Is Adam Schiff an anti-Semite?
On its face, the question seems absurd. Not only is Schiff himself Jewish, but, as far as anyone knows, he’s never uttered an unkind word in his life about Jews as a nation, religion, or ethnic group. So he seems to get a clean bill of health. Yet when it comes to Russia, his thinking hews so closely to the classic anti-Semitic model that one hesitates to let him off the hook.
Basically, Schiff obsesses about the Kremlin the way people used to obsess about a mythical entity known as the elders of Zion. According to the notorious czarist forgery known as the “secret protocols,” this was a hidden Jewish cabal with a mysterious grip on world affairs. Neither left nor right, socialist nor capitalist, it was above such petty concerns and was merely Jewish. Thus, the elders might use their secret powers to foment revolution in one country, economic crisis in another, or a monopolistic takeover in a third, and even though such events might seem at odds with one another, they each in their own way advanced the goal of Jewish world domination. The invisible Jewish hand was thus everywhere, behind the Comintern and the Soviets, behind the Rockefellers, and behind the Rothschilds too.
Such thinking was once common. But if that’s no longer the case, it’s because it’s become all too clear where it leads – not only to horrors like the Holocaust, but down a rabbit hole of circular reasoning. After all, if the Jewish conspiracy is all-powerful, then it must be everywhere. If it’s everywhere, then everything must be its fault. If your boss lays you off, therefore, if your wife runs off with another man, or if your kid gets polio, then the lesson is clear: the Jews did it! It doesn’t matter if there’s no proof. Since there’s no proof the conspiracy doesn’t exist, who’s to say it isn’t so?
But where such logic is now verboten as far as Jews are concerned, it’s positively de rigueur in certain quarters when it comes to the Russians. Take the furor over Hunter Biden emails and texts indicating that he and his father have engaged in the time-honored Washington game of influence peddling. No sooner did the story appear than the cry went out that Russia was to blame. Despite a complete and total absence of evidence, the chorus only grew louder and louder.
Then Schiff, the California congressman who has spearheaded the Democratic campaign against Russian collusion since early 2017, decided to pump the flames up even more. In an Oct. 16 interview after with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, he treated listeners to a display of free-form paranoia that would have been funny if it wasn’t so scary:
Blitzer: Does it surprise you at all that this information Rudy Giuliani is peddling [about the laptop] very well could be connected to some sort of Russian government disinformation campaign?
Schiff: Well, we know that this whole smear on Joe Bien comes from the Kremlin. That’s been clear for well over a year now, that they’ve been pushing this narrative about the vice president and his son, and the idea that the president, the White House counsel, and others were made aware that Giuliani was being used by Russian intelligence, and using Russian intelligence in the sense of meeting with an agent of the Kremlin and pushing out this Kremlin false narrative, the idea that they were knowing and still on the floor of the Senate during the impeachment trial pushing this Kremlin narrative is pretty breathtaking. But I guess we at this point can’t be shocked by anything this administration does, no matter how craven. But clearly the origins of this whole smear are from the Kremlin, and the president is only too happy to have Kremlin help in trying to amplify it.
Blitzer: It’s not like Rudy Giuliani is peddling this information in a vacuum, congressman. Take a look at this picture of the president in the Oval Office holding up a copy of the New York Post touting this conspiracy theory. It’s made its way all the way to the commander in chief with a big smile on his face.
Schiff: Yes, well, look, you know, I think we know who the driving force behind this smear has been all along, and it’s been the president and the Kremlin. The Kremlin has an obvious interest in denigrating Joe Biden, they want Donald Trump to win, they recognize he’s been a weak president, he’s been unwilling to stand up to Putin and other autocrats, he has diminished NATO, he has criticized and weakened our alliance with our transatlantic partners, he’s the gift that keeps giving for the Kremlin. So clearly they want to help him….
And so on. If Schiff offered nothing by way of evidence, it’s because he didn’t feel he had to in the fact-free world of CNN. All he knew is that the laptop story hurts the Biden candidacy and that hurting Biden is supposedly the Kremlin’s goal (another fact-free assertion, by the way). So it’s clear in his book that Moscow must be the guilty party.
But imagine if Schiff had said something similar about the elders of Zion – that the whole smear comes not from the Kremlin, but from the Jews, that a secret Jewish cabal is twisting Giuliani around its little finger, that the influence-peddling story is a Jewish narrative, etc. What would the reaction have been? The answer is obvious: total outrage. Yet because it’s the Russians, no one cares.
Of course, a skeptic might respond that if no one cares, it’s because times have changed. Where Jews were once vulnerable, Russians live far away in a nation-state of their own and are therefore in no danger of being lynched from the nearest lamppost. Since war with one of the world’s two top nuclear powers is out of the question, Russia-bashing can’t possibly lead to violence. So it’s all harmless fun. Besides, if it helps undermine someone as odious as Trump, then why not whale away for all it’s worth?
But it’s not harmless. War with Russia may be unthinkable, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. After all, wars don’t break out because people want them to. They happen because people stumble into them. They talk big, they threaten and bluster, and they engage in provocations that are supposedly risk-free. But then someone crosses an invisible line, and the bullets – or, in this case, missiles – start flying. People may not have started out wanting to go to war. But war is where they end up regardless.
This is what happened in 1914, and it’s far from impossible that it might happen again if Democrats take power in 2021. If so, we’ll look back and say that baseless anti-Kremlin paranoia peddled by nationalist demagogues like Adam Schiff was a big part of the reason why.
By the way, the more Schiff engages in such magical thinking about Russia, the greater the likelihood that others will take his logic, tweak it a bit, and use it against the Jews. So we may look back and say that’s something that little Adam Schiff helped create as well.