Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate who openly identifies as gay and Jewish. In a recent column, Stern related the history of his Polish Jewish family’s experiences at the hands of the Nazis in the 1930s–apropos of nothing, really, other than the fact that Stern despises Donald Trump and seems to feel the president-elect plans to implement a holocaust against American Jews upon being sworn in in January.
Stern relates melodramatically:
When Germany invaded, my great-grandmother insisted, we stay. Her Jewish friends panicked, fled, but she said, no, it won’t happen here. Then the soldiers moved them to the ghetto. A wealthy friend offered my family safe passage out, but my great-grandmother said: No. We stay.
The Slate writer makes sure everyone appreciates the terrible, bitter irony of it: his great-grandmother, who had assumed she and her family would be safe, and who had said, “it won’t happen here,” ended up dying in a concentration camp; his grandfather managed to survive, but “just barely.”
At this point in the narrative, Stern jumps into the recent election:
As a Jew in America, I was raised to believe two rather contradictory things: The United States is safe for us, and our world can descend into bigoted violence at any moment. I held these two beliefs in my head at once as Donald Trump was declared president-elect in the early hours of Wednesday morning. On the one hand, America remains, for now, a liberal democracy with civil liberties and checks and balances. On the other hand, those liberties and checks appear to be fading fast.
He goes on to insist that Trump, who is not even the president yet, has “seized control of every branch of government” with the help of his “enablers,” and incredibly he asserts also that “Congress is a toothless, rubber stamp for Trump.” Moreover, watch out–because Trump is almost sure to appoint genocidal murderers to the judiciary who will have it in for Mexicans, Jews, and virtually everyone else. The evidence for all of this is pretty flimsy; in fact, it seems to consist of little more than “dog whistles.”
“I am a gay Jewish journalist who loathes Trump with a very public passion,” declares Stern. (The loathing he speaks of, of course, is evident.) “Every week, I receive the emails, the tweets, the private messages: Kike. Faggot. F**king Jew.”
Stern believes he is receiving these messages from people who are responding to “dog whistles” initiating from Trump, and to prove his point, he links to two previous Slate articles, both written by Daniel Politi. One of these is about a man who turned up at a Trump rally and began ostentatiously yelling “Jew-S-A” at the media while wearing a “Hillary for prison” t-shirt and holding a Trump/Pence campaign sign. The man’s behavior was roundly condemned by Trump campaign spokespeople, and while he may have been a genuine Trump supporter, it’s also worth nothing that Project Veritas turned up plenty of evidence of Democratic Party operatives hiring protesters to show up at Trump events.
The other Politi article is concerned with “troubling anti-Semitic overtones” said to be found in a Trump campaign ad, the audio for which consists of Trump giving a speech in which he talks about how the “political establishment” has become corrupt, this accompanied by a slew of images of various people. Three of the individuals whose faces flash briefly on the screen–financier George Soros, Fed Chair Janet Yellen, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein–happen to be Jewish, and one of the people Politi quotes in his article insists the ad is anti-Semitic and functions as a “dog whistle.”
Here is the ad in question. You be the judge:
Is Trump wrong to point an accusatory finger at “global special interests”? Does anyone out there seriously believe the Federal Reserve had the best interest of average Americans at heart when it implemented its policy of quantitative easing?
Stern insists that “Trump wants people like me gone. Dead.” And he also confides to his readers that he is “scared.” I would suggest to Stern that he pause for a moment and ponder what it might be like to be a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation. Were he forced to cope with curfews, checkpoints, and periodic skunkwater drenchings, and were he obliged also to dodge live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets on an almost daily basis, perhaps then he might learn the true meaning of the word “scared.”
I looked for a Stern article in which the writer might have addressed the Palestine/Israel conflict, and after doing a search, I did find one. To his credit, Stern acknowledges that the occupation “is a human rights catastrophe” and calls Israeli violence toward Palestinians “increasingly indefensible,” but nowhere in the article does he accuse any Israeli politician of the sort of racism and malevolence he ascribes to Donald Trump–nowhere, for instance, does he cite the reference to “little snakes” contained in a Facebook post by the country’s justice minister, or similar invectives voiced by other Israeli officials past and present.
Trump, however, doesn’t get quite the same pass. “I Am a Gay Jew in Trump’s America. And I Am Afraid for My Life,” reads the headline over Stern’s diatribe. Trump has, of course, expressed his support for gays, and he also spoke of America’s “unbreakable friendship” with Israel in a speech before AIPAC back in March–a speech which had the same pandering tones we typically hear from US politicians whenever the subject of Israel comes up. It all kind of makes you wonder how many of the people now accusing Trump of anti-Semitism might have at some point along the road of life heard voices in their heads or perhaps be in need of a prescription for anti-psychotic medication.
But be that as it may, Stern seems convinced that the Trump Gestapo posses are on their way to his door:
I am scared. I have never been scared like this before. What do we do? This is not like anything we’ve lived through before. We are being pulled farther and farther out to sea by the riptide of history. The shore is receding. Do we fight the current? Or do we let it draw us out into the ocean, recognizing that there’s no use in fighting something beyond our control?
There have been a myriad of analyses published since Tuesday’s election, each one in its own respective way trying to make sense of it all. Some of these have been discerning and insightful, some not so. Stern’s piece, however, seems to fall into a category of its own–reading less like a political commentary than the ramblings of a drama queen.