Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XVIII: Black Politicians Endorsing White Politicians

There is an open Senate seat in Maryland, precipitated by the retirement of long-time Senator Barbara Mikulski (D). Since Maryland is a safely blue state, this seat has drawn a lot of high profile attention, and right now the main contestants to succeed Mikulski are D.C. area Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Donna Edwards (D). Van Hollen is White, Edwards is Black, but both are staunch progressives. The main difference between the two is that Van Hollen is more of an establishment-type (being former head of the DCCC), while Edwards has more of an insurgent's profile (attaining office by successfully primarying an old-school boss style politician in Albert Wynn). Edwards is also on the J Street side of the pro-Israel spectrum, while Van Hollen straddles the normal Democratic line of being both a staunch defender of the Jewish state while also urging it towards productive steps towards a peaceful two-state solution.

There's no question that Van Hollen has been more attentive to the constituent services element of his job than has Edwards, and has for a long time been very attentive to the needs and desires of local politicians around the state (no doubt in part with an eye on a race like this in the future). Edwards has considered to be somewhat lackluster in this field, and the result is that Van Hollen has been far more successful on the endorsement front than has Edwards. Two of his most important endorsees are Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker. Both men are African-American, and while Montgomery County forms the heart of Van Hollen's base, PG County is Edwards' territory, so Baker's endorsement in particular is a major pickup for Van Hollen. And, well, some folks are less than pleased:
A flier alleging Jewish control of black politicians was distributed at a budget meeting in a Maryland suburb of Washington.

The flier distributed Monday in Prince George’s County uses Photoshop to depict three Maryland Democrats in the U.S. Congress — Sen. Ben Cardin and Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Steny Hoyer — standing over two dogs bearing the faces of County Executive Rushern Baker and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, both African-Americans.
“Van Hollen will run against Donna Edwards and other African-American candidates chosen and financed by the Israel lobby for the purpose of splitting the African-American vote in the primaries,” the leaflet said. It accused Leggett and Baker of selling out Edwards “for a few doggy treats.”
To be clear, Edwards (and Van Hollen, of course) have condemned the flyer (which is of unknown origin). And the Black community time and again has demonstrated that it does not find this sort of hate-mongering remotely compelling. So I'm not worried. There are valid reasons to pick Edwards over Van Hollen, and vice versa. But the decision by Black politicians to endorse Van Hollen is attributable to nothing more sinister than the fact that Van Hollen is a proven progressive voice and leader who has been a successful advocate for all sectors of the Maryland community. To allege, as the flyer did, that folks like Leggett and Baker are taking their position in order "to ensure Blacks don’t get political power in the Senate" is grotesque. But it demonstrates one of the great truths of contemporary anti-Semitic discourse: that there is something foul about Jews playing the political game and winning. Politicians being responsive to a minority community's preferences in the political arena? Lapdogs!

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