Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The Embarring Note Trump Left At Isreal's Holocaust Memorial
After visiting Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial in Israel, it is tradition for world leaders to leave a message. The differences in these two messages could not be more stark. One was a heartfelt, elegant letter (which you can read in full below) and the other essentially a yearbook scribble from the random dude in your 5th hour algebra class.
President Obama’s letter:
I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man's potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Let our children come here, and know this history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim 'never again.' And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.
It’s a great honor to be here with all of my friends—so amazing + will NEVER FORGET!
The Trump administration is bad at holocausts (and not in a good way). On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House released a statement that didn’t mention Jews. Its press secretary once argued that Adolf Hitler’s use of chemical weapons was less outrageous than Bashar al-Assad’s, because at least the former never used poison gas “on his own people” (Hitler only used that stuff at his “Holocaust centers,” Sean Spicer explained).
The administration has been no more eloquent when broaching America’s homegrown mass atrocities. During a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the president (reportedly) offered the following reflection on the institution of chattel slavery: “Boy, that is just not good.” As for the genocide of Native Americans, Trump has made one of its perpetrators his official presidential role model.
So, it isn’t terribly surprising that Trump refused to allot more than 15 minutes for his trip to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum, on Tuesday. Nor was it unexpected that his inscription in the museum’s “book of remembrance” would be less than moving.
But, it’s still a bit odd that he signed said document as though it were the guest book at a bar mitzvah.