It was odd that Donald Trump did not want to go to visit the family members of those 11 people a mass shooter killed as they were in their synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After all, one of the primary roles of a president of these United States is to give comfort and unite Americans in times of tragedy. After over 70,000 people signed a letter urging him to stay away, he changed his mind about going. Here is why.
The Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto (D), along with a number of Jewish faith leaders pled with the president to not come. They argued that this was a time of mourning, not only for the families, but for the entire community and the entire city. The mayor also noted that there was not enough local security to protect the families, the funerals, and the president. According to The Washington Post:
‘We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and to be able, at the same time, (to) draw attention away to a potential presidential visit.’
Trump ignored their pleas and pushed forward with his plan to visit. One of the families of the fallen has refused to see him, others have demurred. Daniel Halle said that in part, the family objected to Trump’s comments immediately following the shooting. Halle said:
‘Everybody feels they were inappropriate. He was blaming the community.’
A Progressive Jewish organization, Bend the Arc, wrote a the letter to Trump, which tens of thousands signed. It said in part:
‘For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.’
At last, Rabbi of Tree of Life Chuck Diamond, where the shooting occurred, also pled with Trump to at least give these mourners some room. He said:
‘I would plead with the President to wait. I would also hope he would come in and offer his condolences after we have buried them and had a chance to mourn.’
Just hours after the mass shooting, Trump insisted upon attending a campaign trail rally. POTUS has not explained why he insisted on coming to Pittsburgh when he was not welcome. Perhaps, that is the answer in itself.
Just days ago, the president proclaimed that he was a “nationalist.” He claimed that his interpretation of the word meant “patriot.” If so, it begs the question — why not just say “patriot” then? Most Americans see the word as meaning “white nationalist.”
Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have refused the president’s invitation to join him on the trip. These included: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.).
First Lady Melania Trump will be traveling to Pittsburgh with the president. First daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are both Jewish, will also attend. Their plan was to arrive mid-afternoon and stay four hours.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.