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Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has come under a barrage of understandable criticism for tweeting an anti-Semitic image over the weekend.
His wholly inadequate response – and that of some of his backers – is possibly even more worrying than the original offense and has only raised new doubts about his fitness to lead our nation as President.
Trump and some of his backers have an automatic default response to all those who have accused him of racism or misogyny over the course of an ugly campaign that has been replete with examples of both.
They say the criticism is an example of “political correctness run amok.”
In the case of the image he tweeted from his personal account on Saturday, showing his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton on a backdrop of $100 bills with what looks like a Star of David with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” written inside, Trump tapped into one of the deadliest and most poisonous blood libels in history.
Trump followed up by claiming it was an image of a sheriff’s badge – but reporters quickly tracked down the origin of the image and found it came from a white supremacist, neo-Nazi site. As USA Today said, “It appears to have originated on the Twitter account of an obsessive racist and anti-Semite who on June 22 tweeted out a swastika adorned with multiple images of Hillary Clinton.”
It’s deeply disturbing that someone in the Trump campaign is apparently trawling through racist websites to find images that the candidate can tweet. It’s equally appalling that the candidate himself cannot see an anti-Semitic image when confronted with one. And it’s disgusting that he lacks the backbone and moral fiber to apologize for a mistake – but rather prefers to hit back at his critics.
The fact that the image was quickly replaced is not good enough. Trump cannot now pretend ignorance about where the image he tweeted came from. He should investigate and fire the person or persons responsible and he should apologize without reservation.
Only then would he put to rest this horrible event.
Alan Elsner is Special Advisor to the President at J Street. He’s on Twitter at @alanelsner