Over the weekend, Donald Trump tweeted a picture of Hillary Clinton next to a six-pointed star and piles of money, calling her the "most corrupt candidate ever." Soon after, a lot of people pointed out that this evoked some common anti-semitic tropes, and that the image had previously appeared on a white supremacist-leaning message board. Then Trump’s social media team hastily slapped a circle over the star and issued a Chewbacca defense-style explanation that involved the Microsoft Office Shapes tool and the premise that a sheriff’s badge "fit with the theme" of money and corruption. Then the campaign blamed the entire thing on "biased media," insisting that a candidate who routinely retweets apparent white supremacist accounts and refused to denounce former KKK grand wizard David Duke could not possibly condone anti-semitism.
Many presidential candidates might have decided that this whole affair had gone far enough and moved on to literally any other issue. But Donald Trump is the candidate of the internet, and that means never resting as long as someone is (supposedly) wrong. So last night, he dug up a photo of a children’s book based on the movie Frozen, noted a six-pointed star badge on the cover, and tweeted it in a jab to the "dishonest media." With the #Frozen hashtag.
Yes, the point he’s trying to make is clear: you can use the symbol in a neutral way that doesn’t represent the Star of David. Or at least, you can if you replace piles of money with a Disney character, "most corrupt candidate ever!" with "with 50 stickers!", and a political campaign that already panders to bigots with the kids’ aisle of a bookstore. As Hillary Clinton’s social media team put it, in a nod to a Frozen song, "do you want to build a strawman?"
Do you want to build a strawman? https://t.co/AoeNTJOGpo— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2016
Like many of the things Trump tweets, this defense originated elsewhere. It’s (apparently) from pro-Trump account Pizza Party Ben, whose current timeline is mostly devoted to mocking the idea that he's racist and retweeting Gamergate hero Milo Yiannopoulos. (I’m not going to make any judgments on the owner's affiliation, because it really doesn’t matter at this point.) And indeed, this tweet is the kind of thing that works in the context of an online culture war, where every argument will be dragged on forever, and the more informal parts of Twitter, where riffs on current events can briefly surface before being submerged in a stream of consciousness.
But for Trump’s campaign, this is so ludicrously petty that it deserves special attention, even in an already absurd election season. This tweet needs to be preserved forever in memory of the time that a presidential candidate deflected accusations of bigotry not by doing anything that might peel off his devoted racist fanbase, but by hiding behind a children’s book.