Paul Nehlen, a GOP candidate seeking to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan, has outed himself as holding white nationalist beliefs in a series of tweets to a Jewish activist.
Nehlen tweeted “Just admit you are a (((bigot))) @aricohn and I’ll pretend you didn’t pretend you were white for the purposes of starting a race war w me” before commenting that “It’s okay to be white. It’s not okay to pretend to be for purposes of undermining whites. But you knew that”.
Nehlen’s word are unambiguously those of a far-right antisemite. White Nationalists and neo-Nazis often accuse Jews of attempting to subvert what they perceive to be the interests of the “white race”.
According to the Definition of Antisemitism, Antisemites often ‘blame Jews for “why things go wrong”‘. The Definition also states that “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” is antisemitic, as is blaming Jews “for real or imagined wrongdoing”.
Nehlen has also used “echoes”, the use of triple parentheses, which was originally developed by the alt-right to covertly refer to Jews. Putting the parentheses around the word “bigot” is used to associate purported bigotry with Jewishness, itself a long-standing antisemitic canard.
The phrase “it’s okay to be white”, whilst perhaps not seeming inherently worrying, was popularised by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and is frequently parroted by White Nationalists.
Nehlen has clearly stepped up his rhetoric since last year, apparently emboldened by the Trump Presidency and the growing acceptability of antisemitism in American public life. Nehlen has repeatedly refused to say whether or not he is indeed a White Nationalist, but this rhetoric makes his allegiances clear for all to see.
The ADL commented that Nehlen has “on numerous occasions in recent months demonstrated associations or affiliations with white supremacist concepts and entities, including appearing on a white supremacist podcast, ‘Fash the Nation’; sharing racist and anti-Semitic graphics on social media; and following a number of white supremacists on Twitter”.
Following Nehlen’s antisemitic comments, Ari Cohn, the activist against whom they were directed, received hundreds of antisemitic messages on Twitter from white supremacists.
Everyday Antisemitism will be following coming events with keen interest. Electoral success by any measure for a man who has openly cast his lot with far-right extremists would demonstrate that American society is taking a distinct and worrying turn for the worse.