Aphasia is an inability to comprehend and formulate language because of damage to the brain.
People with aphasia are intelligent, but they can have occasional trouble finding words. Sometimes, they lose the ability to speak, read, or write.
I know a little about this; my late mother had been working on her Ph.D on the subject. Her note cards were still piled up in the den when she died.
When it comes to the uttering of the word “Jew” in connection with the Holocaust, Donald Trump suffers from aphasia.
He simply cannot find the word.
This past Friday, President Trump issued a statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
To coin a phrase: how was this statement different from other past presidential statements on the subject?
Trump’s statement mentioned the “victims, survivors, heroes.”
Nothing about the Jews.
Today, on Meet the Press, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus defended the omission of the Jews from the statement.
To restate the classic line from Love Story: “Trump means never having to say you’re sorry.”
This omission of the Jews is bizarre, even for Trump.
Let’s talk about Trump’s Jewish supporters.
They are the Jews who are the most “tribal” (so am I, but that’s another story).
They support him because they believe that he will be strong on Jewish issues — the uniquely Jewish claim to Israel, and one might think, the centrality of Jews in the Holocaust.
They would be precisely the kind of Jews who would say: “The most important lessons to be learned from the Holocaust is a uniquely Jewish lesson: never again!”
But, Trump didn’t mention the Jews in his Holocaust statement. They got lost in a cloud of other victims.
Wait a second. This is straight out of the playbook — of Jews on the Left.
Jews on the Left (and center) would be the ones most likely to say: a. not only Jews died; b. the Holocaust has lessons for all humanity.
That is why so many Jewish groups have been first in line to protest this administration’s restrictions on refugees. I stand with those groups in protest.
These are the Jews who will say: “Never again” means “never again” — not for the Jews, and not for anyone.
In universalizing the Holocaust, and omitting any mention of the Jews, Trump has betrayed his Jewish supporters.
Because, let’s remember why there needs to be an International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the first place — a day that coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
As Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the ADL, told CNN:
The United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only because of Holocaust denial but also because so many countries — Iran, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, for example — specifically refuse to acknowledge Hitler’s attempt to exterminate Jews, opting instead to talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what is was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people.
In fact, the White House’s omission of Jews from the statement on the Holocaust brought a smile to the faces of neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers, like the Daily Stormer.
How, then, should we think of the other victims of the Holocaust?
There were many circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.
And, in Hitler’s Inferno, the Jews occupied the very center of hell.
The Nazi hell was built for the Jews, maintained for the Jews, existed for the sake of the Jews.
But there were other circles of hell.
What’s the first thing a visitor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington would encounter?
Not the Jews.
It’s the story of the first victims — the mentally and physically disabled.
The “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Disease” was proclaimed on July 14, 1933. On Sept. 1, 1933, the director of the “Racial-Policy Office” called compassion for people suffering from hereditary disease “false humanity” and a “sin against the Creator’s own laws of life.”
And why did the Nazis stop killing the handicapped?
Because the Church protested!
Imagine what would have happened if the Church had protested the killing of Jews!
And then, there were the Poles. The Nazis intended to turn the Poles into a permanent underclass of slaves. By the end of the war, Poland had lost 45 percent of her physicians and dentists, 57 percent of her attorneys, more than 16 percent of her teachers, 40 percent of her professors, 30 percent of her technicians, and more than 18 percent of her clergy.
And then, there were the gypsies — the Roma.
As many as one million gypsies died. Thousands died in medical experiments, designed to determine the uniqueness of their skull size and their blood. Joseph Mengele had a particular fascination with gypsy twins.
While we can and must acknowledge the other victims of the Holocaust — the above victims, and gays, Communists, labor leaders, and Jehovah’s Witnesses — we cannot lose the centrality of the Jews to the Holocaust narrative.
To paraphrase Elie Wiesel:
First, we talked about the six million Jews who died.
But, soon, we will say: “There were eleven million total victims, of whom six million were Jews.”
And then, we will say: “There were eleven million, including six million.”
And soon, perhaps we will not even speak of the six million.
Donald Trump needs to know that the entire mechanism of the Holocaust was essentially designed to eradicate the Jews. Not just faceless, nationless victims. The Jews.
For him and his administration to believe otherwise — well, there is a name for that, a name that the administration itself invented.