Last night, the Republican party held the second of its presidential primary debates. Some candidates and commentators used the opportunity to discuss immigration. Others focused on foreign policy. And then there was Ann Coulter, the controversial conservative pundit, who chose to complain about the Jews.
As the candidates made their closing remarks about how the world and country would be different if they were president, Coulter began harping on their mentions of the Jewish state:
Good grief! Huckabee is running for PM of Israel.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
Cruz, Huckabee Rubio all mentioned ISRAEL in their response to: “What will AMERICA look like after you are president.” — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States? — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
(Fortunately, Coulter censored her language in that last tweet, to avoid causing any offense.)
Now, informed people understand that the reason Republican candidates mention Israel in their stump speeches is because Republican voters–and many other Americans–really care about Israel: Unsurprisingly, it is not the 2 percent of Americans who are Jews—and overwhelmingly vote Democratic—who are the targets of Republican campaign rhetoric, but the 98 percent of Americans who are not. And to be fair, Coulter crudely stumbled towards this point in a subsequent tweet:
Maybe it’s to suck up to the Evangelicals. — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
But she soon walked back even that bare level of belated nuance:
There aren’t even that many Evangelicals to pander to (probably the intended Israel pander-recipients). https://t.co/lZ0ZUtVdSf — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 17, 2015
(In fact, Evangelicals are one of the Republican party’s largest voting blocs, something any serious conservative commentator would know.)
Naturally, all of this was completely lost on Coulter’s online defenders, a motley crew of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other assorted anti-Semites who immediately launched the hashtag #IStandWithAnn, which quickly began trending on Twitter.
#IStandWithAnn Because the term anti-semite really means uppity goyim. — Cambell Trout (@Agrippapower) September 17, 2015
#IStandWithAnn because a White person questioning Jewish influence is equated with Hitler. https://t.co/DaTts4wM0l
— Cora (@CoraStevenss) September 17, 2015
Tellingly, many of the slurs deployed against Jews by these far-right anti-Semites perfectly mirrored those recently deployed by far-left bigots during the debate over the Iran deal. Both accused American Jews of disloyalty, and of placing their own interests above those of the country. For instance:
I stand with Ann Coulter because the Jewish community does not care about Americans. #IStandWithAnn http://t.co/f1RsqJBPyS — Nathan Damigo (@NYF_SW) September 17, 2015
A warmonger who is loyal to a foreign power shouldn’t be the next Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate! pic.twitter.com/4JpgGfM7Pk
— Eric Darcman (@Darcman) August 7, 2015
The #IStandWithAnn episode thus serves as a reminder that anti-Semitism, though discredited, is (a) far from a dormant force in American life, and (b) not the exclusive province of either the left or the right, but a dangerous ideology with cross-partisan appeal.