The Muckraker and numerous other outlets have been commenting for weeks on how alt-right anti-Semitism has infiltrated and taken control of the top ranks of the Trump campaign, thanks to the influence of campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon, of Brietbart News, the self-professed “platform for the alt-right.” Yet another troubling example of the pernicious and pervasive influence of alt-right anti-Semitism emerged with the widely criticized closing ad of the Trump campaign.
While Trump speaks, the advertisement shows grainy images of Janet Yellen, George Soros, and Lloyd Blankfein. These individuals are largely unknown to the average American. They are, however, well known to the anti-Semites of the alt-right movement tuned in to Brietbart News. Each is a prominent Jewish-American in the field of finance: Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve, George Soros as a wealthy business supporter of Democrats, and Lloyd Blankfein as the CEO of Goldman Sachs. No billionaire Clinton supporters like Mark Cuban or Warren Buffett getting center stage. Instead, Yellen, Soros, and Blankfein, each of whom is part of the alleged Jewish global cartel attacked regularly in the alt-right universe.
As Hillary Clinton is shown shaking hands with Blankfein, Trump’s voice says, “It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”
The anti-Semitic dog-whistles of the ad promptly caught attention. Senator Al Franken, noting that he is Jewish, pointed out the parallels to the forged anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” More prominently, the Anti-Defamation League promptly offered their thoughts on Trump’s closing advertisement, writing:
“Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages. This needs to stop. In the final days before the election, tensions are extremely high. It’s a time when all candidates need to be especially responsible and bid for votes by offering sincere ideas and policy proposals, not by conjuring painful stereotypes and baseless conspiracy theories.”
This is dark, dark conspiratorial rhetoric that has been used repeatedly and tragically in the past to spur the demonization of specific groups of people. We have repeatedly written that we think Trump is unaware of this. But his campaign CEO, Stephen K. Bannon, has made such rhetoric the bread and butter of the alt-right platform Brietbart News for years. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and it highlights the danger of electing individuals who are not sufficiently knowledgeable themselves to avoid being unduly influenced by those behind them.
While the Trump campaign has repeatedly (if sometimes belatedly) renounced the support of the likes of David Duke, the KKK, and the American Nazi Party, the Bannonites behind Trump have repeatedly put out calls to them through alt-right anti-Semitic language in Trump’s speeches and advertisements like this. Members of those groups recognize these tropes and images for exactly what they are.
History has shown again and again that when the rest of us ignore and normalize such rhetoric the consequences can be disastrous.