On Tuesday, April 11, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued an emailed apology for his comments that compared (and ultimately, defended) the acts of Hitler to those of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Spicer attempted to defend Trump’s decision to launch missiles into Syria (instead of proposing refugee reform) due to his compassion toward “innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies” who had been killed since the beginning of Syria’s civil war.
“You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said when asked if he thought Russia would end its alliance with Syria. “So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself, ‘Is this a country that you and a regime that you want to align yourself with?’”
I think Americans should be asking themselves if they want to align themselves with an administration that participates in Holocaust denial, specifically the denial of the gas chambers disguised as showers.
ABC reporter Cecelia Vega gave Spicer the chance to clarify his comments, but Spicer proceeded to dig a deeper hole for himself.
“There was not – he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that,” Spicer said. “But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent – into the middle of towns.”
Spicer’s euphemism for concentration camps downplays the suffering of the Jewish people. For a reason I cannot fathom, Spicer implied Hitler and his Nazi army courteously escorted Jewish people to their deaths. But for Assad to not give the Syrian people any warning? Well, that is just plain rude. One could argue that Spicer failing to call Jewish Holocaust victims innocent as he did the Syrians is far more offensive and anti-semitic.
This is not the White House’s first time making a mistake regarding the Holocaust. Just three months ago, the White House received backlash for failing to mention the Jewish Holocaust victims in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” the White House said. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
While everyone certainly knows who the “victims, survivors, and heroes” of the Holocaust are, this statement could have explicitly acknowledged the Jewish people as the main 6 million targets of the Holocaust. Then again, are terms like anti-semitism in the Trump administration’s vocabulary? Sympathy is clearly not this administration’s strong suit.
Nevertheless, the fact that Spicer participated in the “Oppression Olympics” by comparing the suffering of the Syrians to that of the Jewish people is unacceptable.
Son of two Holocaust survivors and president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Pail Nussbaum put Spicer’s misstep into perspective.
“My family tragedy is my family’s tragedy; it’s not something to be used for other purposes, for someone’s political expediency or cleverness,” Nussbaum said.
Let Spicer’s idiotic mistake serve as a reminder that one can justify and have compassion for the feelings of a marginalized community without undermining the feelings of another.