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Right-wing Populism and conspiracy theories in the United States

Right-wing Populism and conspiracy theories in the United States
In the United States the central populist argument is that the United States has been sold, the people of the United States have been victimized by a political elite which is out of touch with the real America and this political elite has led the United States into unnecessary wars and has created an international system of alliances that is taking advantage of the United States, the poor victimized United States, that there are invaders coming from Central American… that China steals our jobs. That’s always the other that’s the source of our problems. That’s the central populist argument that the people are good, the elites are bad. The people are virtuous. The intellectuals, the politicians, the journalists, the scholars, the bankers are all bad.
Now, that is not necessarily an antisemitic argument because in the United States today that argument is focused on the bad people coming from Central America, the terrible Chinese. But it’s a kind of thinking that can slide into antisemitism. And the most important initial piece of evidence about this was the last campaign commercial of the 2016 election campaign in which the Trump campaign put the photos of Lloyd Blankfein and George Soros and the then chair of the Federal Reserve Board Jane Yellen into a campaign commercial and suggested that there were international forces that were undermining the interests of the United States. That was a shocking commercial because it evoked older antisemitic images of powerful Jews who are linked to money, banking.
Trump of course denied he had anything to do with antisemitism but for those on the Far-right they understood that Trump wanted their votes. So of course he makes a big deal about his support for Israel, his challenge to Iran and his moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So he personally… of course his son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish, his wife … his daughter converted to Judaism. So he personally is not an antagonist of the Jews and there are conservative Jews who are big fans of Trump. But the electoral strategy, the political strategy in order to gain votes is one that sends - shall we say - a coded message.

Prof. Jeffrey Herf

In the following lecture Prof. Jeffrey Herf presents his interpretation for the reasons leading to the recent rise in Far-right violent antisemitic incidents in the United States.


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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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