I’ve made a lot of fun of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s accusation that California’s fires aren’t the result of climate change, but instead were started by Jewish Space Lasers financed by George Soros. Greene and her loony-tunes ilk are perfect representations of an anti-Semitism that continues to attribute super-powers to an invented Jewish “cabal.” (Elders of Zion, anyone?)
If only we Jews were really that powerful…
There’s a robust academic literature attempting to explain some people’s need to pin the world’s woes on an identifiable, deliberate and malevolent group–and as Hitler figured out, it helps if the group chosen to be the bad guys is numerically small and unable to effectively protect itself.
Whatever has made Jews the “chosen” people to blame, it seems the contemporary GOP has become the preferred home for today’s anti-Semites, whose versions are marginally less whack-a-doodle than Greene’s, and for that reason, pose more of a threat.
A recent article in the Intercept recounted the then-Republican rejection of Pat Buchanan’s version of anti-Semitism, then contrasted it with what is occurring today.
Trump resurrected Buchanan’s strain of populist nationalism. He’s always nurtured business relations and personal ties with Jewish people, but his revival of “America First” — both the slogan and the ideas surrounding it — inevitably excited antisemites. In 2016, he tweeted out an image using a Star of David to symbolize Hillary Clinton’s “corruption.” The Trump campaign tweeted an altered version after an outcry but then ran an ad in the campaign’s closing days decrying “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities” coupled with images of Janet Yellen, George Soros, and Lloyd Blankfein — all of whom are financial figures who happen to be Jewish.
Trump attacked his critics as a cabal of “globalists” and fixated on the secret powers exerted by Soros, who has displaced (or in some cases joined) the Rothschilds in the imagined role of secret Jewish financier orchestrating a series of catastrophes for profit. The explosion of militant paranoia that followed Trump’s rise — from the Oath Keepers to QAnon — has appeared both online and in the real world with occasionally deadly consequences in places like Charlottesville and Pittsburgh. Although much of this activity has taken place outside the party system, the energies on the right have crept into the Republican Party.
The article went on to report anti-Semitic statements by high-level Republicans (including a spokesperson for Ron DeSantis) and the close relationship of Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s GOP nominee for governor, with the ultra-right-wing social-media site Gab. (The site promotes Christian Nationalist themes, and its chief executive is an “out and proud” antisemite “who has promoted Mastriano as a fellow enemy of the Jews.”)
Is it fair to criticize the Republican Party for the views of its most distasteful members? The Intercept article is lengthy, with a number of other examples, but I found the closing paragraphs pretty persuasive.
There is a simple test to measure their influence. If antisemites were too marginal to pose any danger, it would be easy enough for the party to cut them off. (If you want to know what it looks like when Republicans decide to really throw somebody out of their party, look at their treatment of Liz Cheney.) Instead, they vacillate. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declined to comment on Gosar’s attendance at white nationalist Nick Fuentes’s conference. McCarthy has likewise promised to restore Greene’s committee privileges if Republicans regain the majority.
Prosecutors have found that Trump’s January 6 rally attracted a significant number of people who share Hitler quotes, hold membership in neo-Nazi organizations, have a fixation with “white genocide,” and the like, making the party leadership’s desire to sweep the whole thing under the rug all the more dangerous. Whatever misgivings the remaining old-line Republicans may have toward the militant cadres Trump inspired, Republicans fear their political and even terroristic power. They no longer imagine they have the gatekeeping force to exclude the antisemites, less still to steer the party away from the kind of paranoid rhetoric that invites their participation.
The GOP’s overriding goal is to win, and it has decided this means accepting the support of anybody who will provide it. For three-quarters of a century, antisemites were locked out of major American politics or at least had to keep their bigotry quiet. Now the door is open.
I guess a Republican Party that has been deserted by people who are pro-choice, pro- LGBTQ, pro-public school, pro-gun safety regulation and pro-environment needs to replace those groups with whoever is handy…
However, watching them scrape the bottom of the barrel is making me feel distinctly unsafe.