I’m a British Jew who works in the world of American conservative media, and the behavior of the conservative movement over the past few days has been honestly terrifying.
As we witness supposedly anti-antisemitism conservatives brush the open and unapologetic antisemitism of cultural figures like Kanye West under the rug in exchange for the second-hand cultural attention his presence might provide — as well as cash and clicks — a familiar and brutal reality has resurfaced for Jews: No one cares about us.
Both sides of the political aisle are quick to rally against antisemitism when it is politically convenient. On the left, when figures like Marjorie Taylor Greene engage in antisemitic rhetoric, they wring their hands and cry to the skies. Meanwhile, on the right, when figures like Ilhan Omar engage in antisemitic rhetoric, they wring their hands and cry to the skies.
Except both sides will happily throw the fight against antisemitism — and, by extension, the Jews — under the bus in exchange for the chance to engage other (larger) political groups they’d much rather have under their increasingly valueless banner.
The truth is that there is now no true political home for Jews in the United States, if there ever really was one. In recent months and years, both sides have demonstrated that they care about Jews right up until a more tempting opportunity presents itself.
Of course, it’s phenomenally easy to remain principled in the face of an adversary whose values are antithetical to your own, an adversary your audience already loathes. There is no inherent bravery in the left calling out Marjorie Taylor Greene, and there is no inherent bravery in the right calling out Ilhan Omar.
There is difficulty, and therefore bravery, in standing firm when doing so presents the possibility of damage — whether that damage is political, cultural or financial.
In addition, one must ask: What are principles if they are so easily cast aside?
Conservatives claim to abhor antisemitism, and yet foolishly believe they can ride the coattails of non-conservative loose cannons like Kanye West and greedily feed off the cultural scraps that fall to the ground; all while trampling on the supposed principles that were their “hills to die on” in their battles with the opposing side.
West, who in a matter of days argued that Jared Kushner sought peace in the Middle East to make money, repeatedly promoted the radical Black Hebrew Israelite conspiracy theory that American blacks are the “real Jews,” implied that Jews created cancel culture and announced that he would be going “death con 3” on “Jewish people,” has shown no signs of apologizing.
And yet, days later, conservatives celebrated West — an open and unapologetic antisemite — on the red carpet, labeling his very presence iconic.
A line has been crossed.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke with Jeremy Corbyn and said veiled antisemitic things in the past, and conservative media — myself included — never let it go. And quite rightly so.
West, who has far more cultural influence than Ocasio-Cortez, pushed multiple explicit antisemitic tropes, and what was the result?
Many high-profile conservatives shrugged and moved on that same day. Some didn’t even shrug at all.
Now, many have responded to my vocal criticism of this appalling conduct with “whataboutism,” declaring that the leftist media ignores antisemitism all the time.
Yes, they do. So what?
I was under the impression that we were meant to be the principled ones. If that is true, where on earth are our principles?
I do understand the attitude of wanting to bring culturally powerful people into our tent based on their supposedly aligned views on single-issue topics. (Let’s leave aside for now the fact that West’s “pro-life” views are based on an antisemitic conspiracy theory.)
However, if there are no entry requirements to the ideological tent, if admission numbers are the only metric of value, what does that tent even represent?
Until our movement is willing to look in the mirror and stick to their supposed principles, the Jewish people cast out from this tent will wonder whether any of this is worth fighting for.
Yet again, Jews are alone.
Ian Haworth is the host of “Off Limits with Ian Haworth.”