Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites are making their presence felt in mainstream American politics. Whether they are running for high-profile offices themselves, or aligning themselves with candidates in races around the country, members of the extremist right – and their racist, anti-Semitic views – are experiencing more exposure today than at any time in recent history.
While extremists’ involvement in politics is not new, the country’s major political parties have historically kept fringe candidates and their ideologies at arm’s length.
In one case, the Holocaust denier himself is running for office. In Illinois, former American Nazi Party head Arthur Jones will be the Republican nominee for US Representative for the state’s 3rd Congressional District. The vocal white supremacist and Holocaust denier is running unopposed for the Republican nomination, and will face incumbent Representative Dan Lipinski or challenger Marie Newman in the general election.
Jones and his wife are founding (and possibly sole) members of the neo-Nazi America First Committee, which operates under the Nationalist Front umbrella. He often attends events organized by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM), including the April 2017 rally in Pikeville, Kentucky.
Jones has repeatedly run for office, always unsuccessfully, since the 1970s.
While few believe Jones has any chance of winning the 3rd, where voters have elected a Democrat in 24 of the last 25 Congressional races, as a major-party candidate for a statewide seat, Jones will have a significant platform for his hateful views. The candidate’s website pairs “America First” language with outright Holocaust denial, including a “Holocaust Racket” diatribe that blames “Organized World Jewry” for perpetrating “the biggest, blackest lie in history.”
Responding to Jones’s candidacy, Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, issued the following statement: “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.”
In other cases, major party elected officials are providing Holocaust deniers a public platform (and public validation).
In October 2017, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) hosted Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson at a meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Johnson has questioned the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and has theorized that the Auschwitz concentration camp and gas chambers never existed.
In February 2018, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) welcomed Johnson as his guest at the State of the Union address. Even after he was provided with background materials on Johnson, Gaetz declined to rescind his invitation.
Anti-Semitic Media Outlets
Anti-Semitic media outlets are also getting in on the act, providing controversial candidates with potentially valuable publicity.
Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel made a January 2018 appearance on Ian Trottier’s radio program, ostensibly to discuss his new book. Trottier is a known anti-Semite and enthusiastic conspiracy theorist, who believes 9/11 may have been perpetrated by the “World Zionist Organization.” McDaniel has denied that he knew anything about Trottier’s beliefs or previous statements. This is not McDaniel’s first brush with extremist ideology; he spoke at a 2013 neo-Confederate event and retweeted a white supremacist’s message in 2014.
In Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate and former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio has given five interviews since 2014 to the American Free Press, a longstanding white supremacist, anti-Semitic “news” website founded by Holocaust denier Willis Carto.
When a reporter from the Arizona Republic asked about the interviews, Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt (and later controversially pardoned by President Trump) for defying an order to stop racially profiling Latinos, asked, "What am I supposed to do? Investigate every media outlet to see what stories they write?" Later, he released the following statement: “It was brought to my attention I gave interview to publication that supports antisemitism; I was unaware and don't support that view point” (sic).
Back in 2006, Lou Barletta, then-mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and current U.S. Senate candidate (R-PA), granted an interview with the American Free Press, promoting his hardline anti-immigration policies. Barletta also headlined a 2007 rally alongside Paul Topete, a musician known for promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
White Supremacist & Anti-Semitic Bile
Meanwhile, Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin Republican who hopes to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan, is increasingly touting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and unapologetically racist views from his official Twitter account and on white supremacist podcasts.
Nehlen, a businessman with no political experience, continues to post overtly anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant messages, many of which have been promoted widely by accounts linked to alt righters and other white supremacists, including Richard Spencer and David Duke.
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