If there is one thing I can guarantee about the antisemitic rioters of the past few months, it is that none of them intend to vote for Donald Trump. But something that does not appear to have been noticed by our public intellectuals is that the language of TDS—Trump Derangement Syndrome—is curiously similar to that of antisemitism, in both its vulgar mode (of which I need not give examples) and its “respectable” mode.

For example, in the National Review, and even more egregiously in Commentary, the references to Trump exude, if at a higher density, the same odor of distaste as would once have been found in similarly “respectable” publications in the days when antisemitism was… “respectable.” Which is to say that formerly, in civilized society, one did not express open hatred of the Jews, and certainly not the murderous language of the pogrom, but rather a cultivated distaste, as if speaking of someone arrested by the Vice Squad.

Here are a few examples from the latest issues: Commentary of June, and National Review of July, 2024:

National Review: “The Week”, pp 4-6:

[Trump] said [. . .] that the Biden administration was “running a Gestapo administration [. . . .]” Spritzing baseless Nazi comparisons at a time of heightened antisemitism is as gross as it is immoral. The only mitigation of such sentiments—and it isn’t much—is Trump’s frivolousness and inattention. He will utter some new outrage with the next sunrise. What a fine candidate Republican voters have saddled their party with.

Trump’s prior efforts to falsely claim voter fraud by tarnishing early voting needlessly disadvantaged the Republican Party by leading it to neglect votes cast before Election Day.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and bumbling “fixer” [. . .] is a loathsome figure, but that could cut both ways with the jury, loathsomeness being what made him useful to Trump for over a decade.

* * *

Commentary: Brian Stewart, Review of Robert Kagan’s Rebellion: How Antiliberalism is Tearing America Apart, pp. 49-53:

The Trump phenomenon in American politics is simultaneously an eruption of an anti-liberal tradition [. . .] as well as the ignoble residue of conservative dogma as it has evolved in modern times.

In our day, the crisis of American democracy, narrowly construed, is the result of the boorishness and malevolence of one man and of the vast swathes of American society that yielded to his misrule. The riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, should lay to rest any notion that Trump harbors any allegiance to constitutional principles.

An undisguised demagogue who regards republican virtue with indifference bordering on contempt would never have pulled off a successful insurgency against a healthy and vigorous conservative party.

Given Trump’s dearth of republican virtue, [. . .] the broad acquiescence to Trump as the Republican nominee also pointed to an attenuated sense of honor among a sullen Republican establishment.

Somewhat begrudgingly, Kagan endorses the bien-pensant conceit that Trump is a latent fascist. [. . .] Notwithstanding Trump’s sound and fury against democratic norms, his record in office, reflecting his disordered character, suggests an idle and inept kleptocrat more than a ruthless dictator seizing power like the 18th Brumaire [i.e., Napoleon in 1799].

* * *

The NR material is typical of their tone of disparagement, as the contemptuous vocabulary (gross, immoral, frivolousness, inattention…) makes clear.

But Stewart’s piece in Commentary is really over the line. A Jewish publication, which has expressed precious little thanks to Trump for his many acts of support to Israel, is willing to publish, at a time when Israel is struggling to win a war in the face of the current administration’s bad faith, a review filled with scurrilous name-calling that I doubt the journal has ever used in such concentration concerning another American politician, let alone a former and possibly future President. How indeed can it have the chutzpah to refer in such terms as ignoble, boorishness, malevolence, undisguised demagogue, idle and inept kleptocrat to the former president who has given Israel the firmest support of all since its foundation?

No doubt not more firmly opposing the January 6 riot was in bad taste; no doubt Trump has other weak points. But if keeping up appearances is something we must take seriously, how can we even compare these faux pas with the whole series of crudely disrespectful acts directed at Trump by his political enemies from his very first days in office? The Mueller investigation; two impeachments; a raid on his residence, and to top it off, the current lawfare farce on a level that has never been in any way approached in the history of the US… Do we have to expect as the next step a coup d’état or an assassination?

I have always been struck by how many Jews, like the editors of Commentary, rate Trump just a few millimeters above David Duke. The fact that he did more for Israel than any previous president, even including Harry Truman, who refused to supply arms in 1948 when the Jews were fighting for their lives, has apparently not gained him one milliliter of sympathy from this respectable Jewish publication, not even now when the contrast with Biden, let alone with real antisemites—who were, as this issue was being prepared, besieging our university campuses and city streets, financed by well-known “philanthropists”—is all too evident.

And yet…

And yet there is a sense that the violence of this vocabulary should be interpreted a contrario as reflecting an excessive familiarity, a sense of embarrassment such as one feels when a member of one’s family is caught committing a crime. Commentary’s obsessive desire to distance itself from Trump could well be suspected of belonging in the category of “protesting too much.”

On a deeper level, what offends the world of Commentary is indeed a personality trait that Trump shares with the Jews, although in a more strident fashion than a Jewish politician would find appropriate—one that I would not hesitate to call his firstness. As I pointed out at the time of the 2016 election, Trump was the only one of the dozen-plus candidates in the pre-nomination debates, aside from his future cabinet choice Ben Carson, who addressed himself directly to what was not yet called Wokeness: the turning of the American Left toward identifying with the resentment of designated “victims.” And conversely, as we have seen, this resentful virtue-signaling that was taking over the presumed institutional safeguards of our intellectual integrity was in retrospect the perfect vehicle for the return of antisemitism to an all-but-respectable public presence for the first time since the discovery of the Nazi death camps.

Thus the overwrought tone of Stewart’s review secretly reflects the Jewish need to find in one’s own camp the cause of one’s misfortune. In the traditional battle of Jew vs antisemite, now seemingly revived, it’s the Jews we have to be careful of, since we have no control over the Gentiles. Trump’s boorishness and disordered character, not to speak of his frivolousness and inattention, are just the kind of thing that gets our people in trouble!

And, as we have previously noted, Trump has Jewish grandchildren.