Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s October 13 speech pushed the conspiracy theory that the media, corporations, and “global financial powers” such as banks are, in concert, harming America and working with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to defeat him. This claim -- which several journalists noted was an anti-Semitic dog whistle -- comes from the white nationalist “alt-right” movement, which includes the website of Trump’s campaign CEO, Breitbart News, and radio host conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
During the speech at a rally in West Palm Beach, FL, Trump claimed that there was a “global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” He also claimed that Clinton “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers” and that the election may be “in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system.”
Multiple journalists noted that the speech played on old anti-Semitic tropes. As Politico’s Eli Stokols explained, “The hints of anti-Semitism were strong.” Jonathan Greenblatt, the president of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted, “.@TeamTrump should avoid rhetoric&tropes that historically have been used [against] Jews & still spur #antisemitism. Lets keep hate out of [campaign].”
The speech was reportedly co-written by Stephen Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News who took a leave of absence to work as Trump’s campaign CEO. Bannon has bragged that Breitbart News is “the platform for the alt-right” -- a rebranded white nationalist movement that is opposed to immigration and embraces racism, sexism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and anti-Semitism.
With Bannon at the helm, Breitbart News has peddled anti-Semitic rhetoric, which has continued since he left. In May, contributor David Horowitz wrote a piece calling The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew.” In September, Breitbart writer Matthew Tyrmand called Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum a “political revisionist” who was “on the warpath against the rising populist forces doing electoral damage to her establishment friends and allies across the world,” adding, “hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” In August, former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro accused the website of embracing “a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.” And as The Daily Beast noted, Bannon, through Breitbart, “did a lot to normalize the racist, anti-Semitic world of the alt right.”
Bannon has also personally been accused of anti-Semitism. His ex-wife claimed that while they were looking for schools to send their children to, Bannon asked the director of one “why there were so many Chanukah books in the library,” claimed he asked her if it “bothered” her that another school they visited “used to be in a Temple,” and claimed he did not like another school because of “the number of Jews that attend.” She added that Bannon “doesn't like Jews and that he doesn't like the way they raise their kids to be 'whiney brats' and that he didn't want the girls going to school with Jews.”
Trump has also enjoyed the staunch support of white nationalists, who have celebrated his stance on immigration and rhetoric against Muslims and Hispanics. In July, they lauded his tweet that appeared to show an anti-Semitic image featuring, as described by The Huffington Post, a picture of Clinton “over a backdrop of $100 bills with a six-pointed star — the Jewish Star of David — next to her face,” with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” on the star. White nationalists claimed “The Leader” Trump was “dog-whistling” with the tweet and that he was exposing “filthy Jew terrorists.” They also praised Trump’s hiring of Bannon, saying that “Breitbart has elective affinities with the Alt Right.”
Trump’s speech also paid a homage to the language of radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones frequently invokes “globalists” as the villains behind the various conspiracy theories he discusses on his radio show. He believes that a New World Order of global elites is working behind the scenes to rule the world through an authoritarian government and eliminate 80 percent of the world’s population. Trump has courted Jones and his audience, appearing on Jones’ show in December and praising his “amazing” reputation. Trump also pushed a “globalist” dog whistle at his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The Washington Post’s Robert Costa in August noted that the Republican Party base is increasingly under the belief that “the Republican establishment” and Hillary Clinton are “globalist[s].”