Until this week, Renegade Jew would have been a great name for a punk band. Now, it’s the Weekly Standard editor’s Bill Kristol’s new nickname thanks to Breitbart.com. And it’s not a term of endearment.
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Kristol, a powerful player in Washington for decades, is trying to pull off a Hail Mary to save the conservative movement. With Donald Trump all but certain to be the Republican nominee, Kristol has traveled around the country talking to conservative leaders like Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney about the possibility of a third party candidate running for President.
In a story about Kristol’s efforts, Breitbart ran a piece by conservative firebrand David Horowitz with the following dog whistle of a headline: Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.
How might Trump feel about such a movement, dubbed #NeverTrump by his Republican detractors, who have refused to vote for the nominee of their own party? A window into his position can be found on the Breitbart site, named for its now deceased founder Andrew Breitbart. The site has seen a partial exodus recently: several staffers, in public letters of resignation, accused the site of publishing Trump propaganda clothed as campaign coverage. When one Jewish editor, Ben Shapiro, left the site, his personal information was published in retaliation, with a pointed note that Shapiro had betrayed his fellow Jews at the publication by resigning. Shapiro has since been inundated with vile anti-Semitic harassment from Breitbart readers and employees, even following the recent birth of his son.
The Breitbart site, founded by a Jewish conservative who despised Donald Trump, is the darling of the pro-Trump alt-right, especially those with an axe to grind with Jews. There have been renouncements about the post among most of the media, both conservative and liberal. On his own site the Daily Wire Shapiro denounced the post, published on a site he once edited, written by another former employer and mentor, Horowitz. As with most other offenses by the site, the fervor will quiet down and soon most outside the journalism industry will send the post down the memory hole.
Donald Trump’s appeal is inexplicable to many, as is the popularity of a site that cheerleads for him while dogwhistling to its white nationalist readers (of whom there are many, if the comments section is any indication). Trump’s flirtations with white nationalism are many, including a reluctance to renounce even the KKK’s David Duke on air with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Every time Trump is tied to hatred, as he was recently after a White Nationalist was named a delegate by the Trump campaign in California, his popularity doesn’t dip in the slightest. Nor does the readership over at Breitbart after screeds like the one against Shapiro or Kristol are published.
The scary truth about Trump’s success at the polls and Breitbart’s dominance of conservative media (it ranks higher than every other mainstream right-wing publication on Alexa, nearing the top 1,000 sites on the entire internet) is this: the hatred is a feature, not a bug, of the popularity and appeal of both. Donald Trump and his fans and his potential future staffers over at Breitbart (several have expressed interest in working for him) have overturned a rock - and from under it lies a dark underbelly of America, filled with hatred the likes of which we haven’t seen in a generation or more.
Despite what Trump (and his Democratic rivals for that matter) might claim, the United States still resonates greatness both now and over a far longer perspective of world history. More particularly, nowhere outside the State of Israel are Jews more protected, valued or comfortable than they are in the U.S. What is most shocking for conservatives is the realization that many of Trump’s Republican followers care nothing for the Founders who made this country great, nor of the articles of faith nor the tangible documents that are the bedrock of our entire belief system. Trump openly denounces the freedom of the press as his defenders attack conservatives like Kristol who seek to protect the movement known for conserving what is great about our nation - not least those civil liberties that hallow freedom of speech.
When Americans are unaware of what makes our country unique among the rest of the Western world, stripped of what makes it great, we will be left with a country like any other. Freedom of the press, of religion, of association and more are all enumerated clearly among our rights. Unfortunately for American Jews, every other country in the Western world has become a much more hostile place for Jews these days, even more so than usual.
Kristol was deemed by Breitbart as a “renegade Jew” for opposing Trump. What Kristol and other Jewish conservatives (myself included) are doing by taking on Trump, even if it means a GOP loss in November, is to try to protect the very fabric of the American experiment. And as is increasingly clear, our loss would mean the ascendency of hate, and an America as unpalatable for Jews as much of Europe already is.
Bethany Mandel is a Senior Contributor to the Federalist and a stay-at-home mother. She writes on politics and culture from a conservative perspective. Follow her on Twitter: @BethanyShondark.