By Rosie Alger
Elm Staff Writer
Sean Spicer has made another idiotic and offensive comment during a press conference, and people are calling for his resignation. In a statement that was supposed to be about the Trump administration’s view on Russia’s association with Syria, Spicer compared Syrian President Bashar Assad to Adolf Hitler, and then insinuated that he was morally worse than Hitler. Forgetting the millions who died at the hands of gas chambers in concentration and termination camps, Spicer said, “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” when trying to villainize Syria’s use of chemical warfare.
Not only did Spicer fail to grasp the offensive nature of what he was saying, he made matters worse by clarifying with this follow up statement: “He was not using the gas on his own people the same way that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is doing. He brought them into the Holocaust Center, I understand that. But I’m saying in the way Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent — into the middle of towns. It was brought — the use of it, I appreciate the clarification. That was not the intent.” This language shows the privilege, ignorance, and carelessness Spicer has in regards to the Holocaust survivors and the Jewish population, and reflects such qualities upon the entire administration.
A statement as thoughtless and offensive as this should receive backlash any time, but especially during Passover, many are demanding Spicer’s resignation or dismissal. Scott Horsley at NPR said, “The Holocaust Museum in Washington took Spicer to task via Twitter, showing footage of what American forces found when they liberated the death camp at Buchenwald. The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect went further, calling on President Trump to fire Spicer.”
These kinds of insensitive comments are not new to the administration. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Spicer neglected to mention the Jewish people in his speech. Of course, many are rightfully outraged at these comments, but the press slip-ups signify an underlying problem in the current administration.
Ultimately, many Neo-Nazis have transformed themselves into well dressed “alt-right” politicians and are taking to the White House with leaps and bounds. These kinds of comments do not come out of a vacuum. They come from a collection of people that see the Holocaust very differently, and use such ideas to fuel their hate and prejudice. Spicer is not a foolish, odd-ball who does not know how to speak publicly. He is a representative of our White House’s values and beliefs.
In a call for Spicer’s dismissal, Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “While Jewish families across America celebrate Passover, the chief spokesman of this White House is downplaying the horror of the Holocaust. Either he is speaking for the President, or the President should have known better than to hire him.”
The fact of the matter is that Spicer is speaking for the President. These comments are not just offensive. They are dangerous, and they show us what lies underneath the armor of well-tailored suits worn by our current leaders.
Furthermore, even if Spicer had spoken about the Holocaust respectfully and thoughtfully, even using it as an example at all in a dialogue about U.S. relations or perceptions of Syria shows a dramatic desire on the White House’s part to inundate the country with propaganda style rhetoric. Relationships in Syria are complicated, and to have the White House Press Correspondent, who is supposed to be relaying information reliably, use language fraught with loaded emotions, and to have him misconstrue a horrific genocide for his own benefit, goes beyond the problem of fake news.
In an attempt to clear up the gaffe, Spicer appeared on CNN. He said, “I apologize. It was a mistake to do that. It was insensitive and inappropriate. I should have stayed focused on the Assad regime and the dangers they have brought to their own people and the terrible atrocities they did and to drag any other comparisons into this was not appropriate.”
This apology isn’t getting him very far, however. It’s going to take a lot more than brushing this horrible comment aside to prove to me, and many other concerned and scared Americans, that this administration is not wrought with Neo-Nazis, propaganda, and prejudice.