The trickle down anti-Semitism of the Bannon, Gorka White House

For some reason, in spite of the fact that we have Donald “I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life” Trump as our President, we seem to be experiencing a wave of anti-Semitic acts across the country. Last week, over 170 gravestones were toppled at an historic Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. And, just last night, nearly 100 more were pushed over at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. And this is in addition to the 90 bomb threats called into Jewish organizations across the United States since Trump won the election. Today alone, according to the Jewish Community Center Association, “there were 21 incidents of bomb threats called into 13 JCCs and eight Jewish day schools in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia,” with the Michigan incident happening right here in Ann Arbor. Thankfully, no bombs have been found to date. That doesn’t mean, however, that the threat isn’t real. Just last week, as you might recall, a South Carolina white supremacist by the name of Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell was arrested by the FBI and charged with planning a terror attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof” on a synagogue.

Why is this coming to a head now? Well, some, I’m sure, would say that it has something to do with the rising influence of those like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, who left Breitbart News – which Bannon himself has referred to as as the “the platform for the alt-right” – to join the Trump White House, where, among other things, you have to imagine they’ve had a hand in doing things like removing any mention of the Jews from the White House’s annual statement of Holocaust Remembrance Day. [If you haven’t yet, you might want to check out this recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center showing the marked increase in instances of anti-Semitic sentiment being expressed in the Breitbart comments section since 2014.

While we’ve talked quite a bit about Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon in the past, and the charges of anti-Semitism that have dogged him these past several years, I don’t think we’ve ever discussed Deputy White House Strategist Sebastian Gorka, the self-proclaimed “irregular warfare strategist,” who, along with Bannon, is a member of Trump’s Strategic Initiatives Group, which, as I understand it, is the internal think tank that determines what Trump should do and when he should do it. Here’s a photo of Gorka from the night of Trump’s inauguration. Note the jacket and the medals.

The jacket, according to research by Talking Points Memo, is called a “bocskai,” and it was apparently popular in Hungary, where Gorka’s family hales from, back in the day of Miklós Horthy, the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary from March 1920 to October 1944. In fact, the medals Gorka is wearing have been identified as ones given to members of Horthy’s Order of Vitéz… Oh, and, yeah… Horthy’s regime was in power when hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were murdered. The following comes from Talking Points Memo.

…András Biro-Nagy, a professor at Budapest’s Corvinus University, where Gorka did his Ph.D. studies, said that the “bocskai” he wore was popular during Horthy’s rule and today is often worn by members of the “right-wing” on special occasions. But he noted the medal has a distinct connotation.

“The medal is a clear sign that he sympathizes with the Horthy era—this medal was awarded as a state honor only between 1920 and 1944,” Biro-Nagy told TPM.

A few far-right Hungarian publications wrote up approving stories about Gorka’s attire shortly after inauguration.

…Horthy was a Hungarian admiral and statesman who controlled the country from 1920 through 1944, and entered into an alliance with the Nazis early in World War II, according to the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum. Horthy’s paramilitary units killed hundreds of Jews, and 437,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz under his watch during the summer of 1944 alone, per the museum.

Despite that brutal legacy, in the last few years Horthy has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among Hungary’s ultranationalist far-right, particularly in the Jobbik party, whose leaders have been accused of stoking anti-Semitism. Statues of Horthy have been erected in towns across Hungary, and conservatives have taken to wearing bocskai jackets to formal events…

So, yeah, you can kind of see why some might think that the ascendency of Bannon and Gorka might have sent a signal to racists within the United States that they, at long last, were free to throw off the shackles of “political correctness” and speak their minds about the “globalist elites” (code for “Jews”) who have taken over our once great country… Speaking of the “globalist elites” anti-Semitic dog whistle, which has been been used so successfully on Breitbart for years, did you happen to hear Bannon’s tirade at the CPAC conference last week, when he went off on the “globalist media“? [“They’re corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has,” Bannon said of the press.] The Chicago Tribune, to their credit, called Bannon out on the use of the the “globalist media canard.” “‘Globalist media’,” Tribune reporter Rex Huppke wrote, “is a loaded term that bubbled up out of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of a media controlled by Jewish elites, a concept akin to ‘international bankers,’ cabals of wealthy Jews supposedly plotting to take over the world. Bannon knows this, I have no doubt. He ran Breitbart, a website that caters to white nationalists, many of whom are overtly anti-Semitic.” Steven Goldstein, the director of the Anne Frank Center, agreed, saying, “Globalist and corporate media — these are code words of anti-Semitism, and when they’re used by a man with an anti-Semitic history such as Steve Bannon, you’d have to be living in the Stone Age not to connect the dots.” “We are now seeing a pattern,” he went on to say, and “that doesn’t happen by accident.”

But enough on Bannon. Let’s get back to Gorka. I wanted to share this clip from the Jewish publication Forward.

…(A)n investigation by the Forward into Gorka’s activities from 2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hungarian politics and journalism, found that he had close ties then to Hungarian far-right circles, and has in the past chosen to work with openly racist and anti-Semitic groups and public figures.

Gorka’s involvement with the far right includes co-founding a political party with former prominent members of Jobbik, a political party with a well-known history of anti-Semitism; repeatedly publishing articles in a newspaper known for its anti-Semitic and racist content; and attending events with some of Hungary’s most notorious extreme-right figures.

When Gorka was asked — in an email exchange with the Forward — about the anti-Semitic records of some of the groups and individuals he has worked with, he instead pivoted to talk about his family’s history.

“My parents, as children, lived through the nightmare of WWII and the horrors of the Nyilas puppet fascist regime,” he said, referring to the Arrow Cross regime that took over Hungary near the very end of World War II and murdered thousands of Jews…

In fairness to Gorka, I should add that it’s not just his perceived anti-Semitism that people dislike about him. There’s also the fact that he doesn’t seem to be too knowledgeable about terrorism.

A great many in the counter terrorism community, it would seem, think that Gorka is completely out of his depth and terrifyingly uneducated on the real threats we face as a nation. If you have a few minutes, check out this audio of an angry Gorka calling noted terrorism expert Michael E. Smith II at his home and demanding to know why he (Smith) keeps tweeting about how he (Gorka) doesn’t know what he’s talking about. [Smith has recently tweeted that Gorka “doesn’t know the enemies’ ideologies well enough to combat them.” He’s also tweeted at Trump, “You are endangering the lives of Americans by hiring fake ‘terrorism experts.’”] Smith, when asked about the call by Newsweek, said, “I thought it was a prank. He began by threatening me with a lawsuit.” This kind of behavior, I think it’s fair to say, isn’t something we typically see from presidential administrations, especially ones that we’re told are running like fine tuned machines.

Here, to sum up how Gorka understands terrorism, is a clip from Newsweek: “His views on the ‘global jihadist movement,’ as he calls it, align with a small cadre of right-wing observers who depict Islamist militants and extremists as being driven principally by passages from the Koran, rather than by government repression, or sectarian, tribal, political or economic factors.”

I’m not sure where all of this leaves us, but it’s time for me to call it a night and turn in… Tomorrow, we’ll resume the fight, OK?

[note: The image at the top of this post was borrowed from a photo essay in the New Republic titled “Hate in the Age of Trump,” which looks inside America’s growing white nationalist movement.]

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28 Comments

  1. Posted February 27, 2017 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s probably obvious, but that’s Gorka on the right in the image above.

  2. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    glenn beck chalk board

  3. M
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Just so I’m clear, FF, you’re suggesting that it’s ridiculous to suggest that this current wave of antisemitic acts might in some way be connected to the fact that the Breitbart set is now in the White House. Do I have that right?

  4. Meta
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Even Bush can see it.

    George W. Bush on US under Trump presidency: “I don’t like the racism” http://hill.cm/7F3aK1Y

  5. Rat
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Didn’t 30% of American Jews vote for Trump?

  6. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “…might in some way be connected…”

    The brilliance of Glenn Beck was that he took things that, as you say, “might in some way be connected” and he made connections to other things–using arrows on a chalk board. Even if someone happenned to agree with Beck’s general conclusions, how he got to those conclusions, left a lot of space on the floor to roll around and laugh.

  7. Rob
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Gorka = Dorka Hungarian medals of a questionable nature, Really? If this shit wasn’t serious it would be hilarious..

  8. Eel
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    How long until the first member of the administration has the courage to wear a Waffen SS jacket to a formal occasion?

  9. Meta
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    The New Republic:

    “Donald Trump: Jews protesting anti-Semitism are the real anti-Semites.”

    Asked about the recent bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the desecration of a number of Jewish cemeteries, Trump reportedly told a group of state attorneys general that anti-Semitism might not actually be to blame. Instead, he said this:

    “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people – or to make others – look bad.”

    Read more:
    https://newrepublic.com/minutes/141017/donald-trump-jews-protesting-anti-semitism-real-anti-semites

  10. John Galt
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    A lot of Nazis were actually good people. They were honest, hard working. They cared about their families. They cared about their country. I don’t see anything wrong with honoring that. If Trump wants to wear an SS-Totenkopf on his lapel tonight, I’d be fine with it. There’s too much political correctness these days.

  11. M
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    The administration can’t be anti-Semitic. Stephen Miller has an office in the White House.

  12. Thom Elliott
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    VOICE is so troubling I shudder with the possibility that such an entity will exist in the same spacetime that I inhabit

  13. Robert
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I thought he could have really turned it around if he said something like, “Let’s grab them by the American greatness together.”

  14. Citywatch
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Walked into the room, turned on the TV, heard the words “President Trump”, turned off the TV, went to bed. It was a dark and stormy night.

  15. facebook stalker
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    T. Becket Adams on Twitter:

    After that 2-minute standing ovation, who wants to be the person to state publicly that the Yemen raid yielded no benefit?

    https://twitter.com/PacoMccauley/status/836797039165976578/photo/1

  16. Steve
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “let’s all give a round of applause to the widow of a soldier my incompetence got killed…!’

  17. Meta
    Posted March 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    The Intercept: “Trump’s Use of Navy SEAL’s Wife Highlights All the Key Ingredients of U.S. War Propaganda”

    This is an incredibly consequential tool of war propaganda. By dramatizing the deaths of Americans while disappearing its victims, this technique ensures that Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it. That, in turn, is what keeps Americans supporting endless war: these savages keep killing us, so we have no choice but to fight them.

    More importantly, this process completely dehumanizes the people the U.S. Government bombs, attacks and kills. Because they’re never heard from, because we never learn their names, because we never experience their family’s suffering, all of their human attributes are stripped from them and their deaths are thus meaningless because they’re barely human.

    This dehumanization – the suppression of any humanity on the part of the U.S.’s foreign war victims – is the absolute key to sustaining popular support for war. Nobody knew that better than Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. Commander of the Vietnam War, which is why he insisted that “Orientals” do not experience death and suffering the way that westerners do.

    A population will only tolerate the ongoing, continual killing of large numbers of civilians if they believe that the innocent victims do not experience human suffering or, more importantly, if that suffering is hidden from them.

    Just imagine how different Americans’ views of the War on Terror might be if they were subjected to heavy grieving rituals from the family members of innocent victims of U.S. bombing similar to the one they witnessed last night from Carryn Owens. There’s a reason the iconic photo of a South Vietnamese police official summarily executing a Vietcong suspect during the 1968 Tet Offensive resonated: violence and suffering are much more easily tolerated when its visceral reality need not be confronted.

    The ritualistic tribute to dead or wounded U.S. soldiers has other purposes as well: it attempts – not using rational formulas but rather emotional impulses – to transfer the nobility of the slain soldier onto the war itself; after all, how unjust could a war be when such brave and admirable American soldiers are fighting in it?

    And it is also intended that the soldier’s nobility will be transferred to his Commander-in-Chief who is so solemnly honoring him. As demonstrated by the skyrocketing post-9/11 approval ratings for George Bush and the endless political usage Obama obtained for killing Osama bin Laden, nothing makes us rally around a President like uplifting war sentiment.

    Read more:
    https://theintercept.com/2017/03/01/trumps-use-of-navy-seals-wife-highlights-all-the-key-ingredients-of-u-s-war-propaganda/

  18. Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Forward is now on the story, detailing Gorka’s ties to anti-semitic groups In Hungary.

  19. Posted March 18, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    And now people are pushing to have him extradited.

    From Slate:

    Reporters Lili Bayer and Larry Cohler-Esses found strong evidence that Gorka swore a lifetime oath to a far-right Hungarian group, the Vitézi Rend. The State Department classifies the Vitézi Rend as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II; as such, members are “presumed to be inadmissible” to America under the Immigration and Nationality Act and must disclose their membership on immigration applications. (The organization was banned in Hungary following World War II but reconstituted after the fall of communism.)

    Two leaders of the Vitézi Rend told Forward that Gorka is a full member. Further, members of the group, who undergo “a solemn initiation rite,” adopt a lowercase “v.” as a middle initial. There are multiple records of Gorka spelling his name “Sebastian L. v. Gorka,” including on his 2008 doctoral dissertation and in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in 2011. Gorka didn’t respond to the Forward’s requests for comment, and when a reporter from Buzzfeed contacted him, he stonewalled, saying, “Send a request to White House press.”

    Members are “presumed to be inadmissible” to America under the Immigration and Nationality Act, and yet he’s not only in America, but has an office in the White House.

  20. anonymous
    Posted March 18, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Dem rep. asks Trump to confirm if Gorka belongs to Nazi ally-linked group http://bit.ly/2nzErHG

  21. Anonymous
    Posted March 20, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    John Schindler, who you have quoted before and seem to respect, posted the following about Gorka.

    “His academic & professional creds are fair game, but @SebGorka is no Nazi or fascist. He just isn’t. That’s an ugly slander without merit.”

  22. Frosted Flakes
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Juan Thompson

  23. Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Word is that Gorka will be resigning.

  24. Posted April 30, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    From Louise Mensch‏:
    Gorka was an agent of influence of Russia. He’s been kicked out because he’s been caught.

  25. anonymous
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    From Twitter: “Guardian reports that WH aide Gorka never obtained security clearance bc of charge for carrying gun thru DC airport”

    I guess it’s hard to keep your job in national security if you can’t get a security clearance.

  26. Anonymous
    Posted June 9, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I thought that you might like this headline.

    Trump faces backlash over $3M Holocaust Museum cuts http://hill.cm/qp15Ujx

  27. Jean Henry
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Gorka gone:
    http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-trump-adviser-sebastian-gorka-to-leave-1493650018-htmlstory.html

  28. Eel
    Posted August 4, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    The generals are cleaning house.

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] lost the support of his agents. [Keeping true to the party line, Trump’s terrorism advisor Sebastian “I can’t get a security clearance due to gun charges” Gorka, in an interview with Breitbart News, said that Comey had “lost the confidence not only of […]

  2. […] the administration put the otherwise unemployable Sebastian Gorka in front of reporters this morning to announce that “American leadership under Donald J. […]

  3. […] the administration put the otherwise unemployable Sebastian Gorka in front of reporters this morning to announce that “American leadership under Donald J. […]

  4. […] Empire” of the KKK was gaining traction across the South. My guess is that either Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller who suggested that the phrase be tacked onto the end of the sentence about how we […]

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