Yesterday, Observer writer Dana Schwartz wrote an open letter to Kushner, the paper’s owner, criticizing him for refusing to condemn his father-in-law, Donald Trump, for goading his anti-Semitic supporters, several of whom repeatedly harassed her on social media. “When you stand silent and smiling in the background, his Jewish son-in-law, you’re giving his most hateful supporters tacit approval,” Schwartz, who is Jewish, wrote. “Because maybe Donald Trump isn’t anti-Semitic. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think he is. But I know many of his supporters are, and they believe for whatever reason that Trump is the candidate for them.” It was a brave piece—Schwartz put her career on the line to write it and undoubtedly opened herself up to more harassment. At no point did Schwartz imply Trump was an anti-Semite. Instead, she argued forcefully that he enabled anti-Semites and white supremacists.
On Wednesday, Kushner responded with a 1,300-word essay about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and politics that nevertheless did not really answer any of Schwartz’s trenchant criticisms. His response opens with its thesis statement: “My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite.” The problem, of course is that no one, let alone Schwartz, is making that argument. Kushner then spends a good deal of the piece defending Trump against accusations of anti-Semitism that, again, no one is actually making. In the second graf, Kushner plays political operative, brushing aside Schwartz’s criticisms by suggesting that they are part of a larger media conspiracy to discredit Trump’s candidacy:
Despite the best efforts of his political opponents and a large swath of the media to hold Donald Trump accountable for the utterances of even the most fringe of his supporters – a standard to which no other candidate is ever held—the worst that his detractors can fairly say about him is that he has been careless in retweeting imagery that can be interpreted as offensive.
Later in the piece, Kushner blames Trump’s fast-moving team for “carelessness,” a word that’s been thrown around a lot in politics this week. But Schwartz’s argument adds up to this: Those “careless” retweets have real consequences for people like Schwartz and the repetition of those “careless” acts at a certain point suggests complicity. But Kushner never really owns up to that, instead blaming the PC left and the liberal media for demanding that Trump be held responsible for consistently enabling and repurposing racist and anti-Semitic imagery. He also gets personal, talking about his family’s struggles with anti-Semitism and his own history with Donald Trump, who is nice and not anti-Semitic. But the fact that Trump is nice and not anti-Semitic in person is beside the point, and Kushner would know that if he read Schwartz’s letter.