There are many similarities between antisemitism and islamophobia. One is that political leaders of the world often have been accused of being as ”Jews” or ”Muslims”, in secret. The intent of this is to smear them by using antisemitic or islamophobic slurs. Words like ”Muslim” och ”Jew” are to many people nasty words that implies that the slandered person is an unpatriotic traitor or terrorist.
Modern and historical antisemitism and islamophobia is often based on the myth that there is a global conspiracy to conquer the world. The antisemitic myths about a global Jewish or Zionist conspiracy like the Protocols of the elders of Zion. The islamophobes have theories of a Muslim takeover of the west and the Eurabia myth. Different national leaders that are seen as a threat to the racists are either branded as ”Jews” or ”Muslims” or as quisling collaborators of them.
Of course being a Jew or a Muslim is for all decent human beings nothing wrong. And a political leader that is a Jew or a Muslim is in itself no different from leaders that are, for example, Christian or Atheists. The only thing that matters is what is in your mind and in your heart, not what religion or ethnicity you have.
But racists are not decent. For them calling someone Jew or Muslim has a specific purpose: to slander a person (and the group of people you hate).
One typical example of this is how the current president of the USA, Donald Trump, have used the word ”Muslim” to slander the former president Barack Obama. Trump has several times implied that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The myth behind this islamophobic slander is that Obama was not born in the USA. He has a false birth certificate. He was born in Kenya as a Muslim, it is claimed. He was thereby never a legitimate president. Besides that he was a part of the conspiracy to make the Muslims conquer the USA. Obama was a security risk since ”all know that Islam and terrorism are connected”.
Obama was supposedly brought into this country as a little baby as a kind of Muslim baby-agent and was later raised with the intent to destroy the USA and the west, according to this myth.
”He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim.” ”I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that.” (Trump to Fox News 2011)
Trump did not invent this myth. He most probably got it from Alex Jones or from Breitbart.His security advisor Steve Bannon has for a long time spread ths myth that Obama is a radical islamic ”mole” via Breitbart and in other ways.
”Roosevelt the Jew”
So where does this myth Jriginate? Well in this case it is not so hard to see the origin. Trump and Bannon uses the slogan ”America First”. That reveals the origin of this myth: in the pro nazi movement of the 1930s and 1940s.
This islamophobic myth has an antisemitic origin.
America First was an antisemitic movement that had the aim to prevent USA from entering the war against nazi Germany. The movement rather had the idea that USA should cooperate with the nazis. The movement used anti-Jewish extensively and slandered Franklin Delanore Roosevelt in many ways. For them FDR was a traitor that worked with the British and the Jews. Many went so far as to say that FDR was a Jew. In order to slander him, of course.
The myth is still spread among modern antisemites on the internet. But it is old. It was spread already in the beginning of the 30s by the friends of Henry Ford. In 1939 a German professor, Dr. Johann von Leers, published an analysis of the ancestors of president Roosevelt and came to the conclusion that he was a Jew. His mother was called Sarah Delano and was had jewish ancestors back in the 1600s and the family had stayed Jewish ”in secret” ever since then.
One ”evidence” of his Jewish origin that was presented was that FDR married a cousin. According to standard myths about Muslims and Jews they often marry their cousins. FDR was a victim of this myth.
Another ”evidence” was that Roosevelt allowed European Jews that fled the nazis to move to the USA. ”FDR is trying to make USA ”Jewish” by letting the refugees enter the country, the antisemites claimed. In a similar way Breitbart today spreads the lie that Obama was a ”Muslim mole” because he allowed syrian and iraqi refugees to enter the USA. He was trying to ”muslimify the USA” they claim.
FDR himself knew exactly what was going on.
”We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.” (FDR about America First.)
Antisemitic hatred against other presidents
Other U.S presidents have been victims of antisemitic slanders, as well as similar anti-catholic slanders.
- President Wilson was president when World War One ended. According to antisemites he was a Jew and a part of the global Jewish conspiracy to take over the west. The antisemites viewed the League of Nations, that he was in favour of, as a ”Jewish conspiracy”and have connected myths about the Federal Reserve to this conspiracy. Accoding to the Ku Klux Klan wilson had a great grandfather that was born in Poland as a Jew. Besides that the KKK claimed that the second wife of Wilson was Jewish and that her father took the name Bolling when entering the USA. The antisemites claimed that the birth certificates of the rekatives of Wilson had been falsified.
- Presidenten Eisenhower was a victim of similar slanders. According to the myths he was of Swedish-Jewish origin and it was claimed that his father was called David Jacob. His birth certificate was of course falsified too, according to the legend. (For modern examples, look at this, this and an article about the ”Swedish Jew Eisenhower” here.)
- Harry Truman was president when Israel was created and was of course slandered by the antisemites for that. They claimed that he was a Jewish mole. Similar rumours are spread even today about Lincoln and Kennedy. But in the case of Kennedy it is claimed that his wife was a Jew and somehow involved in the assassination 1963. Kennedy was a victim of slanders about a global Catholic conspiracy. While he was alive he was describes as a Catholic mole. After his assassination some mythmakers claimed that the pope killed Kennedy.
The argument here is not that there would have been anything wrong if they had been Jews. There was certainly nothing wrong in the fact that Kennedy was Catholic. And if Obama had been a Muslim that would have been ok too.
What scares me is how words like ”Jew”, ”Muslim” and even ”Catholic” through the years has been used to slander american presidents. What scares me is how racists are blaiming all evils of the world on groups of people, like the Jews or the Muslims.
For scary evidence of the hatred against Obama in the alt-right movement, do these searches on Google.