More on the Meaning of Six-Pointed Stars


You investigated Donald Trump’s tweet of Hillary Clinton in front of a wall of hundred dollar bills, and beside a large six-pointed star with text accusing her of corruption. Trump asserted that using the six-pointed star was not anti-Semitic because law enforcement’s badges were six-pointed and Disney used a six-pointed star in its publicity for Frozen. You looked to see if it were correct that sheriff’s badges were six pointed and what typical Stars of David looked like.

As you did, I did a brief search of U. S. Marshall’s badges, thinking of the old time westerns.

Here’s today’s badge and another from around 1900:

I concluded, as you do, that law enforcement badges may be five or six-pointed stars. No one would say that the six-pointed marshall’s badges are anti-Semitic.

Consider these two items:

Does anyone believe that displaying Israel’s flag or the symbols on El Al’s aircraft are anti-Semetic?

Of course, not. Everything depends upon the context of the symbol, which gives the symbol its meaning.

What about this leaflet (which is from the Holocaust Museum website):

I’d say that Star of David is anti-Semitic. What do you think?

Here’s Trump’s Clinton tweet, before and after:

Many Stars of David are open, oppositely oriented equilateral triangles, but Jewish people might well display a solid six-pointed star.

How can we tell what the symbol stood for in this tweet? What was the intent of the person who created this image? What symbolism did he have in mind?

Here’s a CNN description of where the image originated: “an anti-Semitic, white-supremacist message board.” One of the common aspects of anti-Semitic descriptions of Jewish people is that they are, supposedly, money-grubbing, crafty, and corrupt cheats. Thus, an impartial viewer of this image might well feel that the juxtaposition of hundred dollar bills (favored by criminals for large untraceable transactions) with a six-pointed star shape might well be showing us that in the anti-Semitic creator’s mind Hillary Clinton’s corruption was similar to that of the predatory Jews, and that he wished viewers to make the same association.

Having decided that the creator of the image had in mind attaching his antipathy to Jewish people to Hillary Clinton, the next question is what appealed to Donald Trump or his staff about this image. Trump, by the way, prides himself in posting most of his own tweets, so he might not have found the image, but he apparently approved of it. That’s why he retweeted it. Of course, sometimes he says he’s just passing along interesting things he sees or reads and claims that he doesn’t necessarily approve of them, which is a strange thing for a man who professes to not be politically correct to say.

Why were Trump’s aides looking around anti-Semitic and white supremacist message boards for images to show to their boss? If they liked the image, why didn’t they look into the source of the image before they thought to pass it along? As I understand it, professional modern political campaigns create their own images. These are done by professionals, and partake of a unified look for the campaign.

Trump wants us to think that the six pointed star in the image was supposed to symbolize law enforcement accusing Hillary Clinton of criminality. Or that it didn’t symbolize anything. It was just a convenient shape.

I have no inside information not available in the media, and I can’t read Trump’s mind, but I guess that it didn’t appear anti-Semitic to him. He and other anti-Semites and racists believe, with the rest of the civilized world, that anti-Semitism and racism, invidious ideas, are wrong. Rather anti-Semites and racists believe that their opinions are not invidious but merely accurate descriptions. Any sensible informed person would think the same thing, if they weren’t uninformed or just being politically correct. They believe that it is not racist to picture black men as thugs and criminals. They think those are the facts. Or to picture Mexican immigrants, documented or not, as rapists and murderers. They think that it’s a fact.

I’d guess that Trump believes that it is a fact that Jews tend to be money-grubbing and devious, because that’s what he thinks about the many Jews he’s met in New York in the real estate business, but he thinks his son-in-law is not one of those types.

In analyzing Trump’s many false statements and ignorant beliefs, I think it is worth distinguishing between a mistake about the facts and a lie, which I take to be intentional deception. I tend to think that Donald Trump believes he saw thousands of Muslims dancing on the roof tops on New Jersey’s buildings after 9/11. But I wouldn’t say he’s lying about it. He believes it. He has a false memory or has confused some other images in his mind. He is not trying to deceive us in this case.

In this light, I’d say that Trump’s corrupt Hillary tweet doesn’t, by itself, prove that Trump dislikes, disapproves of, or hates Jewish people. But this is not the only evidence we have that Trump is racist, anti-Semitic, and a misogynist. In this regard, take a look at this wry piece by Slate’s William Saletan. The headline is The Vast Left Wing Media Conspiracy to Make Donald Trump Look Like a Bigot, and the sub-head is Give us a gold star!

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