Hatred of Jews in my native South is a phenomenon that is distinct from the more pervasive racism. White Southerners who hold bigoted views tend to know — or think they know — African-American and Hispanic people, and are convinced of their own superiority to them.
They don’t know nearly as many Jews, if any at all, and because of that Jews play a key role in their bigotry. If they are superior to blacks and Hispanics, yet believe they are losing ground in the battle of the races, then some other force must be orchestrating the “white genocide” that is befalling them. Enter the Jews, puller of strings, manipulators of the masses.
The anti-Semitism of the alt-right, the newest manifestation of bigotry that combines age-old hatred with internet-era technological savvy, biting wit and a self-conscious sense of irony, shows no more logical consistency than the anti-Semitism of the past. Jews are both all-powerful puppetmasters and sniveling weaklings, rapacious capitalists and left-wing anarchists. The Holocaust never happened, but man, was it cool.
In some sense, anti-Semitism has more in common with rising Islamophobia than with endemic racism. It gains its power from the same kind of mythologizing that convinces people like Roy Moore that whole communities in the Midwest are laboring under Shariah law.
In my own experiences with the alt-right, I have been treated to all of these contradictions — in so many variations that they have long lost their power to shock, scare or disturb. In 2016, they came at me through Twitter, the occasional voice mail and a few very ugly emails after I was identified by my Jewish-sounding name and “belled” on social media as a target for the alt-right.
Beyond the realm of the internet, a whole community of Jews in and around Whitefish, Mont., was targeted for vicious harassment. Fist fights have broken out among alt-right demonstrators and counter-demonstrators in any number of locations. And of course, the deadly…