Aug. 27, 2020 – By JOE SOLWAY
Normally, I’m pleased to see a fellow Jew succeed in the political arena, even if we don’t hold the same views. But not so in a recent primary in Florida.
That’s because the winner, Laura Loomer, is a self-described “proud Islamophobe.” She’s been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Uber, Lyft, PayPal, GoFundMe, and Chase Bank, among others, for her bigoted views.
The rideshare services dumped her after she tweeted that “someone needs to create a non Islamic form of Uber or Lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.”
There’s “no such thing as a moderate Muslim, Loomer has said. “They’re ALL the same.”
Even so, it seems that Republicans in Florida’s 21st Congressional District love her.
That’s the stretch of Florida coast that includes Palm Beach, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. On Aug. 11, Loomer defeated five others on the primary ballot to become the Republican nominee for Congress in this November’s election.
Loomer’s win came during the same week that Democrats held their convention, much of which focussed on calls for equality and social justice. In contrast, President Donald Trump praised his candidate’s win, tweeting, “Great going Laura. You have a great chance against a Pelosi puppet!” It’s worth noting that Trump himself is registered to vote in the 21st District.
Loomer has called Islam a “cancer on humanity” and its practitioners “savages,” adding that they should be disqualified from running for office. Where have we heard words like these before?
Dehumanizing a people or a race is something we as Jews know about first-hand. And we know what happens when those words turn to action. People are banned, persecuted and murdered.
When 51 Muslims were killed in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a white supremacist, Loomer said she didn’t care, tweeting that she cared more about her free speech than what happened in that attack.
Yes, there are deep differences between some Jews and Muslims over issues in the Middle East, but when it comes to human rights and respect, Jews should be at the forefront of calling out hate, not fanning its flames.
Loomer has said she rejects being called part of the alt-right because of its links to antisemitism. That’s wonderful. But she’ll spout the same dangerous, hateful garbage they do: Inciting persecution and violence in the name of race.
Bigots like Loomer who sought elected office in Canada have been removed as candidates by their parties. But in the U.S., they’re now being embraced – at least by Republicans. Some of these same Republicans also embrace supporters of the Qanon conspiracy theory who believe that Trump is working to save them from a global conspiracy of Liberal, Satan-worshipping pedophiles who are plotting against him.
Why does all this matter?
First, Canada is not a vacuum and what happens in the U.S. has a profound influence on life here. Thankfully, the anti-immigration People’s Party of Canada received little support in the last federal election. However, hate groups are on the rise here. An estimate by Barbara Perry of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism puts the number of hate groups in Canada at more than 300. Loomer herself has a connection to this country. During the summer of 2017, she was the U.S. correspondent for Rebel Media, the social commentary site headed by Ezra Levant.
Second, a recent survey found that more than 167,000 Jews live in Palm Beach County. There’s no breakdown of how many support Loomer. I hope it’s zero. Furthermore, (as of this writing) the Republican Jewish Coalition had yet to comment on Loomer’s primary win.
Loomer’s Democratic opponent in the district will be incumbent Lois Frankel, also Jewish, and a former mayor of Palm Beach, who garnered more than 62 percent of the vote to win in 2016. So far, I’ve yet to see any statements from Frankel about Loomer’s bigotry. Frankel has spoken out about antisemitism and other forms of hate in the past, including Islamophobia, and I hope it becomes an issue in November. (It’s worth noting that from 2011 to 2013, part of the district had been represented by another notorious Islamophobe, Republican Allen West. The district’s boundaries have since been redrawn.)
I believe as Jews, we have an obligation to speak out against the type of inflammatory rhetoric in which Laura Loomer engages, wherever we find it, and whoever it comes from. Especially when it’s from one of our own.
Joe Solway is a retired current affairs producer who worked for various Canadian media, including the CBC. He lives in Bowmanville, Ont., where he’s on the board of the Rotary Club.