Trump, Anti-Globalism and the Anti-Semitism Slur

There are few tactics in contemporary politics more effective than labeling your opponent as an anti-Semite. So, as Donald Trump’s campaign continues to ramp up its radical populism, Trump’s attacks on global elites are increasingly being characterized as anti-Semitism. It’s as if every time Trump excoriates a Washington insider or international corporate power broker he really wants to say “Jew.” At least, that’s the charge by numerous members of the media, many of whom are Jewish themselves.

Just listen to Louis Mensch, ostensibly a conservative blogger for Heat St, whom Wikileaks just outed as a Hillary campaign helper: “Globalists is a racist code word for Jew because there are none. free trade between sovereign nations is not a wish to abolish the former.” By Mensch’s convoluted logic, since globalists don’t want to completely destroy national sovereignty, they aren’t really globalists. Therefore when people say globalists, they must mean Jews.

Or let’s hear from the Republican campaign strategist and “Never Trump-er” Rick Wilson: “Globalist”…why don’t you just say “Jew” and get it over with?”

Then there’s Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal, who demanded conservative columnist Laura Ingraham be fired for using the term “globalist cabal.” “Globalist cabal” is an anti-Semitic dog whistle of the first order. Fox News should act,” Stephens insisted.

And Louis Mensch again: “”Globalists” is, like “zionists” or “zios” the new antisemitic code word for Jews”. Distressing news no doubt to anti-Zionist Jews and critics of Israel, who are used to being spuriously accused of anti-Semitism.

Then there’s neocon blowhard Jamie Kirchick’s response to an incoherent tweet by Paul Ryan challenger Paul Nehlen, about Ryan’s staffer Dan Senor “With globalist advisers like @DanSenor it’s no wonder @PRyan is to the left of @HillaryClinton on #TPP. “ To which Kirchick responded “Why don’t you just say “Jew?”” Senor is indeed Jewish, and is rumored to be the person who leaked the infamous Trump- Billy Bush “pussy” tape to the press.

One Is tempted to just quote Lewis Carroll: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

But perhaps we should take a step back and look at the words globalism and globalist themselves . Globalism is currently used mainly to describe economic and political globalization. The word first became popular in the 1940s to describe US policies of containment of the Soviet Union. “Globalist” refers more broadly to someone who favors “global capitalism” and to political leaders who strive to create a unified global economy. In its more political-economic sense, the word “globalist” refers to international institutions that intervene globally. The United Nations, World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organization, EU, OECD, G20 and World Economic Forum are examples of globalist institutions. Politicians and bureaucrats who favor these institutions and their ability to dictate terms to sovereign states are globalists. Essentially, we are talking about the majority of mainstream US politicians from both parties.

In its more conspiratorial sense the word globalist is applied to groups who are thought to attempt to create global policies secretly or behind the scenes. This would include groups such as the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, or the people who put together global trade deals that override national laws, like the TPP.

In his speech of October 13, 2016, Donald Trump used the term globalist repeatedly, triggering accusations of anti-Semitism from media outlets such as Mother Jones and Raw Story. The ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted his concern, mildly stated compared to the rampant Twitter hysteria, that “Trump should avoid rhetoric&tropes” that suggest anti-Jewish themes. But despite the media pile-on, Trump has been discussing globalism in his speeches for months. As Jill Stein and to a lesser extent Bernie Sanders represent the long-standing anti-globalization movement of the left, Trump represents the anti-globalization movement of the right. And there is significant overlap between the two, as opposition to the TPP demonstrates or to provocative militarism towards Russia demonstrates.

Back on April 27, in a speech on foreign policy, Trump stated: “We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism. The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.”

From his acceptance speech at the RNC: “The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America first. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

From a speech on jobs on June 28: “Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export. This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster. It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.”

Trump appeals to economic nationalist policies, calling for more advantageous trade deals and hinting at protectionism. On foreign policy he advocates for less interventionism and military policy that is primarily defensive and in service of clear US national interests. He questions the patriotism of US elites by implying they serve some other power than the American people. That these ideas are appealing is not surprising in a country in which 70% of all households have less than $1000 in savings.

But are these policies anti-Semitic? Trump, whose daughter Ivanka is a Jewish convert married to an Orthodox Jewish husband who is a top Trump campaign advisor, seems an unlikely Jew hater, but the mainstream Hillary-loving press has been insisting he is Hitler throughout the campaign (odd since they also accusing him of being controlled by Russia. A new Molotov-Ribbentrop pact?) As the election looms the media are busy cranking up Jewish paranoia to 11. As the unflappably cool Matthew Iglesias surmises. “My guess is that in a Trump administration angry mobs will beat and murder Jews and people of color with impunity.”

In the wake of Trump’s October 13 speech, reporter Travis Gettys informed his readers that Trump’s very reference to international banks at all was anti-Semitic. His article for Raw Story was just a series of breathlessly fearmongering tweets. If Trump attacking bankers inspires such fear and loathing one hesitates to guess what Gettys must think of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, let alone bankster critics like Michael Hudson or David Graeber. Clearly goose-stepping brownshirts all.

Tactically speaking, the primary purpose of an accusation of anti-Semitism is to end debate. So if someone says “globalist is a code word for Jews”, or “blaming international banks for economic problems is anti-Semitic”, the function of this is to ensure that globalists and international banks cannot be blamed. It’s as if someone responded to the Occupy movement that “the 1%” is a codeword for Jews, so we should stop talking about wealth disparity.” The ramifications are obvious – leave the global elites out of this campaign or you’re a Jew-hating bigot and by the way here comes the ADL.

Second, by making this association, these supposed defenders of the Jews are in fact the ones at risk of fostering anti-Semitism. If “globalists” are conflated with Jews by Jews, then doesn’t that means that globalists ARE Jews? If “international bankers” is a cover for anti-Semitism, than by simple deduction most international bankers must be Jewish! The mind reels at the notion that suggesting these ideas is some sort of push-back against the actual anti-Semitism found among those who discuss “the Jewish Question” on the alt-right. And of course the alt-right trolls read these tweets, chuckle and say they knew it all along.

For those sitting on the sidelines, a logical response to these accusations of anti-Semitism is to start wondering about just exactly how Jewish the global elites really are. Of course, this is way beyond anything Trump is asking his supporters to do. Trump does not “name the Jew” as segments of the alt-right wish he did. Given his prominent position in globalist networks of power, Trump knows that while Jews are disproportionately represented that doesn’t mean that the global elite itself is predominantly Jewish. However Trump has singled out a couple of Jews in recent speeches: George Soros, and Sidney Blumenthal. Soros, as an extraordinarily wealthy financer and speculator who also funds an enormous amount of liberal and dare I say globalist causes around the world has long been a subject of attention on the far right. Blumenthal is less important, as a prominent Clinton advisor and Libya plotter who makes cameo appearances in Wikileaks. But naming a couple of prominent Jews associated with Hillary is hardly reading the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the SS. Of course it is possible that Trump has some antipathy towards Jews, but far more likely that his actual beef is with globalists whose policies he is opposed to and whom are doing their damnedest to try to prevent him from becoming president.

Anti-Semitism is frequently used to silence people from saying the things they want or need to say. Trump needs to make his case for economic populism and an essentially paleoconservative foreign policy by depicting his opponents as the enemy. When the enemy appears to be an octopus-like conglomeration of career politicians like the Clintons, Wall Street bankers, wealthy .. uh… globalists like George Soros, oligarchs with media empires like Carlos Slim and Jeff Bezos, Trump needs to affix a label to them. He does use “special interests” but the term is ambiguous and there are special interests on Trump’s side as well. So Trump must name his enemy, and globalist is the word that fits best.

Trump’s Jewish attackers want to pretend that Trump is an anti-Semite and all of his attacks on globalist institutions or individuals is a personal attack on Jews. That’s preposterous, and projection. Trump’s Jewish attackers don’t want to admit their Jewish privilege. We Jews (yes, I’m one) are the wealthiest religious group in America and the second richest ethnic group behind Indian-Americans. For our tiny size, we are by far the most politically influential. The worlds of finance, media, journalism and law are home to extremely disproportionately high numbers of Jews. Leading globalist institutions like the World Bank, IMF, and WTO have high numbers of Jewish executives and staffers, as do organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, which one informal estimate claims is around 50% Jewish. Half of the US’s billionaires are Jewish. Jewish donors play an enormous role in funding Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The normally Republican and predominantly Jewish neoconservatives have thrown their support behind Hillary. None of this is evidence of conspiracy. Jews are overrepresented in a many other fields as well, such as mathematics, physics, medicine, philosophy, etc. Jews like to argue with each other and with gentiles, and anybody positing a unified Jewish perspective on any issue has obviously never had Shabbat dinner with a typical Jewish extended family. But claims that Jews are using their disproportionate wealth and influence to support Hillary Clinton are, in fact, true.

Bringing up anti-Semitism then just reminds people of how much influence and power Jews have. Casually hurling charges of anti-Semitism at critics of globalism is incredibly ill-advised and unhelpful. Trump’s critique of globalism, global elite corruption, and the role of bankers in global affairs is not anti-Semitic but the people who allege that it is are the ones who actually foster anti-Semitism, while simultaneously protecting globalism and globalist institutions from critique. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in some parts of the alt-right. There’s no need to make it worse by shaming people who criticize global elites.


Jonathan Taylor is a Professor in the Geography Department at California State University, Fullerton.