Just a few days ago, Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci seemed to be in hot water. In reaction to bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country, he tweeted "It's not yet clear who the #JCC offenders are. Don't forget @TheDemocrats effort to incite violence at Trump rallies."
Now, the FBI has arrested Juan Thompson, an anti-Trump, pro-Communist African American. I am not surprised. Over the years, the vast majority of anti-Semitic asides I have heard have come not from conservatives, of the “right,” as conventional wisdom would have you believe, but from my crunchy, leftist friends.
I am a semi-Semite, so to speak, with a father who is Reform Jew, and a mother is a lapsed Catholic. I don’t walk around wearing a chai (the Hebrew symbol for life), still...with a name like “Grossman,” you’d think that people might hesitate to drop ethnic slurs and stereotypes into our conversation.
Unfortunately, not. One woman I know remarked that her landlord was “a typical Jew” for raising her rent. Another raised an eyebrow when a local restaurant burned down: “Jewish insurance, you know.” Apart from their anti-Semitic expressions, what do these two women have in common? They are “progressives”--tax-the-rich, Israel-is-bad, anti-gun fanatics who are sure that international corporations rule the world--and all that. Two anecdotes, but of dozens of offhanded ethnic slurs I’ve heard, most have come from “progressive,” Democrats.
My experience in Democratic circles is mostly social. Professionally, my bosses, colleagues, and associates were Republicans and Gentiles, for the most part. If there was rampant anti-Semitism in these parts, I’d have picked it up. And so, I’ve concluded, over time, that anti-Semitism resides more on the left of the spectrum of the left, especially among ardent activists of Occupy Wall Street type.
Not among Wall Street titans themselves, which takes me back to Scaramucci.
Before we knew the identity of the domestic terrorist making bomb threats against Jewish institutions, the news media, Democrats, and sundry Trump-haters were gleefully rushing to the conclusion that the perpetrator must be a “white nationalist.” Scaramucci, pushed back against that narrative. He reminded us that the extreme violence we saw on the Berkeley campus, and elsewhere, came from vehement Trump opponents.
One reason for Trump’s victory was that tens of millions of Americans sick of the politically correct bullying used by the Left to silence dissent by tarring opponents as racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, misogynist, etc.
I am beyond sick of it.
I think back to the time I worked for Ted Forstmann, a pioneer of leveraged buyouts, former Cato Institute board member, and founder of Forstmann Little. Most in the firm were pretty solidly Republican, but at one point, Ted brought in a high-profile Democrat--a chief-of-staff for President Clinton no less--who had been tipped off to my libertarian predilections. When we met for the first time, he said, “Oh, yes, I’ve heard of you, you’re a member of Hitler Youth.” Now, there is an ice-breaker.
In the moment I was too shocked for words. Later I wrote to tell him how offensive this was. My political beliefs were the polar opposite of the national socialism Hitler promoted and I was a daughter of Eastern European Jews who had lost family to the concentration camps. He was sincerely embarrassed, and apologetic -- a teachable moment for him perhaps. I’ve since come to admire him, and therefore leave his name out of this account.
To move from anecdote to history, which party, Democrats or Republicans, has a darker history of racism and today more affiliations with anti-Zionist coalitions? There is no contest.
Anti-Semitism has been on the rise and is coming from the Left on the political spectrum. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel comes from the left. The declaration for the planned March 8th “Day Without Women,” a leftist series of anti-Trump protests, was co-authored by Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a convicted terrorist who was convicted for a 1970 bombing in Israel that killed two Jewish students. Rep. Keith Ellison, who once was a spokesperson for rabid Jew-hater Louis Farrakhan was narrowly defeated this year for chair of the Democratic National Committee. He is now the number two.
Obviously, there is anti-Semitism, including of the violent stripe, on the right. Our era’s more powerful voice against collectivism and advocacy of individualism Ayn Rand, was attacked by the left for her pro-free market philosophy and from the extremist right (i.e. David Duke) for being a Jew.
But it’s revealing, today, that when “alt-right” white nationalist, Richard Spencer, showed up to hold court in the bar of the hotel where the International Students for Liberty Conference was being held, my dear friend and libertarian hero Jeffrey Tucker chased him out, not with violence but with stern words that a fascist was not welcome at an anti-fascist conference. And when Spencer showed up as a paying attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference to spread his ideas, he was shown the door by conference organizers and his admission fee refunded.
Anti-Semitism from left or right should be roundly rejected in America and in the world. Scaramucci was not blaming anti-Semitic violence on Democrats, but Democrats are fostering the politics of “identity,” the politics of “oppressed” and “oppressor” groups, the politics of envy for wealth and achievement, the constant innuendos about conspiracies at the top of business and finance--all the historical cannards of collectivism that enable anti-Semitism to metastasize.
Scaramucci spoke an uncomfortable truth for Democrats, but a truth nonetheless we must heed. And for that courage, he deserves our commendation, not condemnation.
Jennifer Anju Grossman is the CEO of the Atlas Society.