Thursday, May 09, 2024


There's a pretty good story in The New York Times right now headlined "How Republicans Echo Antisemitic Tropes Despite Declaring Support for Israel":
For all of their rhetoric of the moment, increasingly through the Trump era many Republicans have helped inject into the mainstream thinly veiled anti-Jewish messages with deep historical roots.

The conspiracy theory taking on fresh currency is one that dates back hundreds of years and has perennially bubbled into view: that a shady cabal of wealthy Jews secretly controls events and institutions contrary to the national interest of whatever country it is operating in.

The current formulation of the trope taps into the populist loathing of an elite “ruling class.” “Globalists” or “globalist elites” are blamed for everything from Black Lives Matter to the influx of migrants across the southern border, often described as a plot to replace native-born Americans with foreigners who will vote for Democrats. The favored personification of the globalist enemy is George Soros, the 93-year-old Hungarian American Jewish financier and Holocaust survivor who has spent billions in support of liberal causes and democratic institutions.
Many examples of this kind of rhetoric are quoted.
Mr. Trump frequently referred to Mr. Soros as “shadowy” and “the man behind the curtain who’s destroying our country.” He linked Mr. Soros and other enemies to a “globalist cabal,” echoing the trope that Jews secretly control the world’s financial and political systems.... Republican members of Congress repeatedly made incendiary and conspiratorial claims about Mr. Soros and globalists — that they were “evil,” that they “hate America” and that they wanted the American people to be “humiliated or destroyed and replaced or dead.” Republicans blamed them for leading people to “forget about God and family values,” for controlling the media, for allowing “violent criminals and rapists to get off scot-free” and more.
But apparently a story like this can't appear in the Times without "balance." We're reminded that college campuses harbor anti-Semites as well:
While largely peaceful, the campus protests over Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that has killed tens of thousands have been loud and disruptive and have at times taken on a sharpened edge. Jewish students have been shouted at to return to Poland, where Nazis killed three million Jews during the Holocaust. There are chants and signs in support of Hamas, whose attack on Israel sparked the current war. A leader of the Columbia protests declared in a video that “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”
And hey, what about those Democrats?
In November, the Republican-led House, with support from 22 Democrats, censured Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and Congress’s sole Palestinian American, for her statements after the Hamas attack, including “from the river to the sea.”
To be fair, the Times story clearly suggests that the problem is worse in the GOP: The paper found that "at least 790 emails from Mr. Trump to his supporters invoked Mr. Soros or globalists conspiratorially," and that there were "more than 300" similar messages "from 79 [Republican] members [of Congress] in 2023," while "roughly 20 [statements] from the last decade by a handful of Democrats, including Ms. Tlaib, ... could be construed as antisemitic."

Nevertheless, the Times deemed it necessary to point out this messaging from Democrats and campus progressives in a story about Republicans -- despite the fact that the paper didn't think it was necessary to mention Republican anti-Semitism in stories about pro-Gaza protests.

There's nothing about the GOP's own anti-Semitism in the Times story "Republicans Try to Put Harvard, M.I.T. and Penn on the Defensive About Antisemitism," from December 5; or in "Columbia’s President Tells Congress That Action Is Needed Against Antisemitism," from April 17; or in three Times stories about high school officials who were grilled by House Republicans yesterday. Elise Stefanik, the Republican who led the charge against all these educators, is specifically mentioned in today's GOP anti-Semitism story as a purveyor of conspiratorial tropes -- but that never came up in the Times stories about the GOP-led hearings in which she starred.

Today's story is well worth reading, and I hope the paper's audience learns something about the Republican Party from it. But if "balance" was necessary in this story, it should have been necessary in the earlier ones.

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