It’s not uncommon to hear chants of “U-S-A!” at Donald Trump’s campaign events. But at a rally on Saturday, one Trump supporter began angrily shouting “Jew-S-A!,’ a nasty variant intended to advance the nineteenth-century idea that the country's problems can be traced back to malevolent Jewish overlords pulling the strings. But this guy isn’t a fluke or an anomaly — the “Jew-S-A” chanter is emblematic of Trump’s anti-Semitic supporters, which is significant and remains one of the most unnerving things about his campaign.
“We’re run by the Jews, okay?” added the man, perhaps fearing that his point was unclear. “Yeah!”
The Trump campaign rushed to disavow the man, and that’s understandable: The election is less than two weeks away, after all, and the anti-Semitic thing doesn’t look very good to most general election voters. "That man's conduct was deplorable," Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Sunday. "Had I been there, I would have asked security to remove him immediately. Clearly, he doesn't speak for the campaign or the candidate." Earlier in the campaign, though, Trump was more than willing to court the support of anti-Semites. He did so often, without apology.
Take David Duke, the Holocaust denier and Ku Klux Klan leader who announced his support for Trump’s candidacy in February. Duke said that any white American who didn’t vote for Trump was committing “treason to your heritage.”
Trump in initially disavowed the endorsement — albeit in the softest terms possible (“I disavow, okay?” he snapped at a press conference before moving on). A day later, however, Trump reversed himself and refused to denounce either Duke or, amazingly, the very concept of white supremacy.
“I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with, uhh, white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump told CNN's Jake Tapper. “I know nothing about white supremacists, so you’re asking me a question that — I’m supposed to be talking about people who I know nothing about.”
For the record, Trump was lying when he said that he didn’t “know anything” about David Duke, as he’s spoken publicly about Duke on several occasions. In any event, the decent and non-racist thing to do would in this situation would have been to immediately and unequivocally condemn any and all support from white supremacists. Eventually, under immense pressure, Trump said at a debate that he "totally" disavows Duke. Months later, however, he wouldn't rule out supporting Duke's Senate candidacy.
Later, Trump tweeted out an image depicting Hillary Clinton, a pile of cash and a six-pointed Star of David with the words “most corrupt candidate ever.” This played on the stereotype of Jews as dishonest money-grubbers, and could have been a subtle bit of pandering to his discriminatory supporters. In fact, the image itself originated on a white nationalist message board, where it was posted a week before Trump sent it to his millions of followers. This raises the question of how Trump stumbled upon the picture in the first place.
More recently, Trump accused Clinton of colluding with “international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.” His comment was reminiscent of the idea that nefarious Jewish bankers are secretly attempting to undermine the United States — one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book. Though Trump never explicitly referenced Judaism, some would point out similarities between his string of statements and "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," an anti-Jewish screed first published in 1903 that still holds influence with some white supremacists.
One more, just for good measure: In December, Trump praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, telling him that “your reputation is amazing” and pledging that “I won’t let you down.” Jones recently railed about a “Jewish mafia” on his radio show, and said that “they run Uber, they run health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.” The Trump campaign did not respond to Bustle’s request for comment on this.
The pattern is pretty clear. Trump has wooed white supremacists and anti-Semites for the better part of a year, in ways ranging from subtle to obvious. The fact that a guy chanted "Jew-S-A!" at a Trump rally isn't surprising. What's surprising is that the Trump campaign denounced him.