Donald Trump alights on the Compleat Conspiracy. Anti-Semites are thrilled.
They meet in secret. Men of immense wealth; a woman of limitless ambition. Their passports are American but their loyalties are not. Through their control of international banks and the media they manipulate public opinion and finance political deceit. Their aim is nothing less than the annihilation of America’s political independence, and they will stop at nothing—including rigging a presidential election—to achieve it.
Call it for what it is: “A conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man.”
Astute readers will note the quotation of a speech delivered in the U.S. Senate in June 1951 by the then-junior senator from Wisconsin. We’re in historically familiar territory. Joe McCarthy inveighed against Communists in control of the State Department. For Charles Lindbergh it was “war agitators,” notably those of “the Jewish race.”
And now we have Donald Trump versus what Laura Ingraham calls “the globalist cabal”—the latest enemy from without, within. In a speech Thursday in West Palm Beach the GOP presidential nominee painted a picture of a “global power structure” centered around Hillary Clinton that aims to “plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty” while stepping on the necks of American workers with open borders and ruinous trade deals.
“There is nothing the political establishment will not do,” Mr. Trump thundered. “No lie they won’t tell, to hold their prestige and power at your expense, and that’s what’s been happening.”
Here, then, was the real Donald, fresh off his self-declared unshackling from the rest of the GOP. No longer will the nominee content himself with pursuing petty mysteries such as President Obama’s birth certificate or Alicia Machado’s alleged sex tape.
Now he’s after the Compleat Conspiracy, the one that explains it all: the rigged election, migrant Mexican rapists, the lying New York Times, thieving hedge funds, Obama-created ISIS, political correctness, women insufficiently attractive to grope, Chinese manufacturers, the Clinton Foundation. If it isn’t voting for Donald Trump and has recently crossed an international border, it’s a problem.
It did not escape notice that Mr. Trump’s remarks smacked of darker antipathies. A reporter for the New York Times suggested that the speech “echoed anti-Semitic themes.” The Daily Stormer, which bills itself as the premier publication of the alt-right, was less delicate, praising the speech for exposing the mass media as “the lying Jewish mouthpiece of international finance and plutocracy.”
But one needn’t accuse Mr. Trump of personal animus toward Jews (there’s no evidence of it) to point out that his candidacy is manna to every Jew-hater. Anti-Semitism isn’t just an ethnic or religious prejudice. It’s a way of thinking. If you incline to believe that the world is controlled by nefarious unseen forces, you might alight on any number of suspects: Freemasons, central bankers, the British foreign office. Somehow, the ultimate culprits usually wind up being Jews.
That’s why it’s utterly unwise for politically conservative Jews to make common cause with Mr. Trump, on the theory that he’d be a tougher customer in the Middle East than Mrs. Clinton. Leave aside the fact that Mrs. Clinton called privately for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities in one of her leaked Goldman Sachs speeches, while Mr. Trump has found public occasion to praise both Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad.
More dangerous is that a Trump administration would give respectability and power to the gutter voices of American politics. Pat Buchanan would be its intellectual godfather, Ann Coulter and Ms. Ingraham its high priestesses, Breitbart and the rest of the alt-right web its public trumpets. American Jews shouldn’t have to re-live the 1930s in order to figure out that the “globalist cabal” might mean them.
Nor should Jews ignore the rekindling of right-wing anti-Semitism simply because its next-of-kin—left-wing anti-Zionism—remains so potent on college campuses and in progressive political circles. The GOP’s conversion to being a powerfully pro-Israel and philo-Semitic party is a relatively recent development. No law dictates that it is destined to be a lasting one.
The title for this column is taken from the 2004 Philip Roth novel that imagines what might have been for America if Lindbergh had defeated Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency in 1940, signed neutrality pacts with Germany and Japan and initiated a re-education campaign for recalcitrant American Jews. The novel draws its power from being a too-plausible alternative reality from which we were spared less by the wisdom of the public than by the vagaries of history. The McCarthy chapter also might have ended differently, if McCarthy himself had been less buffoonish. Even then it took public courage to stand up to him.
Life imitates art, and vice versa. This time the plot against America is a work of non-fiction, its outcome is still undetermined, and its perpetrators are the very people alleging the conspiracy.