So, I'm not a fan of President Trump, but I feel like it's a not a big deal when Trump didn't explicitly mention the Jews in his holocaust memorial. Per his statement, he didn't make light of it or try and lessen its impact. It was just a canned holocaust memorial speech in which he mentioned the victims and survivors. Why is it being made into such a big deal?

"It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust [Emphasis Mine]. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world." [1]


15 Answers 15


Antisemitism was central to the Holocaust, the reason for which was the desire to exterminate all Jews.

To not acknowledge that fact when remembering the Holocaust is at least careless and it sends out a certain message, even if that message was not intended. It generalizes the Holocaust to a generic evil, and strips all context from it.

The message was also promptly picked up by the far-right. Richard Spencer for example welcomed the "de-Judaification" of the Holocaust, and the Daily Stormer called it "pushing back against Jewish supremacy".

Vox puts this in a larger context:

Trump’s most fervent supporters included outspoken anti-Semites, online trolls on the “alt-right” who delighted at tormenting Jewish journalists and public figures. His campaign flirted with anti-Semitic tropes, including tweeting an image of a star of David with Hillary Clinton’s face superimposed on a pile of money. His closing ad warned of a shadowy cabal of bankers and international elites. His son casually used the phrase “warming up the gas chambers” to refer to vociferous criticism.

In each case, Trump and his inner circle refused to back down or apologize, and his anti-Semitic fans interpreted those controversies as coded signals in their favor. Now that he’s president, the same dynamic is playing out around his statement on the Holocaust.

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    You might want to point out that after his campaign deleted the tweet of Clinton on the Star of David, he publicly said that he thought they were wrong to do so. Also, his final campaign ad included talk of "global financial elites" (an anti-semitic theme) superimposed over images of wealthy Jews. washingtonpost.com/opinions/…
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 13:38
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    @rougon -- The first shape I saw wasn't the Star of David; rather a sheriff badge. Sure, they're both six-pointed, but for starters (if I were an anti-Semite, which I'm not) I'd make the star yellow instead of red (in which case it still wouldn't be conclusive of what star it is).
    – user8806
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 19:59
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    @SirJony The Star of David is represented in a lot of colors -- the Nazis were the ones who gave it the yellow color. The proximity to bags of money makes the anti-semitic connotations more acute. But sure, sheriff's badge. My point is that it doesn't matter what was INTENDED, it's the fact that most would shy away from symbols that ambiguous and (usually) apologize for the connotation.
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:05
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    @SirJony One generally apologizes for putting something ambiguous out there that could easily be misconstrued, which it was (at best). That's pretty standard. Yes, they are there to reference money probably, but a) see first sentence, b) it's the iconography. Jews + Money = Standard anti-semitic iconography. So, you generally at least say "I am sorry if anyone was offended, that wasn't my intention." And this is just one issue. And our discussion is straying a lot from the question asked, which is not about whether he was correct but why are tensions high.
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:15
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    @SirJony the image was not created by the Trump campaign, but stolen from a white supremacist website. It is unlikely that the shape is a coincidence, considering the source and the context (money, corrupt/bought politician). If the Trump campaign knew that is a different question, but one would normally expect that they distance themselves from it after the fact.
    – tim
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:43

It's not (I'm Jewish and neither myself nor family members who actually lived through Holocaust find it in any way objectionable), except to people who view it through a partisan confirmation bias.

But it fits into left wing made up narrative that Trump is somehow "antisemitic" (must be news to Kushners - including Trump's daughter who converted to Judaism, her husband who's an Orthodox Jew; or Dan Shapiro who's major Trump opponent but explicitly said Bannon is in no way antisemitic; to or a majority of Israel-residing Americans who like Trump, or to US based Orthodox Jews who back him), and this is a useful fact to cherry-pick to somehow support that made-up narrative.

  • 10
    That could point to a more realistic theory. The man himself isn't an antisemite, but he doesn't want to alienate his voting base who it. Kind of like a reverse dog whistle.
    – Sidney
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 18:20
  • 82
    Sorry, but this answer reeks of personal bias. Can we try to make it a bit more neutral? There is a good answer to this question, but this isnt it. Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 18:54
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    The is an ok answer, but it's pretty much opinion. I know people from across the political spectrum who were upset by this, so I think it's unfair to say that the only people who object are doing so out of partisan politics.
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 21:08
  • 37
    This is just all pure opinion. Anecdotal as well. Not that it's an incorrect opinion, but opinion. It also lacks any citations of the so called "left wing made up narrative that Trump is antisemitic".
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 5:35
  • 10
    @Pay: No, because it isn't. Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 20:38

It's a big deal because while Germany killed much larger numbers of people overall over the course of the Nazi regime there, especially during the war, the largest group of victims of mass genocide by far were Jews. In fact, Jews constitute either about half all victims, or by some (most?) accountings - much more than all of the other victims of mass German organized killing put together.

I obviously do not wish to belittle the significance of the deaths of people in the other groups - ethnic Poles, Slovenians, Homosexuals, left-wing political activists, disabled people, Roma, and arguably also prisoners of war from the USSR (my own grandfather was both a Jew and a soldier in the Red Army); and it's important to mention them as well. In fact, when they aren't mentioned, that's also arguably somewhat of an affront to their memory. But when even the largest group of victims is not mentioned, the message is "Ok, we're observing this day because we sort of have to, but we would really rather not be reminded of all that stuff, all those people who shall not be named."

That's why it's a big deal.

It's even bigger of a deal due to Trump having a history of racism both in words and in deeds (you can look this up, I just don't want to write a dissertation here), plus the fact that many White-Supremacist groups are among his supporters, and a borderline White Supremacist, or at least an enabler of those groups, Stephen Bannon, is Trump's key advisor.

Now, you might say that Clinton, Bush and Obama should have been protested even more angrily than Trump. After all, they had ordered and presided over the direct and indirect killing of tens or hundreds of thousands - in attacks on civilian and half-civlian targets, in "collateral damage", through the debilitating sanctions in 1990s that resulted in a huge death toll, indirectly through stoking inter-ethnic and inter-religious strife and so on. And, frankly, I'd agree with you. But it's still a big deal.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 22:21
  • Not completely correct to attribute the actions of a government, to the entire country. When one blames the entirety of Germany for things, bad things tend to happen cough Treaty of Versailles cough Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 5:33
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    @NZKshatriya: A "country" is an abstraction. When I say "Germany" I mean the German state. I didn't say "the German people" or "the people of Germany". That's an important distinction. Not to mention the fact that, obviously, (German) Jews, Homosexuals, left-wingers etc were all German people.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:01
  • @einpoklum I yield, bad day led to poor judgment and not enough self control when commenting lol. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:08

Nobody has yet mentioned the historical precedent for minimizing the Jews as victims of the Holocaust. There's a good piece about it here.

It may sound harmless to modern non-Jewish listeners in America where anti-Semitism levels are very low, but his speech echoed decades of Soviet propaganda. Yes, many non-Jewish Soviets died at the hands of the Nazis, but the centrality of Jews to the holocaust is undeniable. As Nazis took over Soviet territory, local non-Jewish populations were more than willing to betray their Jewish neighbors. Anti-Semitism ran very deep in that part of the world. As the Soviets took back their territory after the war, "universalizing" the horror of the holocaust was in large part a way for the USSR to reintegrate populations which were still very anti-Semitic.

The point is, the holocaust was neither the first nor the last time that Jews have faced large scale persecution, and it could happen again. The past few years have seen protesters in Paris shouting "Jew, France is not yours," "Death to the Jews," "Slit Jews' throats," and "Hitler was right," In Berlin, of all places, "Gas the Jews!" These protests and many others around Europe are often accompanied by acts of violence against synagogues and Jewish establishments. There is real cause to protest some of the actions of the Israeli government, but anti-Zionism in Europe is the new face of deeply held anti-Semitism. To be a Jew is to know that you are hated across much of the globe. If we forget what the holocaust was to the Jews -- and we are rapidly forgetting -- then little stands in the way of history repeating.

Edit: It's not just in Europe. Today, 2/4/2017, "Chicago Loop Synagogue Vandalized With Swastikas, Broken Window"

  • 7
    Also, while anti-Semitism is much worse in Europe, America is not free of it, and it reared its ugly head all around the fringes of President Trump's campaign.
    – nkm
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 22:18
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    Definitely. The area where I am has had a striking uptick in anti-semitic activity since he was elected.
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 22:42
  • 2
    What do you mean, "could"? Mass genocide has happened in several cases since the second world war, even if not with the exact features of the Holocaust. Also, to be a Jew is not to know that you are hated across much of the globe, you're really overplaying it. If not for that I'd +1 you.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 17:21
  • 3
    I meant to the Jews specifically. You're right of course, genocide has happened in several places since WWII, I just wasn't comfortable drawing a direct line from Trump's omission to making events like Rwanda or Darfur more likely. I'm sorry you were bothered by the rhetoric. May have been a bit much. I do think that most Jews are keenly aware of how much antisemitism exists in the world. Recent events in Europe scared a lot of people. I always avoid saying that I'm Jewish when I travel abroad.
    – nkm
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 19:11
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    @Nathaniel Mayer Are there two completely different Soviet propagandas? I'm asking because in the version of said propaganda I was exposed to as a Soviet child, "the centrality of Jews" was never denied. As much as I can remember, it was always portrayed as one of the major horrors of the Nazi regime. German troops take over a town or capture a group of Soviet soldiers, one of the first things they do is killing all the Jews or those who, in their opinion, look like Jews.
    – Headcrab
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 3:15

Take that speech. Show it to a clever child who has never heard of the holocaust. What would that child learn? What would the child learn to remember? The child would learn that there were Nazis, and they were depraved, and people died and there were heroes who risked their lives to save the innocent. It doesn't say anything about what this memorial is actually about, so the whole speech isn't exactly helpful to keep what happened in memory.

How can we remember those who died when he doesn't actually say who died?

I would also be curious who the "heroes" were.

And frankly, "together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world" will be taken as a sick joke by many (and as a lapse by others).

  • 4
    This is actually the issue...Trump is just tone deaf. He doesn't put a lot of care into his words (nor seems concerned that he doesn't).
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:54
  • 6
    +1 for the "heroes" issue. I bet Trump was just ad-lib'ing that speech. "What, holocaust day? Uh, yeah, umm, we shall not forget the, uh, the victims and the heroes of the Holocaust."
    – einpoklum
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 17:23

Because not acknowledging the main victim of a tragedy (crime, death, etc…) on a day specifically set aside for it is tone deaf, callous and stupid.

On a most basic level, the day in Judaism is known as “Yom HaShoah” was created in 1953 specifically by Jews in Israel to memorialize the tragedy of the Holocaust. It’s not some magical day that popped out of nowhere as “Generic Massacre of 6 Million People in World War II Day” or some nonsense like that.

And furthermore, Trump’s statement was connected to the U.N.’s 2005 resolution to create an “International Holocaust Day” which clearly states; bold emphasis is mine:

“Reaffirming that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice,”

And besides that, people have brought up many differing issues in the answers here:

  • That Jews were not the only targets of the Nazis.
  • That it’s somehow a “leftist”/“liberal” (I can’t keep track of this bothering) agenda that is upset at this.
  • That in the great scheme of things, what is the big deal.

The “big deal” is kind of like saying the Civil Rights struggle in the United States was somehow “not” about blacks in the United States; that somehow it was some magical “Civil Rights” struggled that just tangentially benefited blacks in the United States.

For that matter it’s like saying slavery in the U.S. is not a black issue since many immigrant groups—Jews, Irish, Italians, Chinese, etc…—experienced slave-like conditions at one point.

Or that somehow The Women’s Rights Movement in the U.S. during the late 19th/early 20th century was just not for women: That it was for all oppressed groups.

Look, here is the deals: Jews were the main targets of the Nazis during the Holocaust. The reasons—past insane hatred—are varied, but like it or not Jews were an easy target in Eastern Europe during the early 20th century. They were the largest group that was “othered” and hated across Europe and other places, thus were blamed for all kinds of social ills.

Now flash forward to 2017: Muslims are a strong target of similar hate in the United States. Mexicans as well, but why? Both groups have a strong presence in the U.S. and are somehow being blamed for all kinds of nonsense.

But back to the main question: Trump’s statement. To make a statement about the Holocaust and not acknowledge that tragedies main victims is suspicious. Anyone not believing the Jews were the main target of Nazi hatred is dense. Also, by eliminating identity politics the Trump administration is making the statement so neutral it’s useless.

  • Jews who were affected by the Holocaust are not really acknowledged.
  • “Alt-Right” pundits latch onto the exclusion of the Jews as a “good thing” to basically state, “Hey! Look! The Holocaust was bad, but let’s stop making it a Jewish thing! Let’s just call it a ‘bad’ thing were 6 million plus people were just murdered for… What reason?”
  • The wording of the statement also alludes to the whole “Pro-Life/Pro-Choice” world of politics. The statement was so nebulous many people theorize the generically world, “…we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.” was a nod towards the “Pro-Life” world.

In short, it’s bizarre that anyone would acknowledge the “…depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.” but simply not state their name.

On a most basic level, if—for example—your father died and someone said, “It’s a great tragedy that your loved one was lost. I care deeply about your loved one.” What does that mean? How would you feel about someone not even bestowing basic human identity to someone who has passed away?

It’s all bizarre.

  • 1
    Thanks for anchoring the topic to a specific memorial. It may be pedantic, but I must point out that the title in the presidents announcement was "Statement by the President on International Holocaust Remembrance Day". That refers to this UN resolution making that day: un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/docs/res607.shtml Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 3:02
  • @CraigHicks: Fair enough. The text even reads, “Reaffirming that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice,” Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 3:16

A lot of people died during WWII and the scope of the Holocaust can be expanded or contracted to include different sets of these people.

Examples of groups: Jews, Political Prisoners, Gays, Gypsies, Russian and Polish POWs.

The "Minimalist" position is that the Holocaust (which means Total Destruction) refers to the targeted extermination of the Jews ( and perhaps the racial minorities) and not to the Russian POWs, Gays, and Political Prisoners because Jews were uniquely singled out in Mein Kampf and other Nazi writings. e.g. It was Jews who stabbed Germany in the back. Total Victims ~6 million Jews + a few hundred thousand Gypsies, Gays, "defectives" etc. The majority of Holocaust victims are Jewish.

The "Maximalist" position is that everyone killed directly or indirectly by the Nazis outside of combat are victims of the Holocaust. Add 3.3 million Soviet POWs plus ~12 million from bombing, hunger, disease. The minority of Holocaust victims are Jewish.

Proponents of the Minimalist position argue that the Jews were singled out and their persecution is unique. Although it is certainly valid, Anti-Semites prefer the Maximalist position because it downplays the specific targeting against Jews. A corollary to this is that Jews are overplaying their persecution (for sympathy), which has its own implications.

The official position is relevant to spectators because of how the Holocaust relates to Zionism and Israel.

A component of Zionism in a nutshell: Jews are persecuted everywhere, the only way to avoid this is for the Jews to have their own state.

A component of anti-Zionism in a nutshell: Jews aren't persecuted any more than anyone else really and Jews use this argument to gain sympathy so they can flock to Palestine and persecute others.

By not mentioning Jews, the USA is not disavowing the view preferred by the anti-Zionist camp and this bothers Zionists and Jews.

  • 3
    You should not confuse Zionists with Jews (last line)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 18:50
  • 3
    Holocaust is not about other Nazi-German victims.
    – adjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 17:59
  • 3
    @adjan That's not the position of many who chronicle the Holocaust. Just because the Jewish population in German-occupied Europe was so high compared to, for example, Sinti or Roma 'Gypsy' tribes, it doesn't necessarily mean that they have a unique position, but perhaps simply the largest. Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 1:32
  • 3
    @user2338816 From the same source: "The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime ". This isn't only about the amount of people killed, but also about how the persecution took place, which was unique to Jews (and arguably Roma). The development to include non-Jews (and non-Roma) victims - ie homosexuals, POW, etc - is a relatively recent one, which isn't supported by the majority of historical research.
    – tim
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 9:14
  • 4
    @user2338816 Jews were also clearly the main targets in the Nazi German's mind. It was called "Endlösung der Judenfrage" for a reason.
    – Voo
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 18:31

Preface note: While answering the question "Why is it being made such a big deal of?" it is important not to grow sectarian hatred as by-product of debate. Specifically, care should be taken not overstep the boundaries of the logical question at hand and end up drifting into dogmatic hatred and making generaliztions about the stupidity or evilness of those we don't agree with. Last year Canada's Trudeau did not mention Jews in his commemeration, this year he did.

Trumps speech (or announcement) was made on the Jan 27, which is
International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This date was chosen by the United to yearly reaffirm a set of principles and commemorate some of the victims of WWII. The text of the UN resolution [1] includes the statements:

Reaffirming that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.


Rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or part;


Condemns without reserve all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur

So to answer your question "Why is it being made such a big deal of?". If Trump chooses to make a statement to honor UN International Holocaust Day, he has a duty to stay true to that label. Here is why he was not true to that label:

  1. Because it doesn't mention the main ethnic group, Jews, who were most numerous victims of the victims killed in the concentration camps. Therefore it does not refute the claim that Jews were not killed the Holocaust - this claim is widely made, just search Google for "Was the holocaust a lie" to see how much time and effort is being put into denying that Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Therefore Trump's omissions are counter to the first two UN resolution items quoted above.

  2. By not mentioning Jews, nowhere is it mentioned that an ethnic / religious group was was victimized. Thus it fails to point out the existence in the Holocaust of religious intolerance and violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, as the UN resolution does in third item above.

Trump could have mentioned more about the other victims and fulfilled his role in honoring Holocaust Memorial Day. He could even have mention that Soviet POWs in 1941 were among the earlier victims of gassing in the Auschwitz I gas chamber [2]. He could have mentioned other genocides throughout history and the world, and pointed out that the UK's Holocaust Memorial Day, also held on Jan 27, also explicitly commemorates the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur [3]. Perhaps next year, the president will do so.

[1] Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on the Holocaust Remembrance A/RES/60/7, 1 November 2005, http://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/docs/res607.shtml

[2] THE TREATMENT OF SOVIET POWS: STARVATION, DISEASE, AND SHOOTINGS, JUNE 1941–JANUARY 1942, Holocaust Encyclopedia, https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007183

[3] Holocaust Memorial Day (UK), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_Memorial_Day_(UK)

  • 5
    Good observation. If Trump had thought to specifically mention the various groups that were victims, the speech would have come across differently. It would have been a positive remembrance of the victims that would have been much less likely to have been interpreted as a slight.
    – user11810
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 8:37
  • "... this year he hid." Did you mean "... this year he did."? Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 15:55

We should remember that Jews were not the only victims of the holocaust. The nazi's imprisoned, tortured and murder en masse many groups - non-arian, homosexual, jews etc ...

To single out the Jews, diminishes the atrocities committed against other groups. To generalize by mentioning "The Victims", Trump has actually included all victims of the holocaust.

What's the problem?

  • 9
    On SE, we expect that each post ("answer") answers the question. This is different than how a discussion forum works. As it stands, this post doesn't answer the question and will likely atract downvotes or votes for deletion. You can edit your post to make it more of an answer. Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 22:41
  • 4
    The Holocaust is defined as the genocide of the Jews... Nazi German killings of other ethnic or social groups do not belong to "Holocaust" at all.
    – adjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 17:51
  • "hol·o·caust (noun) 1. destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war." Did you see "jew" in there? Sit down.
    – MickLH
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 18:27
  • 3
    @MickLH This is "(a) holocaust" not "The Holocaust". "The Holocaust" was introduced as the term describing the Nazi-German mass genocide of the Jews. Later, "(a) holocaust" became a synonym to other mass genocides. it is a synecdoche. In it's historical meaning, "The Holocaust" always refers to the genocide of the Jews.
    – adjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 18:41
  • @MickLH and if you cite oxford cite everything: en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/holocaust "the Holocaust The mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–5. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz."
    – adjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:01

Alright. I'm going to take a stab at this.

It's a big deal because...look at this page. Look at the answers. Look at the 'debate'. There are people defending Trump making it a bigger deal by coming up with elaborate theories. There are people attacking trump the same way. For any of these theories to be true, it requires a level of planning and intentional thought process by Trump and his administration that none of us are privy to.

It's a big deal because people are making it a big deal.

Should it be a big deal? Probably not--at least not in and of itself. Are there legitimate issues overall with the Trump administration? For sure, and this is perhaps part of the greater context of it all, but that's a bigger conversation.

In the end, it was likely just lazy speech writing. It's only a big deal because pundits made it one. Good for ad-views, I guess.

  • 1
    This answer looks like just a chit-chat, not an objective answer. (leaving aside that the question itself seems to be inviting for a debate, but this is not an excuse for bad answers) Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 21:05
  • 1
    This is an opinion-based answer, so not great as answers go. However, you managed to not climb onto the anti-Trump opportunity, which is an excellent sign. There's hope for you, yet. :-)
    – user11810
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 21:06
  • 2
    @bytebuster it's objective in that I'm citing this very page. We have no real facts to work off of here other than the reality that people are making it a big deal.
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 21:07
  • 3
    @bytebuster - exactly. It's a crappy question, and as such, it's not a very bad answer for this question. (granted, it could be expanded a bit but... it hits the relevant nails on the head. +1).
    – user4012
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 23:49
  • 1
    @Wildcard to go even deeper into meta inception rabbit hole, check out the number of up and down votes on this answer. This answer as to why people make things a big deal by pointing out that it simply is what people do is, in itself, a big deal because people make it a big deal :D
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 8:16

Well, it's not a big deal; here's why...

Regarding this particular question:

Merriam-Webster's definition of the Holocaust:

the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II

While Trump could've mentioned Jews, he didn't need to. Holocaust implies the genocide of Jews. Plus, saying "victims" encompasses everyone impacted by the persecution.

Related thoughts:

This "scandal" supposedly plays into the leftist claim that Trump is anti-Semitic. What they tend to forget is: his son-in-law is Jewish and was his right-hand-man during the campaign (and now in the administration), his daughter is Jewish and he never disowned her, he supports Israel (he didn't have to, as most leftist don't), and he had a rabbi speak at his inauguration.

Plus, the sentence after the one in question sounds as if he wasn't too pleased (to say the least) of the horrors the Nazis inflicted.


(disclaimer: this is totally speculation, so don't take it too seriously)

Imagine if Trump said "Jews" instead of "victims". Leftists would be outraged that he didn't include the homosexuals, handicaps, political prisoners, etc. So, Trump would "lose" whether or not he said "Jews" instead of "victims".

  • 7
    This answer is full of unsupported claims and read more like a rant. Maybe restrict it to the dictionary definition? Certainly the addendum does nothing towards answering the question asked. The question is not about whether he is anti-semitic, but about why people care that the WH did not mention Jewish deaths in the Holocaust.
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 19:45
  • 1
    Also, what unsupported claims? Point them out to me or I'll have to take you claim as unsupported. :)
    – user8806
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 19:49
  • 4
    The Merriam-Webster definition is not the common definition of the proper name "The Holocaust": 1.1 - the Holocaust - The mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime during the period 1941–5. More than 6 million European Jews, as well as members of other persecuted groups, were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz. en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/holocaust
    – adjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:03
  • 3
    "the leftist claim that Trump is anti-semitic", who "they" are, he "loves" Israel, the sentence sounds like he felt a certain way, the whole "if trump said 'jews'"... etc. You have the kernel of a solid answer (although I don't think the MW is the most authoritative) but you make a lot of assumptions.
    – rougon
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:07
  • 1
    Why are generalizations usually taken as "100%"? Just like saying "men make more money than women" is true, but not "all men make more money than women", when I say "leftists" I don't mean "all leftists". Again, you're right about my misusage of "loves"; I think "supports" is a better word.
    – user8806
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:22

As a Jew, the first thing I think about when I hear the words "victims of the Holocaust" are my people. I probably think about it several times each month, and every time I do I am filled with grief and rage. For me, it is not necessary for Trump to explicitly mention "Jews" for me to know and remember who the primary targets of Hitler's final solution were.

That being said, the vast majority of Americans are not Jewish and may not have had the full scope of the laws levied explicitly against Jews and the inevitable horrors that followed, drilled into them from a young age. One could argue that his failure to remind non-Jews about who the primary targets of the Holocaust were, coupled with his association with hate groups today, is indeed a big deal.

  • Anyone who knows history, knows of the laws levied against the Jews in Europe, and of events like krystallnacht, etc. Are you not being a bit prejudicial in your assumption that a majority of Americans are ignorant of what happened in Europe in WW2? Also, why do you feel there is a need to constantly remind people of the primary target of a madman who is taught in school textbooks as being the one who wanted to kill all Jews? Believe me, in the USA this is covered a great deal in primary/secondary education. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:19
  • The presidents announcement only mentioned "victims, survivors, heroes". The UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day Resolution makes explicit mention of how those victims were chosen :"the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice". Also, it mentions who: "the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, " Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 19:31

It's all about unmet expectations. Trump was expected to mention the Jews explicitly in this speech, but he didn't. That's why it became a big deal.

If US presidents start to consistently commemorate a different ethnic or national group during their speech, suddenly stopping doing so won't go unnoticed as well.


There are specifically two reasons that it could be a big deal.

First, because the holocaust was mostly about the mass murder of Jewish people. It was nearly genocide, on that front. To generalize the holocaust as "a bad thing that happened to some people" is kind of like, in some people opinions, forgetting the details of situation. Those that forget history are doomed to repeat it. The other side of the coin however is that Jews were not the only people put in concentration camps and killed. You could say that not mentioning the other groups of people would be the same as marginalizing them. It's socially complex, and not everyone will feel the same way.

Second, because, right now, everyone likes to pick on Trump. I don't know why, but basically any action he takes, ends up polarizing the general population. I don't mean he is wrong, or he is right. I mean that the general audience as a whole seems to polarize around his every decision. That increases sales and ad revenue, thus the media will keep on going.

  • 1
    You don't know why trumps policies and rhetoric are polarizing? It's essentially been his strategy the entire campaign.
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 21:57

I think it is problematic in the mirror of previous such speeches, as leaving out some elements that where present previously for a long time is a message itself. If the Jewish people had never been explicitly mentioned, it would not be a big deal.

Of course, in a broader sense, the Holocaust was not restricted to Jews, and talking only about Jewish people can be seen partial, as tens of thousands of other nationalities, especially Roma were burnt, as well. In this sense, talking only about the Jewish people as victims can be seen as a denial of the full scale of the Holocaust.

So talking about survivors and victims without highlighting a particular group of them, even if that group has suffered the most deaths is politically correct and impartial.

However, since it is not a standalone speech, but has a historical backdrop of similar speeches before by people holding the same office, missing out some key features from before is a message itself.

Probably we should not forget that the US had a hand in the deaths of at least a few hundred Jewish people, when they turned back ships of Jewish refugees who made it safe to American soil for Hitler to do the dirty work. This was actually one of the drives behind creating a Jewish state. The experience that in the hour of need, no nation would help.

This moment could hint, why the Jewish victims of the Holocaust have more connection to the US, than any other group. I think if I were Jewish, it would be easy for me to see this change of tone as another betrayal of the Jewish people by the US government.

  • Are you accusing Trump of being politically correct? I'm pretty sure even he would argue against you on that point. :)
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 23:59
  • blip - Merriam Webster - "politically correct" - conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated. -- He eliminated the reference to the race of Jews because it would offend the political sensibilities of his most ardent supporters. It fits the dictionary definition perfectly. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 2:47
  • @CraigHicks if we were viewing this issue with tunnel vision, I'd concede to your point, but we're talking about Trump. His entire persona has been pretty much been flagrant disregard for political correctness...going so far as to openly attack it. Combine that for a desire to ad-lib everything and that's pretty much his political brand. So, to assume he did something intentionally in the name of political correctness is pretty far fetched. The smiley face was to point out that even Trump would likely disagree with you on this. He hates political correctness.
    – user1530
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 8:14
  • "If the Jewish people had never been explicitly mentioned..." That's a bit unlikely given it's Holocaust Memorial Day. "...talking only about the Jewish people as victims..." I would say there is a lot of free space between talking only about Jews and not talking about Jews at all. You discuss some rather hypothetical cases here, I think. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 12:32

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