Donald Trump on July 2 tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton in front of a pile of money with the quote “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” inside the outline of a Star of David. As usual with acts of bigotry from Trump, Trump’s defenders are out in full force to defend him.
“That’s not a Star of David, it’s just “a star”,” Mary Ann Arlotta wrote on Facebook.
“I’m fairly certain that same shape is on Microsoft PowerPoint,” Rhea Paseur wrote.
Mark Ross wrote, “Some call it the satanic star while others call it the Star of David.” (The pentagram, aka “the satanic star,” has five sides, but anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists do consider the Star of David to be a “Satanic Hexagram.”)
This is becoming a familiar pattern in the Trump campaign: Trump does something bigoted and/or incredibly stupid. Trump fans, whom Trump joked would support him if he killed someone on 5th Avenue, display their gymnastics abilities by defending him.
As Facebook user Kevin Wos wrote, in an explanation that anyone with the faintest understanding of history doesn’t need to read, “Oh yeah, because a Star of David combined with images of money and talk of corruption couldn’t possibly be a dog whistle for the far right. Nope, not anti-Semitic at all!”
The issue, furthermore, comes down to reputation and track record. People are granted a number of mistakes. Trump deleted this tweet afterwards and reuploaded the same image with a circle in the place of the Star of David, so one might be charitable if it was the first time he said or did something bigoted against a minority ethnic group.
But when you have a record of refusing to denounce the KKK on live TV, calling a judge “Mexican” and saying he thus is unqualified to preside over a trial, tweeting white supremacists named “#WhiteGenocide,” launching a months long war on a female reporter and calling her a “bimbo,” tweeting a fabricated image that greatly exaggerated the amount of black-on-white murders, implying that Ted Cruz’s heritage as a Cuban means he can’t be an evangelical Christian, calling for a ban on Muslim immigration or travel, and generally making a stream of racist and racially-tinged statements all along the campaign trail (this paragraph would never end if I detailed them all), then you don’t have much room to whine about being taken out of context.
Each time Trump did something nasty, his backers—and sometimes himself—would cook up schemes to excuse his vulgar behavior. When Trump said Megyn Kelly was bleeding from “somewhere,” he issued a statement saying he was talking about her nose (as if just being an unhinged whiner was so much better than being an unhinged whining sexist). When Trump mocked a disabled man by exaggerating his hand movements, he claimed he didn’t know the man, who had interviewed him multiple times, was disabled, and that he just happened to be waving his arms around wildly on stage because that’s what ordinary people do while speaking.
It was be easier (but not easy) to dismiss any one of those comments as a mistake, an outlier, a fluke, if it only happened once. After a while, you build up a track record by which you can be judged. It’s a lot harder to argue every one of those statements was a misunderstanding.