Editorial: Pittsburgh doesn’t welcome Trump


TPN file photo

Peaceful protesters handed flowers that read “#LoveTRUMPSHate” to Trump supporters at a protest outside the David Lawrence Convention Center on April 16, 2016, where Trump was expected to speak.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will be in Pittsburgh today following the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday, which is likely the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Trump is coming to perform his duty as consoler-in-chief — the only problem is that the Pittsburgh community doesn’t want him here.

In a strong show of solidarity, Pittsburghers and the Jewish community of Pittsburgh have rejected the idea of the president coming to mourn with them following the shooting. If the president had any respect for the victims and their families, he would stay away and allow them time to mourn without his heavily politicizing presence.

The president’s rhetoric since the shooting has been callous. In a time where unity is key to recovery, he’s taken to Twitter to attack the “Fake News” outlets which have blamed his divisive language for the current culture of violence in the United States and to denounce the caravan of migrants moving through Mexico.

During an interview on Fox News Monday night, the president was asked about his decision to carry on with a rally in Illinois just hours after the shooting. He defended the decision by saying that tragedies shouldn’t prevent events from happening.

“Rallies are meant to be fun,” he said. “Frankly, I think that’s the way it should be. You can’t let these people disrupt any more than they already have.”

But life has been irrevocably disrupted for victims, their families and community members, and this is something Trump should recognize. It’s this insensitive tone set by the president over the past couple of years that have prompted many to oppose a visit from him on Tuesday.

Members of Pittsburgh’s branch of Bend the Arc, a national Jewish organization for progressive Jews, released an open letter to the president on their website Sunday, which states that he will not be welcome in Pittsburgh in the wake of the shooting.

“President Trump,” the letter reads, “you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.”

This is in reference to the president’s refusal to denounce the anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideals of those who marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. The letter goes on to accuse him of targeting “people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities” with hateful speech.

More than 50,000 people have signed the letter — there seems to be a united front in Pittsburgh against the kind of rhetoric the president has spewed for years.

It’s typical for the president to visit communities in mourning following tragedies to foster feelings of national unity. However, this particular president’s presence in Pittsburgh has political implications that make a visit inappropriate under the circumstances.

Out of respect for the victims, their families and the City of Pittsburgh, the president should have kept his distance. We don’t need someone with his level of insensitivity to help us mourn.

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