Republicans must deal with antisemitism, extremism in their ranks

Antisemitism is a bulging vein that runs through the insurrectionist groups.

US REP. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) arrives to take her oath of office as a member of the House of Representatives, in Washington, DC, on January 3. (photo credit: ERIN SCOTT/REUTERS)
US REP. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) arrives to take her oath of office as a member of the House of Representatives, in Washington, DC, on January 3.
(photo credit: ERIN SCOTT/REUTERS)
A Jewish laser beam from outer space didn’t ignite the deadly 2018 California Camp Fire, but it did create a blaze around the antisemite who says it did, and it threatens to consume House Republican leaders afraid to douse it.
The arsonist is freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-QAnon), who is rapidly becoming the new face of the Republican Party as the old guard cowers in fear and the disgraced former president praises her as a “future Republican star.” Donald Trump invited her to visit him in exile in Florida, where he is plotting revenge on 10 GOP House members who voted to impeach him. She can show her loyalty by telling him that on Joe Biden’s first full day as president she introduced articles to impeach him.
In a rare show of courage, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced Green’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer” on the GOP and the country. Too few in the party seem to understand this truth.
A virulent strain of that cancer is antisemitism, and it has been a major component of the white nationalist and militia elements that dominate the Trumpist base. It was seen on the “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt of one of the former president’s followers who invaded the Capitol on January 6, and on the Nazi flags some carried, and when one of the insurrectionists announced from the Senate podium, “Jesus Christ, we invoke your name. Amen.” The Proud Boys carried flags declaring, “Jesus is my savior/Trump is my president.”
Antisemitism is a bulging vein that runs through the insurrectionist groups.
The conspiracy-theorist QAnon cult, of which Greene is today’s most prominent member, has a reputation for antisemitism, as do the Patriot Boys, 3 Percenters, Oath Keepers, neo-Nazis, KKK and other white supremacist groups. They share an affinity for Trump, the first American president to bestow political legitimacy on their assorted bigotry. When some of them marched at Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” they were widely condemned, but not by the president who saw in them “many fine people.”
Greene not only believes Jews were behind forest fires but that the school massacres at Sandy Hook and Parkland were staged events, and for that she has been rewarded by House GOP leadership with a seat on the Education and Labor Committee.
Politico reports Democrats are planning to give Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy an ultimatum, either remove her committee assignments or they will bring the issue to the House floor. But that is unlikely to happen. Ejecting a member of the opposition party is a bad precedent and only invites retaliation.
If McCarthy fails to act, she and others like her become campaign assets for Democrats in next year’s congressional elections. But it will also encourage others with similarly offensive views to enter the political arena; in many parts of the country, those efforts could meet with success.
Freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-North Carolina) is a self-described proselytizer on a mission to convert the Jews. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has his own mission of “restoring” America as a Christian nation, which he shares with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). The two had partnered on January 6, even after the violence, in their failed attempt to overthrow the 2020 election. Neither is much interested in seeing a second Trump presidency in four years, but both seem to think that reaching for new extremes is a shrewd career move.
Hawley is among those Christians “who plan to take the country for Jesus,” writes Prof. Rachel Mikva of the Chicago Theological Seminary, and, he said, “transform our society to reflect the gospel truth and lordship of Jesus Christ.”
MIKVA CALLED Christian nationalism “a threat to religious pluralism” in America and said advocates, such as the predominantly Republican Congressional Prayer Caucus, aim to tear down the wall of separation between religion and state and use the legislative process, in the group’s words, to “preserve our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage and religious liberties.” Mikva said, “The term Judeo-Christian here is a perverse appropriation of Judaism, deployed as a cover for Christian exclusivism.”
Among the conspiracies Greene has “uncovered” are Israeli advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, “Zionist supremacists” who are masterminding Muslim immigration to Europe to outnumber whites, international bankers and globalists (euphemisms for Jews) and the chief worldwide conspirator, George Soros. The Hungarian-American Jewish philanthropist paid for the false-flag school-shooting hoaxes, she said; he is also one of Trump’s favorite villains, who he has blamed for financing caravans of migrants from Central America. Greene has called Soros “the piece of crap that turned in” fellow Jews “to the Nazis.
She may be the most prominent member of the GOP’s lunatic fringe today, but she has plenty of company. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Illinois) sparked demands for her resignation for saying “Hitler was right on one thing.” Her apology consisted of declaring her “support of Israel.” Pistol-packing Lauren Boebert of Colorado who insists on wearing her Glock pistol on the House floor; the brother of Arizona’s Paul Gosar denounced him for “antisemitic diatribes” and involvement with “anti-Muslim groups and hate groups.” Not to be left out are Reps. Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Randy Weber, Jim Jordan and Andy Harris.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, which served as cheerleader for Trump even as he stirred up the nation’s antisemites, said it was “offended and appalled” by Greene’s remarks and called her “far outside the mainstream” of the GOP but stopped short of calling for her expulsion. Other Jewish groups were more forceful.
Greene dismissed her critics as a “radical, left-wing Democratic mob” and said “more MAGA reinforcements are on the way.”
QAnon had a highly visible presence in the insurrection at the Capitol along with a malignant mix of other extremists. Their assault wasn’t spontaneous.
Here’s the emmes: January 6, one of the darkest days in American history, never would have happened if Donald Trump were an honorable man. Had he been honest and accepted the (proven) election defeat and graciously conceded and congratulated his successor – as did his own opponent four years earlier – the failed coup never would have happened.
We will still have hate groups, but this insurrection was the product of one man’s lies, ego and ambitions. And more than any figure in American history, Trump has legitimized and empowered the racists, xenophobes and antisemites. By seeking to overturn a legitimate election and, when specious legal arguments failed, sending a violent mob to stage a Capitol coup, he has set the stage for more violence and more efforts to end American democracy.
And unless GOP leaders find backbones that have been AWOL for the past four years, their party will continue its headlong rush to ugly extremism. As they try to figure out what to do about Greene and the rising tide of antisemitism in the party’s white supremacist base, Jewish Republicans must consider their place in the party. Party leaders’ expressions of love for Israel can’t cover up the problem, and Jewish voters know this fact: Today’s Republican Party is fast becoming the party of prejudice, paranoia and poison.