Second Gentleman Emhoff: 'Antisemitism is dangerous, we cannot normalize this'

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The White House convened a conference after antisemitic incidents hit an all-time high in 2021.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, speaking on Wednesday at a White House roundtable with a group of Jewish leaders, called out antisemitism as "dangerous" and argued that all Americans "have an obligation to condemn these vile acts."

Referring to his Jewish identity, Emhoff said in his remarks, "I'm in pain right now, we're all in pain right now. Our community's in pain. It hurts — it hurts me to see what we're going through right now, what all people are going through right now."

He said that the refusal to condemn antisemitism leads to violence:

Antisemitism is dangerous. We cannot normalize this. We all have an obligation to condemn these vile acts. We must all — all of us — cannot stay silent. And there is no either or on this one, there's no both sides-ism on this one. There's only one side: Everyone, all of us, must be against this, must be against antisemitism. And we know, when people refuse to condemn this vile speech and these vile acts, refuse to condemn them, it only serves to ignite violence. Violence among extremists.

In his remarks, Emhoff cited statistics released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in an April report, which said that 2021 had the highest number of antisemitic incidents since the organization began tracking data in 1979.

According to the group, 2,717 incidents, including assault, harassment, and vandalism, were reported in 2021 — an average of seven incidents per day. That number represented a 35% increase from 2020.

The Biden administration's decision to hold the event follows a documented increase in antisemitic incidents around the country and comes after a controversial meeting between former President Donald Trump, white nationalist Nick Fuentes, and rapper Ye — an admirer of Adolf Hitler who was recently suspended from Twitter and Instagram for his antisemitism — at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

While the White House and Democrats condemned the meeting at Mar-a-Lago, few Republicans did the same.

"Bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America - including at Mar-a-Lago," the White House said in a statement following the event.

"For a former president to sit down and have dinner with a high-profile antisemite is disgusting and dangerous," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Nov. 28.

On Dec. 2, President Joe Biden tweeted:

I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.

Republicans officials have largely not condemned the meeting between Trump and Fuentes.

Following the dinner, PBS surveyed 57 congressional Republicans if they condemned the meeting; most did not respond. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed that Trump had condemned Fuentes, but that did not happen. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned antisemitism and white supremacy, but did not specifically name Trump in his remarks.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was one of the few Republicans who directly criticized Trump's actions.

"I condemn white supremacy and antisemitism. The president should never have had a meal or even a meeting with Nick Fuentes," Collins said on Nov. 28.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.