Should Jews be worried about upcoming election?

posted in: 2016-2017, Opinion | 0
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By Jake Baum
@JakeatUMD
For the Mitzpeh

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In these last few weeks leading up to the presidential election, the alarmists have gained the floor. Much of the Orthodox community, putting Israel above all else, has Hillary Clinton pegged as a Jew-hater because some of her top advisors, such as Huma Abedin, have expressed their disapproval with the current Israeli regime.

Similarly, on the right, Donald Trump’s proposed policies that would marginalize women, the LGBT community, the black community, and American Muslims are seen as indicative of a larger trend of white nationalism that would eventually, if they haven’t already, extend to the American Jewish community as well.

When it comes to Israel, this election is not a threat. No matter what the paranoid left or right might tell you, no matter how you vote in this election, the US will continue its policy of unequivocal support for Israel for the next four years. In their speeches at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in March, both Trump and Clinton expressed their unwavering support for the Jewish state, its claims to the land, and its right to defend itself.

In this election, the real problem is the troubling anti-“political correctness” movement that Trump has pulled out of the depths of the internet into the forefront of mainstream American politics.

While many say that Trump could not possibly be anti-Semitic since as the religious right loves to point out, “his son-in-law is Jewish.” in reality, the demographics of his most vocal supporters tell a very different story.

The infamous alt-right has, as of late, completely overrun every social media outlet with conspiracy theories about Clinton, her top aides, the media, and anything else that does not galvanize Trump’s proposed agenda. Milo Yiannopoulos, a reporter who has catapulted to fame due to his position at the ultra-conservative Breitbart News, has taken control of the movement, creating a sort of “alternative platform” that is characterized by “meninism,” Islamophobia, and being anti-anything that seeks to subvert so-called “white American values.”

So why is this movement relevant? Because it’s always been around. The alt-right has lurked in the shadows of the Internet, just waiting for a prominent political figure that represents its views to come into the spotlight. Now that Trump has given them a platform for regressive change, it’s going to become harder to keep their bigotry in the shadows of the  Internet, where it belongs.

The movement has already started gaining traction in the political sphere. Trump’s initial refusal to disavow the endorsement of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, signaled to the movement that its “concerns” were finally being heard and that they could come out in droves on social media and express their white-supremacist views without repercussions. If the nation has allowed Trump to say the things he has while running for president, then why couldn’t they do it on Twitter?

Incidentally, this hatred of all historically marginalized groups also includes Jews. The movement excludes the Jewish people from their “Aryan supremacy” and groups them with what they believe as, “genetically inferior” groups – women, immigrants of any kind, the LGBT community, which is ironic since one of their most prominent leaders, Yiannopoulos, is gay, — or basically anyone who is not white, Christian, heterosexual, and male.

In the end, the underlying issues that have arisen in this election do not deal with the candidates themselves, but the ideological movements that support them. Both candidates represent themes of unity. Hillary’s brand of unity is based on multicultural inclusion – widespread acceptance of minorities, different cultures, and breaking down the political barriers that have characterized so many of America’s conflicts in the past. Her campaign slogan, “Stronger Together,” serves as a motivation to expand the in-group that has been established by the idea of American exceptionalism to include the rest of the world.

Trump’s brand of unity is quite the opposite – a unity against the rest of the world. His supporters’ ultimate goal is to create a new in-group – one that does not even include most Americans. The alt-right’s obsession with the Swastika has made it quite clear – Jewish people do not belong on their side. And with Trump’s history of social media engagement with the alt-right, it is reasonable to assume that under his presidency, the anti-Semitic sect of America will only continue to grow.

On Nov. 8, Americans will have the opportunity to choose how we want to react to globalization and multiculturalism. Will we choose to embrace it with Hillary, or choose to send our country spiraling down a path of unprecedented divisiveness and rejection of peace and international cooperation with Trump? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Jake is a senior international business major. He can be reached at jakebaum1@gmail.com.

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