By engaging in a kind of weird witch-hunt against Bannon, sifting through his garbage to find scraps of anti-Semitism, Jewish pundits are misunderstanding and misrepresenting Trumpism itself. Because, here’s the most important thing: It is not about Jews.
Sometimes, yes, Jews are among the foreigners hated by populists. But other times, it’s women, or Muslims, or African Americans, or Mexicans. If Jews are going to oppose this revanchist populist demagoguery, then we need to get over ourselves and stop acting as though “anti-Semitism” is what it’s all about. It isn’t.
Consider Bannon’s string of nine ludicrous, low-budget, mostly-straight-to-video documentaries, exhaustively watched and summarized by Adam Wren at Politico. You won’t find a single anti-Semitic theme in the whole bunch. Rather, you’ll find what Wren called “red-meat conservative” politics and imagery.
“Western Civilization as we know it is under attack by forces that are demonic or foreign,” Wren wrote, “and people in far-distant power centers are looking to screw you.” Illegal immigrants are destroying America. Woodstock and the hippies are destroying America. So are narcissistic secularism (“where we become our own gods”), crony capitalism, Clinton scandals and the Wall Street bailout.
Now, is Bannon just being cagey here? Is it that he really hates Jews but is carefully concealing the animus behind all this other stuff? Come on.
Yes, the “alt-right” is filled with anti-Semites. And to reduce the “alt-right” to anti-Semitism totally misses the point of what the “alt-right” is.
This is the paranoid style in American politics. This is right-wing populism. This is racial nationalism, which ironically is the same all over the Western world. This is why Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin and Avigdor Lieberman and Steve Bannon all sound so similar — because they are.
Jay MIchaelson, “Sorry, Jews. Steve Bannon Is Not an Anti-Semite, and This Story Is Not About Us.”, The Forward (10 December 2016) [http://forward.com/opinion/356390/sorry-jews-steve-bannon-is-not-an-anti-semite-and-this-story-is-not-about-u/]