In Oklahoma, Republican state senate candidate Jarrin Jackson was the top vote-getter in his June Republican primary; he now faces his closest Republican rival in an August runoff election in state Senate District 2. As per usual, he's a Republican with a history of recording his political beliefs—there's no point in having extreme political beliefs if you keep quiet about them, after all—and as usual, that means journalists have lots of material to comb through in the process of doing the vetting that Oklahoma Republicans themselves have no damn interest in doing themselves.
Hey, surprise: It turns out Jackson has a history of antisemitic statements, part of a wider pattern of white supremacy-laced conspiracy theories that we can only presume were the reason Oklahoma Republican voters chose him as the person they most wanted to represent them in the state legislature. Go. Figure.
Media Matters does the job this time around, bringing attention to Jackson's past (sigh) video recordings and social media posts. The leading Republican candidate for state Senate in District 2 has variously announced that he is "not beholden to Jews," that "the Jews" can be taken as evidence that "evil exists," and says he "largely" believes the conspiracy theory that Jews are "taking over the world," weaponizing immigration and miscegenation (you can look the word up if you need to, given that it's becoming a top-tier topic in Republican circles again) in order to outbreed good Jesus-loving white racists everywhere.
If you're wondering where the Republican candidate gets his theories, he's willing to tell you names. Jackson cites far-right pseudo-pundit Michelle Malkin, and, of course, Tucker Carlson's promotion of "great replacement theory."
"Zionism, Jews taking over the world, the Rothschilds, the Kalergi Plan, the ‘white replacement theology’ or ‘white replacement theory’? I largely agree that all of those things are happening," says Jackson.
The Tucker Carlson connection should be a given. The point of Carlson promoting these things on Fox News, with the full support of the company's executives and board, is to make it more palatable for individual racist pieces of crap to spout it in their own social circles without fear. If somebody on a television network is saying it between commercial breaks, after all, then there's no reason Uncle Jarrin can't say the same thing when he's shooting the breeze with his Oklahoma friends.
It's likely that in Jackson's social circles these conspiracy theories aren't the sort of opinions that needs to be hidden, which is why Jackson felt comfortable running for state office shortly after piping up with them and why a bunch of Oklahoma Republican voters chose him as their preferred candidate.
Jackson is full of other racist statements, all couched in evangelical language so that he can claim Jesus as inspiration for his theories and it's not just him being a hate-filled conspiracy nut of the sort you can find in every bar and on every street corner. His opinions of QAnon conspiracies are slightly more shaded, because while he says he "appreciates" the conspiracy movement, he says he's concerned that their own conspiracies don't have enough Jesus in them.
We can focus, though, on the antisemitic neo-Nazi belief that a secret worldwide Jewish movement is behind world immigration patterns and is the reason your white neighbors are having sex with non-white partners. That's straight-up neo-Nazi (or just straight-up Nazi) stuff, stuff even Klan robe-filler David Duke had to back away from during his own brief Republican career, and in past instances of conservatism, it was at least in theory something the party couldn't stomach. At least in public. If it was recorded.
That's self-evidently no longer true.
This was coming. It was inevitable, in fact; the reason Republicanism can no longer reject open antisemitism from Republican candidates is that Republicanism is now based on conspiracy theories. Believing conspiracy theories is required to be a Republican in good standing; if you're not willing to believe that a secret conspiracy of somebodies rigged our entire democracy to oppose conservatism, Republicans will find primary candidates who do. It is the requirement if you want to be endorsed by Donald Trump. It is a requirement when standing on a debate stage. You have to believe that less-white portions of America steamrolled over white America by adding "fake" votes. You have to believe that Italian satellites quantum-physicked their way into your local voting booth. You have to believe that "caravans" of refugees aren't fleeing war, crime, hunger, or instability, but are being delivered to the United States and "white" Europe by secret societies looking to destroy "cultures."
Why? Because fear, of course. You can't possibly have a conservative movement without naming an enemy to fight.
The problem with the Republican Party’s various new conspiracy claims is that the vast majority of Americans willing to believe that secretive groups of elites are rigging our elections, running child sex trafficking rings, or spilling plans for world domination coded as emailed recipes are Americans who already believed similar things to begin with, and it's nearly impossible to name past conservative conspiracy theories that did not originate in the antisemitic far-right. It used to be "the Jews" who heartland conservatives in small-town diners believed were conspiring against them. Then, in a fit of conservative rebranding, it became "globalists." Now it's back to "the Jews."
I don't know what it might be like to be Jewish in Oklahoma, but we know what Oklahoma Republicans want it to be like. We know because those Oklahoma Republicans are voting for a person willing to blame all the world's troubles on the existence of non-Christians and their supposed secret powers.
It should probably be alarming, the speed with which Republicanism quietly abandoned its opposition to antisemitic rhetoric. It was almost instant. It happened the moment Donald Trump's allies declared the election to be "stolen" and the base began hunting about for plausible suspects. It happened the moment Samuel Alito no longer needed to pretend to give a damn about the Jewish faith because he now had the votes to impose a purely hard-right Christian ideology and all those other faiths could now be satisfyingly criminalized. It happened the moment Tucker Carlson brought the neo-Nazi "great replacement" conspiracy theory to his conservative audience, a theory that named "the Jews" as those doing the “replacing” from its inception, and got the backing of Lachlan Murdoch and the Fox board to do it.
It was like a tide coming back in. Certainly, Republican leaders are still willing to express remorse when an antisemitic gunman targets a synagogue for the latest American mass murder. But embracing antisemitic hate is something most Republican primary voters in the small towns northeast of Tulsa gave a particular damn about, and there's no Republican leader in the state who's going to advocate that their voters sit out the November election rather than supporting an open antisemite to their Senate.
Republicanism is a movement that badly needs to be infused with a basic sense of shame. It's a movement that seems to now pride itself on electing the shittiest people that can be found for the sake of making every last town and city a worse and meaner place than it was before.
When we last looked in on the state of Republican candidates in the various states, it was to explore Michigan Republican secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo’s belief that you could catch a bad case of demon possession by having sex. Arizona Republican Blake Masters has largely run his campaign around a series of racist burps; Georgia Republican Hershel Walker's campaign consists of little more than emphatically not knowing things to the point where his campaign still can't be fully confident he's come clean on how many children he has.
It takes a lot for a party to find itself riddled with officials willing to back a hoax-promoted attempted coup but still be able to find and elevate candidates even worse than those—or so you'd think. In practice, a base that's willing to forgive an attempted coup probably has no other standards left.
If nothing else, political journalists need to stop holding up the rural "heartland" as the supposed soul of America. The heartland is a deeply racist place. It's insular, selfish, superstitious, and resentful. You wouldn't get these people running for office—and winning—if the base wasn't falling all over themselves running to prop them up.
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