The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a monster. Nazis are not, and never have been, good people. Jews don’t secretly control the world’s financial system, the media, or Hollywood.
We have drifted far enough back down the road to fascism that these things, incredibly, must be said.
Kanye. Elon. Trump. This holy trinity, lionized by the GOP, are all helping to Make Antisemitism Great Again. Ye, the troubled rapper formerly known as Kanye West, continues his self-destructive slide, and his desperate quest for the spotlight, by spouting increasingly naked hatred.
Platformed by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and other profiteering haters who understand the immunizing value of having a Black mouthpiece for their white supremacist views, Ye helps bring the unhinged conspiracy theories that once lurked in the dark corners of the web out into the open.
Billionaire adolescent Elon Musk, who appears determined to turn Twitter over to every bigoted troll in the name of free speech (as long as the speech in question isn’t critical of Musk himself), welcomed Ye back to the cesspool. The platform belongs to hate now, increasingly hosting anti-Black, anti-gay and antisemitic rhetoric in the month since Musk bought it.
Ye pals around with attention-seeking provocateurs like Candace Owens, with whom he has appeared in matching “White Lives Matter” T-shirts, and with white supremacist performers Nick Fuentes and Milo Yiannopoulos, taking the two along to dinner with former president Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago just before Thanksgiving.
And then Ye doubles down, appearing with Fuentes on the show of Sandy Hook denialist and snake oil salesman Alex Jones last week, ratcheting up his pro-Nazi rhetoric so much that even Jones seemed uncomfortable. Among the gems Ye dropped: “The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world.” And “We’ve got to stop dissing the Nazis all of the time.” On Thursday night, even Musk had to admit Ye had gone too far, suspending his account after Ye tweeted a swastika inside a star of David.
Perhaps it’s comforting that “too far” still exists, for now. But the line is clearly moving, and fast. Witness the reluctance of an obscenely large number of Republican politicians to criticize Trump for breaking bread with his fellow bigots.
That hate-enabling cowardice finds its purest form in aspiring House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. When asked what he thought of the former president’s dinner with Fuentes, he took refuge in pure fiction, saying Trump had had no idea who Fuentes was, and that he “came out four times and condemned” Fuentes.
McCarthy doesn’t seem to know much, but he is clear about something too many in this country still refuse to admit: Extremists like Fuentes and other white supremacists, like the devotees of unhinged conspiracy theories including Qanon, are still a large share of the Republican electorate. McCarthy can’t be speaker without the Marjorie Taylor Greens and Paul Gosars of his party, just as aspiring presidential nominees can’t win the Republican primary without the extremists who are devoted to Trump, and with whom the former president increasingly aligns himself.
And where does their gutlessness leave the rest of us?
In a world that is more hostile to Jews, a world where casual antisemitism is increasingly acceptable, where Holocaust denialism, white nationalism, and fascism are becoming normalized, and where violence against Jews is more common, and less shocking. And where every attempt to push back on it all is marshaled as further evidence of the supposed power and control Jews wield.
These are phenomena not of the fringes, but of the mainstream. A couple of weeks before the Mar-a-Lago dinner, comedian Dave Chappelle hosted “Saturday Night Live,” and delivered an opening monologue — seen by about 20 million viewers so far — that was stacked with antisemitic tropes. Chappelle, whose comedy has included plenty of hateful anti-trans material in recent years, reportedly switched his monologue after rehearsal, taking “SNL” producers by surprise. They shouldn’t have been shocked.
Nobody paying attention can be surprised by antisemitic rhetoric anymore. Or by the support garnered by those who spread it. Or especially by the spinelessness of those who stand by and say nothing, complicit in their silence.
These are strange and dangerous days. Will enough of us recognize that before it’s too late?