America’s political sphere has become exceedingly complex, with the 2016 presidential election thrusting the growing divide between the “right” and the “left” into the forefront. Candidates presented themselves as defenders of the “right” or champions of the “left,” and each party’s fringe elements galvanized their supporters to protest their party’s purported out-of-touch ideologies.
In Congress, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which advocates for particularly liberal positions, and the House Freedom Caucus, which promotes ultra-conservative policies, are impacting the legislative process in newfangled ways.
The offshoot of these zealous political alliances presented opportunities for radical groups to emerge from the woodwork and transition from the periphery to the mainstream, thereby crippling our nation and paralyzing our political process.
Our nation was awakened from its relative slumber in August 2017 after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly. Several dozen people were injured and three people died, one of whom was killed after a white nationalist intentionally drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors and struck her.
The violence that enveloped the rally on that fateful day was a symbol of where our nation is headed. Whereas civil disobedience and civil discourse have always been central to the American political scene, the events in Charlottesville demonstrated how profound hatred and hostility have filtered into the American mainstream.
This newfound rancor stems from a group commonly labeled the “alt-right.” A creation of white supremacist Richard Spencer and other likeminded individuals, this movement is predicated upon the notion that conventional political conservatives are not conservative enough. The alt-right eschews multiculturalism and espouses racism to bolster its stance that white supremacy is sacrosanct.
Along with the racist undertones that comprise the alt-right’s political blueprint is the blatant anti-Semitism it regularly exercises. The alt-right’s leaders make no secret about their dislike for Jews and they proudly permit anti-Semites to address their members. When it comes to the alt-right, Jews are Public Enemy No. 1.
The anti-Semitism emanating from the alt-right underscores a systemic problem that is escalating at a frenetic and frightening pace.
The fact that people believe it is acceptable to demonize any religious or ethnic group is alarming. The alt right has unabashedly taken our country’s political divisions and manipulated them to create a colossal chasm between their constituency and Jews, African-Americans, and other minority groups. They actively seek to perpetuate people’s prejudicial propensities and prey upon biases that are deeply rooted in bigotry in order to further their skewed political agenda whose very foundation is religious and racial intolerance.
With anti-Semitic hate crimes on the rise in the United States, we cannot permit the alt-right to peddle their prejudicial propaganda in the mainstream of American culture. Making it acceptable to denigrate individuals based on their religious beliefs is contemptable and completely unacceptable. The methods and message of the alt-right are absolutely wrong.
As Jews in some European countries fear for their safety amidst the rise of extremist political parties and a rash of violent hate crimes, one cannot help but wonder how it came to this. How is it that just seven decades after the Nazis murdered six-million Jews, anti-Semitism has once again reared its ugly head in the shadow of the very death camps that bore witness to mass extermination during the Holocaust? What happened to “Never Again?”
While American Jewry debates the severity of the anti-Semitism encompassing Europe, we cannot forget that a similar anti-Semitic storm is brewing on American soil.
The emerging dangers of the alt-right and the detrimental impact that this emboldened group is having on American culture is palpable. The alt-right is tearing away at the fabric of our nation and eroding the democratic foundation upon which this nation is built. We are becoming immune to this effort to divide our country, and we cannot stand idly by and let it happen.
Our founding fathers built this nation on the premise that the exchange of differing political views would lead to a vibrant and vigorous republic, where open debate was welcomed and the free exchange of ideas was celebrated. The emergent battle between the “right” and the “left” is consistent with our founding fathers’ vision. Although the dialogue is occasionally unpleasant and uncivil, the fact is that the passionate advocacy embraced by the various political groups is part of democracy.
Nevertheless, when it comes to politics and activism, there is a line that should not be crossed. The hatred and bigotry cultivated by the alt-right unquestionably crosses that line.
The alt-right is not about politics; it is about prejudice. The divisiveness and discord that this hate-based group disseminates is downright dangerous. Building a movement whose very basis is bigotry is antithetical to our founding fathers’ grand vision. If we allow the alt-right to continue fostering anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and stigmatization of minorities, then we too are complicit in furthering their racist agenda.
“Never Again” means not today, not tomorrow, not ever. It means we must recognize a threat to our Jewish identity and be vocal and united in our opposition to that peril. It means we have to challenge intolerance when it manifests itself and fight back against all forms of racism. “Never Again” means we must combat the anti-Semitism being promulgated by the alt-right and send a clear message to the world that Jews refuse to be bullied by bigots.
“Never Again” is a rallying cry for the preservation of the Jewish people when we are challenged by the alt-right or any hate group. In the face of adversity and animosity, strict adherence to the doctrine of “Never Again” can and will help ensure the Jewish future.
The alt-right’s brand of white identity politics and barefaced anti-Semitism crosses the proverbial political line. It is at watershed moments like this that American Jewry has to proclaim with fervor and urgency, “Never Again.”