The Purpose of Antisemitism in White Supremacy

White nationalists believe that all of their problems with society are created by an organized conspiracy of Jewish people who are motivating and pushing immigration laws, civil rights laws, And it’s a belief system that in many ways disregards people of color so that it’s not possible that that organizing is coming from actual racial justice organizations, but that it is a secret cabal, a conspiracy by Jewish people and therefore Jewish people are the main targets of white nationalists.

Beyond that, the conspiracy theory is that Jews run everything, are “globalists”, and secretly control the powerful White people. This extends to anyone who is actually in power.

The role of antisemitism is to create an imaginary “enemy” who is more powerful than the people actually in power.

This way, white people’s anxieties about lacking power are allayed – they think they are victims of “the Jew” rather than the victims of capitalism or white plutocracy.

Antisemitism gives white people a righteous sense that they are “punching up” when they criticize or attack Jews.

The article also notes:

…anti-Semitism is not just limited to white nationalists, it spans the spectrum. We have sovereign citizens that believe in these conspiracy theories of this elite Jewish cabal, of people that are secretly manipulating government and infringing on our rights and things of this nature. It also bridges over into Black nationalism, as well as Muslim extremism and even some of the militia groups that we have here embrace some of this anti-Semitic belief systems like the new world order, gun legislation. All of this, they believe, is some sort of Jewish conspiracy to undermine their Second Amendment rights.

Black Nationalist Antisemitism

The belief of Black nationalists is a bit different – they think Jews should be aligned with Black people, because they are also oppressed, but instead, end up as a middleman between white big business, and Black customers or workers. They are a kind of traitor to people of color.

This is not a well founded claim, given that Jews were very active in the Civil Rights Movement, as allies. However, other Jews, like Stephen Miller of the Trump administration, do align with white supremacy.

Catholic Antisemitism

Catholic antisemitism is also a bit different. Jews and Catholics formed a kind of provisionally white status within the United States during the 20th century.

They often found themselves facing housing discrimination, and not allowed to buy houses in whites-only neighborhoods.

However, many white Catholics, like many white-adjacent minorities, rather than unite with other oppresed, they often tried to suck up to white power, with what little white privilege they had. You had people like Father Coughlin caping for fascism. [1, 2]

This is more like “poor whites” than powerful whites. By and large, poor whites stuck with the Left rather than drift Right, but some did drift Right.

Coughlin’s antisemitism hinged on the idea of a cabal of Jewish bankers who were messing with the money supply. This idea about manipulating the money supply persists today in the “End the Fed” libertarian scene, and the “gold bug” and cryptocurrency scenes.

Likewise, Coughlin was paranoid about the “International Jew” spreading Communism.

Again, we see the trope of secret people at the top.

Asian Americans and anti-Asian Racism

As the economic fortunes of Japan and the Asian Tigers (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) have settled down since the 1990s, and the countries raised up their economies and personal incomes to the level of Western Europe, anti-Asian racism has started to take on characteristics of antisemitism.

With the 2000s, China emerged as the new economic rival.

Antisemitic tropes have become adapted to be anti-Chinese tropes:

  • They run things behind the scenes.
  • They have secret money stashed away. Even the poor looking ones are rich.
  • They own all the buildings downtown.
  • They are Communists.

Like in the past, it’s the wealthy Chinese who are blamed, but the working class Asian Americans get attacked.

This all happened before, in the 1980s, when America went through a decade of Japan bashing. Then, as now, Asian Americans were getting harassed, attacked, and killed, by angry white people. We also suffered attacks from working class Black and Brown people.

A Peek at Fascism in America Just Before WW2

They don’t teach this in school, but the internet provides some education about the stunning turnouts to support Hitler in the years before WW2. 30,000 people rallied at Madison Square Garden, for Hitler. The German American Bund (1935-1941) and KKK had a joint event.

Even back then, the supporters of Fascism in Germany and Italy were aligning with Nordic Fascists. Nazis operated a camp in New Jersey, called Camp Nordland, and invited Italians and Nordic fascists to participate. So, ideology, and maybe some degree of shared “American” identity, overrode the animosity between people, when it came to uniting against the left.

Not long before the 1930s, the KKK were anti-Catholic, and trying to kill Catholics. Once the Italians and Germans came around to white adjacency and white supremacy, some of the KKK were willing to stand with some Catholics.

(Maybe I’m overstating this as a breakthrough. Some working class whites, including many Catholics, in the North aligned with Planters in the South back in the Civil War days. So alignment with the white Southerners isn’t entirely without some precedent.)

Even though tens of thousands of German Americans and Italian Americans were sympathetic to fascism, far more were opposed to Hitler and Mussolini, and enlisted to fight against fascism.

Given the support for fascism in these immigrant communities, one might assume that this was also common in the Japanese American community. Surprisingly, it was not.

Partly, this was because immigration from Japan was largely halted in 1906. As a result, by the 1940s, around 2/3 of the Japanese American community were US born. JA society existed apart from Imperial Japan, and thus, weren’t present in Japan to experience Japanese ultranationalism.

The best known ultranationalist group is the Black Dragon Society, a paramilitary network of Japanese who operated in several countries around the world.

In the US, they mainly seemed to align with Black Muslims, and formed some pro-Japan groups, mainly in Black communities. One group was operated by a Filipino pretending to be Japanese, and recruited mainly Black people.

It appears that some were in Manzanar:

Black Dragon Society
The Black Dragon Society was a secret, paramilitary group formed in Japan before World War II.  Some internees with sympathies to this group and a pro-Japan perspective organized at Manzanar.  They spread Anti-American, anti-administration propaganda and harassed camouflage net workers in camp.  Members of this organization may have participated in the Manzanar Riot on December 6, 1942, which claimed the lives of two Japanese Americans.  A death list of pro-American Nisei was drawn up.  Before the death threats could be carried out many of these Nisei and their families were removed from Manzanar and sent to Death Valley National Monument for their safety.  They never returned to Manzanar but instead, relocated to Chicago. A permanent example of the group’s activity still remains on-site today in the form of the graffiti at the reservoir. “Beat Great Britain and the USA,” and “Banzai, the Great Japanese Empire, Manzanar Black Dragon Group headquarters.”

According to testimony by Elaine Black Yoneda, this Manzanar Black Dragon Society group wasn’t too large. It sounds like a couple dozen, out of a camp population of 10,000. They were fascist thugs that tried to beat up her husband (Karl Yoneda), and did beat up some others. They ran a “death list” of people they disliked, including the Yonedas, who were Communists and anti-fascists. The US government relocated the people on the list to Death Valley, which happened to be the hottest place in the country.

See: Only What We Could Carry,

Relevant parts of her testimony are highlighted:

For more information about the Manzanar Uprising, see the article at Densho. The ultranationalists were not the main cause of the riot. Rather, it was work conditions and the JACL collaboration with the government, which caused a split in the community, that was the cause.

BDS seems to be a lot more hype than anything else. Finding information about BDS within the JA community is difficult.

To put things into perspective – the GA Bund + KKK joint rally to praise Hitler was 30,000 people. The BDS in Manzanar was what? 20 people? 40 people? BDS affiliated Black nationalist groups (mostly Black people) was under 100.

The total of German and Italian American internees in WW2 was around 11,500. The JA population sent to concentration camps was around 120,000 people.