six points.
If I’m right, the tweet is still scandalous. It demonstrates scandalous incompetence on the part of whoever is in charge of Trump’s twitter account. A great opportunity to hit Hillary Clinton where she’s weakest, on the day she had to answer the FBI’s questions for more than three hours, was squandered and the Trump campaign enabled its enemies to cast the tycoon in a worse light than Clinton.
It’s scandalous that the GOP will nominate an amateur whose campaign is too incompetent to attack Clinton for corruption without shooting itself in the foot. There were a dozen GOP candidates better equipped to run against her.
As disgusted as many of us are about Trump’s impending nomination, however, we should not embrace the view that Trump is anti-Semitic or that he panders to white supremacists. That’s a left-wing slander. Let’s not help the left advance it.