Last Friday—just a few days before the recent, closely contested, Virginia gubernatorial election—the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin made a campaign stop in Charlottesville, the location of a notorious far-right rally in 2017 that resulted in the death of a counter-protestor. Photographs then circulated of some five people standing in front of Youngkin’s campaign bus holding tiki torches, similar to those paraded at the 2017 march and other white-supremacist gatherings. Reportedly the group also chanted “We’re all in for Glenn.” Later the same day, it became clear that these were political operatives sent in disguise to tar the Republican candidate by associating him with neo-Nazis. Liel Leibovitz explains why Jews should take the incident seriously:
With [nearly] 60 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in America now directed against Jews, who make up roughly 2.4 percent of the overall adult population, it isn’t just a stupid trick when people dress up as neo-Nazis to score cheap partisan points; it’s a dangerous one, too, blurring the line between real hate and fake news. The next time some [self-styled] Aryan goes parading down the street, after all, how are we to know if he’s there to roast the nearest shul or merely score a photo-op on Twitter and embarrass some conservative politico?
But among those you’d expect to be most engaged, there was silence. The Anti-Defamation League, which took great care to remind you to please refrain from “cultural appropriation” or perpetuating “gender norms” when selecting a Halloween costume, had nothing to say about this far more troubling instance of appropriation, and did not return Tablet’s request for comment.
A self-respecting imperiled minority with healthy survival instincts and a solid sense of self [should have] demanded that the . . . clowns who orchestrated this gag be held accountable, and . . . used whatever real political levers it had to make sure the candidates it supports come out strongly against such perilous partisan hackery.