Near the end of his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump laid out his theory of a vast globalist conspiracy. “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors,” Trump said.

“It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” Trump continued. “We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends, and her donors.”

Time magazine called this his “Grand Unified Campaign Conspiracy Theory” that drew upon “conspiracy theories that have been nurtured for years by far-right-wing outlets like InfoWars, which has been a home for 9/11 “truthers,” and unfounded claims about the Bilderberg Group and the World Economic Forum.”

Jewish groups, who recognized the echoes in Trump’s language, were alarmed. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, quickly tweeted out that Trump “should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur #antisemitism. Let’s keep hate out of campaign.” The ADL had also expressed concern when Trump retweeted an image of a “corrupt” Hillary Clinton and a Star of David:

We’ve been troubled by the anti-Semites and racists during this political season, and we’ve seen a number of so-called Trump supporters peddling some of the worst stereotypes all through this year. And it’s been concerning that [Donald Trump] hasn’t spoken out forcefully against these people. It is outrageous to think that the candidate is sourcing material from some of the worst elements in our society.

Trump, of course, is not alone in trafficking in language that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic. Louis Farrakhan continues to compare Jews to termites; BDS activists on campus continue to demonize Israel, and in Great Britain, the Labour Party is headed by the notoriously anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn.

But, in the wake of the worst mass murder of Jews in American history, it was inevitable that questions about Trump’s relationship with anti-Semitism would be revived. Trump’s defenders bristle at such charges, noting that Trump’s own daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish and that he is a staunch friend of Israel.

And yet….

Trumpism (if not Trump himself) has clearly given oxygen to some of the ugliest impulses among us. Anti-Jewish narratives grow and thrive in environments rife with conspiracy theories and no one has done more than the current president to bring them into the mainstream of our political discourse.

As we found out this weekend, the resurgence of nativism and fearmongering over foreign invaders, bankrolled by Jewish financiers, can summon unspeakable darkness.


There were warning signs long before Trump praised the marchers in Charlottesville (some of who chanted “Jews will not replace us”) as “very fine people.” In March 2016, writer Bethany Mandel wrote that “the surest way to see anti-Semitism flood your mentions column is to tweet something negative about Donald Trump.” She was called a “slimy Jewess” and told that she “deserved the oven.”

Not only was the anti-Semitic deluge scary and graphic, it got personal. Trump fans began to “dox” me — a term for adversaries’ attempt to ferret out private or identifying information online with malicious intent. My conversion to Judaism was used as a weapon against me, and I received death threats in my private Facebook mailbox, prompting me to file a police report.

It had gotten so bad, she wrote, that she bought a gun. “Over the coming weeks, I plan to learn how to shoot it better.” Mandel’s case may have been extreme, but it was not unusual.

A report by the Anti-Defamation League found that hundreds of journalists had been the subject of a cascade of anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter during the presidential campaign. One New York Times editor was sent drawings of a “hooknosed Jew” and an image of a concentration camp with the words “Machen America Great.” The report found that Ben Shapiro—then an outspoken Trump critic—was the most frequently targeted journalistic figure.

The ADL task force tried to quantify the problem, concluding that a “total of 2.6 million tweets containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech were posted across Twitter between August 2015 and July 2016.”

Of the 2.6 million total tweets, ADL focused its analysis on tweets directed at 50,000 journalists in the United States. A total of 19,253 anti-Semitic tweets were directed at those journalists, but the total number of anti-Semitic tweets directed at journalists overall could be much higher for a variety of factors noted in the report also shows that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the anti-Semitic tweets directed at those journalists were sent by 1,600 Twitter accounts (out of 313 million existing Twitter accounts). These aggressors are disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the “alt-right," a loosely connected group of extremists, some of whom are white supremacists. The words that appear most frequently in the 1,600 Twitter attackers’ bios are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” and “white.”

The report made it clear that the ADL was not suggesting that the Trump campaign itself either supported or endorsed the attacks, “only that certain self-styled supporters sent these ugly messages. The data also illustrates the connectedness of the attackers: waves of anti-Semitic tweets tend to emerge from closely connected online ‘communities.’”

The ADL Task Force study shows that a small cohort of journalists bore the brunt of the online abuse. The Task Force identified that some 19,253 overtly anti-Semitic tweets were sent to at least 800 journalists in the U.S. during the 12 month study. The top 10 most targeted journalists— all of whom are Jewish—received 83 percent of those 19,253 tweets. The top 10 includes conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and the New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, and CNN’s Sally Kohn and Jake Tapper.

Many of the worst instances of harassment were connected to a website known as the Daily Stormer and its founder, a neo-Nazi activist named Andrew Anglin.

I first became aware of the site when I received via email a photo shopped image of my picture inside a gas chamber. A smiling Donald Trump wearing a German military uniform is poised to press the red “gas” button. The photo shopping tool had been created by the website and was widely used to troll both Jewish and non-Jewish critics of the Trump campaign.

The site takes its name from the German Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, which was notorious for the viciousness of its anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews. After WWII, Der Sturmer’s publisher, Julius Streicher, was executed for crimes against humanity. Anglin created the site in 2013 as an updated version of his previous website which he called “Total Fascism.”

In his own guide to the alt-right, Anglin notes that the movement included various factions, but that they had all been led “toward this center-point where we have all met. The campaign of Donald Trump is effectively the nexus of that centerpoint.”

Impressed by Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigrants, Anglin endorsed Trump in 2015 and urged the readers of the Daily Stormer to "vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests". After Trump called for barring Muslims from the country, the site declared: "Heil Donald Trump – The Ultimate Savior.”

But Anglin’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of what he calls his “Troll Army,” which he uses to attack political opponents, deployed to great effect in early 2016.

After GQ magazine published a profile of Melania Trump by writer Julia Ioffe, the future first lady took to Facebook to denounce the piece, as “yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting.”

Anglin quickly mobilized his Troll Army, posting an article headlined: “Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ!” The post featured a picture of Ioffe wearing a Nazi-era yellow star with the word “Jude” and a call to action from Anglin: “Please go ahead and send her a tweet and let her know what you think of her dirty kike trickery. Make sure to identify her as a Jew working against White interests, or send her the picture with the Jude star from the top of this article.”

The result was a torrent of abuse, including death threats against the journalist. On Twitter, she was sent pictures of Jews being shot in the head and pictures of her wearing concentration camp stripes. When she answered her phone, a caller began playing a recording of a speech by Adolf Hitler.

“The irony of this is that today,” she told the British newspaper the Guardian, “I was reminded that 26 years ago today my family came to the US from Russia. We left Russia because we were fleeing antisemitism. It’s been a rude shock for everyone.”

None of this, of course, can be blamed on Trump. But his response to the attacks on Ioffe was troubling, and set an unfortunate pattern.

When Trump was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the anti-Semitic attacks and death threats, the future president pointedly refused to condemn them, saying “I don’t have a message to the fans. A woman wrote an article that was inaccurate.”

Trump’s refusal to denounce the Troll Army was greeted with delight by Anglin, who immediately posted: ”Glorious Leader Donald Trump Refuses to Denounce Stormer Troll Army.”

Asked by the disgusting and evil Jewish parasite Wolf Blitzer to denounce the Stormer Troll Army, The Glorious Leader declined.

The Jew Wolf was attempting to Stump the Trump, bringing up stormer attacks on Jew terrorist Julia Ioffe. Trump responded to the request with “I have no message to the fans” which might as well have been “Hail Victory, Comrades!”

Melania Trump was also asked about the attacks on Ioffe by writer Mickey Rapkin of DuJour magazine. “So if people put a swastika on my face once this article comes out,” Rapkin wondered, “will she denounce them?” Again, she declined to condemn the threats, suggesting instead that Ioffe had brought the ugliness onto herself. “I don’t control my fans,” she said, “but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”

The implications for mainstream conservatives should have been obvious. After decades of fending off cranks, crackpots, and anti-Semites, the alt right was bringing them into the political bloodstream with the apparent acquiescence of the GOP nominee.

But Bill Buckley was no longer around and there were no longer any gatekeepers with the authority to issue edicts of condemnation that could be enforced. Writers like Noah Rothman, Ben Shapiro, Peter Wehner, Jonah Goldberg
and others penned scorching jeremiads about the resurgency of Jew-baiting, but none of them had the authority that Buckley once wielded. In the 1960s, Buckley could deny the Birchers access to his magazine, forcing them further to the fringes and denying them the media platform they would need to disseminate their message. But now, in an age when everyone can be their own publisher, that is no longer possible.

None of that would have mattered, however, if Trump had forcefully distanced himself from the Alt Right. Barry Goldwater had encouraged and backed Buckley’s expulsion of the Birchers. In contrast, Trump’s campaign enabled the movement to rise to a prominence it could never otherwise have imagined.

As a result, the specter that Buckley had exorcised has returned in an even more virulent and violent form. The challenge to Buckley’s successors (if there are any) should be obvious.
(Note: Some of the material here has been adapted from “How the Right Lost Its Mind.”)