It has been suggested that Donald Trump’s electoral success is a sign America is just a few years behind Europe (with Trump being akin to Le Pen). If that’s the case, then the rise of anti-Semitism might also make sense. After all, in an era where the Right is increasingly reverting to its Paleoconservative tradition on a wide range of issues like isolationism and protectionism, isn’t there a danger of other strains creeping back in?
Come for the anti-Semitic headline, stay for the insistence that [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore]’s father met Lee Harvey Oswald pic.twitter.com/orDAUsHSej
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 16, 2016
It does seem like we are seeing the rise of this sort of thing. Who could forget Ann Coulter’s ‘F–king Jews’ rant?
Of course, Kristol isn’t the only Jewish conservative to come under fire. Ben Shapiro—once known as a fire-breathing ultra-conservative at Breitbart—has also been the victim of this. The birth of his second child was even greeted with anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter.
This all correlates with the rise of Trump. “They’ve finally discovered that I was a Jew, they realized I was a Jew when I didn’t back… Donald Trump,” Shapiro says.
Still, having said all of this, I’m not so sure we should be so quick to attack this specific column. The headline is the most offensive thing here, and these are frequently written by someone other than the columnist. What is more, ironies abound. The piece in question is written by David Horowitz, who is Jewish. Andrew Breitbart was adopted by a Jewish family. And, of course, Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism.
We live in interesting, and confusing, times.
So why is this happening, then? Donald Trump’s candidacy has reawakened and emboldened a pernicious strain on the Right. That’s not to say that Trump agrees with his most unseemly followers on everything (or even most things) but it is to say that his rhetoric and success have resulted in taking things that, until fairly recently, were considered underground and fringy and taboo, and mainstreaming them. This is the flip side of railing against “political correctness,” I suppose.
Additionally, my theory is that populist movements like Trump’s almost always require scapegoats, and it was only a matter of time before “The Mexicans” wouldn’t be enough. A narrative in which Bill Kristol is an avatar of both the Bush-era adventurism—and today’s anti-Trump movement (he controls the media?)—fits conveniently within a certain preexisting worldview.
We shouldn’t be quick to cry racism. But it’s hard to be a keen observer of modern politics and not suspect there is a dangerous trend emerging here.