Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Is the Republican Candidate for Governor an Antisemite?

Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano (JTA) 
“When you hear hoofs, think horse, not zebra.” The idea behind that logic is that one should first assume the most obvious conclusion about a perception - rather than to look for exotic explanations. True appearances can be deceiving. But most of the time - a Zebra really is a Zebra.

I don’t know anything about far right Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano. But it is difficult for me to believe that he doesn’t harbor some degree of sympathy to the views of Andrew Torba, founder of Gab. Gab is described in a JTA article by Philissa Cramer as a “free speech” platform that hosts content prohibited on more mainstream sites.   

Now I am a big fan of free speech. Which (within the limits of the comment rules) I provide a platform for here. But free speech cannot and should not include hate filled lies based on racist or antisemitic ideologies.  Which is what Gab founder, Torba, is all about. He is what he seems to be: A racist and an antisemite. Something he does not keep al that secret. Instead He trumpets his views - thinly disguised as Christian theology - to the world on his website in an almost clarion call to arms. Here –according to an article in the Jerusalem Post by Tzvi Joffre - are some of the things he said: 

"We are going to build a coalition of Christian nationalists, of Christians, of Christian candidates, at the state, local and federal levels and we're going to take this country back for the glory of God."

"The only way that we're going to win, the only way we're going to gain any ground in the culture, the government, in taking our towns, our cities, our states, our counties and our country back is by putting Jesus Christ first. It's just that simple. There's no other way."

Torba complained that "the establishment" is pushing Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, (adding) "These people aren't conservative. They're not Christian. They don't share our values. They have inverted values from us as Christians. So don't fall for the bait of Populism Inc, don't fall for the bait of this pseudo-conservatism, big tent nonsense. This is a Christian movement...  

"Turn off Ben Shapiro. This is not a Judeo-Christian movement. Those terms are contradictory"

Responding to an article on his comments by MediaMatters, Torba stressed that Jewish conservatives are not welcome in the conservative movement unless "they repent and accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior."

"We don't want people who are atheists. We don't want people who are Jewish. We don't want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever... 

Ben Shapiro and other non-believers are not allowed to have a prominent voice in our movement because they don't share our values...They're trying to subvert Christian nationalism. Turn off Ben Shapiro. This is not a Judeo-Christian movement. Those two terms are actually contradictory. 

There is a lot more antisemitic venom quoted in that JP article thinly disguised as Christian ideology Suffice it to say his rhetoric typifies the rhetoric often heard at White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi rallies.  And which no responsible mainstream Evangelical preacher would tolerate - let alone espouse. 

Mastriano seems to have no problem with that - since he uses Gab to promote his campaign. He has even reportedly paid Torba  a $5000 ‘consulting fee’ which has helped generate 38,000 followers on Gab. 

Now he might have claimed that he didn’t know about any of this when he started. But by now he has to know. And he surely should have removed any connection to Gab and repudiated its founder – labeling him the racist and antisemite that he is. To the best of my knowledge Mastriano has thus far refused to do this 

Normally, I would tend to ignore fringe candidates like this. But Mastraino is no fringe candidate.  He is the Republican candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania, a state not known for its antisemitism. It is a state that has many Jewish residents and Jewish institutions Including one of the most prominent Yeshiva high schools in America  - The Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia  (Better known simply as ‘Philly’). And with so many Orthodox Jews now switching their vote to a Republican party which  they see as more sympathetic to the more conservative values of the Torah, this could become a serious problem. 

I don’t think there is much doubt about Matrinano’s tolerance of antisemitic support of his campaign. And as I indicated, it is quite likely that he actually sympathizes with Torba – even if he never said any of those things. 

It  therefore behooves Orthodox Jewish voters in Pennsylvania to know who he is and what he stands for – even if his conservative political rhetoric resonates with them. In fact – even if he does eventually repudiate Torba and severs his relationship with Gab. It is too little too late. The cat is out of the bag. The truth has come out and it should set us all free to reject him in totality. No matter what he says his polices are.