POLLAK: Bret Stephens and the Imaginary Nazis of NeverTrump

Bret Stephens (Richard Drew / Associated Press)
Richard Drew / Associated Press

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal used his Tuesday column to accuse Donald Trump of spinning antisemitic conspiracy theories. It was Stephens’s latest, and most offensive, attempt to shame Trump supporters.

The pretext for his attack was Trump’s declaration, in a recent speech, that Hillary Clinton is part of a “power structure of the political establishment” that “has met in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty.” That, Stephens says, is antisemitism.

But it happens to be true.

Clinton not only “met” with international banks, but claimed huge fees for each speech, and then refused to release the transcripts of her remarks. It is only thanks to Wikileaks that we know some of what she said. And in one speech, to a Brazilian bank, Clinton proclaimed: “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”

So every part of what Donald Trump said is dead-on accurate. And it is not antisemitic to say so.

In a similar vein, Hillary Clinton supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement whose details are being hidden from the public even as their representatives confer new authority on the president to negotiate it. American workers who have suffered from two decades of Chinese competition (enabled by the last Clinton administration) fear they are being betrayed.

True, there is a case to be made for free trade. But Clinton is not making it — at least not in public. She is keeping her real views hidden until after the election.

Or consider the Iran deal. Secret negotiations began on Hillary Clinton’s watch — with the extremist Ahmadinejad regime, not its “moderate” successor, as the public was told. President Barack Obama lied to his own security officials about the contents of the deal, then took it to the UN Security Council before giving the U.S. Congress any say in the matter. He bypassed the Senate altogether, defying the Constitution and destroying U.S. sovereignty.

That is exactly what Donald Trump described.

Stephens argued stridently against the Iran deal, but when Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) emerged as the leaders of  public opposition to the agreement, he continued to sneer at them as the representatives of an unwashed “vulgarian” base that he chose, for whatever reason, to despise.

Stephens yearns for a robust U.S. foreign policy, but has always underestimated the support of the grass-roots for precisely such a policy, provided it is successful. He is evidently blinded by his own prejudices.

Those prejudices are shared by a half-dozen or so critics who have contrived the absurd notion that Trump is an antisemite, or at least inspiring antisemites.

That slanderous projection began with the fraudulent Ur-text posted by Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast, in which a blogger falsely accused Breitbart News of siccing Twitter trolls on her.

Those Twitter trolls are central to the antisemitism libel — though no one has bothered to ascertain whether they are actual people, or even paid Democratic operatives.

Stephens, who takes a pro forma swipe at Breitbart, cites three sources for his claim that Trump’s speech is antisemitic.

One, amazingly, is the New York Times, which the Journal‘s editorial page usually mocks, and which is dead-set against Trump. A second source is the Daily Stormer, a racist publication which Stephens apparently reads with a degree of unhealthy interest. And the third is a fictional novel, Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, which imagines a Charles Lindbergh presidency.

One critic described that book as a work of “nightmare envy,” and that is perhaps the best description for the mindset shared by Stephens and company, who in imagining Trump as the Fourth Reich conveniently cast themselves in heroic roles as his brave literary opponents.

Ironically, in addressing his message specifically to “politically conservative Jews,” Stephens gives undue weight to the left’s antisemitic canard that Republican Jews are motivated by foreign policy, not by other issues.

There is, in fact, one side in this election that has made an issue of Jewishness, and it is the side for which Stephens and his fellows will be voting, which sought to exploit Sen. Bernie Sanders’s lapsed Judaism.

Stephens et al. overlook that, instead stoking fears that reached their nadir last week with an article in Ha’aretz that predicted Trump would ignite an antisemitic orgy because some Clinton cronies he criticized in the last debate have “distinctively Jewish names” (their words, not his).

The only explanation for the contrived hysteria must be that Stephens and his cohort of accusers share a deep misconception with the American left about the nature of their compatriots in “flyover country.”

If it is actually plausible to them that behind some random Twitter gadflies, there really are tens of millions of “deplorables” or “bitter clingers” waiting to spray-paint swastikas on the nearest synagogue, then they can only hold their fellow Americans in the deepest contempt.

And there is one other thing Stephens et al. share with the left — something alluded to by William McGurn, in the column that followed Stephens’s own: namely, an embrace of the culture of political correctness, of shaming and silencing.

It is not enough to object to Trump’s policies, or rhetorical excesses: he and his followers must be stormtroopers. It is likewise impossible to state the truth of Clinton’s record: we must preserve the sensibilities of the opportunistically “triggered.”

Beyond this pointless, and hurtful, argument — which the NeverTrump crowd has pursued in deeply personal fashion — there is a real political issue. It is this: The West has no hope of resisting such threats as Islamic radicalism or Chinese expansion unless it re-discovers its Christianity and patriotism.

Those who mistake nationalism or evangelism for some kind of secret antisemitic code should get a grip: we are in for a rough few decades. We need each other. Spare the accusations for those who deserve them.

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.


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