Anti-Semitism in Congressional Races: the 2018 Edition

Anti-Semitism in Congressional Races: the 2018 Edition

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is running for re-election on Tuesday in California seeking a fifth full term in the Senate. Among her opponents is Patrick Little an avowed anti-Semite and Holocaust denier.  California has an open primary system which pits the two top vote getters state-wide in the primaries to face each other in the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. Although Little is running as a Republican, he has no chance of even making it to the general election; nevertheless, the very fact that he is a Senate candidate ought to raise serious concern, not only among Jews.

Little’s campaign has raised the level of discussion in California concerning White supremacy and the legitimacy of bigoted views. Little has the support of the avowed Ku Klux Klan supporter and anti-Semite David Duke. What needs to be understood about Little’s race is the very fact that he is running means that he has support, has raised money, and has campaign staff. Seeking office regardless of how marginal your candidacy is from mainstream America, indicates the views you espouse resonate among a segment of the population. It affirms that you can attract voters who share your extremist views.

In addition to Little’s campaign, there are other anti-Semites running for Congress and state legislative seats throughout the country. For example, in Illinois, Arthur Jones has already won the Republican nomination for Congress in the 3rd district. He ran unopposed in a very strongly Democratic district which has been represented by Dan Lipinski for 14 years, and previously held by his father. Jones is a former member of the American Nazi Party, a Holocaust denier, and an avowed anti-Semite. In his primary, Jones received over 20,000 votes. (It should be noted that the Republican Party in Illinois preferred to save money and not challenge Jones, knowing that whomever they put up would be a sacrificial lamb against Lipinski in November.)

In the Wisconsin’s First Congressional District from where House Speaker Paul Ryan is retiring, there is an alt-right, White supremacist among the Republican candidates, Paul Nehlen; who is also an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Nehlen was so extreme that Breitbart News disavowed association with him. There are other Republican opponents in the August primary, but if nominated Nehlen already has considerable funding to take him to November. If elected in this traditionally Republican district, Nehlen could become the most extreme Member of the House.  

The Southern Poverty Law Center reportedly suggested that there are at least eight avowed anti-Semites seeking congressional seats in 2018. This is a situation which clearly suggests the need for both political parties to address the resurgence of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the United States.

There are other candidates who reportedly have avowed anti-Israel views. Leslie Cockburn, who is running for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 5th District—which has suddenly become an open seat–authored an anti-Israel diatribe with her husband in the early ‘90’s. 

Much of this active anti-Semitic revival was most publically evident last August in Charlottesville with the racist, anti-Semitic marchers and attacks. It is also clearly a reflection of the times that America—like much of the Western world—is witnessing; a resurgence of anti-Semitism. In the case of the United States much of this is emanating from and encouraged by President Trump’s political base. The nativist and America First policies of this Administration give extensive fodder to the Trump agenda. It is a neo-isolationist mood that America has not seen the likes of since World War II.

read more: