Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Golda Meir is credited with saying, “Israel is the Jew among nations.” In the speeches of global leaders and the pronouncements of the UN–– the so-called global “community” that strains out the besieged, liberal-democratic Israel gnat while swallowing whole herds of murderous tyrannical camels–– this international form of anti-Semitism is blatantly obvious behind the thread-bare veil of “anti-Zionism.”
The frenzy of progressive commentary blaming Donald Trump for the recent mass shootings is just the latest hysterical outburst of hatred, one suggesting that for the left the president has become the “Jew” among politicians: The object of a unique, fetishistic hatred and paranoia, Trump is the sinister agent of the Democrat Party’s festering, bitter disappointment over the sudden halt he brought to their utopian fantasies of “fundamentally transforming America.”
It’s another sign of the left’s terminal hypocrisy that such flamboyant irrationalism and habits of thought, more typical of premodern societies and the feeble-minded, would flourish among political partisans who call themselves “brights” and brag that their opinions and beliefs are “science-driven.” But Trump-hatred derives from the same atavistic impulses as anti-Semitism: The ancient need to scapegoat a victim upon which to offload the community’s own guilt and misdeeds; and the vulnerability of evangelical ideologues to conspiracy narratives as a way to explain and rationalize their own failure.
In one of history’s sad ironies, the most scapegoated people in history first documented the practice we use today to describe blaming others for our own failures and shortcomings. In ancient Israel, on Yom Kippur the priest would confess the people’s sins over the head of a goat, which was then driven into the wilderness, taking their sins with it. A corollary to scapegoating is the impulse to fabricate preposterous, paranoid conspiracies to explain the malign powers of a persecuted, marginalized minority responsible for the majority’s troubles.
Medieval false charges against Jews like the “blood libel,” the killing of Christian children to use their blood for making Passover matzos; or the desecration of the “host,” the bread used in the Christian communion ritual; or the poisoning of wells all bespeak an irrational paranoia about secret conspiratorial powers possessed by Jews. In modern times, the Russian hoax called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, first published in 1903, detailed a global conspiracy of Jews to take over the world by corrupting Christian morals, taking control of newspapers, and dominating global economies, a canard Nazism freshened up with eugenics pseudo-science, and took to horrific lengths.
In both medieval and modern times, these lies are compensatory explanations for social disruption or catastrophe: crop failures, plagues, or enemy raids during the Middle Ages; the disorder, social dislocation, strife arising from industrial capitalism, political revolutions, and wars during the modern age. Those, who like the Jews are culturally, religiously, and ethnically distinct from the majority, are easy targets precisely because of those differences.
We see the same malign impulses at work in anti-Trumpism. Among the political caste, Trump is a frightening anomaly. In his manners, appearance, earthy rhetoric, blunt speech, garish style, déclassé businesses (Manhattan real estate, casinos, reality television, beauty pageants) and lack of the credentials (military service, law degrees, experience in federal or state government) that at least since World War I have been requirements for high political office, he stands out as the political “other” who threatens the bipartisan “managerial elite” and its power.
At first, as a political novelty act during the primaries, Trump was treated like a mash-up of a third-party oddity like Ross Perot, and the comedian Pat Paulsen, who in six presidential elections pretended to run for president as a gag. But when Trump succeeded in besting 16 other Republican primary candidates, all from the political high caste, and then, horribile dictu, defeated the consummate political mandarin, Hillary Clinton, the world was turned upside down for the bipartisan elite.
At that point, Trump’s outlandish differences in rhetorical style and background from the elite made him the perfect scapegoat for both parties’ obvious failures over the last decade. Just as Israel’s miraculous defeat of numerous enemies in three defensive wars intensified Arab hatred, Trump’s success in becoming president enraged the Democrats and the never-Trump elites. Now they had to drive Trump from the White House into the political desert, taking with him the responsibility for both parties’ political sins. The Democrats had failed to select a more viable candidate, and the Republicans had failed to stand up and fight against both the increasingly radical Democrats, and the Republican Party establishment that preemptively cringed before the Democrats’ aggressive rancor, technocratic hubris, and identity-politics shibboleths.
Then came the next intellectual and moral dysfunction that explains anti-Semitism and the hatred of Trump: Russia! Lacking the capacity for self-reflection and acknowledgement of their own hubris and extremism, the Democrats and some Republican NeverTrumpers began the whole Russian “collusion” conspiracy to explain their failures. Casting Vladimir Putin’s as Trump’s Rasputin, the Dems constructed a narrative in which Russian hackers, Julian Assange, Trump campaign officials, FOX News, voter suppression, and endemic “deplorable” racism and sexism conspired to deny Hillary the presidency and put in office the more malleable and likely blackmailable Trump
Then, after their handpicked Javert and his Democrat crew couldn’t find grounds to indict or impeach the president, the conspiracy expanded to include a shadowy cabal of “white nationalists” and “white supremacists” –– for the left, the phrases are interchangeable––with whom the president communicated via “dog whistles” and other secret signals. And, of course, the idea that endemic, subconscious, institutionalized “racism” continued to exist provided the bonding agent of this nefarious band. From Charlottesville to El Paso, the violent shock-troops of this racist movement perpetrated the terrorist “propaganda of the deed” by killing innocents. Even the suspicious death of pedophilic purveyor Jeffrey Epstein is being linked to the president and his AG by the conspiracy theorists at MSNBC.
So instead of “Russia! Russia! Russia!” 24/7, we now have “Racism! Racism! Racism” as the analogue to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the conspiracy of “deplorables” to bring “white supremacism” to power and “roll back the clock” to the days when women and minorities knew their degraded place. So too in the Middle East, the enemies of Israel endlessly concoct wild conspiracies about the Jews’ aims of restoring the ancient Solomonic Israeli state, violently cleansing the region of Arabs, and demolishing the Dome of the Rock mosque on the Temple Mount in order to build the Third Temple.
The Democrats’ narratives, promulgated night and day across the media, are no more credible than the notion that Jews are plotting to hijack the world’s economy––still a favorite trope of the lefty protestors at Davos or meetings of the World Bank. As for the Trump “collusion” and “white nationalism” tales, empirical evidence easily available on the internet can quickly debunk them. Before Mueller even began his investigation, enough facts about the Russia-sourced “Steele dossier” were publicly available to discredit the premises of the collusion narrative. More ironic is that ample evidence of a “conspiracy” first to keep Trump out of the White House, then to terminally damage his presidency, has also been made public, and studiously ignored by the legacy media.
The conspiracy about racism and “white nationalism” is even easier to discredit. People who self-identify as “white nationalists” or “supremacists” are less than marginal in our culture, unlike the fascist Antifa, which openly perpetrates its violence and enjoys cover from the Democrats, media, and some blue-state mayors and police commissioners. Nor are the ravings of a psychopath like the mass shooter in El Paso evidence of an organization powerful enough to elect a Congressman or even influence policy. There are no “white nationalist” PACs or lobbyists or think-tanks, no “National Association for the Advancement of White People,” no university programs akin to Black Studies. In popular culture “white supremacists” are like the cliché Russians or other Slavs in action movies and political thrillers: safe cartoon villains that will not expose the moviemaker to boycotts and “woke” shaming. “White supremacists” are just a fringe that the media and progressives have magnified and weaponized against conservatives and Republicans.
So too with “racism,” an empty smear and the camouflage for bad ideas. Mark Bauerlein’s recent essay in American Greatness reminds us that actual “white supremacy” did not need subtle cues or secret codes. After providing brutal examples of real racist and white supremacist comments from Congressmen and governors in the early 20th Century, Bauerlein writes,
Such statements are painful to read, to be sure. (I quote all of them and many more in Negrophobia: A Race Riot in Atlanta, 1906.) But if we don’t keep them in mind when tossing around the charge of white supremacy, the term loses its meaning. It becomes a sloppy usage liable to abuse—exactly what we see in corporate leftist media and Democratic politicking, which casts Trump supporters as closet racists.
But there is nothing subtle, canny, dog-whistling, or unconscious about the practice of actual white supremacy. It’s too virulent to be hidden for very long. A white supremacist can’t sit down with African Americans and fake it. The recoil would show. Can we really think that an uncompromising man like NFL hero Jim Brown could meet with president-elect Trump in 2016 and walk away ready to support him if Trump really was a racist ass?
Like the “Zionism is racism” or “apartheid” slurs against Israel, occult “racism” is necessary as the precondition for the existence of “white supremacism” and its nefarious power. And no amount of empirical evidence can dislodge this moral and intellectual dysfunction from the progressive world view. It’s a mish-mash of logical fallacies: red herring, straw man, ad hominem, category error, and probably a few others. Yet it’s too politically useful as a scapegoating device that absolves the Democrats for decades of policy failures at home and abroad. Anyone who takes these charges seriously, as unfortunately too many Republicans and supposed conservatives do, should be ashamed of himself.
Finally, pointing out the eternal flaws of human nature that produce the unprecedented demonization of Donald Trump and Israel is not to claim a moral equivalence. It means that in both cases, the party of “science” is all too irrational in its moral and intellectual shortcomings. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the effects of this human flaw are equivalent, either morally or practically, to the long, still continuing record of anti-Semitic murder, or the daily existential threat Israel must live with. There is nothing “like” the Holocaust, and Trump will not have to live, as Israel does, with the constant violence of enemies eager for its destruction. But the comparison does suggest a perennial state of mind that explains why the “enlightened” left so vehemently and irrationally hates both Trump and Israel.
But we’re still left with a question: Why do the radical Democrats, and increasingly the moderate ones, indulge and legitimize both hatreds?