With just two weeks until the midterm elections, President Trump and his enablers are deploying intensely xenophobic rhetoric and imagery — including anti-Semitic tropes — in a transparent attempt to rally their right-wing base. They are using fear-mongering and lies to incite hatred directed at Democratic candidates, immigrants and minorities throughout the country.
In his Monday night campaign rally with Sen. Ted Cruz, the president proclaimed himself “a nationalist” and accused Democrats of wanting to “Restore the rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists.” Like his credo “America First,” Trump’s “nationalism” is clearly rooted in a long legacy of xenophobia on the American far right. The term “globalist” is used constantly by the white nationalist alt-right as an anti-Semitic dog whistle against Jewish people, Jewish elected officials and prominent Jewish philanthropists like George Soros.
This choice of words by the president is part of a deeply disturbing pattern. Trump’s closing advertisement before the 2016 election targeted prominent Jews including Soros, Lloyd Blankfein and Janet Yellen. Trump, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and Republican candidates across the country have, in outrageous rhetoric and paid ads, consistently accused Soros of orchestrating protests and fomenting unrest — and of “owning” Democratic candidates. Rep. Steve King, the favorite Congressman of the white nationalist far right, told a far-right Austrian website last week that he believes Soros may be funding “the Great Replacement” of the white race — an appalling conspiracy theory. On Monday, police found an explosive device in the mailbox of Soros’ home.
Thanks to the president, the disgusting imagery and conspiracy theories of the far-right have now moved from dark corners of the internet to the center of national politics, unleashing a tidal wave of bigotry and potential violence. Republican leaders who do not want to be complicit in this hatred must denounce it. So too must the American Jewish groups, like the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), that have consistently supported and praised the president and his political allies.
Will RJC denounce NRCC ads that use anti-Semitic imagery? Will they denounce the president’s xenophobic rhetoric? Will they call on the Republican Party to take punitive action against Rep. King for his blatant white supremacism? Will they call on their endorsee Senator Cruz to denounce King – who served as national co-chair of Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign?
The threat to our democracy, our values and our community is clear. Groups like RJC must choose between naked partisanship and basic decency.