This election cycle has been the most bizarre reality tv season America has ever seen. The Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is a composed, experienced, qualified public servant, and is therefore boring. So throughout, we’ve turned our channels and news feeds towards Donald Trump, who already had plenty of experience mastering the hysteria and theatrics of reality tv with his 2004 show, NBC’s “The Apprentice.” His bluster and antics, from the nicknames he’s hurled at opponents to his poorly punctuated tweets, have commanded the click bait and carried him all the way to the Republican nomination. He’s funny; sometimes we laughed with him, but mostly we laughed at him.
But by now, with the reality that Donald Trump could be our commander in chief looming closer and closer, we cannot stick our heads in the sand. Not in light of his and his followers’ disturbing and hateful stance towards the Jewish people.
For starters, Trump has repeatedly refused to distance himself from David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, who ‘modernized’ the hate group by focusing less on racism in favor of “exposing” the “Jewish manipulation…of the political process” and how “they are the dominant and dangerous power that exists in the United States.” David Duke is currently running for senator in Louisiana; he was inspired to run by Trump’s success, and his platform promises to protect the interests of “European Americans” against “Jewish supremacists,” amongst other undesirables.
Trump himself has casually retweeted from the account @WhiteGenocide, which listed its location as “Jewmerica.” He also denied that there was anything remotely Jewish about the meme he retweeted, which depicted Hillary Clinton next to a six-sided star superimposed over a background of dollar bills. The Anti-Defamation League reported there has been a massive uptick in anti-Semitic tweets (2.6 million, which have a reach of over a billion), with roughly 20,000 directed at Jewish journalists, and 83 percent of those 20,000 directed at just ten people. The GQ journalist Julia Ioffe, after profiling Melania Trump, found pictures of her face superimposed on prisoners in Auschwitz and pictures of men with crooked noses shot in the head. Trump, in a one-on-one interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, would not even acknowledge the troubling tweets, let alone condemn them. When Blitzer pressed, “But the anti-Semitic death threats…” Trump responded, “Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t know anything about that. You mean fans of mine? I don’t have a message to the fans. A woman wrote an article that’s inaccurate.”
“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election cycle is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics. A half century ago, the KKK burned crosses. Today, extremists are burning up Twitter,” wrote Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the head of the ADL. Are you still laughing?
But above all, Trump himself just recently delivered the final nail in the coffin at a Florida rally on October 14th. In his speech, he warned his followers to watch out for the “small handful” of “global financial powers” rigging the system and stealing away the country from the good, honest, blue-blooded Americans.
If you don’t understand why those comments are anti-Semitic, you have never had a comprehensive education on the Holocaust or any of the slurs and accusations that have been used to justify the hatred and harming of Jews for the past century, dating back to the 1903 publication of “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Trump has attacked us without ever using the word Jew, but everyone watching knows who has always been accused of secret cabals controlling the media and world finances.
Yes, he has a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren. So what? Racists have black friends. Rapists have mothers. And regardless, this is not about Trump’s personal views. The fact remains that Trump’s campaign is indebted to a hardcore base of devoted supporters who are also vicious antis-Semites, and to succeed, he panders to their conspiracy theories in exchange for their support and their votes. As James Kirchick warned on Tabletmag, “[Trump] is the candidate of the mob, and the mob always ends up turning on the Jews.”
Forget policy, forget positions: this man has taken Jewish hatred mainstream.