In the wake of the horrific shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the country’s voice has been united in condemning such cowardly acts of hatred. The shooting, as stated by the national director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “is a very sad and tragic event which reminds us, as the Museum itself does every day, in the starkest way, where the spread of hatred can lead.” President Obama rightly added, “[w]e must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms.”
Unfortunately, the president must possess a different meaning of “vigilance” and “all its forms” than most Americans do.
Take, for example, the president’s recent failure to denounce the anti-Semitic rant by his long-term spiritual advisor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. On the day before the shooting, a reporter in Hampton Roads, Virginia, recorded Reverend Wright making numerous anti-Semitic comments, including attacks on the president’s closest advisors, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. Reverend Wright blamed “them Jews” for not letting President Obama speak with him. He further asserted that President Obama had compromised his beliefs and the “fiber of his being” for the “Jewish vote” and Jewish lobbying groups.
Hate speech groups immediately denounced Reverend Wright’s remarks. The director for the Chicago chapter of the ADL said that Reverend Wright’s remarks were “classic anti-Semitism in its most vile form.” Likewise, the associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism said, “Yesterday’s events at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum demonstrate that hateful speech can spiral into tragedy and thus cannot go unanswered. Words have consequences, and Reverend Wright has contributed to a dangerous culture of anti-Semitism.”
Yet, when the White House was asked to comment on Reverend Wright’s remarks — on the same day President Obama asked for vigilance — the president gave no comment or denunciation.
Does vigilance not apply to the president’s long-term spiritual advisor? Are his words any less inflammatory or dangerous than the hate-filled words of the neo-Nazi killer? The president’s silence is deafening.
President Obama also was silent three weeks ago when authorities uncovered a plot by four jailhouse Muslim converts to blow up a synagogue in New York City. According to authorities, the four men attempted to acquire plastic explosives and a stinger missile for the sole purpose of killing Jews. There is no doubt that the hate motivating these four Muslim converts is no different or less dangerous than the hate of a neo-Nazi. However, unlike the Holocaust Museum killing, neither the president nor his administration called for vigilance against Islamic extremism.