John Stoehr: Say No to Tax-Exempt Antisemitism

By Stoehr, John | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), February 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

John Stoehr: Say No to Tax-Exempt Antisemitism


Stoehr, John, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


Antisemitism is in the air and will be for the duration of Donald Trump's presidency. This is despite his using the word "horrible" to describe vandalism over the weekend at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. His statement came after weeks of prodding, which forced the president to concede at last that antisemitism is real and not just political theater staged by sore-loser liberals.

It's not enough. If the Trump administration were serious about the dangers facing American Jews, he'd tell the Department of Homeland Security to revive a program investigating domestic terrorism by white nationalist groups. But given that white nationalists form the bedrock of Trump's power base, the DHS is now bizarrely making a fetish of "radical Islamic terrorism."

Trump didn't cause antisemitism. Jews and other groups on the outskirts of white violence know bigotry is always already there, waiting to be given permission to express itself. Trump did that. That's why the Anne Frank Center on Tuesday said: "The president's sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of antisemitism that has infected his own administration."

Before the cancer spread to the White House, it became notably pronounced after the election of America's first black president. The Republican Party knew how to exploit white resentment but had not permitted Pat Buchanan's race-purity politics to infiltrate the highest echelons of the party. With Barack Obama's 2008 victory and the collapse of their neoconservative wing, Republican elites succumbed to a new base of power.

You and I are complicit. We have been subsidizing nonprofit organizations dedicated to realizing Buchanan's race-purity politics and to spreading white nationalism more widely than they ever could have imagined before the age of Trump.

This is because white nationalist groups take advantage of laws protecting nonprofit organizations from taxation if they contribute to the greater good. Churches, orchestras, and even political action committees should be protected from taxation as long as they provide benefits that cannot be furnished by private enterprise. I'd argue that white nationalists are the enemy of the greater good. But the IRS chafes at such value judgments. …

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