In the months following the inauguration of Donald Trump, the media struggled to pin a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries on the national mood that Trump somehow created.
“Days after he declined to denounce anti-Semitism, President Donald Trump finally condemned the reported increase in anti-Semitism in the United States that has been linked to his political rise,” so read a Kansas City Star article from February 2017 by reporter Anita Kumar with Star parent company, McClatchy.
In that same month, Time magazine reported on the toppling of more than 100 headstones at a historic Jewish cemetery in University City. Time insinuated the vandalism was a “hate crime” in the second paragraph and raised the issue of “an organized group” in the first.
“The incident follows a new round of bomb threats at Jewish community centers across the country,” reported Time. “It’s the fourth time this year that multiple Jewish institutions have received threats in tandem, causing alarm over what some say is a rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S.”
Time closed the article by quoting Alabama Rabbi Barry Leff saying, “Racism and anti-Semitism have become more socially acceptable now” and then citing a series of failures by Trump to speak out against the alleged rise of anti-Semitism.
Late Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted the following headline, “Man was drunk, mad at friend when he toppled headstones at Jewish cemetery in U. City, police say.”
According to the Post-Dispatch, “Alzado Harris, 34, confessed to toppling the headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in February 2017, causing more than $30,000 in damage, according to court documents.” Apparently Harris was drunk, high on marijuana and angry at friends. “There is no evidence to indicate the incident was racially, ethnically or religiously motivated,” University City police said of the vandalism in a news release.
The Post-Dispatch article pointed out that another St. Louis man, a leftist journalist named Juan Thompson, pleaded guilty a year ago to making some highly-publicized threats against Jewish community centers. This was still another act attributed to the alleged rise of anti-Semitism inspired by Trump’s victory. In reality, Thompson was hoping to frame an ex-girl friend with a hate crime.
It was not just deranged St. Louis residents who were inspiring pundits to denounce Trump and his followers. In March 2017, a Jewish teenager in Israel with a reported brain tumor was arrested for many of the threats made against Jewish community centers around the world.
“Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” Reagan Transportation Secretary Ray Donovan asked after being cleared of corruption charges. Donald Trump might find himself asking the same thing.