Trumping Anti-Semitism And The Social Contract

His name is Donald J. Trump and he approved this message!

If anyone has any doubt about the authoritarian, fascistic nature of Donald Trump's campaign for president, take a look at his virulently anti-Semitic closing campaign ad, which is laced with longstanding themes of anti-Semitism. In it you'll find mention of a cabal of international special interests that controls politicians, directs the dynamic flow of the global economy and runs the global media -- all to reinforce their power and wealth. These hidden people want to control the world.

Who are they?

Consider Josh Marshall's reading of the ad in Talking Points Memo, published two days ago:

The Trump narration immediately preceding Soros and Yellin proceeds as follows: "The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington [start Soros] and for the global [start Yellen] special interests [stop Yellen]. They partner with these people [start Clinton] who don't have your good in mind."

For Blankfein: "It's a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the [start Blankein] pockets of a handful of large corporations [stop Blankfein] and political entities."

These are standard anti-Semitic themes and storylines, using established anti-Semitic vocabulary lined up with high profile Jews as the only Americans other than Clinton who are apparently relevant to the story. As you can see by my transcription, the Jews come up to punctuate specific key phrases. Soros: "those who control the levers of power in Washington"; Yellen "global special interests"; Blankfein "put money into the pockets of handful of large corporations."

Marshall concludes his piece with the following statement:

There's been a lot of discussion of anti-Semitism and the Trump campaign but a fierce resistance to coming to grips with the fact that anti-Semitism is a key driving force of the Trump campaign, that the campaign itself is an anti-Semitic one even though the great majority of Trump's supporters are not anti-Semites. When he closes out his campaign with a blatantly anti-Semitic ad, it's time to rethink that resistance.

This ad made me wince. The production, which has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League and Senator Al Franken, brought back memories of my younger years when bigots practiced anti-Semitism more openly. As I know from personal experience, it was not unusual for Jews to be taunted on school buses, insulted in school hallways, or even assaulted in school bathrooms. When I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, Jews couldn't move into certain neighborhoods and "tradition" barred then from joining certain "clubs." Much of that overt discrimination faded away as bigots concentrated more of their attention on more visible minorities -- African Americans, Latinos and Asians.

The closing ad of the Trump campaign reminds us that such anti-Semitic bigotry persists in America. As an anthropologist and social scientist, it also reminds me about the sad state of our society in which ignorance and intolerance have trumped knowledge and respect for others in the world. Millions of Americans believe that President Obama is Muslim who was born in Kenya. He is a Christian who was born in Hawaii. Contrary to the what has transpired in recent economic history, people continue to believe that steep tax cuts to the rich trigger economic growth. In fact, modest tax increases have resulted in economic growth. Many of our elected officials believe that evolutionary theory is bunk. And yet, Charles Darwin's theory has withstood more than a 150 years of scientific scrutiny. People continue to insist that climate change is a hoax. The scientific basis for human-caused climate change is overwhelming. None of these fictive assertions, which can all be associated with Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party, can be linked to any measure of scientific, economic or social reality.

Even so these fictions have gained traction in America. Millions of Americans are suspicious of science, economic theory or even the need for a modicum of evidence in the quest for truth. Millions of hard working Americans seem to have drifted into an alternate reality defined by fiction, hyperbole and the excessive glitz of celebrity.

Who knows how this dangerous alternate reality will shape our social future?

If the anti-Semitic closing ad of the Trump campaign is indicative, a President Trump is likely to take us to a horrific place in which all forms of bigotry are unleashed with a vengeance that would quickly destroy what is most precious about America: the social contract, the glue that maintains our social cohesion and ensures our future.

On Election Day, I do hope that a measure of sanity will prevail so that Mr. Trump can finally disappear back into the fantasy world of Trump Tower.