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The Right Normalizes Anti-Semitism
Not with a bang. But with a shrug.
Perhaps the frog wasn’t boiled after all. Maybe it was just exhausted. How else to explain the flaccid reaction this week to American conservativism’s casual normalization of anti-Semitism?
It’s been four days since the former president blasted out his complaint about ungrateful Jews.
The implicit threat got no points for subtlety. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Trump’s post "insulting and disgusting."
"We don't need the former president, who curries favor with extremists and anti-Semites, to lecture us about the US-Israel relationship," he said. None of this, however, is new. The ADL has been warning about Trump’s dalliance with anti-Semitism for years. After Trump tweeted out an image of Hillary Clinton and a Star of David in 2016, the ADL sounded the alarm:
We’ve been troubled by the anti-Semites and racists during this political season, and we’ve seen a number of so-called Trump supporters peddling some of the worst stereotypes all through this year. And it’s been concerning that [Donald Trump] hasn’t spoken out forcefully against these people. It is outrageous to think that the candidate is sourcing material from some of the worst elements in our society.
As we know, Republican voters — and the GOP establishment — brushed off the anti-Semitic imagery, and Trump went on to win the presidency. The alt-right blended into the GOP mainstream. In 2017, in Charlottesville after tiki torch carrying thugs chanted “Jews will not replace us”, Trump praised what he called “very fine people on both sides.”
You know the rest of the story.
Politico’s Jonathan Lemire put Trump’s latest threat in context:
This tweet comes at a moment where bias incidents and hate crimes, anti-Semitic incidents are already skyrocketing, they have been on the rise in recent years, and it feels like we know the president has inspired the violence of January 6th, called for supporters to be violent other times, related to the Mar-a-Lago case, sending out warnings, and threats to the FBI, and the fear here is this could be interpreted by his followers as a moment to potentially commit violence against Jews, and that is deeply worrisome…
Trump’s outburst also came amid Kanye West’s ongoing anti-Semitic meltdown.
Democrats have highlighted Mastriano's ties to white supremacists and antisemites – in particular Gab, the social media platform that serves as a haven for the far-right – in hopes of swaying independent voters. Gab founder and CEO Andrew Torba is the co-author of the just-published book “Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide to Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations” that has recently been among Amazon's best-sellers.
Even amid evidence of rising anti-Jewish violence, the normally voluble right-wing media could not even be bothered to shuffle its feet. Elected Republicans could hardly muster a tired shrug among them; they are, apparently, too worn out, beaten down, and numbed to be outraged.
Fox News ignored, or shrugged off, the whole thing. Tucker Carlson edited out Kanye’s anti-Semitic rants from his broadcast interviews. The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens jumped to his defense, while her boss, Ben Shapiro, explained that Kanye’s anti-Jewish rant was “clearly anti-Semitic” and “disturbing,” but, but, but, “Kanye’s moves toward pro-life, faith, and family conservatism are encouraging.” Days later, Kanye announced he was buying the right-wing troll platform Parler (whose CEO is Candace Owen’s husband). After that news broke, Politico reports, Kanye and Trump spoke by phone. “West placed the call, during which the two confirmed plans to have dinner though nothing is currently scheduled.”
And this tweet from the House GOP Judiciary Committee official account is still up:
Meanwhile, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has speculated about Jewish Space Lasers, continues to rise in the GOP ranks and is poised to assume a much larger and powerful role in a GOP-controlled Congress.
And Trump? Historian Michael Beschloss asked four days ago:
So far, nothing. Nada. Crickets. And no one was surprised.
It was not always so.
The founder of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley, thought that exorcizing the demon of anti-Semitism was so critical that when he founded National Review in 1955, he declared that the magazine “declined association with anti-Semites.” And he moved aggressively to purge the ranks.
When it became clear, in 1957, that the direction the American Mercury was headed was anti-Semitic, I ruled, with the enthusiastic approval of my colleagues, that no writer appearing on the Mercury‘s masthead, notwithstanding his own innocence on the subject, could also appear on National Review‘s.
Buckley’s adamancy was all the more noteworthy because of his own checkered background. “I have some credentials in the area,” he wrote, “among them my own father’s anti-Semitism.” In 1937, when he was 11 years-old, he later confessed, he “wept tears of frustration at being forbidden by senior siblings” to go with them to burn a cross outside a Jewish resort.
But after the horrors of the Holocaust, Buckley became convinced that, “The age calls for hypersensitivity to anti-Semitism, over against a lackadaisical return to the blasé conventions of the prewar generation, which in one country led to genocidal catastrophe.”
Years later, he would ban writer Joseph Sobran from his magazine, and defied and horrified many of his allies on the right by writing “In Search of Anti-Semitism,” and denouncing Pat Buchanan. Buckley wrote that he
[found] it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism, whatever it was that drove him to say and do it. . . .
But even Buckley’s excommunication couldn’t disguise the fact that the guard-rails on the right were shaky. Despite Buckley’s conclusion that Buchanan had trafficked in anti-Semitic rhetoric, National Review nevertheless endorsed Buchanan in the 1992 presidential primaries as a “protest” against George H.W. Bush.
As First Things reported at the time, “Eleven distinguished figures, plus two editors of this journal, signed a letter protesting any endorsement, even a ‘tactical endorsement,’ of a candidate who refused to retract his anti-Semitic remarks.”
But, as it turned out, Buchanan was just the precursor. By the time Trump came around, what remained of Buckley’s guardrails were gone.
And now, it’s almost as if the right has forgotten they were ever really there at all.
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Mike Pence knowns a few things about appeasement from personal experience. But yesterday, he threw down a challenge to the new appeasers in the GOP.
“Now, I know there is a rising chorus in our party, including some new voices to our movement, who would have us disengaged with the wider world,” Pence said. “But appeasement has never worked, ever, in history. And now more than ever, we need a conservative movement committed to America’s role as leader of the free world and as a vanguard of American values.”
“As Russia continues its unconscionable war of aggression to Ukraine, I believe that conservatives must make it clear that Putin must stop and Putin will pay,” he added. “There can be no room in the conservative movement for apologists to Putin. There is only room in this movement for champions of freedom.”
Bonus: Make sure you read Shay Khatiri in today’s Bulwark: “No, Kevin McCarthy, Our Aid to Ukraine Is Not a ‘Blank Check’”
“Knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers”
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter found that several documents between Trump’s allies must be made public, as they showed that the group participated in a “knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers in Georgia when seeking to overturn the election results in federal court.”
“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Carter wrote. “The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
1. Why Are You a Patriot?
In today’s Bulwark, Mona Charen writes that the people who most loudly claim to love the country are also those most tarnishing its reputation.
[This] brings us back to patriotism because one of the reasons to love your country is that it elevates certain virtues like integrity, courage, decency, and honor. You don’t love the country for its villains (though sometimes in spite of them). Politics is a tough business that frequently attracts ambitious, less-than-sterling people. That’s a given, but surely one aspect of patriotism is revulsion at seeing your nation’s leadership sullied by flagrant liars, bigots, and cheats. You don’t want to elevate someone who makes a fool of you for believing that he’s serious about the problem of father absence, or someone who sent buses to the Capitol on January 6 and consorts with anti-Semites, or who admires the Unabomber, or who believes that “Mike Pence is a traitor,” or who questions the legitimacy of our elections as a majority of GOP nominees this year do. Yet those are the leaders who get GOP pulses racing.
2. Can Congress Get a Witness?
Amanda Carpenter writes that John Bolton conveniently overlooks key facts in his retelling of Trump’s first impeachment.
Although Bolton insists his chief concerns revolve around high-minded complexities of constitutional law and executive privilege, there’s a more petulant argument Bolton and many other Trump-affiliated Republicans have presented through their actions when they defied requests from Congress. It amounts to two words: “make me.”
If. Only. They. Had. Been. Warned.