Doesn't The Federalist Get Tired Of Being Gross And Wrong So Much?
One of the favorite games the Right plays is the one where it desperately tries to "prove" Democrats are the REAL racists. Often it's because Democrats in the South, prior to the Civil Rights Act and the realigning of parties, were indeed racist, and sometimes it's because "it's called national SOCIALISM, OW MY BALLS!" Both of these trains of wrongness figure heavily in the works of convicted felon Dinesh D'Souza and other greater shining lights.
Of course, these theses can be easily disproven -- and are, on a daily basis, by historians on Twitter. Many people who were alive in the '60s and '70s to witness the party realignment and the Southern Strategy are still alive today and can easily just tell you what happened then. Also, Nazi Germany was extremely capitalist. They privatized everything, banned trade unions and their highest personal tax rate was 13.7% as compared to Great Britain's 23.7%. I don't know how you get more rightwing, economically, than that. I think it's fair to say that their social policies were also not liberal.
Right-wingers want their alternate reality version of history to be true because they don't think of discrimination, prejudice, and systemic oppression as problems to be worked on and solved, but as political footballs to be lobbed at one's opponents. They don't think any of it actually matters, they just want to win, and to be able to simultaneously exploit conservative racism to get votes.
Which brings us to the latest spittle from The Federalist.
In this particular garbage fire, Sloan Rachmuth claims "you" will never hear about recently jailed neo-Nazi William J. Warden of North Carolina -- who's been accused of threatening a synagogue -- because he's "on the Left." What she means by that is that his parents are Democrats. As we all know, political orientation is something that is biologically inherited, much like eye color or a distaste for cilantro.
Those on the political left are quick to blame President Trump's supposed racial incitement for the national rise of anti-Semitism. In reality, anti-Semitism was on the rise years before President Trump announced his candidacy and can be attributed to progressive groups and intersectionality. The recent case of a "Democrat judge's son-turned-neo-Nazi terrorist" illustrates that bigotry has no special home in either party.
How, exactly, Rachmuch thinks anti-Semitism can be "attributed to progressive groups and intersectionality" -- which I'm gonna guess she cannot actually define -- she does not explain. What she does try to explain is that because his parents are Democrats who, like many, many American Jewish people, have an issue with how Israel as a country treats Palestinians (which is not anti-Semitism), that this somehow connects him to neo-Nazi movements. Weird, because I've been covering Nazis for a real long time, I've seen them chanting a lot of things, and "Free, Free Palestine" is not one of them.
Warden is, of course, not on "the Left." He is tied to the Traditionalist Worker Party and the Traditionalist Youth Network. The Traditionalist Worker Party, founded by Drama Nazi Matthew Heimbach, was one of the groups organizing the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. As Nazi-tracking site First Vigil points out, Warden has also been accused of disseminating propaganda from The Daily Stormer, a notorious far-right Nazi site.
Warden had actually met with the FBI two days prior to having threatened the synagogue. His mother -- whom Rachmuch claims inspired his anti-Semitic views by being connected to groups supporting the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement -- was the one who called them.
After he was arrested, his parents put out the following statement:
"Our observations and our communications with law enforcement lead us to believe that our son has been exploited by people whose agenda is completely opposed to the inclusive values we espouse and live," said the statement from Elliot Abrams, a Raleigh attorney who represents the family.
"As Will's parents, we could not be more saddened by the alleged conduct of our son on November 3rd," the statement said. "Our family is inclusive and respectful of all people. Sadly, we, like many families, are dealing in this case with a mental illness, which we recognize and for which we have sought and continue to seek treatment. ... As deeply concerned parents, we apologize profusely to the Jewish community and to all who have been impacted. And we are treating this situation with utmost seriousness."
Does that sound, for any reason, like they support their kid's views? Doesn't seem like it to me! Rachmuch actually linked to the very article with the statement and the description of how Warden's mother had called the FBI on her son in her piece, which suggests she may be being a tad disingenuous here. It also seems as though she has never seen the 1980s sitcom "Family Ties," which starred Michael J. Fox as a Republican with hippie Democratic parents. These things can and do happen! People sometimes have different political views than their parents!
And sure, you haven't heard of him, but you probably haven't heard of half the people arrested for these kinds of crimes, either. Hell, I haven't heard of them all! It's not because all the ones you hadn't heard of are secretly somehow both Nazis and total SJWs (because sure, that makes sense!), it's because the crimes they committed were small in scale compared to others that have gained more national attention.
For instance, let's look at a crime that did attract a lot of national attention -- the time Lane Davis, a former Milo Yiannopoulos ghostwriter, stabbed his father to death because his father was a liberal and Davis believed that liberals were all operating pedophile sex rings. Now, by Rachmuch's logic, Davis was also a liberal, because his dad he stabbed for being a liberal was a liberal. But I will bet you that if you asked Lane Davis what his political orientation was, he would tell you that he was a conservative. And I'll bet you that Warden -- along with anyone else who belongs to any group whose name starts with the word "Traditionalist" -- would not consider himself a liberal either.
But that's not the point and it never has been. This isn't a game, it's not about political points that we are cruelly and unfairly hoarding to ourselves and denying to people on the Right. This is about human beings and how we treat them.
No one is saying people on the left are immune to anti-Semitism. It absolutely exists and it is a problem, and we have to get better at addressing it the same way we address racism and sexism. It's generally less direct than it is on the Right (though not always), but it's there. It's hostility, it's othering, it's "Oh, you know, there's just something about that person I don't like, can't put my finger on it! They're just so ... brash." Sometimes it is using "Seinfeld" in a way that feels a tad coded. It's not this though. It's not some guy who is clearly right-wing and just happens to have parents who are Democrats. That does not make any sense at all.
But people like Sloan Rachmuch are not actually seriously trying to combat anti-Semitism. They're not seriously trying to combat racism or sexism either. They have no interest in cleaning their own house, they just want to be able to say, "Whatever, it doesn't matter, everyone else's house is a mess too, anyway! BOTH SIDES!" But it does matter, and if they really gave a shit, they'd stop trying to "BOTH SIDES!" it and, instead, take a moment and think about how to make themselves less appealing to actual Nazis.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse