Monday, May 16, 2016

Donald Trump and the Resurgence of Far-Right Anti-Semitism

The Donald Trump phenomenon is the closest thing America has had in my lifetime to an old-school, populist-right movement. And one of the things that usually comes with that territory -- along with racism, xenophobia, and know-nothing nationalism -- is anti-Semitism.

It's no secret that there is a loud and vocal portion of Donald Trump's base that is openly anti-Semitic. And it continues to migrate closer to the "mainstream" of conservative thought, even as it targets other strands of the conservative movement thought of as Jewish. Breitbart was the latest on the bandwagon, commissioning a piece by David Horowitz targeting prominent anti-Trump Republican Bill Kristol as a "renegade Jew".

A friend of mine on Facebook suggested that when Trump loses -- and I have no doubt he will -- the movement that propped him will be primed to blame the Jews for his defeat. There is a recurrent story -- mostly told by GOP elites -- about how conservatives are the real friends of the Jews today. I never thought that was true, but I think within the GOP there had been an internal narrative where traditional populist GOP voters were held in check by party elites in their ability to express anti-Semitism. Donald Trump has upended that barrier as he has so many others, and I have very little faith that the GOP electorate that emerges will have anything but contempt for Jews generally and Jewish conservatives in particular.

Trump voters have got it in their heads that, in GOP politics as in life generally, Jew = 1%, RINO or outright liberal, elitist, PC, probably connected to the financial industry, and almost certainly in charge of the biased media. They signify everything in the GOP establishment that Trump voters despise (and, to be fair, Trump voters represent the nightmare version of the party that many Jewish Republicans had initially signed up for. It's not coincidence that I've openly wondered if we'll see neo-cons defect back to the Democratic Party).

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