Jewish community centers across the United States are operating in a climate of fear after a fifth wave of bomb threats aimed at Jews on Monday that targeted at least 13 community centers and eight schools in a dozen states.
A top Trump surrogate — hedge funder Anthony Scaramucci, who fundraised for the Trump campaign, joined his transition team, and was in the running for a senior role in the White House — took to Twitter on Tuesday to imply that these threats could be coming from Democrats, rather than from a radical far-right wing that has been emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric and staff choices.
In his first tweet, he referred to a report about Democratic Party-aligned activists who staged raucous protests at Trump events — a far cry from calling in bomb threats against a religious minority.
Scaramucci’s tweets are only the latest sign that the Trump administration, those close to the president, and the wider Republican Party are fundamentally unwilling to either acknowledge or challenge the wave of far-right hate crimes in the United States that has in recent months targeted a wide set of religious and racial minority groups.
Part of their strategy has been to deny any links between Trump’s rhetoric, far-right ideology, and the recent hate crimes.
Trump ally and former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum appeared on CNN last week to imply, without evidence, that the wave of antisemitic hate crimes is largely coming from Muslim-Americans. Following a neo-Nazi march in Montana, Republican lawmakers there are advancing legislation to crack down on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that seeks to hold Israel accountable for human rights abuses — an implication that the Arab American-led movement is responsible for anti-Semitism.
The Trump administration reacted callously last week following a hate crime in Kansas that gained global attention, where a man shot and killed a man of Indian origin and wounded two others, believing them to be Iranian.
When asked whether there was any link between the shooter’s beliefs and Trump’s harsh rhetoric against Muslims, the White House declined to even consider the possibility. “Any loss of life is tragic,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer replied, “but I’m not going to get into, like, that kind of — to suggest that there’s any correlation [to Trump’s rhetoric] I think is a bit absurd.”
Spicer was also asked last week if Trump condemns Islamophobia in general, and he offered no comment, instead making an awkward and telling pivot to the administration’s agenda against “radical Islam.”
“If you come here or want to express views that seek to do our country or people harm, he’s going to fight it aggressively,” he replied — to a question about Islamaphobia. “So there’s a big difference between preventing attacks and making sure that we keep this country safe, so that there is no loss of life.”