Donald Trump Thinks Being Told of Bomb Threats to Jewish-Americans Citizens Means He’s Being Singled Out as an Anti-Semite

President Donald Trump gave a contentious press conference on February 16, 2017, and during the question and answer period he called on a new face in the press corps, an Orthodox Jew who Trump identified not by name but by being “friendly.” Jake Turx, of Ami Magazine, prefaced his question with an unambiguous claim that no one he knows in the Orthodox Jewish community thinks President Trump or his top advisors are anti-Semitic. President Trump seemed pleased by this assurance. Mr. Turx then asked what the government plans to do about the large number of bomb threats and other threats the Jewish-American community has recently been confronted with.

But as Mr. Turx continued to give shape to his question, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was “not a fair question.” “Sit down,” said the president. “I understand the rest of your question.”

As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, “So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.”

As Mr. Turx tried to turn the president’s attention to the issue of bomb threats, Mr. Trump shushed him with, “Quiet, quiet, quiet.”

“As Mr. Turx shook his head with an incredulous look on his face, Mr. Trump accused him of having lied that his question would be straight and simple.” Laurie Goodstein, February 7, 2017, A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well.

Mr. Trump then said, “I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me. …”

Mr. Trump said it was wrong of Mr. Turx to “get up and ask a very insulting question like that.” The president went on to say that it “just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,” Mr. Trump said.

By this point in the story you’re probably scratching your head like I am and asking yourself, “What’s so insulting about asking how the president plans to deal with a recent surge in anti-Semitism in the United States, including over 40 recent bomb threats?”

Here is a transcript of the entire exchange between Mr. Turx and the president:

Here is a link to a video of the entire press conference.

Laurie Goodstein reported that “Mrs. Frankfurter, Ami Magazine’s senior editor, said it was clear that Mr. Trump was not an anti-Semite and that Mr. Trump ‘must have misheard the question’ from the magazine’s reporter. ‘The president is very sensitive to such an accusation, and we find the fact that he’s sensitive to it reassuring,’ she said, ‘because it means he understands how awful it is to be thought of as an anti-Semite.’”

But the president didn’t misunderstand the question. He decided not to answer it at all and decided that he was being attacked and decided to ignore reality and demean Mr. Turx.

There is nothing reassuring about the president’s complete disregard for Mr. Turx' concern for the potential killing of American citizens by unknown assailants. There is nothing reassuring in the president’s allegation that Mr. Turx was calling him anti-Semitic when Mr. Turx made it painfully clear that he and others in his Orthodox Jewish community have faith that the president is not anti-Semitic. These are the warning signs of severe mental illness, signs that can give no concerned American citizen any sense of reassurance that their leader is fit to lead. 

According to Laurie Goodstein, “after the news conference, Mr. Turx, a pen name, said that he had had conversations on Thursday evening with White House staff members and that he and members of the Orthodox Jewish community were ‘extremely confident' that the White House would give ‘the proper help, guidance and collaboration' on anti-Semitism.”

This is all well and good if these staff members were running the country. But there is an 800 lb gorilla in the room called president Trump who showed such utter lack of concern for the imminent threat of death faced by his fellow citizens, and such a fragile ego, that he chose to respond by lashing out at imagined insults and by demeaning Mr. Turx and his fellow American citizens.

Per Laurie Goodstein, “it was the second time in two days that Mr. Trump was asked to denounce anti-Semitism and offer American Jews a dose of reassurance. In his joint news conference with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Trump responded to a question about anti-Semitism by breezily recounting the size of his Electoral College victory and then reminding the reporters that his daughter, Ivanka, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and their three children — Mr. Trump’s grandchildren — are all Jewish.”

Of course one can be deathly hostile toward strangers and be quite liberal with family and close friends. So these references to Jews in the family and electoral college votes are essentially non-responsive verbiage.

To add a further wrinkle to the futility of using electoral college results as evidence of a positive personal characteristic, let’s see what Mr. Trump really thinks of electoral college victories versus the popular vote.

How can a man announce to the world such passionate hatred of the institution he now lauds?

These diatribes against the electoral college are expanded upon in this interesting article in The Washington Post.

In closing, let there be no question that the president’s exhibitions of what looks like mental illness should be just as worrisome as is the threat of domestic terrorism. Let no one be reassured that Mr. Trump is in full possession of his wits.