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Published on: Oct 29, 2018 @ 19:17 – During my .. brief awokenness this afternoon, I happened to peruse the newspaper. And what did I see? Pieces commenting on the recent attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. This is, of course, to be expected. But what was *not*, like *at all* to be expected, was the escalating level of accusations in relation to the attack that Donald Trump… is apparently an anti-semite.
I mean … this is ludicrous. Like, I am not wild about many of the things the President has done either inside or outside of office (more on that in a moment), but it just seems straight-up counterfactual to level s uch a charge at him.
Some might respond to allegations of being anti- this or that race by claiming they have “[x-race] friends”, or even “some of my best friends are [x]”. Trump’s daughter ‘converted’ (insofar as such a thing is held possible) to Judaism, unless I am mistaken, as part of her marriage efforts to Jared Kushner. The same man who, perhaps because he has such influence over Trump as his warmly-regarded son-in-law, took up a prime position in the White House at the very heart of the Trump Administration – from whence he forced out Steve Bannon, from whence he negotiated a huge arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and from whence he has continued to exercise a capacious (and I would argue, destructive) influence over the Administration’s policy.
If Trump really were an anti-semite, this would be a peculiar state of affairs to have happen.
Speaking of Trump’s personal associations – even CNN (and seriously, how did we reach a point wherein CNN is a voice of reason ??) – was at pains to point out that “Many of Trump’s past business associates and lawyers are Jewish”, and therefore that “it’s not credible to argue he is an anti-Semite.”
Not least, I suppose, because one of Trump’s first actions upon hearing of the attack was to vigorously denounce it *as* an anti-semitic action, and to vitriolically castigate anti-semitism as a “vile hate-filled poison”, “one of the ugliest and darkest features of human history.”
Because that’s what anti-semites do, right? Talk stridently and without equivocation *against* anti-semitism?
Further, when we look at Trump’s foreign policy, we do not see actions against Israel or Israeli allies. Instead – quite the contrary. We see some of the most pro-Israel stances of any President of the past few decades. Who else would have moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem? Who else would have torn up the Iranian nuclear deal in order to lock-step support Netanyahu-s wide-eyed and white-walled conspiratorial claims on the subject? And who else would have uncritically put such screws upon aid to Palestinian refugees and representative organizations while carrying out missile bombardment of one of the few effective opponents to Israeli regional hegemony. (ok, well, to be fair, Clinton would probably have gone a bit further on that last score … putatively all the way to Damascus, even)
In terms of Trump’s actions, rhetoric, and associations, I am afraid I am just not seeing how he is supposedly “anti-semitic”.
Indeed, quite the contrary – “philo-semitic” may be a more accurate label.
Yet what “evidence” was put forward to support or endeavour to substantiate this particular charge? Well, the implicit thrust no doubt, goes something like this:
“Trump is a Nazi, therefore OF COURSE he’s an anti-semite! Can’t be a non-anti-semite Nazi!”
But of course you can’t *say* that … because it’s plainly non-sensical (although there’s some rather interesting material in Hannah Arendt’s ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ on a somewhat related note … we’ll uh .. we’ll leave that for now).
So apart from the general “has stoked national tensions” route (which is peculiar, because you would think that Trump stirring up *anti-Islamic* sentiment, particularly with regard to Israeli security concerns, would be *the opposite* of anti-semitic…?) ; it would appear that he is being attacked for, among other things, speaking about the level of power that big US financial institutions have over both American politics and the American – and therefore global – economies.
Which is … odd, because that’s … not exactly untrue.
I do note with interest, furthermore, that he was one of only two ‘major’ Presidential candidates to be proposing the restoration of the Glass-Steagall legislation which sought to keep more risky ‘Wall St’ investment banking activities separate from ‘Main St’ savings-and-loan institutions (inter alia – I’m simplifying drastically; suffice to say, its abrogation under the Clinton Administration was one of the direct underpinnings of the Global Financial Crisis in the late 2000s).
The other candidate, of course, being Bernie Sanders – who did not shy away from making very similar piquant observations. And, to be fair, who occasionally got attacked as an anti-semite … but with a lot less pick-up and cut-through because he is, of course, also Jewish.
A further area Trump has been attacked upon, has been the way in which he has rhetorically castigated George Soros in 140 characters or less from time to time. Now, certainly, it is possible to attack Soros in a manner that is plainly, blatantly anti-semitic. It is also possible to attack Soros in a manner that is more ‘covertly’, anti-semitic.
But it is *also* possible, as it happens, to simply speak against him on grounds that he is a billionaire “liberal activist” (this is literally how he was described in terms of occupation in the newspaper i was reading earlier – which was endeavouring to be favourable toward Soros and oppositional toward Trump), who regularly makes very large donations to the causes that he likes.
Nobody disputes that this happens. And if one is opposed to these causes – for example, because the guy is donating to rival political candidates … then does it axiomatically become anti-semitic to state the actual fact that a wealthy figure is making large financial contributions to political causes?
Would it still be anti-semitic if Soros was an Anglo-Saxon WASP doing exactly the same thing? Under the apparent ‘logic’ these people are using … quite probably so, as the thematic trope of a wealthy financier responsible for propelling a world-view is apparently intrinsically a Jewish stereotype or something.
Without wishing to support in any way, actual anti-semitic in character, content, and motivation attacks against Soros … allow me to suggest something different:
Namely, that the penalty for large-scale participation in politics is to be attacked for it. It is an inevitable part of involvement in the political – much more, the psephological – game.
This does *not* mean that all attacks are valid or are to be allowed. As I have said, the ones based purely around somebody’s notional ethnic heritage alone, can very much be vigorously opposed. And for that reason alone, surely.
But it appears at this juncture that the people seeking to have Trump hung as an anti-semite, on the basis of his attacking a wealthy donor who has made generous contributions to his opposition … are wishing to ‘have cake and eat it too’. By implicitly stating that Soros (or anyone else for that matter – provided they are anti-Trump, I presume) should be allowed to engage in politics, and *make* such large-scale contributions to the field of same … but be utterly immune to and above any form of scrutiny or criticism *whatsoever*, on grounds that to be anything other than supportive is implicitly anti-semitic.
A moment’s consideration will reveal the trenchant problem with this maxim in practice.
Now once again – don’t get me wrong. Trump is many things, and many of these are elements to both his personhood and his political persona and platform which can, should, and *must* be most *vigorously opposed*.
But he is *not*, unless I have catastrophically misread something, or the definition of “anti-semitism” has changed to “what a certain portion of liberal commentators seem to think, and never mind what a pretty large proportion of what, say, the Israeli population actually believe” … he is *not* an anti-semite.
To insist, by contrast, that he *is* , in spite of all the available counter-veiling evidence … and upon some excessively flimsy pretenses … is surely to ‘cheapen’ the term. And in so doing, to actually *help* the *real* anti-semites out there by de-valuing the charge.
But hey, never mind that – there’s political points to be scored and everybody responds to a Nazi comparison! Implicit or outright!