Donald Trump is closing his campaign with a two minute commercial where he narrates a paranoid vision of some global financial elite conspiring to rip off ordinary Americans. The commercial plays on anti-Semitic tropes and uses three prominent Jewish people as examples of this evil cabal including progressive billionaire George Soros, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Ominous music plays in the background as Trump blames this “global power structure” for assorted evils like robbing the working class, stripping the country of its wealth while putting the money in the pockets of large corporations. Of course, he doesn’t explain the incongruity of his policy proposal of cutting taxes for these very same large corporations, which are supposedly benefiting from the machinations of this international cabal.
It is part of the same conspiracy mongering, only this time tinged with anti-Semitism, which has propelled Trump’s candidacy all along as he has previously suggested that Senator Ted Cruz’s father was in on the murder of JFK, President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, and that there was something “fishy” about Justice Scalia’s death to name a few. Seeing how Trump began his campaign stating that undocumented immigrants in this country were “murderers and rapists,” it is not far-fetched he ends it on a similar divisive, hateful note. This time the purported enemy is the historic scapegoat of so many despots in tough economic times- the Jewish people. Trump’s base of under-educated, aggrieved white males may be receptive to this simplistic message because they would like to feel their fate is somehow not in their own hands, but rather is controlled by some distant cabal of Fagin-like, evil-doers intent on making their lives miserable. It allows them to escape responsibility for their lives.
Trump has made appeals to anti-Semitism before. According to Elise Foley writing in the Huffington Post:
“Trump delivered a speech in October that was criticized for anti-Semitic rhetoric ― and then clipped into the closing ad released on Friday. His campaign tweeted an image in July of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s face over a pile of cash and flanked by a Star of David. The campaign claimed it was a sheriff’s badge, but the image originated from a racist Twitter user.”
The alt-right, the base of Trump’s support, reject core American values like multi-culturalism and immigration instead embracing white nationalism. Trump’s campaign chief executive Steve Bannon was, of course, formerly the executive chairman of Breitbart News, which he boasted is a platform for the alt-right. According to Sarah Posner writing in Mother Jones: “Under Bannon's leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an "eclectic mix of renegades," accusing President Barack Obama of importing "more hating Muslims," and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of "political correctness."” Some of the more repugnant headlines from Breitbart News include “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew” and “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.” This is the man Trump chose to lead his campaign after dispatching several other campaign chiefs for not letting Trump be Trump. When Trump is being Trump what we see is the worst in America from playing on people’s fears to basic bigotry and misogyny.
Is Trump really a bigot and an anti-Semite? He is without question a misogynist. Yochi Dreazen writing in Vox clarifies matters:
Trump obviously isn’t a Nazi, and he isn’t espousing violence toward Jews. But whether Donald Trump is or isn’t personally anti-Semitic is irrelevant. Through words and deeds, his latest comments have taken implicitly anti-Semitic language from the fringes of the alt-right and injected it squarely into the mainstream of American political discourse. And if history teaches anything, it’s that fanning hatred is far easier than extinguishing it.