On election night, Stuart Stevens–Republican strategist for Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign–kept repeating, “Is this what we want to normalize?” in reference to Donald Trump’s behavior. It was on the PBS Newshour’s coverage, which also featured the saddened commentary of moderate conservative columnist David Brooks.
An irrelevant fact is that Brooks is a fellow “member of the tribe.” Only two groups would care about this particular detail, anti-Semites and other Jews.
The former has just been appointed chief White House strategist.
The ex-wife who charged Stephen Bannon–former head of the alt-right-sympathizing Breitbart News–of battery testified in a court of law that he said he hated Jews didn’t want their twin daughters going to school with them.
While best know for its white nationalism and racism, Breitbart has a long history of anti-Semitic comments and headlines. Yes, some of them were written by Jews themselves. And I’m sure Republicans would counter that Trump’s son-in-law is Jewish and one of his closest confidants. His daughter converted when she married Jared Kushner. And, indeed, Jared and Ivanka were instrumental in convincing Trump not to name Bannon Chief of Staff.
Yet it appears that Bannon will still be the leading voice in the administration.
Indeed, a realization washed over me this morning. All along, I’ve been fearful of what the election of Donald Trump would mean for the LGBT community, Latinos, African Americans, Muslims, and other marginalized groups often targeted by Breitbart.
In other words, others. It never occurred to me that I might become “The Other” too.
The few experiences of anti-Semitism I’ve experienced in my life have loomed large only because they were so rare. Mostly, that’s because I’ve never practices Judaism and was raised without much of a sense of Jewish culture. Indeed, I had long believed that such anti-Jewish sentiment had been relegated to the fringes of society.
Yet the tenuousness of my ties to my ancestral religion and its culture wouldn’t matter to a true anti-Semite. Certainly, that wouldn’t have stopped the Nazis from loading me onto the train.
I’m not saying by any means that there could be a new holocaust in the US now or in the future. I can’t stress that enough. Yet there were enough anti-Semitic dog whistles in Trump’s campaign that I wouldn’t be surprised if they continued under Bannon’s guiding hand.
Stuart Steven’s impassioned words keep echoing in my head.