What else would you expect from a right-wing Christian, Trump-licking Republican in a tight Governor's race in Florida running against a Black man? You guessed it. It's time to play "USE THE JEWS!" Is everybody ready? Here we go!
Ron DeSantis is not looking too good in his race against Andrew Gillum, and this gem is the desperation move du jour. DeSantis dug up an anti-Semitic remark made by Gillum's running mate, Chris King from when King was in college. The DeSantis campaign then sent text messages to Florida voters "with Jewish last names." According to the New York Times,
“Newly-unearthed comments made by Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s running mate raise serious concerns about Gillum’s ever-mounting ties to blatant anti-Semitism,” the text messages read.
King's an evangelical Christian, and in college (Harvard) lost an election for student body president. In discussing the school's newspaper's harsh writing about him, he noted that most of the editorial staff were Jewish.
Okay, that's bad. I gotta say that sounds really bad. He apologized, and in July spoke about it in a podcast in which he again apologized, saying he knows it was wrong, and it's not reflective of his views. You can read this piece from FloridaPolitics.com, which puts King's comments in better context, though it contains plenty of its own problematic assertions which are fodder for their own individual posts. The point is, he is a progressive Christian who is fighting the good fight against the right wingnuts who are the truly toxic element in our culture - which is why Gillum chose him as a running-mate.
Isn't that just what the party of "family values" does best, though? Turn already marginalized and traumatized populations against one another for their own gain? Natch. So, in an attempt to paint Gillum as an anti-Semite, DeSantis' campaign — in a classic anti-Semitic move of his own — looks for Floridians with "Jewish last names" to whom to send these texts. It's anti-Semitic of the DeSantis campaign for the following reasons:
1. I can't believe I have to say this, but even in Florida, you cannot be certain a person is Jewish simply from their last name. Take ME, for example. "Worthington" doesn't exactly scream "Pass the gefilte fish!" and I am, indeed, 100% Jewish. I don't live in Florida, but I'm sure there are Jews in Florida whose names don't end in -itz or -berg.
2. I can't believe I have to say THIS, either, but Jews are not a monolith. We don't all hate CAIR or Dream Defenders, or people like Gillum who associate with those organizations. We may have varying degrees of anxieties regarding BDS, but plenty of Jews even support it fully. While it has taken work, (and will continue to) most us understand that criticizing Israeli policy does not automatically equate to anti-Semitism. Tons of JEWS are critical of Israeli policy, including the author of this piece. Andrew Gillum has stated he does not support BDS, and he does support a 2-state solution. This random, extreme-right-wing text from DeSantis' team trying to scare Florida Jews into thinking Gillum's an anti-Semite doesn't change that.
3. Mindful of the aforementioned "we're not a monolith" thing, I think it's fair to say that most Jews have some level of very justifiable anxiety about anti-Semitism. That has only grown with the Tangerine Tyrant administration's stoking it. For DeSantis to exploit that anxiety for political gain, especially against a Black candidate (hoping Florida Jews are as racist as he is), is about as anti-Semitic as it gets.
Gillum's running mate, made this remark 20 years ago. King apologized for it and explained it numerous times, but most recently, in June 2018.
DeSantis has been called out for his racist remarks and xenophobic platform. His campaign's not doing so well. He had the Proud Boys — a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — attending his rallies last week. He's feeling a bit defensive. On Monday:
“I can find anti-Semites around him,” Mr. DeSantis said on Monday, without referring to Mr. King’s past remarks. “But it’s almost like we don’t want to discuss that.”
On Thursday, he sent the fear-mongering texts about Gillum to Florida's voters with "Jewish last names."
He thinks we don't want to discuss it. Really, DeSantis? Contact me. I'll discuss it with you.