I've written about this before but when Donald Trump was first elected, my mother-in-law proudly announced she had voted for him and I explained to my wife that I would never speak to her mother again. Her mother had voted for white nationalism and as a Jew, that was intolerable. I went on to explain that even though Trump campaigned on anti-Latino hate (which was bad enough since I'm also half Puerto Rican) it was just a matter of time until antisemitism became normalized on the right.
We've had a running conversation about it since then and part of that conversation was my insistence that it wouldn't be long before openly antisemitic candidates would run as Republicans. I tell her, regularly, that it doesn't matter how loudly they scream about immigrants or Muslims or Black Lives Matters, sooner or later, they always come back to their absolute hatred for the Jews. Always.
Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites are making their presence felt in mainstream American politics. Whether they are running for high-profile offices themselves, or aligning themselves with candidates in races around the country, members of the extremist right – and their racist, anti-Semitic views – are experiencing more exposure today than at any time in recent history.
While extremists’ involvement in politics is not new, the country’s major political parties have historically kept fringe candidates and their ideologies at arm’s length.
The ADL lists several antisemites running for office, (not so) shockingly all as Republicans:
- Arthur Jones - A literal neo-Nazi
- John Fitzgerald - A Holocaust denier
- Paul Nehlen - A rabid Jew hater
- Corey Stewart - A big fan of Paul Nehlan
- Patrick Little - Actually posted on Twitter, "Death to Israel"
- Keith Alexander - All kinds of hate going on there
- Sean Donahue - Proud white nationalist
The ADL also points out that elected Republicans have been playing footsies with known antisemites in right wing media:
In October 2017, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) hosted Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson at a meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Johnson has questioned the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and has theorized that the Auschwitz concentration camp and gas chambers never existed.
In February 2018, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) welcomed Johnson as his guest at the State of the Union address. Even after he was provided with background materials on Johnson, Gaetz declined to rescind his invitation.
There's more (so much more) but you get the idea. Even as Republicans feign a love of Israel, their loathing for Jews is beginning to ooze through the facade again. As the party become ever more centered around white nationalism, this will become unavoidable because antisemitism is the bread and butter of white identity politics the world over. If there's one thing a neo-Pagan skinhead from Eastern Europe and a JAY-zus loving Grand Dragon of the KKK from the Deep South can agree on, it's that the Jews have got to go.
This first batch of isn't going to go far; some of them have been running for years unsuccessfully. But others are new and they're running openly antisemitic campaigns because they judge, accurately, that white nationalism is now acceptable to white Republican voters. Eventually, it will be normal enough that they'll start winning in spite of being a white nationalist and then, inevitably, they'll start winning because they're a white nationalist.
Trump opened a door into the darkest reaches of where the soul of white Republican voters used to be and all of the bile that took its place came pouring out. Nothing is going to close that door again. Just like the Tea Party forced Republican candidates to compete to out-crazy each other, Trump has unleashed a race to see who can embrace their inner Nazi the hardest.
And they're just getting started.