Trivializing the true evil of Nazism
October 9, 2020
(JNS) — There is clearly no limit to the depths of moral perversity that the enemies of President Donald Trump are prepared to plumb, not least within America’s Jewish community.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America has released a new campaign ad aimed at Jewish voters in swing states that compares Trump’s presidency to the rise of fascism in Germany.
The ad features parallel images of anti-Semitism and nationalism in Nazi Germany and today’s America. There are images of anti-Semitic graffiti from 1930s Germany, along with similar attacks on a modern American synagogue and Jewish cemetery.
The narration states: “History shows us what happens when leaders use hatred and nationalism to divide their people.” The ad ends with a warning: “Hate does not stop itself. It must be stopped. VOTE.”
The council’s executive director, Halie Soifer, said: “A majority of American Jews feel less safe today than they did four years ago due to the rise of white nationalism and anti-Semitism under Donald Trump.”
“This, coupled with Trump’s assault on our democratic institutions, are [sic] reminiscent of the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany. President Trump’s use of hatred for political purposes has made America less safe for Jews and we are voting accordingly.”
Nor is this the only linkage of Trump with the Nazis. The Democratic presidential contender, Joe Biden, has likened him to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
All of this is appalling for two reasons.
First, it slanders and smears President Trump. Certainly, he is a divisive character; rather than bring people together, he prefers to pour petrol onto the cultural conflagration. One can legitimately object to failings in his personality and temperament, as well as things he has said or done.
What is unacceptable, however, is to suggest he is a fascist, a Nazi, an attacker of democratic institutions and has made America less safe for Jews. Each of those claims is untrue.
Whatever his flaws, Trump is at base an American patriot. He stands for upholding the constitution, the rule of law and American values against those who would destroy them.
He has tried to enforce immigration law and the concept of citizenship; the Democrats seek to undermine them. He stands against the violent, anti-white and anti-American agenda of Black Lives Matter and Antifa; the Democrats support and endorse it.
Understandably exercised by the carnage wrought by this agenda on numerous American cities over the past few months, Trump clearly dismisses marginal far-right white groups as not even worth thinking about.
As a result, he has allowed his enemies to paint him falsely as a supporter of white nationalism. This happened again in his first presidential debate this week with Joe Biden.
Asked whether he would denounce white nationalism, he said “Sure.” Pressed again to do so, he asked whom he was being asked to condemn. When Biden said the far-right extremist group “Proud Boys,” Trump replied, “Proud Boys, stand down and stand by.” He then repeated that the real problem was Antifa, and someone had to deal with them.
Afterwards, the president said he had no idea who Proud Boys were. It was obvious that he had been preoccupied instead with pointing out the left-wing violence of Antifa.
Trump’s unwise dismissal of what he considers unimportant has enabled his enemies once again to distort what happened in order to smear him.
The claim that he encourages the far-right rests on an infamous falsehood, peddled repeatedly by Biden and which features in the imagery of the new campaign ad.
This is that, after the 2017 protest in Charlottesville, Va., over confederate statues that turned violent after attracting neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, Trump praised “some very fine people on both sides.”
As his words made clear, “very fine people” referred specifically to the peaceful statue protesters. In the very next breath, he said: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.” Yet his words have been twisted to claim he was praising neo-Nazis.
To accuse him in addition of causing attacks on Jews is breathtakingly perverse. Trump has done more for the Jewish people than any previous American president.
Not only has he proved himself to be a staunch ally of Israel, but he has also taken unprecedented action to combat anti-Semitism. At the end of last year, he signed an executive order allowing funding to be withheld from anti-Semitic college or educational programs.
Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz called this measure “a game-changer,” and said it was “one of the most important events in the 2,000-year battle against anti-Semitism.”
Jews are currently being attacked from the left, from the far-right, and from Islamic radicals and their proxies on the streets. But it’s the Democrats who support Antifa and Black Lives Matter with their hateful anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agenda.
It’s the Democrats who have given rise to “The Squad” of congresswomen who vent anti-Israel or anti-Jewish bigotry. It’s the Democrats who happily associate themselves with the immensely influential former Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who calls the Jews “satanic” and blood-suckers,” and claims that they have wrapped their “tentacles” around the U.S. government.
If there’s one characteristic common to left-wing ideologies, it is hatred. Left-wing ideologues hate and try to destroy anyone who challenges their dogma.
Trump has been the victim of this hatred. It’s so strong that he has been subjected to an unprecedented three-year attempt to lever him out of office through an unsubstantiated smear campaign involving an abuse of due process by officials, the Democratic Party and the media.
Shocking as all this is, however, the second factor involved in this attack on Trump is worse. It is the use of Nazism as a casual smear.
It equates what Trump has done with the rise of Nazism. Since Trump is clearly not aiming to wipe out the Jews, nor create a totalitarian dictatorship, nor attempt the invasion and subjugation of the world, the conclusion must be that the Jewish Democratic Council of America is downgrading Nazism in order to make a below-the-belt partisan attack.
The ad speaks of stopping hatred. But as Ruth Wisse observes in her essay in National Interest, Nazism was not defined by hatred but was instead the organization of politics against the Jews. “The politics of grievance and blame may indeed foment hatred, distrust, envy, rage, fear and violence, but it is primarily a political instrument for gaining, wielding, and extending power,” she writes.
So this ad misrepresents and trivializes the true evil of Nazism —I n order to promote baseless hatred against an individual, not just to oppose but to destroy him.
Blinded by hatred of Trump, his enemies rush to paint him as a Nazi while evacuating actual Nazism of its meaning and turning it into an empty political smear. This is to betray the memory of all who were murdered in the Holocaust or who gave their lives in the war to stop Hitler.
And not only is Joe Biden guilty of this moral bankruptcy but the Jewish Democratic Council of America — and the wider community of liberal Jews who are silently nodding assent to this disgusting spectacle.
It’s not just the victims of the Shoah they are betraying here, but once again the core ethical values of Judaism itself.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.”