Anyone wondering how strongly the president feels about putting an end to anti-Semitism need only look at his statement to the Future Farmers of America after gun violence claimed 11 lives at the Tree of Life synagogue. He called it “frankly, something that is unimaginable.”
What could be a more ringing denunciation than that? This strident condemnation is even clearer than the administration’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement last year, which was already a shining masterpiece of perfection and whose only possible tweak would have been to mention the Jewish people.
Why, the president said "anti-Semitism" four times, including in one whole sentence where he did not quickly mention that other forms of evil are just as bad!
How can anyone say that the president indulges ugly undercurrents with his rhetoric when he comes blazing out after a brutal act of violence such as this and haltingly reads from a teleprompter that "today, with one unified voice, we condemn the historic evil of anti-Semitism, and every other form of evil. And unfortunately, evil comes in many forms"?
His words of comfort rank among those of history's other great statesmen. As Pericles said, "This plague is bad, but, then again, so many things are bad, Athenians."
Or as Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural observed, "If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? But unfortunately slavery is just one of many things that are bad, as you know."
After all, this is really a story about broad, general anti-religiosity against people of all faiths, as Kellyanne Conway was so quick to point out. Not the Jewish congregation that was specifically targeted.
What America needed in this trying time was a president to point out that we should not let the horror of anti-Semitism make us forget lots of other forms of evil. It is important to keep it in its place. We would not want to give it its own special day.
Now is no time for singling out certain things as more relevantly bad than other things, especially when those certain things are off-message. At a time like this, we require a strong statement in which the word "sabbath" is pronounced "sabooth," read with difficulty and strange pauses (for effect, certainly!), like a schoolboy begrudgingly apologizing to the class.
This should put to rest any doubts as to where the president's heart lies in this trying time. This is just as good if not better than refraining from casting aspersions on "globalists," which is, after all, hardly a speech and more just choosing not to whistle.
What could send a clearer signal than this? The deepest truth is what is printed on the teleprompter after something bad has already happened.
"Anti-Semitism and the widespread persecution of Jews represents one of the ugliest and darkest features of human history," Trump read. "The vile, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism must be condemned and confronted everywhere and anywhere it appears. There must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America or for any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice. You know that. You know that very well. You know that very well."
It almost goes without saying.
Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.