How Can Jews Still Be Republicans?
The antisemitic outbursts of Kanye West have exposed the increasing tolerance of foul bigotry within the Republican Party and among its "conservative" mouthpieces. With West now touted as a new Black GOP voice (despite or perhaps because of his admitted mental illness), his sickening threats against Jews were quickly excused or even endorsed by the likes of Tucker Carlson, the top Fox News host whose own embrace of explicit antisemitism appears imminent.
Over the past few years, nearly every day has seen an antisemitic outrage perpetrated by some figure or organization associated with the Republicans; as the intensity and frequency of these offenses grows, the response by the party and its officials, never robust, has only become weaker and more cowardly.
The question is what Republicans -- not the burgeoning caucus of neo-Nazis who call themselves Republicans, but actual conservatives -- will do about this cancer on their party. It is a question especially pertinent to the handful of American Jews who have provided substantial financing for the Republicans, and for the man who has stimulated so much hate, former President Donald J. Trump.
When Trump excused the murderous Nazi rioters in Charlottesville, Virginia, he upset at least some of the Jewish Republicans who had supported him, such as the financier Stephen Schwarzman and the investment banker Gary Cohn. They felt the disdain of the overwhelming majority of Jews who want no part of Trump or Trumpism. And yet many of those same Jewish Republicans continue to support the party as its extremism endangers their community and every other minority in the United States. It is curious indeed that someone like Paul Singer, whose son is gay and therefore a target of fascist violence, would continue to subsidize this social poison.
Despite the fact that his own daughter and grandchildren are Jewish, Trump revived the "America First" slogan first popularized here by Hitler's agents and supercharged the return of fascist movements, with their animus against Jews, Blacks, gays and anyone else deemed "different." Having recently donned a "Q" pin to advertise his affinity for the conspiratorial, antisemitic and violent QAnon movement, the former president clearly understands that these hideous elements are crucial to his base. But the blame for this menace can no longer be attributed to him alone. Too many other Republicans are directly implicated or complicit.
In Arizona, nearly the entire Republican apparatus is tainted by antisemitic rhetoric and ideologies, in particular state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who sucks up to the neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes and his America First Political Action Committee, and Rep. Paul Gosar, the member of Congress notorious for posting homicidal images of himself murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden. Mark Finchem, the party's nominee for secretary of state this year, is touting his endorsement by the openly antisemitic social media site Gab and its founder Andrew Torba, whose speeches explicitly echo the German Nazi Party.
In Pennsylvania, the Republicans nominated for governor a Christian nationalist state senator named Doug Mastriano, who hired Torba to send Gab's antisemitic subscribers to his campaign. He followed up with a bit of unsubtle Jew-baiting of his Democrat opponent Josh Shapiro.
In New York, the Republicans chose Carl Paladino, a raving racist, for an upstate congressional seat; his endorsement of Adolf Hitler as "the kind of leader we need" didn't bother Rep. Elise Stefanik, third-ranking Republican in the House, enough to evoke comment, let alone a disendorsement. And let's not forget Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the lunatic antisemite and apostle of QAnon violence who was nevertheless backed by nearly every House Republican last year when Democrats moved to strip her committee assignments.
The roster of white nationalists, fascists and neo-Nazis who identify as Republicans goes on much longer and includes such prominent party figures as Trump adviser Steve Bannon. There is now an entire wing of the party, bidding for dominant status, that bills itself as "nationalist" and promotes the authoritarian antisemitic leader of Hungary, Viktor Orban, as a Republican role model. That wing even has its own financier, the gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel, whose attraction to white nationalism may someday make him the Republican version of Ernst Rohm.
Whatever has motivated decent Republicans, including those of Jewish descent, to continue supporting what is rapidly becoming the party of fascism and antisemitism, they must stop and reconsider. If they imagine that they are using the far Right to achieve a political agenda of lower taxes or less regulation, they ought to recall how that worked out a century ago, when German conservatives and nationalists thought they were manipulating Hitler and his movement to thwart socialism.
Those willing instruments of Nazism are stained forever -- and that legacy of disgrace will be shared by the Republicans who are now enabling fascism in America.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM
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