The Rise Of Antisemitism In Trump's Republican Party
A plurality of American voters tell pollsters they think Trump is a racist and only 20% deny that he associates with racists. A huge plurality says he made race relations worse. When it comes to antisemitism, 59% of Americans say it’s a serious problem, although only 51% of registered Republicans agree. Only 17% of Americans say they approve of Trump’s dinner with virulent antisemites Nick Fuentes and Ye— and even among Republicans approval is very low (19%).
There has been little disagreement that Trump says antisemitic things; but a lot of disagreement about whether or not he’s the real deal personally. Charlie Sykes dealt with the question very well yesterday. He’s not interested in Trump’s personal feelings about Jewish people— just why he seems to always be stoking antisemitism. Trump sees it as politically advantageous— a constituency he can cultivate. “As usual, it is not clear whether Trump, a man of few ideas and little or no introspection, actually holds antisemitic views,” wrote Sykes. “But that is beside the point: He thinks these are his people and he’s not going to abandon them. As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump notes, ‘Trump has always been desperate to send signals to his base of support that he agrees with and loves them.’”
“Trump,” he wrote, “is seldom careful about who he offends— tossing out jibes, insults, and threats with reckless abandon. He is more than willing to lash out at cultural elites and the people he calls “disloyal Jews” who support Democrats. But Trump has been consistent in his reluctance to offend what he regards as a crucial part of the base that he has nurtured over the years. He is unapologetic about associating with overt neo-Nazis, and unwilling to issue full-throated denunciations of antisemitism. Trump is willing to draw this barrage of opprobrium for one simple reason: He believes that he has tapped into something in the American electorate, especially among evangelical Christians, who have ingrained— but complicated— attitudes toward Israel and Jews. And these are his people.”
Trumpism (and Trump himself) has given oxygen to renascent antisemitism that has been introduced and normalized— by social media, celebrities and politicians— to a new audience that is impossible to quantify but may number in the millions. A 2020 survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that a majority of Americans “agree with at least one common stereotype about Jews.” While overt antisemitism has declined over the last half-century, the report found that 11 percent of Americans— or more than 28 million Americans— believe in six or more of the 11 anti-Jewish stereotypes tested.
This resurgent antisemitism— a blend of old-fashioned anti-Jewish sentiment, extreme versions of Christian/evangelical nationalism and a deep investment in conspiracism— is not, of course, new. But it is arguably more widespread, more virulent and closer to the political mainstream than at any time in recent history. The last few years have been a master class in the extent to which millions of Americans are willing to believe myths, lies and dark theories about cosmopolitan cabals who threaten the fabric of American life. Attacks on George Soros and “globalists” are now standard attack lines on the American right. Inevitably, though, a worldview obsessed with malign global elites will settle on the Jews as a target of choice.
The result has been an ominous upsurge in violence and hate.
This morning, John Pavlovitz took on the irony of contemporary evangelical anti-semitism. He wrote that “As a longtime pastor, perhaps the most disturbing part of the ugly rise of open anti-Semitism in America is that it is so often coming from the professed devoted followers of a Jewish rabbi born in Judea and versed in the Old Testament. Their present bigotry doesn’t just testify to their cancerous hearts, but to their theological ignorance, to their complete disconnection from the very faith story they are supposed to be living in. They’ve literally forgotten where they came from. Judaism is the genesis of the Christian tradition, the deep and rich root system without which it would simply not exist. The New Testament and the work of Jesus cannot be fully understood or appreciated untethered from the Hebrew Scriptures, and anti-Semitic disciples of Jesus are simultaneously committing violence against Jewish people and to their faith’s namesake. The very Bible Conservatives so easily invoke and so continually declare obedience to, traces the intimate relationship of God to the Israelites (the chosen people of God), and later in the New Testament to the new tribe defined by the disparate congregation who found affinity in Jesus’ life and teachings. But even then, Judaism remains, forming and informing. Anti-Semitism wherever it comes from is sickening and inhuman, but when it is perpetuated by Christians it becomes a tragically ironic act of self-violence, a blasphemous act of terrorism.”