Candidates Continue Promoting Key Themes of White Nationalism Following Synagogue Shooting

President Donald J. Trump is briefed by Michael Burnett, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism, National Security Council, on board Air Force One Saturday, October 27, 2018, about the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Today, President Trump visited Pittsburgh, PA after a violently antisemitic attack at Tree of Life synagogue left 11 dead on Saturday. The shootings are the deadliest attack on Jews in the United States. Jewish leaders affiliated with Bend the Arc drafted an open letter to the President, signed by more than 76,000 people, demanding he stay home. “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism,” the letter reads.

The President’s visit comes over the objections of Pittsburgh Jewish leaders. “For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the leaders wrote in the letter. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”

The President declared “I am a Nationalist” at a rally in Houston on October 22, where he also railed against “globalists.” His positions and failure to denounce White nationalism after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have inspired individuals and politicians to more openly espouse White nationalist positions and rhetoric, which has contributed to the current climate of bigotry—and its violent consequences. Below are a few of the most prominent examples:

Alabama

Kay Ivey, Alabama’s current governor (now running for a full term) supports the White House’s reported plans to eliminate birthright citizenship, a key portion of the 14th Amendment, via executive order. Vice President Pence visited Alabama for a fundraiser on October 30 and reiterated the administration’s support for eliminating birthright citizenship. Ivey later spoke highly of the effort to eliminate this Constitutional right. “I’m all in his court,” she said. “We’ve got to protect our borders.”

Arizona

Rep. Paul Gosar attracted national attention when six of his siblings appeared in a campaign ad endorsing his Democratic opponent. He shared a stage with European far rightists at a demonstration supporting anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson. He has spoken at Americans for Legal Immigration (ALI-PAC). Last year, Gosar told Vice News that George Soros was behind the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. His twitter is @RepGosar and his most recent tweet is for #buildthewall—nothing about bombs and shootings.

California

John Fitzgerald is running for Congress against incumbent Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). He won 23% of the vote (36,279 votes) in California’s June primary. He has claimed, “everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie. The foreign policy section of his campaign website states, “I will vote to use the men and women of our armed forces to protect our borders, not the financial interests of Israel and Jewish supremacists or elitists.” Fitzgerald’s campaign has also commissioned robocalls claiming, that Jews were responsible for 9/11, are taking over the world, “and must be stopped.” Fitzgerald has also offered $10,000 to anyone that can prove “the holocaust actually happened the way it is portrayed by Israel.” On Twitter, Fitzgerald has responded to the Pittsburgh shooting by casting suspicion on the media narratives and suggesting it was a false flag (e.g. here, here, and here.)

Kansas

Kris Kobach is running for Governor after being Kansas Secretary of State since 2011. Before and during most of his tenure as secretary of state, Kobach was counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, spearheading multiple anti-immigrant litigation efforts. Kobach is also a champion of voter suppression measures and co-chaired the White House’s now-defunct “voting integrity” commission that failed to produce any substantive evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election. Kobach’s campaign website has cited false statistics from White nationalist Peter Gemma, and also reportedly employed three individuals associated with the White nationalist American Heritage Initiative, an off-shoot of Identity Evropa.

Kentucky

Everett Corley is a candidate for Kentucky House of Representatives, district 43. He appeared on an American Freedom Party videocast “The Ethno State,” where he said that “It’s a bunch of white liberals and minorities who’ve conspired together to cut the white working class out of power.”  Corley does not appear to have made any comments about the recent bombs and shootings.

Iowa

Rep. Steve King has been in the U.S. House since 2003 and is seeking reelection. King has made a number of racist, white nationalist statements, including recently endorsing a White nationalist running for Mayor of Toronto.  He appeared on a program hosted on the Austrian far right platform Unzensuriert (Uncensored), immediately after taking a funded trip for lawmakers to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Following the Pittsburgh shootings, King posted a message on Twitter appealing to the “shared core values of Judeo-Christianity,” rhetoric that anti-Muslim activists commonly use to demonize Islam.

Illinois

Arthur Jones is a candidate for a seat in the 3rd Congressional District, against incumbent Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). He won the Republican primary in spite of racist and antisemitic views, and being denounced by the IL GOP. Jones is a Holocaust denier and features this on his campaign webpage. His twitter handle is @ArtJonesCongres, his last tweet was dated Feb 16 and says, “Jewish controlled media at it’s [sic] finest.” He hasn’t made any statements thus far about recent bombs or the Pittsburgh shooting.

Bill Fawell is running for Congress against incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos in IL-17. He ran unopposed in the GOP primary. In January 2017, Fawell called the 9/11 attacks “an obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government” on his Facebook page. He has expressed similar conspiracies on multiple other occasions.

Missouri

Steve West is running for Missouri House of Representatives District 15. He garnered 49% (1,485 votes) in the primary. West has a radio show, where he promoted conspiracies about “Jewish cabals.” On a January 2017 installment of the program, West said, “Looking back in history, unfortunately, Hitler was right about what was taking place in Germany. And who was behind it.”

New Jersey

Seth Grossman is running in NJ-02. In New Jersey’s June primary, he garnered 39% of the vote. Grossman has distributed articles from White nationalist outlets including American Renaissance and VDARE.com and, in April, said, “the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.” Grossman also has an extensive history of making anti-Muslim, anti-Black, and anti-gay remarks.

John McCann is running against incumbent Rep. Josh Gottheimer in NJ-05. He received 53% of votes in New Jersey’s June primary. In September, a Gottheimer supporter’s home was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. McCann responded to the event by saying California Democrats are to blame. “These types of actions happen when Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters spread messages of hate,” McCann wrote on Facebook.

North Carolina

Russell Walker is running for North Carolina House of Representatives District 48. He garnered 64% (824 votes) in the primary. Walker reportedly operates a website replete with bigotry. The website has sections with titles including “Diversity is Death” “Black is the Color of Evil,” “Death of the White Race,” and “White Supremacy.” “What is wrong with being a white supremacist? God is a racist and a white supremacist,” the latter section reads. “Someone or group has to be supreme and that group is the whites of the world … someone or something has to be inferior … In all history in sub-Saharan Africa, no two-story building or a waterproof boat was ever made.” Another section of Walker’s website is titled, “Censorship is the Greatest Tool of the Jews.” In July, Walker appeared on the Stormfront Action podcast.

Texas

Rep. Louie Gohmert, who has been in Congress since 2005, is running for reelection. A strident champion of the Tea Party movement, Gohmert has accused Pres. Obama of catering to the Muslim Brotherhood, made anti-Asian slurs, and argued for repealing the 17th Amendment. His most recent tweets reference employment rates and further border militarization efforts, but nothing about last week’s bomb scares and shootings.

Virginia

Corey Stewart is Republican nominee running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Tim Caine (D-VA). He made the following statement on Twitter October 27: “I’m just learning of today’s abhorrent shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. My prayers are with all the victims, their families, and first responders on the scene.” His rallies are billed as “Jobs not mobs,” and he has posted to his Facebook page, “Today’s Democratic Party is an unhinged, angry mob.” He follows the Trump playbook and has written in a fundraising email, “George Soros and his group of paid liberal activists, Indivisible, have launched an attack intending to stop my rally against illegal immigration.” During his failed 2017 Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Stewart held a press conference with white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler and received assistance from members of the neo-Confederate League of the South.

Updated 11/1/2018