Thursday, November 11, 2021

Antisemitism is a GOP Growth Opportunity in Minority Communities

When Marjorie Taylor Greene found herself approvingly quoting Nation of Islam conspiracy theories and noting the "common ground" between the GOP and the NoI, many laughed. Others pointed out that the synergy should not surprise: there really is a lot of common ground between the two. Conspiratorial antisemites should flock together. It is hardly a surprise that Louis Farrakhan has had his share of praise for Donald Trump; nor should it shock that one of Trump's most prominent Black advisors, Omarosa Manigault, tried to do outreach connected the Trump administration to Farrakhan. When one looks at the younger generation of "Blexit" style Black conservative leaders who are exciting the contemporary Republican Party, antisemitism is often part and parcel of their appeal. Omarosa was one example. Candace Owens -- she of the infamous apologia for Hitler -- is another. Mark Robinson, the new Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina and a rising star in the state GOP, has the Jewish community in a near-panic after a bevy of antisemitic (and otherwise bigoted remarks) which he has not retracted -- the most blatant being the claim that the movie Black Panther was the project of an "agnostic Jew" whose sole agenda was "to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets." Similar trends have been observed among Latinos in Miami -- a crucial "battleground" community whose unexpectedly shift back to the right in 2016 and 2020 has kept that state in the Republican column.

An underappreciated reality is this: antisemitism is one of the most obvious avenues for the GOP to make inroads in communities of color. To be sure, this is all relative -- we're talking about how to move from 10% of the Black vote to 15% of the vote; the vast majority of Black Americans are not antisemitic and are not going to be swayed over to the GOP side of the ledger by antisemitic appeals. Still, the Hirsh/Royden paper measuring antisemitic attitudes in the American population specifically found a massive spike among young conservatives, and specifically young conservatives of color (Latinos and African-American). I've joked that this finding has "something for everyone" partaking in the debates over where antisemitism is most threatening (the left is happy it can blame the right, and the right is happy it can blame Black people). But their finding really does have significant implications for where the "low hanging fruit" is for Republicans trying to bolster their vote share in minority communities, and it is very likely the GOP will start explicitly chasing that vote sooner rather than later.  

The obvious truth about someone like Louis Farrakhan is that he is a conservative figure and his ideology is far more harmonious with the right than the left. The same is true for others in the Black community who share Farrakhan's broader outlook. This obvious truth has been obscured, partially by the idiosyncratic reasons that Farrakhan and his NoI have connections to some on the progressive left, partially because the brand of conservatism he represents (deep mistrust of public institutions, xenophobic fear of contamination by "outsiders", conspiratorial ravings about the true powers governing society), when racialized through a Black perspective, often present White people and America as the "institutions" or "outsiders" or "powers" that are indicted. But on the latter, particularly, as the GOP has gotten increasingly comfortable with overt and often violent anti-government rhetoric, there are more and more opportunities for overlap here. Railing against "the CIA" or "the FBI" or "the banks" or the "globalists" -- those words will sound very similar coming out of either camp, and will likewise resonate similarly no matter who is speaking them. Marjorie Taylor Greene is doing nothing more than recognizing what was already before her eyes. And to the extent that attacks on "Whites" seems to be an insurmountable hurdle, well, redirecting those attacks onto the Jews is a prime opportunity for "compromise" that can satisfy both parties (Eric Ward's seminal "skin in the game" article expressly identified this in exploring how he, as a Black man, could enter far-right spaces -- the presumed common ground and foundation for alliance that could unify Black Americans and the far-right was explicitly that of antisemitism).

Again, Farrakhan is not representative here -- this post is not about how the GOP will win majorities of the Black community. I'm just saying that, however large this sector is in the Black community, it is a sector that is ripe for  As the GOP gets more explicitly captured by folks like Marjorie Taylor Green, these commonalities are going to become more apparent and become more tempting to leverage. And anyone who thinks that genuine concern or fair-feeling for Jews is going to stop Republican strategists from pushing that button is out to lunch. It is, simply put, too tempting a target. The overlap is already present, the votes are there to be had, and the Republican Party has no scruples to speak of when it comes to converting hateful rabble-rousing into electoral success.

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