Headlines of Hate: The GOP and the 'Nazi Problem'

I received a text from a prominent pro-Israel leader alerting me to online headlines that screamed, over three consecutive days, in large bold type:

"Top Republican in California Senate Race Called for Government Free from Jews" (The Forward, 4.29.18)

"Top Senate challenger in California is white supremacist with anti-Semitic agenda" (JTA, 4.30.18)

"The GOP's 'Nazi Problem' Comes to California with Anti-Semitic Holocaust Denier Candidate" (Haaretz, 5.1.18)

This was all news to me, and I'm rather well informed about California politics and its intersection with the Jewish community.

Who is Patrick Little, this "top" Republican running for office, and what is this GOP "Nazi Problem"?

I called my friends at the California Republican Party and quickly spoke to the chairman of the party.  He thanked me for calling and shared that immediately upon hearing about these headlines, he issued a same-day declarative denunciation of the candidate in the name of the CRP, issued by the senior communications official:

Mr. Little has never been an active member of our party.  I do not know Mr. Little and I am not familiar with his positions.  But in the strongest terms possible, we condemn anti-Semitism and any other form of religious bigotry, just as we do with racism, sexism, or anything else that can be construed as a hateful point of view.

Concise.  Morally clear.  Commendable.

But who is Patrick Little?  No one knows!

I spent the day reaching out to party officials and representatives.  To everyone's knowledge, Little has never run for public office, never donated to the GOP, never been active in any campaigns, never offered any thought leadership in conservative circles, never spoken at or attended a GOP convention or been associated with any Republican elected official.  No one had ever met him or heard of him.

What the heck is going on here?

Do you think that maybe the ideological perspectives of Haaretz and The Forward might cause them to highlight so loudly a completely unknown person as somehow a top contender for the U.S. Senate from the largest state in the union?  Any possible mischief in writing in bold, "The GOP's Nazi Problem"?

Let's stipulate two things:

1. The reporting about Patrick Little indicates he's beneath "little."  If accurate, he's pathetic, a hater, loser, conspiracy theorist, and nut-job.

2. Since no experienced or well funded Republican is challenging wealthy incumbent Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein in 2018, it's possible that, according to the only poll cited in the articles, 18 percent of primary voters "support" Little.

Isn't it clear though that these polls reflect likely Republican voters expressing endorsement of a Republican without knowing anything about him?

Little has apparently no campaign and no money.  He has sent no mailers to voters and doesn't even have a campaign website.  He has appeared in zero debates.  He is unknown.

Well, thanks to some in the Jewish press, that is less true now.

I understand informing the Jewish community about anti-Semites, who exist in both parties.

Longtime senior Democratic congressman and DNC leader Keith Ellison worked for Minister Louis Farrakhan, and Farrakhan has met with many elected Democrats in Congress.

Very disturbing.

Two current Republican congressional candidates, in Wisconsin and Illinois, are a Nazi Party leader and a white supremacist.

Very ugly.

But context and care must be applied as well.  Little is not going to be a U.S. senator.  Mr. Little is not going to win the primary.  Little leads no movement, has no following, and is not a "top" Republican.

The never-ending point-scoring game, in which biased media and political partisans, mostly based in Washington, D.C., constantly highlight the absurd, fringe anti-Semites in each party, is moving American Jewish politics from contentiousness to something more sinister.

I think the polls that matter are those that show upwards of a 50-point differential between Republicans and Democrats on issues such as support for Israeli defensive actions against Palestinian terror or Islamist jihadi threats.

I think Senator Dianne Feinstein's record is an issue.  She double-crossed Senator Bob Dole, after having co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act (1995), when she pulled her support for the measure in order to undermine Mr. Dole's presidential run in 1996.  She has been a consistently rough critic of Israel ever since, and she castigated President Trump for his decision to move the U.S. embassy, which will occur this month, after repeated promises by presidents of both major parties.

Agree or disagree, Senator Feinstein's ambiguous support for the Jewish state is an issue worthy of media attention.

Democrat Calif. state senator Kevin de León is an issue.  He is Dianne Feinstein's major opponent.  He publicly claimed that "half my family is in California illegally."  That means they likely used stolen identities to get employment and driver's licenses.  That seems an issue worthy of debate.  At the California Democratic Party convention this spring, de León prevented incumbent senator Dianne Feinstein from securing the party's endorsement.  The rise of a radical left in California is an issue for many Jewish voters.

The fact that California is a one-party state, ranking at the bottom of the 50 states in tax burden, welfare, crime, state pension liabilities, 4th- and 8th-grade educational results, and business climate – now, that is an issue for sincere citizens across party lines.

Golden State Republicans do not have a strong enough bench to offer a serious candidate likely to make the "top two" runoff in the November general election.  That too is worthy of commentary and analysis.

But big bold headlines a few weeks before the June primary election seem calculated to raise the profile of a no-name. 

Might it serve far-left Jewish media outlets to highlight and battle the "GOP's Nazi Problem"?  Clickbait and smearing the GOP all in one.

I stipulate that there are bad actors in both parties.  But could there be any media bias (dare I say fake news?) in painting Republicans as Nazis?  Look, the sky is falling!

Don't look at the mess President Obama left in the Middle East, the lies told by former secretary of state John Kerry about Iran's nuclear program, or the recent revelations of Obama's huge gifts of money to the Palestinians on his way out of office.  Instead, virtue-signal in battle against the "GOP's Nazi Problem" – without first calling the Republican Party for comment or information, by the way. 

California Republicans disavowed someone they had never met, without prompting, simply because his reported views disgust them.  Then they banned Little from their convention, just held in San Diego.

If we cannot agree that 99 percent of Republicans and Democrats condemn Nazis and white (and black) supremacists, then we are beyond reasonable discourse.

But the statement of the California Republican Party wasn't the headline, or even in the articles.

It should have been, rather than the "Chicken Little" partisan journalism we saw instead.

Larry Greenfield is former Calif. director of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a columnist with www.JewishJournal.com.

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