Monday, June 27, 2016

Is Brexit the Beginning of the End of the UK … or of Other Countries?

So citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Good or bad? Right or wrong? I’m not sure and I’m not sure that I really know enough to make an informed judgment. That being said, my instinct is to view the decision to leave the European Union as a bad decision (and the fact that both Donald Trump and Sarah Palin think that Brexit is good is almost enough reason for me to believe that it isn’t). I must admit that I find interesting the exit polling that showed apparent strong correlations between both age and education and the choice of whether to remain or leave (more education and younger voters tended to vote to stay, while older and less educated voters tended to vote to leave). But what the long term effects will be for the UK economy, for the European economy, for the global economy … I have no clue.

I do, however, have some concerns about what Brexit may mean both with regard to the stability of nation-states and to relations between them.

Let me address the latter of those two points first. One of the principal motivations for the original formation of what eventually evolved into the European Union was the notion of finding ways to avoid future conflicts within Europe and by and among European countries. The European Union has been largely successful in that ambition. But consider how things might look once the United Kingdom is fully divorced from those European nations that remain a part of the European Union. For example, what sort of hard feelings may exist by and between Britons and Europeans? If Europe’s economy stagnates and the United Kingdom’s flourishes (I have my doubts…), won’t many Europeans have a sense of … well, anger, I suppose, toward the United Kingdom? Similarly, if the UK’s economy stagnates and Europe grows, then how will Britons feel when they look across the Channel?

Perhaps more importantly, what sort of cooperation existing today might become strained or even cease? For example, think of the large migrant camps in northern France, populated by refugees and immigrants seeking to make their way to England. France has worked hard to try to keep those migrant camps stable and to help the UK keep mass waves of immigrants and refugees from making their way across the Channel. Part of the reason for that is good relations between the UK and France and part of the reason for that was the pan-European approach to dealing with immigration and refugees. But if the UK is no longer part of the European Community, what, if any, duty to does France have (let alone Italy or Spain or Greece) to help the United Kingdom deal with “unwanted” immigrants and refugees? Likely, none. Given that a motivating factor for many Britons who voted to leave the European Union was the desire to deal with immigration without interference from the European Union, then how ironic will it be if France chooses to cease its efforts to prevent immigrants and refugees from embarking on journeys across the Channel to England? (And it seems just as likely that those countries might actually opt to find ways to help immigrants transit their territory for Britain, in order to try to lessen their own refugee and immigrant burdens.)

I can also see other possibilities for European countries to sort of lash out in petty revenge against the United Kingdom if Brexit is viewed as damaging those countries. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised to see countries adopt tariffs or other fees on British goods or even travel by Britons within Europe (which could come as a real shock to Britons who have purchased vacation properties in Spain). Or, just imagine if FIFA (the world body governing soccer … er … football) were to decide that because the United Kingdom no longer views itself as being a part of Europe, that soccer clubs from the United Kingdom would not be eligible to play in the European Champions League or the UEFA Euro Cup?

Based on the last millennia or so, anything that gives one European country a reason to act in anger against another European country is … um … not good.

I also worry that the Brexit vote may, over time, begin a slide into the fracturing of stability within Europe and elsewhere.

In September 2014, Scotland voted, 55% to 45%, to remain a part of the United Kingdom. There were many factors at play in that vote, but one that appeared to play prominently was the role an independent Scotland would be able (or perhaps unable) to play within the European economy and global markets. It was pointed out that an independent Scotland would not be a part of the European Union and would, thus, not be able to avail itself of free trade and the other benefits of membership in the European Union (at least until going through the difficult and multi-year process of joining the EU). Thus is probably isn’t surprising that last week Scotland voted to remain in the European Union. Each of Scotland’s voting districts voted to remain and the results weren’t terribly close (62-38 to remain, compared to 53-47 in England). But the United Kingdom voted to leave. So where does that leave Scotland?

The leader of Scotland’s Parliament (the “First Minister”, I believe) has already called for a second Scottish referendum on independence. I suspect that such a referendum will be held and I also suspect that in a post-Brexit vote, Scots will, indeed, vote to make their own way.

Is that good or bad? I don’t know.

But if Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom, what then of Northern Ireland? Like Scotland, Northern Ireland also voted to remain a part of the European Union (56-44 to stay). So, were Scotland to leave the United Kingdom, might Northern Ireland contemplate doing the same and, perhaps, even seeking to unify with Ireland which is a part of the European Union and with which many Irish have a closer bond that the government in London?

Those actions would, quite obviously, have a significant impact on the United Kingdom, reducing it down to just England and Wales (and who knows how long Wales would want to stick around…). But how might the democratic dissolution of the United Kingdom impact independence movements elsewhere in Europe? Consider Belgium which is essentially divided into two distinct communities (roughly dividing the country in half geographically, south and north), one French-speaking (Walloons) and the other Dutch-speaking (Flemish). The divide between the French and Flemish within Belgium has risen to near-crisis levels in the past. Query whether watching the disintegration of the United Kingdom might, once again, prompt calls for Flemish independence.

Or consider Catalonia, the northeastern part of Spain, with its capital in Barcelona. Catalans speak a different language from the rest of Spain, they don’t permit bullfighting, and, perhaps even more importantly, find themselves in a much different economic condition than the rest of the country. Might the rending of the United Kingdom give further impetus and strength to the already quite vocal and popular Catalan independence movement?

Of course if Catalonia were to become independent, that might reinvigorate the independence desires of the neighboring Basque region of Spain and France. Or, just to the southeast, perhaps the independence movements of Corsica and Sardinia (from France and Italy, respectively) would find succor in the example of Scotland.

In fact, the number of independence movements across Europe is almost too numerous to count and includes both large areas (Bavaria in Germany, South Tyrol in Italy) and tiny (Faroe Islands in Denmark, Venice in Italy); I even came across a reference to a independence movement for the Åland Islands, a tiny chain of islands between Sweden and Finland that presently belongs to Finland, but whose 28,000 inhabitants speak Swedish (but an acquaintance of mine who lives in Åland assures me that it is merely a “romantic protest”).

In any event, I think that the concern (or hope, I suppose, depending on your perspective) of the tearing asunder of European countries and the reformation into something … well … different, is worth contemplating. The goal of the European Union was a form of European unity, but that is splintering and it is quite likely the first breach of the unity of the European Union may also lead to the splintering of the United Kingdom. And as people across Europe — or even the world — watch Scotland and perhaps Northern Island pressing for independence, then it seems quite likely that independence movements will be strengthened and, quite possibly, the political structures of the world will see dramatic changes.

One commonly used phrase to describe the breaking apart of countries into smaller nations is “Balkanization” and that word is used for a reason. However, consider if you will, the history of the Balkans and whether that worked out for the best or not.

I don’t know what the results of Brexit will be for the United Kingdom, Scotland, Europe, or the world. But I have concerns that this will be the first act in a drama that may result in a period of chaos and contention.

But please, don’t get me started on the discussion of Texit (Texas exiting the United States). Just … don’t.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Some of My Previous Posts on Guns and Gun Control

In the days and months following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, I spent a lot of time writing about guns. In the wake of the most recent shooting in Orlando, I thought that I’d gather the links to some of those and other posts on gun control. I really hope that finally there will be enough public anger to compel Congress to do something, but if nothing else, perhaps linking to these prior posts will offer a chance for a discussion and debate about the issues.

Of particular interest should be the post Guns in America: Background Check System Excludes Those on the Terrorist Watch Lists (April 24, 2013) which is obviously highly relevant to the current debate.


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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trump’s Racist Attacks on the Federal Judiciary

Donald Trump is, quite rightly, being excoriated for his racist attacks on the judge presiding over one of the lawsuits against Trump University. However, that criticism has been largely limited to the straightforward racism of Trump’s attacks and has, sadly, ignored his broader attack on the federal judiciary in general, his threats against judges who Trump doesn’t like, and the implications of his suggestion of conflicts-of-interest on the basis of race or other motivational interest. Trump’s attacks aren’t just limited to a particular judge; rather, he is attacking one of the co-equal branches of government and attempting to subvert its independence and ability to function. One must, therefore, wonder — if not fear — what a Trump presidency would look like were a federal judge (or the Supreme Court) to rule against Trump or a Trump policy.

Criticism of judges is fine and there is certainly a long precedent of American citizens, politicians, and elected officials doing so. One of the most famous recent criticisms of a judicial decision came from President Obama during the 2010 State of the Union speech, in which President Obama expressed his views of the recent Citizens United decision:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

That criticism by President Obama was, itself, subject to intense debate and critique. But note that President Obama did not question the integrity of the justices or impugn their reputations or motivations. He criticized the decision and what he perceived the effects would be, but he didn’t accuse them of ruling the way that they did because of their skin color, ethnic heritage, religion, or animus to Hillary Clinton (who, if you’ll recall was the target of the video at issue in Citizens United).

Now, compare that sort of criticism to the way Trump attacked the judge presiding over a Trump University case (internal links omitted):

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd of several thousand booed. “He is not doing the right thing. And I figure, what the hell? Why not talk about it for two minutes?”

Mr. Trump spoke for far more than two minutes about Judge Curiel and the Trump University case–he devoted 12 minutes of a 58-minute address to the litigation….

“We’re in front of a very hostile judge,” Mr. Trump said. “The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative.”

Mr. Trump also told the audience, which had previously chanted the Republican standard-bearer’s signature “build that wall” mantra in reference to Mr. Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, that Judge Curiel is “Mexican.”

“What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,” Mr. Trump said.

Judge Curiel was born in Indiana.

Mr. Trump told the crowd he looks forward to returning to San Diego for the trial in November and asked for an investigation into Judge Curiel for reasons he did not specify.

“I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK? But we’ll come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president and I come back to do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. OK. This is called life, folks.”

Recognize that this wasn’t a one-time event, either; Trump has repeated these sorts of criticisms multiple times, including this (emphasis added):

I think the judge has been extremely hostile to me. I think it has to do with the fact I'm very, very strong on the border, and he happens to be extremely hostile to me. We have a very hostile judge. He is Hispanic, and he is very hostile to me.

See a difference? President Obama criticized the decision of the Supreme Court, and discussed his concerns about the effects of that decision, but he did not suggest that individual justices were biased or “haters” and he certainly didn’t suggest that any of the justices was unable to act impartially because of race or religion. And President Obama did not offer an implicit or veiled threat against any of the justices. But Trump has done all of that and more. Repeatedly.

There has been plenty written and discussed about just how wrong and un-American are Trump’s attacks against the judge on the basis of race and ethnicity. Yet we can’t forget that Trump went even further and also claimed that Muslim judges might also be biased against him:

Mr. Dickerson asked Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, if a Muslim judge would be similarly biased because of Mr. Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants. “It’s possible, yes,” Mr. Trump said. “Yeah. That would be possible. Absolutely.”

But rather than focusing simply on Trump’s unabashed bigotry, I want to focus first on the suggestion that race, heritage, or religion can create inherent conflicts of interest among judges. Let me begin by quoting myself in my post Addressing a Few Red Herrings (August 5, 2010) written following the original challenge to California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage when some argued that the judge who decided that case had a conflict-of-interest because he was gay.

Why is it that when it comes to litigation involving social issues, straight, Anglo-Protestant white males are never seen as being biased, but a judge who is black or Jewish or female or gay is biased, often for no other reason that the fact that the judge is black or Jewish or female or gay?

Or think of it this way: Must every woman judge recuse herself from a rape case? Must every Jewish judge recuse himself from a case involving church-state issues? Must every Hispanic judge recuse himself from an immigration case? Must a black judge recuse himself from every lawsuit alleging racial discrimination? And with your answer to that last query in mind, must every white judge recuse himself from a case alleging racial discrimination if one of the parties is … um … white? And, by all of that reasoning, shouldn’t any straight judge have been forced to recuse himself precisely because he wasn’t gay?

Those who argue bias of this sort are either so blinded by their own bias and bigotry or simply cannot recognize that, in order for our system to work at all, we must all have faith in the impartiality of our judiciary. That a judge disagrees with us doesn’t mean bias; it means that judge judges a particular issue differently that you or I might. It doesn’t mean bias. But if we start seeing bias in every judge solely on the basis of that judge’s color or religion or DNA, then it won’t be long before our judicial system becomes a joke and the respect for the rule of law on which the foundations of our country are supported will rot away.

Donald Trump doesn’t understand any of that. Rather, it would seem that in the America that he envisages, the only judges who can be relied upon to offer impartial rulings and justice would be judges who share race, religion, heritage, and political viewpoints with those being judged. Or maybe good Aryan (or at least male White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) judges would be exempt from being scrutinized from conflicts-of-interest because of their majority status, right? Of course one has to wonder whether that Aryan or WASP might have a predisposed bias in favor of Trump; after all, shouldn’t we expect that all whites would be supportive of his positions of wanting to keep American racially pure out Latino immigrants and those of disfavored religions? I mean, if we can presume that judges of Mexican heritage or of the Muslim faith would be biased against Trump because of his political positions, then shouldn’t we presume that those of European heritage or of the Christian faith would be biased toward Trump for the same reason? Isn’t that really the argument that he is making? As Philip Klein noted in The Washington Examiner:

Trump could just as easily be arguing that a Jewish judge is against him because he refuses to be beholden to Jewish donors. Or an American Asian judge is against him because he wants to get tough on China. Or an Irish Catholic judge is against him because of his attacks on Pope Francis. Effectively, anybody who isn't a white Protestant of European ancestry can be a target of Trump's ethnic and racial attacks.

So let’s tease out the ramifications of Trump’s argument that judges can’t be relied upon to be impartial based on their race, heritage, religion, or reactions to the political views of a party appearing before the judge. Essentially, the ramifications become quite simple: Our entire judicial system ceases to function and the rule of law, for which our system is an absolute model and light among the nations, becomes but a quaint relic of bygone days. If Americans are taught that they can’t trust the impartiality of judges, especially judges who look different or pray to a different god, then the rulings of those judges may never be accepted. People will refuse to recognize decisions from “biased” judges and those ruling may, thus, become not worth the paper they are printed on. How long before someone says, “I’m not going to follow the judge’s order because he was biased against me?” In our hyper-polarized present, how long before some legislature or sheriff buys into this sort of viewpoint?

You see, one of most important responsibilities of our elected officials is to help provide to the public the sense that our system works. Sure, there may be bumps. Politics may get ugly and messy. Judges may get things wrong and legislators may not always reflect the will of the people. Executives may direct their offices and agents to do things that some will object to. But on the whole, there remains the notion that the system as a whole works. But now we have a situation where one of the major party’s candidate for President is essentially arguing that one of the co-equal branches of the government, the same branch that we rely upon to stop the unchecked power of the executive branch, doesn’t work because of racial or religious bias. The idea of a major party candidate arguing, not that the policy goals of the other party are wrong, but that a branch of the government can’t properly function because of bias, is absolutely unprecedented. And scary.

Consider the comments of David Post, a retired law professor:

“This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary,” Mr. Post said. “You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges. But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law. That is his constitutional obligation.”

“If he is signaling that that is not his position, that’s a very serious constitutional problem,” Mr. Post said.

Then, as if all of that wasn’t enough, we also have Trump’s threat against Judge Cureil.

Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president and I come back to do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. OK. This is called life, folks.”

I’m not really sure what Trump meant here (for that matter, Trump’s … um … creative grammar often leaves me a bit befuddled, but that’s a blog for another day), but it does seem like some kind of threat against the judge. Is Trump saying that, after the election, he would sue the judge? Or is he talking about impeachment (“where everybody likes it”)? It’s hard to know. But the notion that a candidate for President is suggesting, even implicitly, that he might try to use the power of the office to retaliate against a member of the federal judiciary should be absolutely chilling to anyone who values the functioning of our system. We need judges who are unafraid to issue difficult rulings and who aren’t influenced by the politics surrounding them. That is one of the reasons that federal judges are appointed to a lifetime term. Now we have a candidate for President who seems willing to throw politics into the functioning of the judiciary. And note that we’re not talking about a case like Citizens United that deals with constitutional issues and the election process; rather, Trump’s concerns arise from a case against one of his businesses for fraud.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, disgruntled farmers and members of the early version of the militia movement (and later so-called “sovereign citizen” movement) began taking actions against judges (both state and federal) who, among other things, issued decrees of foreclosure. These actions often took the form of fake liens against the judges’ properties, thus making it difficult for the judges to sell or refinance their houses. Citizen “grand juries” popped up to issue “warrants” against judges. States like Indiana that fell prey to these shenanigans had to enact laws to protect judges (and others). And now Donald Trump seems to be suggesting that if he doesn’t get his way, it will once again be open season on judges … or at least on judges who don’t rule the way Donald Trump thinks that they should.

As I was thinking about this subject last night, I wondered about the precedent that Trump seems to be setting without necessarily realizing it. Think of it this way: Let’s say that I become party to a lawsuit following a traffic accident. And let’s say that the judge presiding over that case is Asian. Now, when that judge issues a ruling with which I disagree, rather than appealing that ruling or otherwise acting within the bounds of the legal system, if I follow Trump’s lead, I should argue that the judge is a “hater” who is a “disgrace” that only gives me “negative” rulings. But then, when the judge refuses to reverse course or to recuse himself, I guess I should start making bigoted anti-Asian comments after which I should argue that the judge has an inherent conflict-of-interest or bias against me because of what I’ve said. Or, to put it even more simply, if I have a judge that I don’t like, I should walk up to that judge and tell him that he is an ignorant asshole who should go fuck his mother, and then I should demand that he recuse himself because my comments and actions may have biased the judge against me. Isn’t that really Trump’s argument here? That judges of Mexican heritage will be inherently biased against Trump because of Trump’s political views? It will be nice to know that if I’m ever sued, I can use my political views to be sure that only a Democratic Jewish judge will be able to preside over my case.

I also want to touch briefly on one other red herring argument that seems to be getting some traction, namely that Judge Curiel’s membership in a Latino bar association group (note that the group to which he belongs is the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association and not the national National Council of La Raza (an advocacy organization)) is enough to demonstrate bias and some sort of implicit reverse racism (as if by being a member of a Latino organization implies racism against non-Latinos). Of course, that argument ignores the existence of groups like the Italian American Bar Association, German American Bar Association, Chicago Irish American Bar Association, Asian American Bar Association of New York, American Catholic Lawyers Association, J. Reuben Clark Law Society (a Mormon organization), or the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. And yes, I could go on and on. For the record, I’ve occasionally attended a luncheon (well, really an opportunity to each a Shapiro’s corned beef sandwich) under the auspices of the Jewish Lawyers Luncheon group in Indianapolis. Judges are also people. They are part of their community and that community may include their religion, their ethnic heritage, or their kids’ soccer team. But to suggest that a judge is inherently biased because he is an active member of his community is itself a sort of racist dog whistle to those who argue that the “real racists” are members of minority communities and not the white or Christian majorities.

Donald Trump can criticize judges all he wants. That’s fair. But his criticism shouldn’t — can’t — be based in racism or bigotry, it can’t — not if Trump believes in our system of government — call into question the actual functioning of the judicial branch or the belief in the rule of law, and it absolutely can’t include threats, implicit or explicit, that he will use the power of the office of the President to retaliate against judges who don’t agree to jump to Trump’s tune. Yet the continued exhortation to racism and bigotry and attacks against the functioning of our governmental system just makes ever more clear that Trump really is nothing more than a fascist. And I, for one, am not willing to risk the America that I know for the whims of an egotistical, narcissistic, racist, fascist like Donald Trump.

Please help me make sure that he is not elected President.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Trump Implicitly Condones Anti-Semitism (part 3): The Hate Continues

I wonder how Donald Trump will respond when, sometime in the not too distant future, one of his grandchildren asks him, “Zadie* Donald, why do some of your supporters hate Jews … like me?” I wonder how Ivanka will answer her children when they ask why Zadie didn’t tell his supporters to stop saying anti-Semitic things. It could make for some uncomfortable Passover Seder conversation in years to come, don’t you think?

Earlier this month, I posted Trump Implicitly Condones Anti-Semitism and Trump Implicitly Condones Anti-Semitism (redux): The Use of Stereotypes. Sadly, since publishing those posts, the situation has only gotten worse.

My initial post came on the heels of an outpouring of anti-Semitic abuse directed at a reporter who wrote an article about Melania Trump. I wrote about Donald Trump declining an offer to give a message to his “fans” about the anti-Semitism they were spewing in his name. Since then, not only has the situation not gotten better, it has gotten demonstrably worse. For example, when asked, indirectly, about anti-Semitism directed at the reporter who interviewed and wrote about her, Melania Trump didn’t do much to repudiate the anti-Semitism (emphasis added):

“I don’t control my fans,” Melania says, “but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”

Now to casual readers, this may seem a fairly innocuous statement, but Jewish readers are most likely very familiar with Melania’s final claim of provocation. You see, Jews have been blamed for causing or provoking anti-Semitism for millennia. Literally. Read any anti-Semitic hate site and you’ll quickly come across charges that Jews bear the blame for anti-Semitism (see, for example, one of the images posted below, asking why Jews have been expelled from countries over the millennia). The best that Melania can say is that she doesn’t “agree” with what her fans are “doing” (you know, like making death threats or posting images of Julia Ioffe as a prisoner at Auschwitz) and that such people “maybe went too far”. Maybe. Or maybe not, I suppose, right? And Donald? He told Megyn Kelly that anti-Semitic and other abuse directed at reporters and others is “in response to something that they did.” In other words, in Trump’s view, anti-Semitism and other verbal abuse is acceptable if it is in response to something he (or his fans) view with disfavor.

Is that the kind of country we want? One in which someone who expresses an opinion contrary to that of a particular demagogue politician becomes the target of vicious hate?

Ah, but that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the continued failure by Trump and his inner circle to try to stop the virulent anti-Semitism being spewed in Trump’s name. For example, consider the following:


Josh Greenman is an opinion editor for the New York Daily News. He posted some graphs of analysis from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center about Trump’s tax policy proposals. In response, an apparent Trump supporter (with an avatar that included a “Make America Great Again” hat and a profile that includes “MAGA” [the acronym for Make America Great Again]) responded simply:


Greenman replied, asking the Trump supporter not to “hold back” and received this reply:

Your time as the gate keeper is up. Bolshevik propagandists like yourself are a blight on America. Move to Israel.

In other words, for the horrible act of posting an tax policy analyst’s results of an examination of the tax policy articulated by a major party candidate for President, a reporter was labeled “Jew” (and clearly that was meant as an epithet) and communist and targeted with the classic anti-Semitic canards of undue influence and control, causing harm to the country in which he resides, and dual loyalty with Israel. One reporter. One tweet. And not even his own tax analysis. Just retweeting what a respected tax analyst published. What might have happened if Greenman said something really critical about a Trump policy? What might happen if a reporter like Greenman were to publish something critical of a President Trump? Kind of chilling to think about, no?

Then we come to perhaps the most extreme incident (at least of the last few weeks). On May 18, 2016, The Washington Post printed a column by Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and foreign affairs columnist for The Washington Post entitled “This is how fascism comes to America”. The column, and Kagan’s warnings and conclusions, make for interesting reading. The column concludes (internal link omitted):

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

Jonathan Weisman, a deputy Washington editor for The New York Times tweeted a link to Kagan’s column, including a sentence from that conclusion. The flood of hate was not long in coming. It began with a Twitter user who, like the person described above who interacted with Josh Greenman, also has an avatar with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a nearly identical profile (which is common among a certain class of Trump supporters) who simply tweeted to Weisman:

Hello (( Weisman ))

Weisman apparently didn’t recognize that the use of multiple parenthesis around a name or term is a popular meme within the anti-Semitic and white supremacist movement to denote a Jew or a supposedly Jewish-controlled business or institution. So Weisman took the bait:

Care to explain?

So the Trump supporter did just that:

What ho, the vaunted ashkenazi intelligence, hahaha! It's a dog whistle, fool. Belling the cat for my fellow goyim.

(I had to look it up, but apparently “belling the cat” as used here describes the “collective action problem” or “the situation in which multiple individuals would all benefit from a certain action, but has an associated cost making it implausible that any individual can or will undertake and solve it alone. The ideal solution is then to undertake this as a collective action, the cost of which is shared.”)

Weisman then spent the next eight hours or so retweeting some of the anti-Semitic hate directed his way from a number of different people. Here are just a few of the tweets and images Weisman highlighted with his retweets (see The Washington Post and Haaretz for additional details):

  • all kike-americans that would put Israhell first should be dropped from a helicopter over Tel Aviv
  • Poor @jonathanweisman is 4 open borders, sexual degeneracy, and turning the US into 3rd world shithole. Elite Jews went 2 far and have 2 go.
  • Real conservatives principles demand ovening the jews.
  • Savagery is their nature; being from Central Asia they were selected for sociopathic cutthroatedness.
  • I’m not anti-Semitic. I love Semitic groups like SSNP and Hezbollah that kill filthy Jews
  • in fact, Jews are the biggest murderers of Levantines, so it’s pro-Semitic to hate them.
  • Roughly 85% of #Jews consistently vote as #progressives, hence aren’t fit to be American citizens.
  • after the Mexicans and Muslims you filth are next.
  • you must be very thirsty without your daily feeding of blood.
  • Parasites don't know any better. Its just in their nature. You have to get rid of them to survive.
  • You’ve been indoctrinating Jews and goyim with guilt and milking the “Holocaust” for 7 decades.
  • Jews have foisted debt, immigration, & war upon us for 100 years. The pendulum has begun to swing back, and it is glorious.
  • Yeah I don’t mind that a bunch of pornographers, moneychangers and 5th columnists got what they had coming.

Ci1uU6AU4AA5Upl.jpg large



The following exchange sort of neatly summarizes how the exchanges went. At one point, Weisman tweeted about the outpouring of anti-Semitism flooding his Twitter feed:

Generations of American Jews did not believe this still existed til now.

That tweet was in response to one that said:

FAR better to welcome #Facism here than to continue along the #JEW created #Marxism road

And the response to Weisman’s tweet about the continued existence of anti-Semitism:

get used to it you fucking kike. You people will be made to pay for the violence and fraud you’ve committed against us.

So now that the expression of virulent and repulsive anti-Semitism from Trump supporters is being talked about on Twitter and, more importantly, in periodicals like The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Review, The Atlantic, Haaretz, and others, you’d expect some kind of response from Trump, his campaign, and/or his more mainstream supporters. Yet Trump has said … nothing. Still. Given how rapidly Trump usually responds (especially on Twitter) to stories that he disagrees with or which anger him, it seems almost impossible that he isn’t aware of either the discussion of anti-Semitism among his “fans” or the criticism of him for failing to repudiate that anti-Semitism. Don’t forget that Wolf Blitzer gave Trump a chance to say something. And yet … silence.

And it is a dangerous silence because Trump’s anti-Semitic “fans” take that silence as acceptance of or even incitement for more of that behavior. And query whether, sometime soon, that silence will become a matter of incitement for … something worse. Query what happens if Trump is elected and has the power of the government at his disposal.

It seems that almost every day I come across more examples of anti-Semitism from Trump supporters, often aimed at members of the media (who, you’ll recall, Trump regularly lambasts as “dishonest” or worse). For example, Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted about an email that he received telling him that if Trump is elected, Goldberg will be “sent to a camp”. ThinkProgress reported on a number of its reporters who received anti-Semitic comments from Trump supporters:

Kira Lerner and Alice Ollstein — both political reporters and both Jewish — say they have encountered anti-Semitic remarks online while covering Trump.

“I immediately blocked them,” Ollstein said. She pointed out that the attacks were unique to this election season, noting, “I’ve been reporting in Washington, DC for six years, and this is the only time it’s ever happened to me — either in person or online.”

The same is true for Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress’ economics editor. Covert says she received a deluge of anti-Semitic tweets in May after she published an op-ed in the New York Times decrying Trump’s policy agenda as disproportionately benefiting white men. The tweets personally attacked her for being Jewish and referenced her family — even though she never mentioned her Jewish heritage (she’s half-Jewish) in the story.

“The Trump supporters had to really dig deep to figure out that I’m Jewish,” Covert said. “They unearthed this tweet of mine from months ago referencing my Jewish grandma.”

“I haven’t gotten any anti-semitism in my mentions for writing about any other candidate,” she added.

ThinkProgress made this further observation:

The connection between Trump and internet-based anti-Semitism has gotten so bad that The Donald’s name and image is now brandished as an excuse to unleash insults whether or not he is being discussed. In mid-May, a Twitter account sporting an image of Trump attacked a Jewish reporter at the Charleston Post and Courier for commenting on shifting opinions regarding the Confederate flag, tweeting, “I guess daddy didn't love her enough to get her a nosejob for her Bar Mitzvah.” The account’s bio notes that liberals should be sent “straight to the ovens.”

Jake Tapper, John Podhoretz, Noah Rothman, Dana Milbank, and others have all reported increased anti-Semitism directed their way, apparently from Trump supporters.

And before you tell yourself that this vitriolic hate is directed only at the “liberal media” consider the experiences of Ben Shapiro (I can’t believe I’m quoting him here…), one of the more notorious “journalists” on the right (he is a former editor of Breitbart), published in National Review:

I was wrong.

I’ve spent most of my career arguing that anti-Semitism in the United States is almost entirely a product of the political Left. I’ve traveled across the country from Iowa to Texas; I’ve rarely seen an iota of true anti-Semitism. I’ve sensed far more anti-Jewish animus from leftist college students at the University of California, Los Angeles, than from churches in Valencia. As an observer of President Obama’s thoroughgoing anti-Israel administration, I could easily link the anti-Semitism of the Left to its disdain for both Biblical morality and Israeli success over its primary Islamist adversaries. The anti-Semitism I’d heard about from my grandparents — the country-club anti-Semitism, the alleged white-supremacist leanings of rednecks from the backwoods — was a figment of the imagination, I figured.

I figured wrong.

Donald Trump’s nomination has drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork.

I’ve experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against Trump’s candidacy than at any other time in my political career. Trump supporters have threatened me and other Jews who hold my viewpoint. They’ve blown up my e-mail inbox with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. They greeted the birth of my second child by calling for me, my wife, and two children to be thrown into a gas chamber.

Yes, seriously.

This isn’t a majority of Trump supporters, obviously. It’s not even a large minority. But there is a significant core of Trump support that not only traffics in anti-Semitism but celebrates it — and god-worships Trump as the leader of an anti-Jewish movement.

Shapiro continues on before concluding:

Now, this doesn’t mean that Trump is an anti-Semite. No politician is responsible for all those who follow him.

But politicians become responsible for movements when they pat those movements on the head. Trump has done that repeatedly. When Trump refused to condemn David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan days before the Louisiana primary, then blamed it on his earpiece, that was a signal to his anti-Semitic base. When Trump retweets accounts heavily connected to white supremacism, his anti-Semitic base celebrates. When he appears on national television and refuses to condemn his supporters’ anti-Semitic death threats against a reporter (“I don’t know anything about that … I don’t have a message to the fans”), his anti-Semitic base takes note. When his wife, Melania, states in an interview that that same reporter “provoked” anti-Semitic death threats, Trump’s anti-Semitic base nods.

Trumpism breeds conspiracism; conspiracism breeds anti-Semitism. Trump is happy to channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.

The anti-Semitism on the right may slink back beneath its rock when Trump is defeated. Or perhaps it will continue to bubble up, fed by the demagoguery of bad men willing to channel ignorant rage toward their own glorification.

For even more of the anti-Semitism directed at Shapiro from his fellow travelers on the right, please see his post The Anti-Semites Are Out In Force For Trump. It’s sickening.

Or there is this from journalist Bethany Mandel (an Orthodox Jew who writes for The Federalist and The Forward “usually from a conservative perspective”):

As any high-profile Twitter user with a Jewish-sounding last name can tell you, the surest way to see anti-Semitism flood your mentions column is to tweet something negative about Donald Trump. My anti-Trump tweets have been met with such terrifying and profound anti-Semitism that I bought a gun earlier this month. Over the coming weeks, I plan to learn how to shoot it better.

I implore my fellow Jews … no, I implore my fellow Americans: Do not let Donald Trump get anywhere near the White House because to do so would be to legitimize and elevate this vile hate that has taken hold within some of his supporters. Trump may not be Hitler, but it certainly seems that some of his most ardent supporters wish that he was. We cannot elect a fascist who draws support from racists and bigots and refuses to repudiate hate expressed in his name. That way lies danger … for all of us.


*“Zadie” is Yiddish for grandfather and is a term of endearment used by many Jewish children.

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