White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to moderator Greta Van Susteren at the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, April 12, 2017, during "The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days" forum. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Editorial: Spicer’s slip-ups


At the outset of the Trump regime, Press Secretary Sean Spicer seemed like more of an unwitting pawn in President Trump’s grand scheme to destroy the legacy of the Obama administration than an integral part of that scheme. It almost seemed as though Spicer was being manipulated by Trump, Steve Bannon, and other members of the administration. Every day, the American people watched as Spicer conducted press briefings defending the size of Trump’s audiences, Trump’s foolish statements, and his even more foolish actions.

On Tuesday, however, Spicer made a pretty colossal blunder of his own. Addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Spicer made a beyond-ignorant comparison to Adolf Hitler. Spicer said, “We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler,who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself, is this a country that you and a regime that you want to align yourself with?”

To put it nicely: Whoops.

In response to journalists’ questioning, Spicer went on to clarify his comment — only making it much, much worse — by saying, “He [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing. He brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that.”

To make sure we’re all on the same page, that was the press secretary for the president of the United States saying Hitler did not use gas on his own people. Of course, as most well-educated individuals understand, Hitler did in fact use gas on his own people. Hitler used a terrifying cyanide-based chemical called Zyklon B in the concentration camps (referred to by Spicer as “Holocaust centers”) to brutally murder millions of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, prisoners of war, and others.

Obviously, Spicer is aware of the horror that was (and continues to be) the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Sobibor, Majdonik, and the countless other death camps constructed by Hitler’s Nazi regime. After all, Spicer was the member of the Trump administration responsible for explaining the legitimacy of Trump’s comments on Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Memorial Day. However, the expression “Never Forget” seems to have fallen short for Spicer.

Spicer has the unenviable job of disseminating Trump’s blathering and ignorance to the U.S. public. The Daily Iowan Editorial Board understands the difficult job with which Spicer is tasked. However, when he accepted the job, he should have understood that the most important aspect of it is to be calm under pressure and to humanize the positions of the Trump administration. Make no mistake, Spicer’s comments were his own fault — not the president’s. But to make a blunder as catastrophic as insinuating that Hitler did not use chemical agents on his own people is as insulting as it is ignorant.

Spicer should not lose his job over what he said on Tuesday. It was a mistake (albeit a terrible and embarassing mistake of epic proportions). However, out of respect for Jewish people and all others affected by the Holocaust, Spicer should take sufficient strides to simply be better at his job and to truly understand why his comments were so offensive.

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