Anti-Semitic logic fueled the violence over the weekend, no matter what the president says.
Aug 15, 2017
The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was ostensibly about protecting a statue of Robert E. Lee. It was about asserting the legitimacy of “white culture” and white supremacy, and defending the legacy of the Confederacy.
So why did the demonstrators chant anti-Semitic lines like “Jews will not replace us”?
The demonstration was suffused with anti-black racism, but also with anti-Semitism. Marchers displayed swastikas on banners and shouted slogans like “blood and soil,” a phrase drawn from Nazi ideology. “This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal niggers,” one demonstrator told Vice News’ Elspeth Reeve during their march. As Jews prayed at a local synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, men dressed in fatigues carrying semi-automatic rifles stood across the street, according to the temple’s president. Nazi websites posted a call to burn their building. As a precautionary measure, congregants had removed their Torah scrolls and exited through the back of the building when they were done praying.
“This is an agenda about celebrating the enslavement of Africans and their descendants, and celebrating those that then fought to preserve that terrible machine of white supremacy and human enslavement,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. “And yet, somehow, they’re all wearing shirts that talk about Adolf Hitler.”
For these demonstrators, though, the connection between African Americans and Jews is clear. In the minds of white supremacists like David Duke, there is a straight line from anti-blackness to anti-Judaism. That logic is powerful and important. The durability of anti-Semitic tropes, and the ease with which they slide into all displays of bigotry, is a chilling reminder that the hatreds of our time rhyme with history and are easily channeled through timeless anti-Semitic canards.