NEW YORK — Like rancid salami, Patrick Buchanan is a gift that keeps on giving.
While he is careful — or under orders — to appear mainstream conservative and eminently reasonable in his frequent appearances on MSNBC, the three-time presidential candidate and former White House aide in the Nixon and Reagan administrations does not bother to hide his blatant anti-Semitism in his syndicated columns.
In his May 14 column, Buchanan petulantly objects to the fact that Solicitor General Elena Kagan is about to join Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer as the third Jew on the Supreme Court. “If Kagan is confirmed,” Buchanan writes, “Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity?”
As far as he is concerned, three Jews on the Supreme Court is proof positive that liberals like President Obama are, as the title of Buchanan’s latest fulmination unsubtly proclaims, “anti-WASP.”
Buchanan also objects that Kagan is not “academically distinguished.” Really? Upon graduating summa cum laude from Princeton, she received one of that university’s highest awards; she then earned a master’s of philosophy at
Oxford; and graduated, this time magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School where she was supervising editor of the Law Review. She went on to clerk for Judge Abner Mikva on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall before becoming first a tenured professor at the University of Chicago Law School and more recently dean of Harvard Law School.
This particular charge is especially ludicrous coming from Buchanan who boasts that he supported G. Harrold Carswell, Richard Nixon’s unsuccessful Supreme Court nominee. Carswell was so wholly lackluster, in addition to being a segregationist, that the best Republican Sen. Roman Hruska of Nebraska could say in his defense was “There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers” [who] “are entitled to a little representation” on the Court.
By his own admission, Buchanan has no problem with a mediocre, racist WASP on the Supreme Court, but he dismisses a Jewish woman who has at all times been an intellectual superstar as just another “Ivy League leftist.”
To be fair, Buchanan is an equal opportunity offender. He disparaged Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who also graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, was an editor on the Yale Law Journal, and served with distinction as a federal district court and circuit court judge, as a “quota queen.” And who can forget Pitchfork Pat’s prime time anti-feminist, gay-bashing keynote address at the 1992 Republican National Convention?
But no one should be surprised. Here are some highlights of Buchanan’s anti-Semitic history:
• He considers the State of Israel to be “a strategic albatross draped around the neck of the United States,” and has referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.”
• In his March 17, 1990, syndicated column, Buchanan wrote that it would have been impossible for Jews to perish in the gas chambers of the Treblinka death camp, and referred to a “so-called Holocaust survivor syndrome” which he described as involving “group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics.”
• Shortly before Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk was deported from the United States to Germany to stand trial for his role in the mass-murder of Jews at the Sobibor death camp, Buchanan wrote in his April 17, 2009, column that the “spirit” behind the efforts to bring Demjanjuk to justice was “the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago.”
• Last year, I outed Buchanan for sponsoring a Holocaust denial forum on his official Web site, complete with such gems as “Most historians believe it was logistically impossible to gas 6 million Jews and reduce their bodies to ashes;” “We have known for some time that the Auschwitz myth is of an exclusively Jewish origin;” and “Rightly or wrongly — the Jew was blamed for a lot of the problems that Germany suffered. The Jews were given years of warnings that they were unwelcome in Germany. A lot of Jews fled Germany in the late 1930s. The United States was not very anxious to accept very many. This was when White Christians still had a little control of our Nation.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council has now launched a petition calling on Creators Syndicate, the distributor of Buchanan’s rants, to drop him as a columnist. While this is certainly a positive step in the right direction, it does not go anywhere near far enough.
To the best of my knowledge, none of Buchanan’s bosses or colleagues at MSNBC have ever publicly challenged him to explain his bigoted proclivities. The real question is why MSNBC continues to give him an aura of respectability by retaining him as a regular political commentator despite his abysmal anti-Semitic record.
The overwhelming majority of MSNBC’s viewers have no idea that Buchanan is not just another affable talking head. That is where he must be exposed. Buchanan has a constitutional right to be an anti-Semite, but at the very least he should be identified as such every time he is allowed to appear on national television.
(Menachem Z. Rosensaft, an adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School, visiting lecturer at the Syracuse University College of Law, and vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, can be reached at email@example.com.)