Even after Charlottesville, I still don’t know what to think of Richard Spencer. It’s Saturday night and I’m watching him compare his movement to Zionism on Israeli TV. He’s wearing a nice shirt and I’m not surprised; the man has fine taste in clothing, especially in vests. I’d challenge anyone to name a public figure who pulls off vests better than Richard Spencer.
As Jewish people, we can make psychic space for the rough anti-Semite, the uneducated man who hates us because he knows no better, the man in ripped jeans and rebel flag shirts. The “nerdy Nazis” with their polos, marching in Charlottesville can also be explained away, categorized, rendered less frightening. But a man who knows his vests? A man with a winning smile? This is an intrusion, a sign that the containment of the anti-Semitic virus has failed, that the good, the educated, the nuanced people of this world can no longer be assumed to be safe. No matter, though. I still tell people Richard is no Jew-hater. It’s impossible for a real anti-Semite to be so objective about Zionism, to go on Israeli TV… and to wear those nice vests.
No one, however, really cares.
After Charlottesville, all nuance is lost. I can’t blame my fellow Jews. The video, pictures and stories are awful. Hundreds chanting “Jews will not replace us,” Nazi flags, the synagogue threatened. However Spencer feels about Jews, he will now attract genuine anti-Semites, moreso than before, and more of his events will devolve into this. Is this what he wanted?
We must be honest about Charlottesville. No one was there to help us. The police in Charlottesville refused to watch the synagogue, despite specific threats (they later denied this). Antifa, claiming that they mobilized to “protect the community,” did nothing to protect the Jewish community. Jews in Charlottesville had to rely on hired guns. Where were the “anti-fascists” we hear so much about? Where were the police? It seems we can only rely on ourselves.
Jews still thinking the left has any interest in defending us against Nazis are fools. I’ve warned for quite awhile that the left will start seeing Jews as White, and the hatred and derision they pour upon white people is headed our way. There are countless vigils, teach-ins, Facebook posts from the left about Charlottesville and Nazis; few mention Jews. We feel this in our online spaces. Jews are an afterthought on social justice Twitter, an annoyance on leftist Facebook. Our concerns “get in the way” of the far more important issues for “people of color” — which of course we are not. I try to explain all of this to the Jewish race-warriors: turn our public discourse into race shaming, my peeps, and Jews will pay the price. We will always be the wrong race, under any formulation.
Again, no one much cares anymore.
Now I’m watching news from the Boston “Free Speech Rally.” Not many people showed up. They ended up surrounded by something like 40,000 people thinking “Nazis” had arrived. I watched antifa protesters attack a woman holding an American flag. I watched a Jewish Trump supporter draped in an Israeli flag, being followed and threatened. The mob acts like this is a fair fight, some kind of accomplishment. “We’ve made these people crazy,” I think to myself. Dark clouds approach on my mental horizon. Will the left ever be sane again?
It’s not just the left, though. Public discourse is breaking down. In a liberal-verging-on-activist-left echo chamber, all nuance is lost. Antifa, a group that has for months targeted random people, destroyed property, and insulted a disabled veteran, is compared to allied soldiers in WWII. President Donald Trump is “called out” for refusing to condemn “White Supremacists” — and when he does, faced with even more indignation over pointing out Antifa’s violence. Some of the rhetoric is truly disgusting. Mollie Hemmingway, Senior Editor at The Federalist, posted this tweet regarding Charlottesville:
The argument Trump was wrong to point out problems of violent leftist mobs is better made if you don’t endorse violent leftist mobs.— Mollie (@MZHemingway) August 16, 2017
Seems reasonable, right? Not to Marc Caputo of Politico, who responded with this gem:
Der Stürmer Mollie is on the same page as David Duke. https://t.co/JwQTkgopZ4— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) August 16, 2017
Oh yes, folks. David Duke. Der Stürmer. It’s worth noting that Caputo is not a recent college graduate — he’s a longtime reporter who has spent many years spent covering the Florida political scene. In this media environment, how is reasoned discussion even possible? We’re all reacting to something that wasn’t said, people who aren’t there. Mollie Hemmingway doesn’t have anything to do with David Duke or Der Sturmer, not even tangentially. So what? Marc isn’t responding to her. When thousands of people show up to beat up “Nazis” in Boston, there are no Nazis to beat up. So what? Someone has to be beat, so they just make-believe.
A week ago I was talking to some of the local Jewish wheels. They want to know how to handle these times. My advice? “Buy several of the same kind of semiautomatic rifle, that way you have barter items and spare parts.” A woman started crying. “Be sure,” I continued, “that if you operate a Jewish school, no one looking at the playground can see the children.” Jew-haters are especially set off by watching happy Jewish children.
It’s now early Sunday morning, long before the sun rises, and I’ve got candles lit because it feels right. I stare into the flames. So much has changed since the days of the campaign. Where did the fun go? Where’s the energy? What happened to the grand coalition of the disaffected? We voted for Trump because we knew those in power didn’t want us to. We sent a message, and now the message is gone. No one will listen to reason anymore. Antifa doesn’t care, Nazis don’t care, the media doesn’t care. I’m not a prophet and I don’t hear the voice of God, yet I can’t help but imagine Him looking down on us:
“You put politics before Me, this is your God now, this is what you wanted.”
I wrap my arms and head. No, this isn’t what we wanted. Never again, dear Lord, my King. I will not forget you again.