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Antisemitism has no place in the Republican Party

December 13, 2022

Illustration on the Republican (GOP) stance against antisemitism by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

By Shawn Steel - Tuesday, December 13, 2022

A year and a half ago, Norm Coleman, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stood alongside his counterpart at the Jewish Democratic Council to share an ominous warning about the resurgence of antisemitism. “Democrats and Republicans should be doing what we can to end the scourge of antisemitism, to slow it where it’s growing,” the former U.S. senator from Minnesota cautioned. “Antisemitism is an evil … not confined to one time, one place, or one ideology. It is woven out of lies about Jews and our history and feeds on hatred, fear and jealousy.”

Since then, antisemitism has only grown worse. There’s basketball player Kyrie Irving promoting an antisemitic film; Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, defending Hitler; and right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos baiting the media into reprinting his vile antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories. The mainstream media coverage of these antics has bolstered the online following of millennial white supremacists such as Holocaust-denier Nicholas Fuentes, who has laughingly compared Jews killed in concentration camps to baking cookies in an oven.

“I would characterize this as the normalization of antisemitism. It has now become part of the political process in a way we hadn’t seen before,” says Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Democrats like to blame all this on Republicans, but Mr. Greenblatt would differ. “And that is not unique to Republicans. It is not just a Republican problem. It is a societal problem.”

The rantings of fringe elements and radical politicians are easily dismissed but too often pave the way for mainstream acceptance of antisemitism. This casual acceptance of antisemitism was dramatically demonstrated in the results of a recent Resume Builder survey that found 1 in 4 hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League reports that there were more than 2,700 incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism nationwide.

University and college campuses dominated by progressives have rather surprisingly become centers of the new wave of antisemitism. The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law found more than half of Jewish college students say they felt the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus and that two-thirds of them had experienced or were familiar with acts of antisemitism in the past four months.

Sadly, we’ve been here before. “Antisemitism is a phenomenon almost as old as Judaism itself,” explains Bobby Miller, a conservative ISI fellow at National Review. “It wanes at times, but it never entirely goes away.”

Thankfully, however, a conservative playbook exists for responding to this insidious threat. In the 1950s, when antisemitic groups seemed to be gaining traction among some conservatives, William F. Buckley, the intellectual godfather of the modern conservative movement, responded by adopting what he once described as a “hypersensitivity to antisemitism.” Buckley spent four decades “policing” the conservative movement against both overt and coded antisemitic statements by conservative writers, leaders and politicians. For  Buckley, there was no middle ground. He enforced a firm rule — banning all writers affiliated with known antisemitic publications from appearing in his National Review.

Republicans and conservatives today should emulate Buckley. As history repeats itself, so must our reaction to it. If Republicans and conservatives fail to respond as Buckley did in the ’50s, we will be acquiescing in the degradation of the cultural tolerance essential to the functioning of a free society. We cannot sink to the level of indifference that now permeates the Democratic Party, where antisemites like Rep. Ilhan Omar are allowed to spread their vile hatred of the Jewish people with impunity. “To be a good progressive increasingly requires distorting Jewish history and disavowing the Jewish state,” says journalist Bari Weiss.

Republicans must not follow the Democrats in accepting antisemitism. That’s why I will introduce a resolution for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting to unequivocally condemn all antisemitic elements attempting to infiltrate our conservative coalition. We must continue to enforce Buckley’s doctrine: Antisemitism has no place in our political discourse.

In this respect, as with so many things, Republican governors are already leading the way. On his first day in office, Virginia Gov, Glenn Youngkin established the Commission to Combat Antisemitism to address the problem in his state.

Buckley got it. So does Mr. Youngkin. The Republican Party gets it as well and should stand up and say so as former Sen. Coleman did … even if in today’s world, there will be few if any progressives willing to stand with us.

Party politics spark interest in school board elections

October 21, 2022

Contributors: Matthew Bowler / Video Journalist

COVID-19 created universal chaos in education, reflected in noisy, emotional school board meetings. Parents, teachers, and community members showed up to those meetings like never before, to blame and berate school board members about everything from mask mandates and vaccine requirements to critical race theory and LGBTQ representation.

Those issues have stirred high interest in this November’s school board elections.

“Strong Republican or Democrats who have these passionate partisan feelings now see the school board as a partisan body that might be attractive to them,” said Evan Crawford, a political scientist at the University of San Diego. He studies trends in school boards across the country.

School board seats are nonpartisan, but the upcoming election has school board candidates with big party support. San Diego County’s Democratic and Republican parties have both endorsed dozens of candidates in the many races on the ballot.

Shawn Steel is a lifelong Republican. He chairs the California Republican Party and is the state representative on the Republican National Committee. He has been at work recruiting and training candidates for school boards in a program called Parent Revolt.

“I don’t care how much experience they have. If they are parents and they love their kids and they’re reasonable, I would support them. That’s including non-Republicans,” Steel told KPBS News. “It’s a hidden giant with so many opportunities to get people in and have some say in their local school boards.”

There has also been a movement to give students some say on those boards. San Diego Unified now has two student board members, who are elected by their fellow high school students. But for boards that don’t have such offices, there is another way students can get elected. 18-year-old Shiva Rajbhandari is a high school senior who won a regular seat on his school board in Boise, Idaho in September. He defeated an established incumbent candidate who accepted the endorsement of a local far-right paramilitary group known as the Idaho Liberty Dogs.

Shiva Rajbhandari, 18, ran for the Boise, Idaho School Board and defeated a conservative incumbent to become the first student ever elected. Undated photo, Boise, Idaho.

“The only way we can stand up for our schools is to put our foot down and say ‘No’ …enough,” he said in a virtual interview with KPBS News.

“That extremism has no place here; everyone is welcome to participate in decision-making regarding our schools. Hate and violence have no place here in Boise or anywhere else in the country," he said.

“I would tell students in San Diego and across the country that your voice matters and you can make a difference,” Rajbhandari said.

His historic election provides a teachable moment, which Kisha Borden says is a good thing. She has decades of experience as a San Diego teacher who now serves as regional director for the California Teachers Association.

“It's a lesson that shows how important it is for everyone to be involved in the Democratic process,” Borden said.

Angry with Your Local School Board? Run for Office.

July 22, 2022

School closures during COVID were an epic public policy blunder’

By Shawn Steel, July 22, 2022 2:30 am

If the mere mention of Zoom school elevates your blood pressure, it’s time to take action.

This week, school districts throughout California opened the candidate filing window. That’s the four-week window in which any registered voter can file as a candidate for school board.

Democrat politicians are nervous.

After closing our public schools and forcing our kids to wear masks, school board members know that they’re vulnerable to pro-parent challengers in the November election. They’re hoping parents won’t notice the August 12th candidate filing deadline, and rightly so. If no other candidate files for office, the Democrat school board incumbent cruises to another four-year term without a single vote being cast.

We need parents to take action by running for their local school board. That starts by filing as a candidate before August 12th.

I know, I know. If you’re an active parent, you’ve already got a million things going on. Running for your local school board is the last thing on your mind. Frankly, that initial reluctance is exactly what makes you the ideal person to serve our community.

First, let me remind you what they’ve done. Democrats’ COVID-19 policies caused catastrophic learning loss, long-term gaps in reading comprehension and basic math skills, potentially irreversible mental health problems, and “the largest increase in educational inequity in a generation.”

“The evidence shows that school closures during COVID were an epic public policy blunder,” points out Stephen Moore, the co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. “The school lockdowns in many states were arguably the most significant episode of government-sponsored child abuse in American history.”

Even members of the media establishment have acknowledged the long-term damage done to our kids.

“School closures, lockdowns, cancellation of sports,” lamented CBS reporter Jan Crawford. “A tremendous negative impact on kids… it’s hurt their dreams, their future learning loss, risk of abuse, their mental health.”

“If our policies don’t reflect a more measured and reasonable approach for our children,” she concluded, “they will be paying for our generation’s decisions, the rest of their lives.”

That’s where parents come in.

If you’ve attended a school board meeting in the last two years, you know that many school board members are openly hostile to parents. Some even struggle to suppress their true anti-parent views. Last fall, Democrat Marlys Davidson, a member of the Los Alamitos Unified School District, was caught on a hot mic cursing at parents, who took the time to attend a school board meeting.

It’s not enough to simply vote the bums out in November. If we don’t recruit candidates, there won’t an election. Parents can mobilize campaigns to counter the special interest groups. What we lack in money, we can make up for with organization, mobilization and sweat equity.

From now until August 12th, we need parents to file as candidates for school board. Here’s what you can do:

·        Contact Your County Registrar of Voters: Immediately contact your local County Registrar of Voters and ask for all school board elections in your area. School board members are elected to staggered 4-year terms. Half the board is up for reelection every two years.

·        Obtain Candidate Forms: After confirming that you live within the district boundaries and meet the candidate qualifications, obtain the candidate nomination paperwork.

·        Collect Signatures from Your Neighbors: Ask your friends, family, neighbors and fellow parents to sign your nomination papers. Make sure that any signatories live within your school board district.

·        Return Paperwork by August 12: Be sure to return the necessary paperwork in-person at the Registrar of Voters, who must administer the oath of office.

Time to act. We need your help. We need your voice.

Boycott Beijing: Biden’s Opportunity to Unite Americans

February 02, 2022

He promised to unite the country.

And while he couldn’t achieve unity with record inflation, an oppressive vaccine mandate, labor shortages, the worst border crisis in American history, and his shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden still has the chance to deliver on his unity promise by boycotting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Whatever your political ideology, there’s a reason to Boycott Beijing. Top of the list: the COVID-19 pandemic.

After 349 million infections and 5.6 million deaths reported worldwide, the Chinese Communist government has failed to accept responsibility for, or allow a transparent investigation into, the COVID-19 pandemic. For the last two years, the People’s Republic of China has concealed vital public health information from the world; it has silenced medical whistleblowers, and destroyed critical epidemiological information.

These aren’t fringe views or conspiracy theories. At his confirmation hearing, Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken categorically agreed that “the Chinese Communist Party misled the world about the coronavirus.”

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Communist government must be held accountable for its genocide in Xinjiang.

Since 2017, the Communist government has engaged in genocide against the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim populations of the Xinjiang Uyghur region. According to Amnesty International, an estimated one million people have been removed from their homes, detained without trials, and sentenced to hard labor in reeducation camps. Many have been killed; others have been tortured, and forcibly sterilized. Moreover, the oppression against Christians, Falun Gong, and dissenters is legendary.

Other than MSNBC, whose parent company, NBC Universal, stands to make billions in ad revenue from the Beijing Games, there is universal agreement that China’s crimes in Xinjiang are genocide. Last March, Biden’s own State Department agreed with the “genocide and crimes against humanity” designation.

The Democratic Party platform explicitly calls for placing “values at the center of our foreign policy.”

“We will lead, not just with the example of our power, but with the power of our example,” the party platform promises. “Global democratic backsliding and the erosion of human rights put our interests and values at risk.”

If the million Uyghurs isn’t a call to action, surely Democrats would be motivated to protect the human rights of China’s LGBTQ citizens. Al Jazeera and the BBC News have reported on China’s widespread crackdown against LGBTQ groups. In November, LGBT Rights Advocacy China announced that it was ceasing all activities. Social media platform WeChat, ostensibly at the direction of the Communist government, has permanently suspended more than a dozen LGBTQ groups.

How about police brutality and arbitrary arrests?

In Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist government is engaging in “police brutality against protesters and persons in custody; arbitrary arrests, and politically motivated reprisals,” according to the U.S. State Department. China has declared war on freedom of expression, access to information, and the free press.

“Beijing is systematically erasing the civil and political rights people long enjoyed,” warns Human Rights Watch. “Citizens no longer have the right to participate in free and fair elections, and to run for office.”

This is not a case of political embellishment. Some residents of Hong Kong have lost their voting rights because of decrees from Beijing. When the State of Georgia had the audacity to require voters to show identification at the polls, Joe Biden labeled it the return of Jim Crow, demanded that Major League Baseball move its All-Star Game out of the state, and opened a federal Justice Department investigation. Moreover, American athletes were recently threatened by the Chinese Communist Party that they would be arrested if they demonstrated for human rights while in China. Already, U.S. Olympians are asked to use temporary “burner” phones instead of their personal devices, and to expect to be under constant surveillance. How are high-caliber athletes to perform under these oppressive conditions?

We’re a long way from when Biden promised “to stop treating our opponents as our enemies.”

An Olympic boycott is an appropriate vehicle for depriving Communist China of the “legitimacy of the Games” and “punishing them” for genocide, crimes against humanity, human rights abuses in Hong Kong, and its willful disregard for global health in handling the coronavirus. That, 42 years ago, was then-Senator Joe Biden’s rationale for co-sponsoring legislation to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

“It seems to me that it is extremely important that we deprive the Soviet Union of the legitimacy of these games, as well as punish them internationally,” Biden said at a Jan. 28, 1980, hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A boycott, Biden said, “sends a clear and strong message around the world that the Soviet Union should be punished.”

Americans of all parties and political ideologies can agree: The People’s Republic of China represents the greatest threat to the free world–with no close second.