“Jews are thriving in America, and even with the violent resurgence of antisemitism in the Trump era, I’ve rarely felt personally threatened, perhaps a function of my privilege,” writes New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg in a piece headlined “Antisemitism’s March Into the Mainstream.”
It must be privilege, then, that explains how a New Yorker could write an entire column in a New York paper about the resurgence of antisemitism during the “Trump era” without once noting what was going on in her hometown. As Armin Rosen detailed only a few months ago, there have been hundreds of violent attacks targeting Jews in New York since 2018, “many of them documented on camera, [and] only a single perpetrator has served even one day in prison.” Of course, mentioning that the culprits of anti-Jewish violence are predominantly black or Hispanic, and live in one of the nation’s most left-wing cities, would necessitate acknowledging that antisemitism can’t be neatly laid at the feet of Republicans. That is inconvenient, no doubt.
“For most of my adult life, antisemites — with exceptions like Pat Buchanan and Mel Gibson — have lacked status in America,” Goldberg writes. Really? Al Sharpton, kingmaker and presidential “go-to man,” must have slipped Goldberg’s mind, even though she is a regular guest on his MSNBC program. Time does not erase the fact that this man spearheaded riots and fueled insidious antisemitism and racism that resulted in Jews and others being killed. Has Goldberg ever asked Sharpton to explain his views on “diamond merchants” of Crown Heights – where, as it happens, a Jewish man was brutally beaten just this summer? Perhaps her privilege has shielded her from that history, as well.
Now, of course, simply because the liberal establishment embraces Sharpton — or Barack Obama’s mentor was a notorious Jew-hater, or a smiling Nancy Pelosi posed on magazine covers with a woman who says Jews can hypnotize the world for “evil,” or the Nation of Islam’s bigotry is rationalized in the august pages of The Atlantic, or anti-“Zionists” attack Hillel buildings on college campuses — does not excuse Trump’s meeting with Ye X and Opie Himmler. Either the former president doesn’t care who he has dinner with, or he does care, or he doesn’t know – none of which are good options. Why anyone would want to go another four years dealing with that circus is beyond me.
For every Paul Gosar, though, there is an Ilhan Omar. For every Marjorie Taylor Greene there is a Rashida Tlaib … and a Maxine Waters, who has no problem hanging out with the leader of the Nation of Islam, and a Danny Davis, who is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and who maintains that the religious leader who called Hitler a “very great man” and compared Jews to “termites,” was an “outstanding human being.” It is not happenstance that the leadership of the once-celebrated Women’s March — organizers of the largest one-day protest in American history — are anti-Jewish conspiracists. For Goldberg, that reality was not a tragic portend of the mainstreaming of hate, but merely “heartbreaking.” There is plenty of cowardice to go around.
I don’t believe antisemitism is close to being mainstreamed in either party — though, with consistent expansion of The Squad that might well change one day. Yet, in trying to make the case that bigotry is unilaterally being mainstreamed, Goldberg is compelled to stretch her argument in risible ways.
First, she smears the villain du jour. “Elon Musk,” writes Goldberg, “enthusiastically welcomed both Trump and Ye back to the platform, and has been tiptoeing up to the edge of antisemitism himself.” A platform that hosts theocratic fascists of Iran and Chicom tyrants who manage concentration camps can handle the ugly ideas of a rapper. Allowing open political discourse, even from the odious voices, is a liberal notion, not an antisemitic one. It’s the same basic value that no doubt is used as the justification of New York Times editors to give tyrants like Vladimir Putin (though, not Tom Cotton) space to speak on the same pages as Michelle Goldberg.
The columnist then turns to the most cynical claim of antisemitism going around: the preposterous notion that any criticism of George Soros, the most generous benefactor of hard-left causes in the world — and a man who by his own admissions feels little connection to Judaism and generously funds the antisemitic BDS movement — constitutes the spreading of anti-Jewish tropes. But Goldberg adds a new member to this specially protected group: “Jewish retired Army officer” Alexander Vindman, whose entire media career is centered on the self-aggrandizing notion that he is a hero of democracy. Musk’s sin is calling Vindman a “puppet & puppeteer,” which Goldberg says echoes “an old antisemitic trope about Jews pulling the strings behind world events.” This too is a smear, since Musk was referring to Vindman’s alleged spamming and bot campaign on Twitter, not any serious political issue. The notion that Musk knew, much less targeted, Vindman because of his faith is outlandish.
Perhaps Goldberg will correct the record next time she is speaking to Mehdi Hasan — when the host isn’t spreading blood libel.