Trump’s GOP Has Five Simple Tricks for Promoting Antisemitism

Trump’s GOP Has Five Simple Tricks for Promoting Antisemitism 1

Why does America tolerate the GOP’s blatant antisemitism?

I again asked this question after listening to former President Trump’s unabashed antisemitism on fully display during an interview with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid. Here, Trump invoked the hateful “dual loyalty” trope, saying, “I’ll tell you, the Evangelical Christians love Israel more than the Jews in this country,” and complaining that The New York Times hates Israel in the same breath that he said the newspaper is run by Jews. He capped things off by reminiscing about when “Israel had absolute power over Congress.”

Trump had previously assured people that he’s “the least antisemitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.” Of course, he also tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton’s face on top of a pile of cash next to the Star of David, “joked” that his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, is “more loyal to Israel than the United States,” and complained that American Jews who vote for Democrats show “great disloyalty” to Israel.

Maybe it’s just “economic anxiety”? Or maybe Trump’s hateful comments reflect a modern conservative movement that has gradually mainstreamed antisemitic conspiracies that create and inspire violent terrorists targeting Jews, yes, but also Muslims, immigrants of color and Black people.

We’re all “invaders” according to the vicious replacement theory spewed almost nightly on Tucker Carlson’s top-rated Fox News show without any pushback from corporate sponsors or media institutions. GOP elected officials, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, who blamed Jews for using space lasers to start wildfires, and Paul Gosar, who is the friend of white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, openly endorse the theory as well. It’s the cornerstone of the QAnon movement, a national security threat, whose supporters are now running for office as Republicans.

This is just a lousy remake of the Elders of the Protocols of Zion, a debunked conspiracy that emerged from Russia at the beginning of the 20th century and claimed a small, international cabal of sinister Jews were using their wealth and connections to gain control of and weaken Western civilization. In 2021, it’s called “the deep state,” with Jews supposedly using immigrants of color, Muslims, feminists, and LGBTQ groups as their pawns in a plot to gain control of and weaken Western civilization by replacing white people, especially men, in Europe and America.

They’ve even updated the blood libel conspiracy for the modern era. The conservatives aligned with QAnon believe liberals are part of an international cabal of sex traffickers who bear the “mark of the beast,” and kidnap, molest and kill children. Asked if he would disavow QAnon, and thus many of his supporters, Trump infamously said he didn’t know enough to do so, adding, “What I do hear about it, they are very strongly against pedophilia.”

And so these conspiracies persist and flourish, radicalizing the likes of Ashili Babbitt, who showed up at the US Capitol on Jan. 6 committed to unleashing “the storm,” a QAnon codeword for violence, before being shot and killed by a Capitol police officer. They radicalized the man who came carrying an automatic weapon to a Washington DC pizzeria convinced he was going to find children kidnapped and enslaved by Hillary Clinton in its basement. The supposed “great replacement” radicalized the man who shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 including Holocaust survivors because, he said, the Jews were bringing in “the invaders.”

Despite all this evidence of blatant antisemitism, Republicans nonetheless have been able to avoid being labeled antisemitic despite bathing in it nearly every day though a simple five-step plan: 1) Deny, 2) Project, 3) Deflect — those first three steps, by the way, are straight out of Roger Stone’s “rules” to “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack” — 4) Praise Israel, and 5) Attack Ilhan Omar.

These Republicans are following Trump’s lead. Recall, Trump also claimed he’s the least racist person in the world despite promoting the Birther conspiracy, running a campaign fueled by Islamophobia and anti-Mexican bigotry, telling four Congresswomen of color to “go back, where you came from” and lamenting the arrival of Black and brown immigrants from “shithole countries.” Republicans realized this strategy, often employed by 4-year-olds, works like gangbusters in an overwhelmed and timid media ecosystem where most journalists lack the courage and skills to push back and challenge power. The rare time there’s outrage, you just “flood the zone with shit,” as Steve Bannon advises, and the news cycle moves on, unable to keep up with all the daily outrages any one of which would have made Barack Obama a one-term president.

Second, the GOP has perfected projection, where they pivot and blame Democrats for all their sins and vile deeds. Just last week, GOP Rep. Scott Perry, who has been identified as one of Trump’s main coup minions, accused Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of being an antisemite and terrorist sympathizer. He did this on the heels of the House passing a bill condemning Islamophobia and Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene proudly doubling down on their anti-Muslim bigotry, which resulted in death threats against Omar. However, Perry has yet to condemn Gosar for his antisemitism or asked Matt Gaetz why he invited a Holocaust denier to attend the State of the Union.

Third, the GOP is able to deflect criticisms of antisemitism by claiming that they’re merely asking questions, joking, or speaking out against “the globalists” and “elites” seeking to crush the common man on behalf of the “deep state,” sometimes with a nod toward George Soros thrown in. It’s the same way “urban crime” means “violent Black people,” and “welfare queen” means “lazy Black woman abusing the system.” When that fails, they say they’re being politically incorrect and asking the hard questions necessary to protect our country, its values and its demographics from “those” seeking to wish us harm.

Fourth, Republicans have loudly emerged as the biggest defenders of Israel and accuse anyone, including Jews and especially progressives, who is critical of Israel’s policies of being antisemitic. But in fact, Republicans are really into Israel but they’re just not into Jews. In fact, Jews are just used as a convenient political and religious pawn to placate their real base, white Evangelical Christians, who believe Jews must control the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims, as one of the necessary pre-conditions of the Second Coming. Unfortunately, Israel has been successfully used as a wedge to split up natural alliances between some Jewish, Muslim and POC communities in America, who need to unite immediately to confront the rising tide and political power of white supremacists, who are coming after all of us, and who use antisemitic and Islamophobic conspiracies to gain recruits to their sick cause.

Finally, Republicans rely on the double standards that exist in American political, media and cultural institutions, including among all too many Democrats, when it comes to progressive women of color, as evidenced by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. If you doubt this, I recommend you play the game: “What would happen if Ilhan Omar said this?” I’ll start. What would happen if Ilhan Omar openly called for the destruction of one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, calling it an ”abomination”? She’d be thrown under the bus by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’d reverse the bus and run over again.

But that’s exactly what Paul Gosar said last week with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and it wasn’t even headline news. It’s a statement so inflammatory and dangerous, with the potential to inspire actual violence, that even the most hard-right politicians in Israel never say it out loud. Yet, here we are, still talking about Omar’s “controversial” tweets, but not a word on Gosar, who has yet to be condemned by GOP leadership for that, or his hateful tweet against AOC, or his keynote speech at a white nationalist conference.

Everyone has moved on from Trump’s latest antisemitic outburst because the zone is indeed flooded with shit, but our communities can’t afford to brush it off, laugh, refer to it as a “trip up,” or be complacent. These hateful words, mainstreamed, praised and promoted by our elected officials, are a green light for extremists to “stand back and stand by” as they prepare to unleash violence against fellow Americans.

The GOP’s antisemitism is fuel for their fire, and silence and apathy makes people into complicit co-arsonists.