I can't remember his name. I just remember him as the affectionate nickname I had for him, Nazi-Boy. This goes back something like 4 decades when I lived in San Francisco. I was driving home (to the Mission) along Haight Street and there was a kid at a bus stop. He took my breath away. I stopped and motioned him to get in, which he did. I asked him where he was going and he said he had to figure out to get home, to a small town near Sacramento. (That's far and I tossed out my line about how I would drive him to the end of the earth.) Stop for a second. If this is making you uncomfortable, stop right now. I have a feeling it's going to get much worse.
And Nazi-Boy-- I didn't know that was going to his name yet-- was amenable to stopping at my house. As we drove down Fillmore, there was a group of 5 or 6 Black guys on a corner. Nazy-Boy got visibly agitated. He started growling "God damn Jews," except it was a worse epithet than "God damn." I wasn't sure what he meant. So I asked him. I saw Black guys but he saw Jews. I don't think he had ever seen an actual Jew and I wasn't ready to spring the news on him yet, although I did mention that those kids on Fillmore were African-Americans and not Jews.
Let me skip ahead and just say I got him to fall in love with me. It was the first time he had ever had sex on acid and he thought I was a god, which I never have been, but it was nice to be on a pedestal for what turned out to be the better part of a year.
His awesome body was covered in tattoos. I don't mind tattoos but these tattoos all had Nazi significations. His grandparents, who raised him, where actual Nazis... from Germany. I don't know why, but they taught him the Blacks are Jews. And I have never heard anti-Semitism as hardcore as his in my life. After a few get togethers, I told him I was Jewish (technically true). He was in shock. But you know what he did-- without the slightest prodding (or even consultation with me)? He has the tattoos either erased or the Nazis symbols tattooed over.
I don't remember why we stopped seeing each other, although it may have had something to do with having nothing in common. A couple decades later I was visiting San Francisco and was a guest on KGO, which has the most reach of any terrestrial station west of the Rockies. He called in. We arranged to meet the next day and I took him and his two sons to the FAO Schwarz toy store on Sutter and told the kids to find anything they liked. Nazi Boy... I don't know if he was still a Nazi, but he was no longer a boy and made a living by wrestling pigs and slaughtering them-- on a ranch where pig eaters would come and pick out live dinner.
I don't know Peter Beinart. I met him on a plane once and I was insufferably rude because I identified him in my blogging as a centrist Democrat and an AIPAC shill. I'm still ashamed of what a bore I was. His column yesterday, Why White Nationalism Requires Antisemitism, didn't immediately bring Nazi-Boy to mind. It brought the financing by conservative Jewish groups-- AIPAC and Democratic Majority for Israel-- of Blue Dogs and New Dems against progressives to mind. I've been writing a lot about the sickening topic for the last couple of years (like this one Friday.)
Beinart took up the tragic mass shooting and racist rampage in Buffalo over the weekend, noting that the far right domestic terrorist and puppet of Tucker Carlson "published a manifesto. I’m in it. My photo appears in a typology of Jewish faces, each of which has a label: 'Goblin,' 'Troll,' 'Demon' etc. To the right of my face is Ben Shapiro’s. To the left is a photo of a rat... It’s openly genocidal and deeply stupid... But the manifesto is also highly familiar. Like many white nationalists, the Buffalo shooter believed that saving the West from a non-white 'invasion' requires eradicating Jews."
The manifesto begins with the same subject that obsesses Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump: Immigration from the Global South. “Why did you decide to carry out the attack?” the shooter asks himself. His answer: “To directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the replacers.”
From there, the shooter descends into a long, vicious, and deranged attack on the supposed inferiority and criminality of Black people. The fact that many Black Americans have roots in the US that stretch back centuries, and that he, as a white American, is a descendent of immigrants himself, doesn’t trouble him. For the shooter, “immigrant”-- or in his words, “replacer”-- is a racial category. It has little to do with the date one’s family entered the United States. To a significant degree, this is also true for Donald Trump, who in 2019 told the four non-white members of Congress who comprise “The Squad”-- including Cincinnati-born African-American Ayanna Pressley-- to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Like other white nationalists, however, the Buffalo shooter must resolve a contradiction. If Black and brown people are inferior, how have they managed to invade and nearly conquer the Western world? Here’s where Jews come in. Since Jews are malevolent in a different way-- morally degenerate but supremely cunning-- they control and manipulate the invaders from the Global South. In one montage, the shooter identifies the “Jews behind the NAACP”-- because, of course, Black Americans could not possibly run their own civil rights organization. He later alleges that Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza was raised by a Jewish stepfather. At times, the shooter even seems to suggest that Black and brown people-- along with whites-- are victims of the Jewish plague. Jews “will create infighting between our people and races,” he declares, “so we are fighting each other rather than them.” And Jews don’t only control other racial and ethnic groups. We’re behind the movement for transgender rights, too.
The shooter is riffing on an old theme. White supremacists have long imagined Jews as the sinister puppeteers behind both Black and brown immigration and Black and brown liberation. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler wrote that, “It was and is the Jews who bring the Negro to the Rhineland, always with the same concealed goal and with the clear goal of destroying, through bastardization, the white race they hate.” J.B. Stoner, the Georgia segregationist who in 1958 bombed the Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, once claimed that “The negro is not the enemy. The Jew is THE enemy of our White Race and the Jew is using the negro in an effort to destroy the White Race that he so passionately hates.” In South Africa, the story was much the same. In 1985, Washington Post correspondent Glenn Frankel noted that the apartheid government depicted Joe Slovo, the Lithuanian-born, Yiddish-speaking, head of the South African Communist Party as “Public Enemy Number One, the evil white mastermind… manipulating blacks inside his movement.”
It should not be remotely surprising, therefore, that the man who murdered 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 was enraged that the synagogue had participated in a project called National Refugee Shabbat. “Open you [sic] Eyes!” he wrote. “It’s the filthy evil jews Bringing the Filthy evil Muslims into the Country.” The following year, the man who opened fire at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, California expressed a similar grievance. In his manifesto, he condemned Jews “for their role in voting for and funding politicians and organizations who use mass immigration to displace the European race.”
For Jews, there’s an important lesson here. It is that anyone who fuels paranoia and rage about a non-white takeover of the United States endangers us. It does not matter if, like Tucker Carlson, they don’t explicitly mention Jews in their conspiracy theories. Plenty of their followers will connect the dots. It doesn’t matter if-- like many of the Republican Party’s leading white nationalists-- they fawn over the state of Israel. It’s entirely possible to believe that Jews are laudable when they establish an “ethnocracy” (I’m borrowing the term from Israeli anthropologist Oren Yiftachel) on their own turf while also considering Jews a menace when they undermine the white Christian ethnocracy you’re trying to build in the United States. The Buffalo shooter writes that “a Jew confined to Judea where he can’t spread his people or beliefs is of no concern to me.” (Though he adds that, via the Internet, Jews can infect foreign lands from a distance.)
It doesn’t matter if the person fueling “great replacement” psychosis has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. And it doesn’t matter if that person is Jewish themselves. Last fall, Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel told an Ohio audience that Muslims had developed a strategy for conquering the West: “We don’t need to beat them with weapons. We’ll beat them with our bellies.” Muslims, he explained, realized that “If we move into these countries” and “have a lot more kids than they do, we will use their constitution and their laws against them.” According to Mandel, the plot is already far along. “They’re doing it in a bunch of countries throughout Europe” and with “[George] Soros funding, that’s exactly what they want to do in the United States if they flood the border with illegals from Central America.” (Evidently Mandel believes El Salvador is composed primarily of Muslims.)
Mandel hails from a prominent Cleveland Jewish family. He received the endorsements of Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman; Trump’s special envoy against antisemitism, Elan Carr; and several prominent lay leaders of AIPAC. In his first television ad, Mandel noted that “my grandma was saved from the Nazis by a network of courageous Christians who risked their lives to save hers.” He then spent the rest of the campaign telling Ohio’s white Christians that he would save them from the Muslim immigrants and Central American refugees who seek to conquer the United States—and from the Jews who are funding that conquest behind the scenes.
Mandel lost his primary to J.D. Vance, who ran on many of the same themes. So if Ohio elects a white nationalist this fall, he will be a Christian, not a Jew. But from the perspective of Jewish safety, it makes little difference.
The great divide in global politics today is between people who believe their nations should aspire to equal citizenship, irrespective of inherited characteristics like race, religion, ethnicity and sex, and people who believe their nations should enforce the supremacy of a dominant group. (That’s why, as I argued recently, it’s utterly perverse for Jewish leaders like the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt to claim that progressives who support equality between Jews and Palestinians are the moral equivalent of white nationalists. In the most fundamental ways, they’re on opposite sides.)
The Buffalo shooter did not kill Jews. But his ideology of racial supremacy threatens us. It threatens us even when the white nationalists who espouse it do not mention Jews. It threatens us even when those white nationalists claim to love Jews. It threatens us even when those white nationalists are Jews themselves.
If the fascists take over the country-- the way they have already taken over the now anti-Semitic Supreme Court-- which isn't all that far-fetched at this point, considering the doddering old fools the president and attorney general are, I just hope they decide to deal with Mark Mellman first-- and harshly. This guy: