In an incisive and sobering article on CNN.com (“Trump is explaining exactly how wild and extreme his second term would be”), reporter Stephen Collinson writes:
“Trump’s bluntness and carefully maintained image as an outsider, despite the fact that he used to live in the White House, allow him to endlessly tap a seam of resentment against Washington and political, economic, and media ‘elites’ that is deeply felt by many who back the ‘Make America Great Again’ movement.”
Who exactly are the “elites” to whom Trump refers? So far, he’s deliberately left the answer to that question vague, but I can think of one group who would be prime candidates should he decide to become more specific: Jews.
The entire history of our people is riddled with anti-Jewish scapegoating for every malady that has afflicted humanity. (That’s why antisemitism has come to be known as “The world’s longest hatred.”) Nor did the proclivity for blaming Jews end with the Nazis: As you undoubtedly know, there has been a serious resurgence of antisemitism in recent years.
Polls show that a sizable percentage of respondents agree with the statement “Jews have too much power.” Extraordinary Jewish success in virtually every area of human endeavor — science, technology, the arts, law, business, medicine, and so forth — is considered by many to be unfair and somehow a threat. (Think back on the “Jews will not replace us!” mantra shouted by White supremacist marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia.)
Add to all that, the widespread belief that Jews are rich and politically liberal (for right-wingers, a dirty word nowadays), plus the anti-intellectual bent of MAGA folks and many other Americans, and it’s not difficult to imagine the tribe filling the bill for a more explicitly drawn bogeyman.
Remember, Trump has repeated traditional antisemitic tropes in the past. At various times, he has embraced the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and QAnon — all of which have antisemitic leanings. And when he was president, he dined with antisemites Ye (Kanye West) and Nick Fuentes (see HATERS in this edition of the website) in the White House.
Of course, White nationalists/White supremacists and MAGA supporters don’t need to hear rhetoric specifically about Jews to get the message. That’s the whole point of bigoted “dog whistles”: Code words communicate resentment and hatred while preserving plausible (or not so plausible) deniability.
And “elites” is not the only camouflaged code that applies to Jews. The terms “cosmopolitans” and “rootless cosmopolitans” were used frequently in the Soviet Union to fan antisemitism.
“Cosmopolitanism was a codeword in the Soviet Union for Jewish,” explained Russell Valentino, Professor of Slavic and East European Languages and Culture at Indiana University. “Anytime a Soviet apparatchik wanted to criticize a Jewish intellectual, he or she accused him or her of being a rootless cosmopolitan. They did not need to say Jewish. Everyone understood.”
Regarding more recent times, Valentino observed, “Stephen Miller’s references to ‘cosmopolitan bias’ in the media are so transparently anti-Semitic that it is hard to believe people are not seeing it.” Miller (unfortunately, a Jew) was a senior adviser to then-President Donald Trump.
Then there is this from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2019:
“Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., gave a speech condemning ‘cosmopolitan elites’ and their plan to weaken America through their international network and their control of big business… Critics of the speech found parallels to the use of the term ‘rootless cosmopolitan,’ an anti-Semitic smear popularized by Joseph Stalin in the mid-20th century. Nazis also used ‘cosmopolitan’ as an anti-Semitic term.”
Jews have never fared well under authoritarian regimes, and there’s no reason to believe such a regime in America, including one led by Donald J. Trump, would be any different.
Trump is forever exhorting his millions of followers to “fight like hell [against MAGA’s imagined demons], or you won’t have a country anymore.”
In truth, all Americans not infected by Trump’s extreme right-wing virus must work like hell to defeat authoritarianism, or we won’t have a democracy anymore.
— Lenny Giteck, Publisher and Editor