It is getting very scary.
Over the past several years–aided and abetted by Trump’s normalization of racism and anti-Semitism–the GOP has become less and less distinguishable from its Neo-Nazi fringe, and less embarrassed by the relationship.
Just a few of the many available examples:
Arnold runs the far-right Telegram account “Pure Politics,” which traffics in Jan. 6 conspiracy theories, praise of controversial lawmakers, and anti-COVID-containment sentiments. It also has more than 12,000 followers who frequently comment with racist and antisemitic language.
But Arnold himself has said plenty of distressing things. As CNN reported last year, Arnold has advocated shooting refugees, killing undocumented immigrants, and has posted praise for Nazi Germany. He actually once said Adolf Hitler was “a complicated historical figure which many people misunderstand.”
In a statement shared last week with The Daily Beast, the communications director for the Washington Republican Party, Ben Gonzalez, didn’t deny Arnold’s employment but claimed his tenure was short-lived.
The paid tenure may have been “short lived,” but the party’s relationship with Arnold isn’t. The GOP congressional candidate who won this year’s Republican primary was photographed alongside Arnold, “a move praised by his followers.”
Other media outlets have reported on Arnold’s strong ties to white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes. Fuentes leads a group of “college-aged, far-right activists that refer to themselves as “groypers”—a rebranding of the racist alt-right movement”–and within the far-right “America First” movement, Arnold is a lieutenant.
The embrace of Nazi ideology isn’t limited to Washington State, nor to organized far-right groups. Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has endorsed an “out and proud” Oklahoma anti-Semite. Doug Mastriano, running for Governor of Pennsylvania, has a long history of anti-Semitism and has made anti-Jewish attacks on his Jewish opponent.
From Dr. Oz in front of Hitler’s car to Marjorie Taylor Greene spouting the Great Replacement Theory to the GOP supporting Kanye West—the message is clear.
GOP officials have praised figures like Hungary’s Victor Orban, and Americans have been treated to a stream of pro-Putin, pro-Orban, anti-Semitic propaganda by Fox News figure Tucker Carlson.
Even though Fox News star Tucker Carlson’s interview with Kanye West was so expansive that it ran during both his Thursday and Friday night broadcasts, it appears the far-right cable host left out plenty of newsworthy footage, Motherboard reported on Tuesday.
These segments of the interview omitted from the final broadcasts showed the rap superstar, now known as Ye, casually peddling antisemitism while making strange claims about “fake children” used to manipulate his own kids.
Last week, before West went on an antisemitic tantrum on social media, he was welcomed on Carlson’s show to discuss the backlash he faced for donning a “White Lives Matter” shirt alongside right-wing provocateur Candace Owens at Paris Fashion Week.
In the interview that aired on Fox News, Carlson presented West as a conservative folk hero, praising his “interesting, deep, provocative” observations on politics and social issues, even shrugging off concerns about West’s mental-health issues and documented struggles with bipolar disorder.
Carlson has been a major apologist for the so-called “replacement theory”–the fear expressed by far-right White Christian Males that they will be “replaced” (displaced from their perceived status as “real” Americans) by Jews and people of color. The men who rioted in Charlottesville chanted “Jews shall not replace us.”
Almost immediately after his appearance on Carlson’s show, West used social media to issue antisemitic threats against Jewish people and was locked out of both his Instagram and Twitter accounts. Carlson has ignored the controversy and has continued to laud his “standing up for oppressed white people., as have most Congressional Republicans
Kanye West –now “Ye”–is currently a Republican celebrity, one of a small number of Blacks being used by the GOP to rebut charges of racism. (“I can’t be racist. Some of my best friends/current candidates are…”) Hershel Walker is another. As several pundits have commented, the issue for these cynical Republicans is how to handle personalities like West and Walker, both of whom have publicly struggled with mental health issues and seem unaware of their status as pawns.
As one observer put it, “I am not personally worried that Kanye is going to bomb a synagogue or something like that. I’m more concerned that there is a huge political movement that’s holding him up as this figure.”
Members of disfavored minorities used to worry about rightwing “dog whistles.” These days, the GOP isn’t bothering to whistle–instead, the party (now fully captured by its one-time fringe) is enthusiastically embracing its inner bigot.
The parallels with Germany in the 30s are too obvious to miss.