White supremacists stand behind their shields at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, US, August 12, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
WASHINGTON -- At least two Holocaust deniers are running as Republicans for seats in the House of Representatives, contributing to a trend of far-right extremists seeking government office.
Arthur Jones, a former American Nazi Party head, is running for Illinois' 3rd congressional district, while John Fitzgerald, whose campaign website warns of "Jewish supremacy," is running in California's 11th district. While Jones has denied the Holocaust throughout his adult life, it was only this week, in an interview with The New York Times, that Fitzgerald publicly dismissed the Holocaust as a "total lie," also blaming the Israeli government for the September 11th attacks.
Both men have been ostracized from the party under whose banner they now claim to run. Neither is expected to defeat their Democratic rivals. But the Anti-Defamation League, a human rights organization devoted to combating antisemitism and other forms of hate, said in a report published last month that their success thus far means that "right-wing extremists are making their presence felt in mainstream American politics."
"Whether they are running for high-profile offices themselves, or aligning themselves with candidates in races around the country, members of the extremist right– and their racist, anti-Semitic views– are experiencing more exposure today than at any time in recent history," the ADL report reads. "While extremists’ involvement in politics is not new, the country’s major political parties have historically kept fringe candidates and their ideologies at arm’s length."
The organization notes that two sitting Republican congressmen, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Dana Rohrabacher of California, have publicly associated with Holocaust deniers in recent years, offering them "a public platform and public validation." They note of other candidates who have expressed extreme views on Jews and on Israel, including one running for local office in Tennessee.
The California GOP, in particular, has wrestled with antisemitism in its ranks. In addition to Rohrabacher and Fitzgerald, last month the party was compelled to condemn a Republican Senate candidate, Patrick Little, for calling for an America "free of Jews." He clinched 1.4% of the vote– a low number, but still 61,000 voters.
The ADL tracked an historic spike in antisemitic rhetoric and attacks coinciding with the 2016 election, and notes that both Jones and Fitzgerald have interwoven antisemitic rhetoric with the "America First" campaign platform that launched Donald Trump to the presidency.