After Saturday’s mass shooting by a xenophobic anti-Semite at a Pittsburgh synagogue left at least 11 dead — the worst single attack on American Jews ever — Donald Trump departed from his own dabbles in anti-Jewish bigotry to tell the nation “there must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America.”
Nonetheless, in the days since that tragedy and a Trump supporter’s assassination attempts to bomb Democratic politicians and George Soros, his party and administration have continued their campaign of dog-whistle (and sometimes overt) attempts to appeal to anti-Jewish bigotry.
GOP groups smear George Soros
Billionaire philanthropist and political donor George Soros, whom a Trump administration-financed broadcasting agency smeared earlier this year as a “nonpracticing Jew of flexible morals,” was one of the intended recipients of a pipe bomb last week. The anti-immigrant anger fueling the Pittsburgh shooter could well have been in part spurred by a GOP and conservative media campaign to claim, without evidence, that a caravan of refugees trying to emigrate to the United States is a dangerous Soros-funded conspiracy.
But Republican Party committees across the country continue to run ads that caricature Soros as a rich puppet-master who owns Democratic candidates and Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis continued to spread the unfounded conspiracy theories even after the assassination attempt of Soros became public. The head of the House GOP’s campaign arm, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), defended the group’s attacks on Soros on Sunday, saying they were “factual” and did not themselves call for violence.
The Trump administration and re-election campaign attack “Hollywood liberals” and “anti-religious” late-night comedians
On Monday, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a partnership of Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee, sent out a fundraising appeal from Trump himself.
The request warns that “Hollywood Liberals” like Steven Spielberg (a prominent Jewish director/filmmaker) and Bill Maher (a TV host who is an atheist but who frequently talks about being half-Jewish ethnically) are trying to “drown out” the voices of Trump supporters. Earlier that day, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway blamed “anti-religious” late-night comedians for the Pittsburgh massacre.
Paul Ryan’s handpicked successor attacks “East Coast” donors
Republican nominee Bryan Steil, a former aide to outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his handpicked successor in the Wisconsin 1st Congressional District, is locked in a competitive race against Democrat Randy Bryce. In the primary, he prevailed over a prominent anti-Semitic white supremacist — but apparently is eager to win over his former opponent’s supporters.
Steil tweeted on Monday night that if Bryce’s money talked, “it would talk with an East Coast accent,” a frequent dog-whistle reference to the Jewish community.
— Bryan Steil (@BryanSteilforWI) October 30, 2018
Republicans tout a Christian-only America
Several Republican candidates have been playing up their support for America’s “Christian values.” West Virginia Republican House nominee Carol Miller, for example, still notes on her campaign website that she raised her family according to “our Christian values.” In Ohio, Republican Rep. Troy Balderson still has an ad on his YouTube page from March that promises to “defend our Christian values and support American jobs,” by cracking down on immigration.
But never was this anti-Semitic, Christian-only sentiment more clear than on Monday night, when at Vice President Mike Pence’s rally for Michigan Republicans, former Jews for Jesus “rabbi” Loren Jacobs opened the event with a prayer for the victims in Pittsburgh. The head of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington bureau tweeted that this was as offensive to Jews as “inviting a minstrel to a black solidarity event.”
This is very weird. I can’t stress how across-the-spectrum, left to right, Reform to Orthodox, distaste is for Jews who embrace Christianity while maintaining superficial Jewish trappings. It’s like inviting a minstrel to a black solidarity event. https://t.co/m0uIcjve2s
— (((Ron Kampeaaaaaaaaghhhhh!!!))) (@kampeas) October 30, 2018
GOP leadership stands by a white nationalist congressman
While Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has long vied for the title of Congress’ most racist member and has endorsed openly anti-Semitic politicians in the past, in recent days he has actually stepped up his vocal support for Nazi-linked European far-right extremists. Asked about his ties to these groups on Saturday, King defended them observing that if they were in America, “pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.” Still, the House GOP leadership continues to support King and party leaders in his district stand by him, claiming he is not a racist at all.
While no major candidate or Trump official has explicitly endorsed outright violence like the Pittsburgh attacks or the pipe bombings, a Virginia GOP official did call on Monday for turning the “blue wave into a blue grave” to support neo-Confederate Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart. And one Republican incumbent is even using his Democratic opponent’s denunciations of Nazism as a line of attack. In an ad posted on Monday, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) blasts Democratic opponent Sean Casten for “casual references to Nazis,” citing a story in which Casten had criticized Nazi-linked former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka.
Update: On Tuesday, Stivers finally tweeted out a condemnation of King.
Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.
— Steve Stivers (@RepSteveStivers) October 30, 2018
King continues to serve as chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution & Civil Justice.