The MAGA conservatives moved away from policy positions as a platform, years ago, when they discovered people’s feelings were more malleable than policy opinions. It took a while, but Parents Rights, LGBTQ+ Attitudes, State Legislatures’ Independence, God’s Christian Politics, and anti-liberty Federal Government as the enemy, became effective political assault nukes.
But, there already existed an increasingly effective weaponized word: “abortion”. It had been introduced into the Republican electoral armory during Nixon’s re-election campaign and was eventually adopted. Over time, it became a very powerful Christian-charged partisan issue, recast as Pro-Life. The Democrats’ Pro-Choice struck many as too passive. And finally in 2022, the 50 year-old Constitutional right to abortion, was struck down by a more conservative Supreme Court majority.
In the November 2022 mid-term elections, Democrats unexpected success was largely based on the other party’s harsh state anti-abortion laws in the former confederacy. And then on December 8, 2023 the Texas Supreme Court denied a young woman’s request for an emergency exception to the state law forbidding abortions. It has become the highest profile abortion case since Roe v. Wade.
Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, had announced earlier his intention to criminally charge the woman’s gynecologist, if he performed the abortion. This case is receiving largely negative national and international media attention because the court and the prosecutor, ignored the obvious seriousness of the threats to the pregnant mother’s life and the likely still born infant. And for what reason? Possibly to punish the woman and her family for wanting to abort the baby. Many would call it cruelty.
Substitution. Given “abortion’s” sharply declining utility to the more radical Republican strategy, there was an obvious, immediate need for an equally muscular and divisive replacement. And the Israel-Hamas War provided it. It’s some mixture of anti-Zionism, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian, genocide of either or both, which has been translated into “anti-Semitism” on elite (Democratic leaning) university campuses”. It made its dramatic political debut at a 12/06/23 House Hearing, ,where Congresswoman Elise Stefanik interrogated the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania about their policies re genocide threats to Jews. The three should have been guided by common sense, not their attorneys’ advice.
It was a stunning success for Ms Stefanik and has resulted in the resignation of the University of Pennsylvania’s head and an unsuccessful attempt to force Harvard’s out as well. There is little doubt that variations of the theme: “Democrats are anti-Semitic” will be used more and more by the other party during the 2024 campaign. I also foresee more House investigations of liberal-leaning universities racial/ethnic biases.
Conclusion. I confess, I’m not sure it’s possible to criticize Israel’s Netanyahu Government, without being accused of anti-Semitism. Or if it’s OK to urge more US/Western attention to relieve the Palestinian’s catastrophic humanitarian situation, without being accused of pro-HAMAS sympathies. Predictably, a confusion politicians will deepen.
Just a reflection, but the Nazis’ murder of 6 million Jews during WWII – the Holocaust – led to the post-war allied decision to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the, then British colonial Mandate for Palestine. During the decades between 1948 (independence of Israel) and 2023, the prevailing image of Israel and Israelis in “Exodus”, carried with it a strong belief in Israel as David fighting the Arab Goliath. The automatic US support for the defense of and economic assistance for, Israel was assumed by Americans..
It would seem the Israel-Hamas War may contribute to the fading away of his perception.
Tom Timberman is an Army vet, lawyer, former senior Foreign Service officer, adjunct professor at GWU, and economic development team leader or foreign government advisor in war zones. He is the author of four books, lectures locally and at US and European universities. He and his wife are 24 year residents of Kent County.