It happened nearly 70 years ago. In January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich chaired the Wannsee Conference, which formalized plans for the Final Solution to the Jewish Question— the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe. The meeting lasted only an hour (some say 90 minutes) and was confined to the "modalities" of the solution, not the nature of the question.
The question itself had already been answered by Hitler, who had this to say about it in 1939:
"Europe cannot find peace until the Jewish question has been solved ... [I]f the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."
In a recently posted YouTube video, an Irishman calling himself "the Golden One" - whose channel is dedicated to "how glorious and magnificent I am" - has recycled this canard (specifically calling it the "J.Q.") by focusing once again on the old distinction drawn by anti-Semites between ordinary Jews and international Jews. Hitler helped to crystallize the distinction, but it pre-dated him and even found fertile ground in the United States in the 1920's and '30s, with headlines such as this --
There is no particular purpose served by dissecting the points made in the Golden One's six minute video. It simply recites the same slanders cast upon Jews for generations - indeed, centuries and millennia. Although it may never be clear why, enduring hatred toward Jews is a perpetual condition of at least some measurable segment of the rest of humankind. For every Jew, the threat anti-Semitism poses must never be considered serious and not innocuous, regardless of the shape or form it takes. But less often noted is the threat it poses to the followers of the leaders who use it for their own purposes, to rationalize their arguments of relative disadvantage or misfortune.
That anti-Semitic demagogues have their own simplistic reasons to blame the Jews goes without saying, although efforts are frequently made to say the opposite. To take just two examples - out of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands - there is the "stab in the back" theory (used by the Nazis to explain how the Jews ruined Germany's chance for victory in World War I) and, in the much more distant past, the rationalization of the greater incidence of disease in Christian compared to Jewish communities during outbreaks of the Bubonic plague. That far more reasonable causative agents were readily available - in these two cases, the wearing down of Germany after years of brutal trench warfare and the arrival of American doughboys; and in the case of Jews in the Middle Ages, their greater isolation in ghettos, far away from the wharves where plague-spreading rats dwelled, and their adherence to stricter hygiene and dietary laws - is almost besides the point. People wanted easier answers, and scapegoats always provide them.
In current times, anti-Semitism has penetrated deeply in the Arab world, where hostility toward Israel has become institutionalized and embedded in the collective psyche of millions. Although anti-Israel commentators there cloak their hostility in pro-Palestinian motives, it is not hard to see the deeper purpose served by directing the focus of the Arab street toward the "Zionist enemy," thereby mis-directing attention away from their own shortcomings as ruling elites, in failing to give the vox populi within their countries any meaningful role in governance. Ruth Wisse, in a June 16, 2003 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, sums it up well:
The problem with anti-Semitism in its older and newer varieties is that it seems to serve its patrons so well. Without question, Arab rulers successfully deflected attention from their offenses by their decades of war and propaganda against Israel ... But, just as happened in Europe, the Arab obsession with Israel grew increasingly destructive not only of its Jewish targets but also of its sponsoring regimes. Attacking Jews consumed energy that should have been directed at alleviating the misery of Arab subjects. Blaming the Jews postponed democratization, which begins with people taking responsibility for themselves."
With anti-Semitism growing stronger in Europe, and moving well beyond the Arab world, it's worth considering why this is happening now and how the rise of Donald Trump has emboldened far right (or "alt-right", or "white supremacy" or "neo-Nazi") elements in the United States. For at least one possible explanation, let's return to the Golden One's YouTube video, which has been viewed over 25,000 times, and take a look at just a few of the comments it has elicited. They reflect the extent to which Trump has cultivated, whether deliberately or not, the age-old fertile ground of resentment toward Jews. Here is just a small sampling --
"It will be Trump and Duke for me." - That is, the real estate mogul from the Bronx, with a Jewish son-in-law and daughter who converted to Judaism (so of course, he can't be anti-Semitic, can he?), and the KKK leader who built his public career attacking Jews and other minorities, are seen as making common cause by far right white supremacists.
Meanwhile, over in Mr. Trump's camp, when asked whether he would "disavow" the support of David Duke, "and say you don't want his support in this election," Mr. Trump replied, "I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?" But as the link shows clearly, Mr. Trump has some amnesia there. He knows all about Mr. Duke. He just does not want to alienate the people who admire Mr. Duke and might be persuaded, through his endorsement, to vote for him.
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Further afield, at Texas A&M University, young and photogenic white supremacist Richard Spencer put his finger on the situation just the other day, when he explained with obvious excitement why Mr. Trump represents a "different kind of politics than we had in the past," and why that "identity politics," directed toward white voters, is so "exciting" to people such as him or, on the other side of the Atlantic, like the Golden One.
"I do not believe that free speech or individual rights won in 2016. Why I support Donald Trump, and why I think Donald Trump is a fascinating phenomenon, why I am still excited about everything he accomplished, is because he was the first step towards white identity politics in the United States. He is definitely not the last step; he is not the final word. But he was that first glimpse because he never defined his campaign in the way you did. In his Republican acceptance speech in Cleveland, Ohio - I was there - he never mentioned words like freedom or so on. He said that the system is rigged, the system is rigged against you, I understand the system and I will be your champion, I will be your voice, I will stick up for you. When he is saying I'll stick up for you, he is talking to his voters, 90% of whom are white. Donald Trump represented the first step toward identity politics. That's why he's interesting. Ted Cruz didn't win. You know, if Ted Cruz had won, maybe I'll be like 'alright, sure, individual constitutionalism won' or something. Ted Cruz failed. Donald Trump won. Identity politics is what won."
But if all this seems like a stretch - that surely the next President of the United States does not intend for any of this to be happening in his name - you need only refer to the final commercial that the Trump campaign ran right before election day, which was no less suggestive than anything the Golden One, or Richard Spencer, or Reinhard Heydrich or even Adolf Hitler may have wanted you to understand - that the range and influence of the international Jew is the problem that must addressed by the Jewish question. After all, all three faces used in this commercial (apart from Hillary Clinton) belonged to Jewish people involved in the world of international finance, and the most serious enemy of white identity is the one with the most power globally that could be aligned against it.
Therein lies the challenge that anyone who does not share this white identity - whether he or she be Jewish, Black, Brown, Hindu, Muslim, or perhaps even a Mischling of some sort - must understand. We are the problem. We stand in the way of the realization of white identity. We are the ones who must be opposed,through separation, discrimination and ultimately, at least potentially, through violence.
And by the same token, if that is how we are defined by the white supremacists, then we must recognize that opposition to this movement is the only natural response - not appeasement, not explanation, and certainly not hopeful cooperation. For in that direction, true terror lies - just as it did 75 years ago after an hour - or maybe an hour and a half - of casual discussion at the Wannsee conference.