Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that our president asked his help in evacuating some 500 White Helmets from Syria. The Israeli leader got the group out by way of Israel to other countries - the UK, Germany, and Canada - and called the request “an important humanitarian gesture.” Odd that Trump didn't mention it. Does he only seek headlines when he does something odious?

Trump as humanitarian

There's nothing hateful about aiding people in need - in this case, the White Helmets, a civilian defense force of volunteers in rebel-controlled Syria to search and rescue civilians from Bashar al-Assad's bombing raids.

Founded by a former British MI5 officer, James Le Mesurier four years ago, the White Helmets have reported saving more than 114,000 civilians and losing 204 of their own, the Guardian reported. Syria and Russia are intent on destroying these rescuers with false claims that they are terrorists. Can that be why Trump made his humanitarian gesture so quietly - because Russia wouldn't like it?

The color of truth

The name White Helmets suits this group, the coloration being a traditional symbol of purity and truth. Likely that's why you see clergy and souls of the just and good in paintings of the Last Judgment in that cast. And the luminous white shirt of an unarmed civilian about to be gunned down in Goya's ”Third of May” also speaks of innocence.

In that sense, the KKK's choice of hue for their hoods seems downright preposterous; although, in the history of symbols, white has been associated with death. Hans Biedermann's many books on symbolism in different cultures, like his Handbook of Magical Arts, has noted that if you dream about a white horse, you can expect death.

Also in several cultures, white is the shade of mourning.

Man and beast

But given the courage and bravery of the White Helmets, another association can be made that has nothing to do with color. I'm thinking of Jack London's novel “White Fang.” The story is about an untamed hybrid - a wolf-dog - in the Yukon Territory of Canada in the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890's, told through the eyes of the animal witnessing how the violence of man and beast are alike.

London suggests that despite White Fang's animal nature, he possesses a great soul: “He could know only things that were beyond knowing--but the wonder and awe that he had of these man-animals in ways resembled what would be the wonder and awe of man at sight of some celestial creature, on a mountaintop, hurling thunderbolts from either hand at an astonished world.”

The wonder of White Helmets hazarding their lives as Syrian bombs rain down on them as they seek to save the innocent is tantamount to hurling thunderbolts at an astonished world.