A collection of more than 19,000 emails from Democratic Party leaders lifted and posted by the document exposé website Wikileaks discloses apparent opposition research conducted against Bernie Sanders: one of their own presidential candidates. A May 5, 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall, in particular, questions Sanders’ religious beliefs.
It might may (sic) no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
Marshall sent the email to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. Though the message does not specifically mention Sanders, he was the only person running in either party who had previously identified as Jewish.
Republicans have also interrogated Bernie’s religious background. According to Kevin Williamson, in his article for the conservative National Review, “Bernie’s Strange Brew of Nationalism and Socialism”:
In the Bernieverse, there’s a whole lot of nationalism mixed up in the socialism. He is, in fact, leading a national-socialist movement, which is a queasy and uncomfortable thing to write about a man who is the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. But there is no other way to characterize his views and his politics.”
Though careful not to call Bernie Sanders “a Nazi” outright because of his Jewish heritage and past, Williamson more than implies that Sanders’ brand of protectionism favoring U.S.-American workers’ rights and jobs, when linked to this self-described socialist political philosophy and his “leading a national-socialist movement,” is a clear and obvious reference to the Nazi party.
Sanders has fought tirelessly for U.S. workers of all backgrounds against their corporate overlords throughout his political life. Williamson, however, not-so-subtly attempts to instill in the reader’s mind Sanders’ own brand of racist National Socialism by stating that Sanders has always been critical of trade policies “with brown people – Asians, Latin Americans,” but has remained virtually silent regarding U.S. trade deficits with countries like Sweden and Canada, demographically whiter countries further along the socialism scale. Williamson continues his accusations of Sanders’ racism, and by so doing, falsely positions conservatives as the true defenders of racial equality.
To imply that Bernie Sanders’ style of Democratic Socialism even stands on the same side of the political spectrum as the National Socialism of the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler shows not only a total misunderstanding of history and political theory, but more importantly, it underscores yet again the dog whistle politics of neo-conservatism.