Well outside of the Russia scandal that’s at the forefront of national conversation at the moment, President Donald Trump’s rise has given cover to a number of disgusting factions. This week in Rhode Island, some of them made themselves known when a man and woman showed up outside a Providence bar proudly — and apparently seriously — sporting Nazi armbands. The woman also had a shirt with a swastika on it, while the man wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat. They apparently publicly mocked the local Holocaust memorial before going on their way, with no apparent avenue for authorities to stop them.
Local woman Sondra Pierson is one of those who witnessed the incident while sitting inside a bar across the street from the memorial. She confronted the pair and called authorities, but acknowledged that there wasn’t much they might be able to do, telling local media:
‘I literally felt sick to my stomach. I started shaking. Everybody at the bar was just really disturbed.’
Her account of the pair having “leaned on” various statues and taken photos and laughed was “corroborated by another witness at the restaurant,” according to the same local media, the Providence Journal.
Check out a photo she took:
Local Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman told the paper:
‘I certainly think that the Jewish community feels that surge in hostility. It’s a sense that heinous actions and ideas are coming into the light, and are very much designed to cause fear and harassment.’
Locally, the Jewish community has faced incidents like vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Fall River and a widely shared photo of a woman with a Nazi armband at a local mall, both of which occurred last month. At a local Trump-supporting rally in early 2017, a number of demonstrators showed off Nazi salutes and hate speech.
More broadly, the United States has been rocked by hate culminating in violence like the shooting late last year at a Pittsburgh synagogue that claimed the lives of 11 people.
That shooter was acting out of stated rage over Jewish support for asylum seekers that President Donald Trump has spent so much time drumming up hate for. In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting, a number of local leaders rebuffed Trump’s rush to visit, although he still came by anyway — and faced significant protests from community members still reeling from the atrocity.
Overall, he has proven that Jews — and other minorities — worried about acts of violence perpetrated by people like the couple photographed in Nazi garb this week in Providence do not have an ally in the current president of the United States. When confronted with the opportunity to come down hard on white nationalists following intense violence they sparked in Charlottesville, Virginia, in late 2017, he failed, insisting there were “very fine people” on both sides.
Outside of that widely shared incident, he has refused to let up in his campaign against immigrant outsiders that could easily be turned against Jews. He has claimed asylum seekers constitute an “invasion” of the United States, dispatching U.S. Armed Forces to the southern border to confront them, even as there remained a complete lack of evidence for the security threat he claimed.
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