Two weeks ago, during morning prayers at my synagogue, a young black man burst into the sanctuary, gave a “Heil Hitler” salute, and made a machine-gun motion with his hands. Worshippers chased him out, and we called police, but they did not come in time.
— Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) November 17, 2016
The incident was incredibly strange, but also a reminder that there is a real threat of antisemitism and neo-Nazism. Ironically, I was spending much of my week fighting false, defamatory “Nazi” accusations about Breitbart by the likes of Howard Dean.
Calling someone a “Nazi” is absurd hyperbole, and it often discredits the person making the claim. But in the current climate, the term “Nazi” is highly inflammatory, because people are upset about the recent election and looking for someone to blame.
Some individuals and organizations are deliberately hyping the paranoia. The Anti-Defamation League — which should drop the “Anti,” since it has been responsible for so much defamation these past few weeks — actually compared Trump’s proposal to track immigrants from terror-prone countries to the way that Nazis registered Jews during the Holocaust, to kill them later.
A left-wing group calling itself “LA Jews for Peace” issued a press statement warning that minorities — including “Muslim Americans, Blacks, Latinos and Latinas, immigrants, and all other groups, including Jews” — were going to be “subjected to registration and mass detention or deportation due to the Trump administration enacting a white supremacist agenda.”
If you spread fears like that, you are creating a pretext for people to take dramatic, even violent action, because they may believe they are saving themselves or stopping a great (albeit contrived) evil.
And if you identify people, and organizations, as “Nazis” when they aren’t, then you are placing a target on them. You are scapegoating innocent people for political purposes. You are doing, in fact, what the Nazi regime actually did. And you are creating permanent divisions in American society.
The false “Nazi” claims began during the campaign, when the left began equating Donald Trump to Hitler. The lies have only accelerated since then, partly because there are very small groups of real neo-Nazis interested in hyping their own importance, and partly because the mainstream media are eager to help.
Meanwhile, false “Nazi” accusations continue, unapologetically, from people who should know better. They are mainstreaming hatred, with potentially dangerous consequences.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.