President Trump has crossed the Rubicon from traditional Republican racism into full-blown white supremacy, and it’s a threat to our national security.
Donald J. Trump describes Latino immigrants as “rapists” and drug dealers, comparing them to “vermin” who “infest” the United States. They are, he says, like “vomit” pouring across the border.
Trump says black people inhabit “hellholes” in America’s inner cities, that Africa is a “shithole country,” that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” and that Nigerian immigrants will never “go back to their huts.” He directly encouraged violence against black protesters during his campaign rallies.
He says that four congresswomen of color, three of them born in America, should “go back” to their countries. Attacking a black congressman from Baltimore, Trump said the man’s black-majority district is a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess” where “no human” would want to live.
And he sought a “total and complete” ban on Muslim immigration, insisting most Muslims “hate” the United States — only one part of a set of draconian immigration policies that are a clear attempt to preserve a white majority. Just this week, Trump retweeted a British activist who has called for a “final solution” for Muslims in the United Kingdom.
But up until now, the president of the United States has gone relatively soft on Jews, noting that his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish. Oh sure, he did run one ad featuring Hillary Clinton, a Star of David and a heap of dollars. His last 2016 campaign ad did talk about international “globalists” in terms that recall classic anti-Semitic tropes. He did say that neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” included “some very fine people.” But Trump says he’s against anti-Semitism, likes Jews “counting my money,” and really digs Israel.
This week, he crossed that final Rubicon.
On Tuesday, after apparently convincing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bar visits by two of the Democratic congresswomen he attacked earlier, Trump accused American Jews who vote for Democrats of being either ignorant or “disloyal” to the United States. About three-quarters of American Jews have consistently voted Democratic in recent years.
“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone that they are defending these two people over the state of Israel?” he asked after leaders across the political spectrum criticized both Trump and Netanyahu for the unprecedented diplomatic insult. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or a great disloyalty.”
The comment approached the incredible. The claim of ignorance was a simple schoolyard insult of the type that Trump is well known for. But to suggest that Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal” is to invoke one of the most well known and Nazi-like anti-Semitic claims of the ages — the accusation that Jews have “dual loyalties” that make them enemies of their own countries.
I have been studying the radical right for 22 years, 20 of them as an official of the Southern Poverty Law Center. In that time, I’ve noticed repeatedly how adopting anti-Semitism is the final bridge to all-out right-wing radicalism. Many garden-variety racists have ugly views of blacks, gays, Latinos, and Muslims. But once they get into the Jews, they often have reached the fringe of the fringe.
With the exception of a batch of court Jews known as the Republican Jewish Coalition, condemnation rained in from Jews across the political spectrum and from many others. A headline on a Wednesday opinion piece in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz captured the general flavor neatly: “Trump Has Made It Official: He Is the Greatest anti-Semite of Our Age.”
Donald Trump — with apologies to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who recently described Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “Russian asset” — is a white supremacist asset.
I mean that literally. Anecdotal evidence, academic studies and recent American history show quite clearly that verbal attacks on minority groups carried out by public figures — leaders whose words are heard by millions — often translate into criminal violence. People with extremist tendencies very typically see such attacks as a kind of permission-giving or authorization.
Words matter, and they have consequences.
Mr Mark Potok is a Senior Fellow at CARR and a Freelance Writer, Speaker, Consultant, Expert on Right-Wing Extremism. See his profile here.
© Mark Potok. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).
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