For anyone who wants to understand why Nazis like Kanye West and Nick Fuentes so brazenly spew their hatred, it is not enough to blame their dinner host, former President Donald Trump — although he bears enormous responsibility for the fascist surge of recent years. While the former president has long felt free to exploit hatred as a political tool, encouraging the racists and antisemites who revere him, he is far from alone.
What might once have been little more than a temporary embarrassment has become a deadly trend because Republican leaders have accepted and even embraced Trump's Nazi-coddling attitude. Their mumbling answers to questions about him, his buddy "Ye," and the raging little bigot Fuentes have exposed their complicity — as when they pretend to rebuke anti-semitism without daring to mention Trump's name.
Indeed, the politicians who currently wield the most influence in the GOP, such as Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — along with many if not all of their friends in the so-called House Freedom Caucus — are just as eager to weaponize hate as Trump himself. Greene herself is notorious for promoting conspiracy theories about Jews, as well as for her own grinning dalliance with Fuentes.
On the day after West avowed his love for Hitler in an online interview, Jordan's House Judiciary Committee account finally took down a tweet that implicitly lionized him, Trump and Elon Musk (who is fast becoming an ally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis while tweeting puerile Hitler-coded "jokes" on Twitter).
So far neither Jordan nor anyone who works for him has tried to explain why that tweet escaped deletion for almost two months. But it seems obvious that for the "Freedom Caucus," sidling up to bigots is an active strategy.
Not all Republicans have taken this repugnant path, of course. Aside from Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, staunch anti-fascists who have been driven out of their party for opposing Trump, a few others have spoken out forthrightly, including Sens. Mitt Romney and Bill Cassidy. But others prominent in the party, notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, are silent and complicit.
Yet the most culpable, aside from Trump and his circle of miscreants, is Kevin McCarthy, the would-be House speaker. It is McCarthy whose ambition has enabled the Republican Party's most sinister elements — and his surrender to evil is magnified by the fact that he once behaved quite differently.
When McCarthy ascended to the top party leadership position, one of his first acts was to discipline Rep. Steve King, the Nazi-friendly Iowa Republican who had disgraced himself and the GOP. In January 2019 McCarthy instantly stripped King of his committee posts as punishment for his sickening white nationalist rhetoric, which he denounced as "nothing... associated with America." He was quite pleased to hear the compliments of those who had excoriated his predecessor, Paul Ryan, for giving King a pass. And soon enough, King was gone.
Now, however, McCarthy is poised not only to restore the committee posts stripped from Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar — another Nazi-coddler who has raised money for Fuentes — but he has promised to promote them.
Clearly, McCarthy once knew how to defend the rapidly diminishing decency of his party but no longer will. And the rot within the Republican Party goes even deeper, as he and the Freedom Caucus threaten U.S. support for Ukraine against Vladimir Putin's Kremlin. It is no accident, as the former occupants of that edifice liked to say, that Putin is a sponsor of Nazi and fascist formations around the world, while pretending to "fight Nazism" in beleaguered Ukraine.
The rot within the Republican Party is broad and deep. Harbor no illusions about the sincerity of its leaders when they denounce a disposable stooge like Kanye West. They cannot be relied upon to defend liberty against its murderous enemies.
To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.