All year long I've felt (and voiced privately, because it's a bit salty to put it out there in public even by my standards) that Trump has been taking it strangely easy on The Jews.

Hold on. Don't make angry comments yet.

I'm not saying that Trump or anyone else SHOULD be blasting The Jews for any particular reason. It is merely that given the campaign's regular recourse to racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and in general the basest kinds of bigotry, it was unexpected and somewhat surprising that anti-Semitism would not be present as well. I hope that makes sense. I'm not advocating anti-Semitism; it merely struck me as bizarre that we were seeing far less anti-Semitism from him than one would expect given his neolithic attitudes toward every other group defined as The Other by white protestant male America.

It turned out, as it so often has throughout this campaign, that I only had to be patient and that with time things would indeed get Much Worse. When Trump announced on Oct. 13 (in PALM BEACH of all places, I mean what the hell, maybe he can book the Apollo Theater in Harlem and rip on black people for an hour) that "international bankers" were to blame for many of the ills, real or imagined, that his supporters bemoan, I realized that he had merely been keeping anti-Semitism in reserve as kind of a closing act. Jew-bashing would be to Trump 2016 what Beyonce and Jay-Z would be to a long music festival: the big finish. The crescendo. The climax.

There is not a sentient adult who fails to recognize references to Bankers, particularly of the International variety, as a crystal clear euphemism for Jews dating back to the Renaissance. It is almost literally the oldest trick in the book. The wink is implied. In his inaugural address, even FDR – a friend of Jews in general and reliant upon dozens of Jewish individuals in his administration – sunk to the level of telling Americans that "wicked moneylenders" and "bankers" were responsible in dark but unspecified ways for the Great Depression. True, the banking system as a whole was at its heart; nonetheless the choice of language is a clear appeal to baser attitudes.

The more I thought about Trump's remarks of Oct. 13 it became apparent that in the modern era, anti-Semitism is the final stage of the growth cycle of demagoguery. It used to come earlier in the process of Idiot Mitosis because it used to be more socially acceptable and Jews were generally a powerless underclass in any society they inhabited in numbers. Today Jews have more social and political power as a group and thus the first stages of bigoted demagoguery focus on groups against whom prejudice is more socially acceptable: blacks, Hispanics, immigrants in general, and so on. So it makes sense to start there. It is not until a group or individual has made peace with dwelling on the fringes and has accepted marginalization that he or they embrace good old fashioned Jew-bashing. An unsettling percentage of Americans don't much mind politicians dumping all over blacks (referenced by any number of dog-whistle euphemisms), immigrants, the poor, and people identifiably "foreign" living among us. Anti-Semitism, once as popular among the upper crust as among the lowest classes, is now too obviously gauche, too lower class to be accepted in Ivy League schools and corporate board rooms. This is not to suggest that anti-Semitism no longer exists, but that it is today more likely to be frowned upon in the same settings in which slanders against "thugs" and "welfare queens" and "the Mexicans" would still receive an approving nod.

When someone goes after The Jews in 2016, that is a person preparing for a life beyond the fringes of respectability in polite society. It is the difference between Ben Carson and Alex Jones; the former lives on the fringes of range of acceptable opinions, the latter is comfortably beyond them. Embracing the language and theories of The Protocols and Henry Ford (callback to Monday's post!) is a signal that post-Election 2016 Donald Trump is not going to be a figure welcome anywhere in polite society. He is about to be shunned as if he is toxic and he knows it, so like a smart, savvy self-promoting narcissist he is ensuring that the path is clear between his current place on the fringes and his future pandering to neo-Nazis and selling books and media programming to white nationalists.

39 thoughts on “IDIOT MITOSIS”

  • Just get into a campus debate about Israel and Palestine and you'll find that anti-semitism quickly comes out of the closet. Even when the debate starts as policy debate, the good old fashioned attitudes make their appearance all too quickly. Left wing anti-semitism has its differences from right wing anti-semitism, but once the rhetoric starts in earnest they tend to meet somewhere out in the back.

  • Only if you accept the convenient assumption that to criticize Israel on Palestine is automatically anti-Semitic. Which is horseshit but widely accepted.

  • like a smart, savvy self-promoting narcissist he is ensuring that the path is clear between his current place on the fringes and his future pandering to neo-Nazis and selling books and media programming to white nationalists.

    $arah "Bullseye" Palin seems to be surviving nicely in West Hickistan – is she Trump's warm-up act?

  • In a similar vein to your observation—why is he not dumping on the Jews?—I've been wondering for months now why he's said next to nothing negative about LGBT folks. It seems like homophobia and transphobia would play well with his base, but he's mostly steered clear (and occasionally, as with his "Caitlin Jenner can use whichever bathroom she likes", explicitly repudiated it). I had been taking it as an encouraging indication that LGBT-phobia has moved well beyond the range of social acceptability, so far that even Donald Trump won't embrace it, but transphobia at least is still considered pretty darn acceptable in some circles.

  • "I'm not advocating anti-Semitism; it merely struck me as bizarre that we were seeing far less anti-Semitism from him than one would expect given his neolithic attitudes toward every other group defined as The Other by white protestant male America. " – Ed

    I was surprised that Mr. Trump would be involved in anti-Semitism, since his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism. Going after the other is one thing, but I thought even Donald would refrain from rhetoric that would demonize his daughter.

    I overestimated Donald's sense of ethics.

  • Bankers held a lot of responsibility for the recent financial crisis and are fair game in this campaign cycle. Regardless of what Trump's thinking, with his daughter now Jewish, I have to wonder if he's really going there.

  • blahedo – I had figured that he wasn't focusing on LGBT folks because, having spent his life trying to get into the upper crust of Manhattan, he had a number of LGBT acquaintances, and either didn't think they were that bad or didn't want to piss them off. But I may have to reexamine that hypothesis, because the same logic would seem to apply to antisemitism.

  • I suspect Trump's avoidance of anti-Semitism does have some links to the old Israel vs Palestine issue. RWNJ like to make a big show of supporting Israel's claimed sovereignty regarding the West Bank and there may still be some reluctance on his part to burn all of his Republican bridges.

    Or it could just be that he hates Muslims more than Jews and sees them as a "enemy of my enemy" kind of thing. Not that he won't burn that bridge eventually either.

    Let's be absolutely honest here. The only person Donald Trump cares about is Donald Trump; his friendships and alliances are only of interest so long as it gets him what he wants.

  • Certainly he's avoiding talking about it baldly: it's one of the few things Trump couches in dogwhistles, while he usually lets bigotry flow free and wide.

    It's a tightrope walk to try to hold onto Pro-Israeli domestic policy evangelicals, while trying to engage the rabid hate of his Southern white and Alt-Right attack dogs. This is why he's said everything /but/ "the jews". When he starts saying a "cabal of international bankers and the media is going to righ this from the top, so be prepared for war." he knows /exactly/ what these followers hear.

    He doesn't have to say it outright.

  • I had been wondering about this myself. It's possible that he's been walking that tightrope because of the GOP's seemingly unconditional (and ironic) support of Israel. You'd think that the I Just Want To Whip My Dick Out And Blow Shit Up In The Middle East attitude would've outweighed any loyalty to the GOP by this point. To say that there's some sort of strategy involved may be giving him way too much credit, however, it makes sense that he's waited this long if he actually has had some semblance of a plan. The gloves are just now coming off, remember? He can safely pander to his white nationalist base without concern for pissing off the party. The GOP "betrayed" him, after all.

  • I'm with Marc Marton on this one. I'll pass on the "sentient adult" cheap shots at Trump here, and merely note that the man seems to entirely lack filters in all other topics.

    (Here my fingers leap off the keyboard, attempting to bust into my brain's house and mess it up good, in retaliation for it making them type the next five words:) Trump has a legitimate point.


    Were banks largely responsible for the crash of 2007? Indisputably. (That regulatory organs who should have known better let them build the casino in the first place…is another tale of criminal neglect.) Are those banks international entities, loyal to no country? Ya-huh.

    Next I would point out that the people at Trump rallies are the ones who got particularly, deeply, thoroughly screwed by said banks, but given the $72K median income I'm not sure that's as strong an argument as I'd like.

    Should he have known better than to make the point using language that long, long stood for "Jewish conspiracy"? I think "He should have known better" could hardly be bettered as Trump's epitaph. The tell will be whether or not we see more of this from him — if not, it was just another case of collateral damage to an unintended target.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    started doing a lot of research about it. It wasn't long before I realized I wasn't quite on the same wavelength as a lot of the other people in those discussions and wasn't really welcome there, if you catch my drift.

    I know that there are people posing difficult questions about the banking system who aren't the worst people on earth. It's just not easy to throw that party without a bunch of 4Channers showing up to ruin it.

  • Ed, I believe you're overthinking this more than one level.

    Jews were generally a powerless underclass in any society they inhabited in numbers. Today Jews have more social and political power as a group

    No. Absolutely not. It has nothing to do with that.

    Jews in 1920s Germany were prosperous, well-educated, and assimilated into upper middle-class society. They were doctors, lawyers, university professors, and yes, bankers. Anne Frank's father served as an officer in the German Army in the First World War. We all know how much good that did when Hitler rose to power.

    Here's a theory: Anti-semitism became socially unacceptable in polite American society because of the Holocaust. The horrifying images of the death camps led even the most obtuse Americans to conclude that anti-Semitism was Not OK. Historical memory of the Holocaust is slowly fading, but the taboo on open anti-Semitism remains, at least for now. This is why neo-Nazis put so much effort into denying the Holocaust ever happened.

    Here's another theory: Trump may genuinely not think of what he is saying as anti-Semitic. Railing against bankers follows on naturally from his earlier rants against a "rigged system". He's picked up the vocabulary from his new friends on the alt-right, without understanding its historic meaning.

    Trump is not terribly bright and has absolutely no interest in understanding subtext. He's quite happy to say the most insane and irresponsible things with no thought for the consequences. I think his rants against bankers fall into that category.

  • Interesting premise, but I can't say that I agree that the anti-semitism in the campaign has only just begun. The two examples I can think of right off the bat are his campaign's use of the Star of David with floating dollar bills and Hillary's face, and the slogan "most corrupt candidate ever", and the direct use of images (Pepe) from the alt. right in his Twitter feed and speeches. The ADL has noted a rise in anti-Semitism during this entire debacle. Look at anything on social media that mentions Jews or Israel, or even is reported by a person with a "Jewish" last name, and you'll see horrific hatred on display. It bothers me when people say "But his daughter converted!". That's akin to "I have a black friend".

  • I also think the anti-Semitism got pulled out early and often, it was just couched in as much of a dog whistle as trump could muster in the form of retweets of white supremacist groups' use of symbology. It wasn't until the debates that we got those weird assertions about Hillary's GOOD FRIEND SYDNEY BLUMENTHAL over and over again that you could tell he was just ramping it up over the course of the campaign. The light touch wasn't working so he decided to dig out the hammer and its cousin the 9-pound sledge.

  • I'll venture a little way down the rabbit hole because I'm sick of hearing exactly the response to leftist anti-semitism as commenter Greg expounded: "… if you accept the convenient assumption that to criticize Israel on Palestine is automatically anti-Semitic. Which is horseshit but widely accepted." This is a straw man if there ever was one. While there may be people who reflexively equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism, that's not what I and many others think is a problem. Here are a couple of real examples that are anti-semitism:

    A Jewish student's participation in student government is questioned since they couldn't be sure about her commitment to social justice. That's anti-semitism.

    The fact that there have been many other examples of settlements on occupied territories. However, unless it's Jews doing the occupying and settling, nobody makes a big deal over it – and that's anti-semitism.

    The BDS movement targets Israeli academic institutions but where are the similar movements targeting China, Russia, KSA, Qatar, Turkey, or even Iran?

    The idea that Jews are "outsiders" or "colonialists" in the Middle East but that Palestinians are a "Native population". The Jews are a native population in the Middle East – despite the fact that they themselves were ethnically cleansed from much of the region.

    Most of Mandate Palestine was given as a fiefdom to a Saudi family who have a terrible history with their share of the stateless Palestinian population – down with Jordan too right?

    It's great to criticize Israel and it's policies. As Americans we have more of a duty to do so and can make a change (if we had the will) that would put a boot on our reckless client Israel. It's not anti-semitism to want that. It is anti-semitism to treat an individual Jew as some kind of representative of "The Jews" writ large. It's also anti-semitism to single out Jews as individuals or as a group, disproportionately when others misdeeds are largely ignored.

  • The Oberamtmann says:

    Yeah, criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, but a LOT of anti-Semitic tropes are used in anti-Zionist activism. There are a lot of anti-semites who claim to be merely anti-Zionist because that's the current acceptable level of anti-Semitism in our society. What most bothers me is how fellow leftists utilize the same exact methodology to de-legitimize anti-Semitism that they call out on the right when the right is confronted with racism, sexism, etc: gaslighting, minimizing, evading, moving the goalposts, concern trolling, etc.

  • Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Your creating this dubious link between international bankers and Jews is suspiciously anti-Semitic. particularly as Trump said no such thing.

    High mendacity score!

  • "where are the similar movements targeting China, Russia, KSA, Qatar, Turkey, or even Iran" –
    None of those are "western" and none of those gets $3 Billion per year from the US. Israel *should* be held to a higher standard. BDS was used against South Africa and it worked. This is about human rights and peace, not anti-semitism.

  • carrstone: The Orange One sounded like he lifted whole paragraphs from Henry Ford's "Dearborn Independent" with that rhetoric.

    I doubt your ingenuousness.

  • @Mack and @Kleberg:

    Speaking only for myself (and a few friends who I know would also make this argument): I am critical of Israel over any and all of the other countries you've listed for the main reason that the US shovels money into Israel to the tune of AT LEAST $13 million per day since 1948. That's American taxpayer money, and if they are going to be our "lone ally in the Middle East" you can damn well be sure I'm going to be critical of policies which I believe do not reflect American ideals — even as they reflect American policy at home and abroad, of which I am equally critical.

    I've spoken to Bedouin who are forced off their land because Israel wants it and can't just round them up. So Israel builds a chemical factory next to them and then says they have to move because it's too dangerous here. No, you can't have running water without a permit, and you can't get a permit because you don't have permanent structures, and you can't get permanent structures without running water. The Jewish family who built their home illegally in 1986 can retroactively apply and be granted all permits needed, but the Palestinian family who just wants to build a ramp for their wheelchair bound son has their home demolished for building a ramp without permit.

    And I'm told by more than just a few (including some of my Jewish ex-in-laws) that bringing these items up for criticism *IS* anti-Semitic because Israel is a democracy and our friends! Apparently Israel is above discrimination, even though they literally privatized the Israeli Land Board in order to sell new land to only Jews, because if the government continued to run it, they could not deny Arabs and Palestinians the right to own land within the Green Line. BDS is the logical extension of putting one's money (literally) where one's mouth is. If Israel can't take the heat, they should stop adding fuel to the fire.

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    Sorry, but I don't buy Trump as an anti-Semite. For one thing, his son-in-law, who by all accounts is the one actually running his campaign, is an orthodox Jew (and his daughter converted when they married).

    As for the international banker thing, I honestly don't think Trump is bright enough to understand or care about the historical context of that, or anything else that spews from his mouth.

    It's amusing, to me at least, to contemplate that Joe McCarthy–the modern political figure whom Trump most resembles IMO–was never anti-Semitic, a fact that made some of the more paranoid anti-Semites of the day accuse him of being in league with the Jews, or even a secret Jew himself. No doubt this was because his chief of staff, on whom he relied heavily, was Jewish. (Fun fact: it was the brilliant but loathsome Roy Cohn, who was a mentor to Trump.)

    Finally, I think the reason anti-Semitism went into decline is, simply, because of the Holocaust. After the most hideous crime of modern times, hating Jews for being Jews became beyond the pale, to be indulged in only by the most depraved, repulsive moral specimens.

  • I don't know if Trump is an anti-semite. In fact, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    However, he is in league with anti-semites, and that's probably the least of their flaws.

  • The Oberamtmann says:

    You arguing that some people claim that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic does not actually mean that no criticism of Israel comes from anti-Semitism, much as you might like that to be the case. Nor did anybody say Israel deserves no criticism, so pointing out areas where it deserves criticism does not matter. However, if you want to go down that particular hole, where is your advocacy against various Middle Eastern and North African countries that expelled their Jewish populations (that, too, is genocide)? Many of them receive US funds, even if not as much. Or where should the Jewish refugees from Europe and the Middle East have gone? And why should Israel be held to a higher standard? The expectation that traditionally oppressed and marginalized populations behave better is itself problematic.

    More pertinently to the actual topic people were discussing, if your only response is to say "here are examples of criticism of Israel that are not anti-Semitic," how is that any different than Republicans who post stories of African Americans that the police did not shoot in their attempt to prove the police are not racist? Do you deny that there are anti-Semites who hide behind anti-Zionism?

  • Too much wasted emotion too many wasted words on el sapo who has some lago or some shit.
    Semitic (anti, ain't touching it). Nope not Zionism either.

    Except to ask, who are the two leading terrorist regimes gaming the planet?

  • Ed, I didn't hear it at first. If somebody says "international banks crashed the economy" I think, well they were mostly American (Lehman, Bear Stearns, Citi, JPM, Goldman, B of A, etc.), but yeah, that's pretty much what happened. It's certainly closer to the truth than the right wing talking point of "poor folks (i.e. The Blacks) borrowed too much to buy homes they couldn't afford".

    “We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.” (Trump/ NYT)

    Now that's a LITTLE Alex Jones for me, but hell, given Mrs. Clinton's speeches to Goldman and other banks and her (previous at least) support of TPP and NAFTA, I can sort of see it if I squint some.

    But the classic antisemitic ZOMG JEW BANKERS ONE WORLD GOVT. Bircher bullshit which it (at least somewhat is) didn't really register with me, and probably not with most people who heard it. (I'm sure all the assholes at Stormfront and so forth totally got it.) But the Giant Evil Baby's not really a subtle guy. I think if he himself were antisemitic he'd come right out and say so, but maybe his KKK member daddy taught him to keep that to himself. (My theory: Breitbart guy slipped it in!)

    It is interesting though that the GEB has blasted (like just last night) US allies Saudi Arabia, Japan, S. Korea, and NATO members for "not paying for their own defense", but never seems to mention Israel. Maybe he doesn't want to sound antisemitic? I'm confused.

  • PS, FDR's refusal to aid European Jewish refugees or do anything militarily to slow or prevent the Holocaust was pretty shameful in my opinion.

  • Robert Walker-Smith says:

    Trump's approach to ideology seems to mirror the summation of Imperial British foreign policy – he has no permanent allies, only perpetual interests.

    Carrstone – hey, good to see you're all right! Welcome back.

  • We all get your stance on Trump. Most sentient beings agree.
    However, this article seems to make it impossible for me, or anyone else, to criticize the banking industry without being perceived as an anti-Semite.
    I can't help feeling that this was an article you had on stand-by. Maybe it needs further qualification to allow the rest of us freedom, not just of speech, but of the guilt you're attaching to criticism many of us feel is valid.

  • Another great one, Ed.

    @GnusFlash – I don't think anyone is saying you can't, justifiably, criticize the banking industry for their shit. But some acknowledgement that those tropes are often thinly-veiled anti-semitism is warranted.

    It's the same way you can support effective and smart community policing so long as you acknowledge that a lot of that law & order bullshit is racist.

  • As someone who's in the process of converting to Judaism, so these things are kind of top-of-mind, he's been dogwhistling long and loud for quite a whie now. He retweets neo-Nazis. He (as someone said upthread) was making a big deal about Sydney Blumenthal (and someone else whose name I forget). There was that Star of David "Crooked Hillary" on a background of dollar bills thing. He's waffled on David Duke, and his "Make America Great Again" slogan is directly cribbed from one of Duke's old political slogans. He always refers to Jon Stewart as "Jonathan Liebowitz." He didn't tell his neo-Nazi fan base to back off harassing Julia Ioffe on Twitter. And so on. Yair Rosenberg has been following this, and so has David Neiwert. I mean, at this point, it's not so much a dogwhistle as the sound generated by one of American Signal's flagship products.

    Someone else I know noticed that he tweets most of his most anti-semitic stuff between Friday night and Saturday night, which is probably his way of staying in good with his daughter and her husband, since they're probably not online during Shabbat (although she sure doesn't dress like she's very shomeret mitzvot, TBH).

  • I think the reason the anti Semitisim took so long to come out is that Trump, for all his faults and bigotries, and he has legion, is not an anti-Semite. I think his campaign management staff has at least one anti-Semite (Steve Bannon) and he's the one pushing the "cabal of international bankers" stuff. That stuff is coded anti-Semitism but I'm guessing Trump isn't clued in to that association.

  • I have always entertained myself reading questionable RWNJ websites and I have been shocked at how the antisemitism has come out into the relative open this election season.

    Maybe even more telling, in places where it has always been out in the open, it has become even more front and center. I go to white nationalist websites expecting to find them hating on POC and now its seems like its all antisemitism all the time. And places like info-wars, which used to be chem-trail conspiracy theories with an "international banker" emphasis, have gone to straight (((jew-hating))).

    Maybe its just I started noticing it where it's always been, but it really does seem like it is having a "moment" right now. Even more reason to shut this shit down at the ballot-box with the biggest margins possible. Getting in their head that they might can win has been….emboldening. I like it better when the deplorables felt marginalized and hopeless.

  • Are you being disingenuous when you say the following?

    > It is merely that given the campaign's regular recourse
    > to racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and in general the basest
    > kinds of bigotry…

    It reads (to me) like you've let your subscription to the OED online lapse & the meaning of these words has been replaced with vague immeasurable moral judgements and wishy-washy kumbayas.

    If someone could point me to some credible sources, I'd be glad to update my posterior.

  • You know, it's funny; 2 weeks ago, after you posted your previous post ("THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME"), I was thinking about this topic as well. My thoughts seem to be and seem to have been the same as yours, Ed: "Not that I would want Trump to start bashing Jews too, but I'm just curious why he hasn't done so." (And don't worry, Ed, I don't think any of us rational people seriously thought you wanted Trump to go that way.) Also, this ties in to the comment which I just left on your previous post.

    There are so many things which I'd like to say on this subject, SO MANY… but chief among them is I don't think all of Israel's critics are anti-Semites and/or Jew-haters, but many of them are. And it's obvious why, when you think about it: It's the only way they can say anything bad about Jewish people and not get shunned or vilified for it. I'm (*gasp!*) pro-Israel, but even I criticize the state and think it could and should do many things differently; but at the same time, the Arabs and Muslims need to be held responsible for the things they do wrong, such as, y'know, brainwashing their own children to hate the Jews and turn them into suicide bombers. And the supporters and apologists for the latter group need to realize this too.

    In fact, I'll just outright say it: It truly disgusts me when I see bloggers of a certain persuasion completely fixate on whatever Israel does, even to the point of printing complete falsehoods which they never retract or let alone apologize for, but they totally ignore the vicious crimes committed by those on the other side. For example, they'll post stories about entire Arab families being killed by Israeli attacks (and never retract those stories when it turns out the entire family is alive and well)… but then totally ignore it when some crazed terrorists break into a synagogue during prayer, hack the rabbis and religious students to death, and then drag them through their own blood, and YES, that totally happened. In their dark mirror world, Israel can do nothing right, and the other side can do no wrong.

    There's one liberal "news" website in particular – I won't say what it is, because I don't want to direct people to it drive up their traffic and stats – which constantly hurls abuse at Israel but totally ignores any crime committed by the other side. And even beyond that, when it comes to other issues totally unrelated to Israel and the Middle East, they take their own biased stances and spew their own brand of hatred. Imagine if Rush Limbaugh or any of those conservative talking heads spewed LEFT-wing bile instead of RIGHT-wing bile with their signature venom, and that's how the people at this particular website come across.

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