Washington Post op-ed writer Dana Milbank accused Ted Cruz of using “anti-Semitic dog whistle[s],” such as his attack on “New York values.” Does he have a point?
A lot of the phrases about “New York,” “Wall Street,” and “bankers” could be anti-Semitic in certain contexts, but they are also absolutely part of ordinary political discourse. That is what makes them potential dog whistles, after all, but it is also hard to say Cruz had any anti-Semitic intent or meaning with such thin evidence.
Milbank has to have a little bit of “chutzpah,” shall I say, to make this argument:
At an event in New Hampshire, Cruz, the Republican Iowa caucuses winner, was asked about campaign money he and his wife borrowed from Goldman Sachs. Cruz, asserting that Trump had “upward of $480 million of loans from giant Wall Street banks,” said: “For him to make this attack, to use a New York term, it’s the height of chutzpah.” Cruz, pausing for laughter after the phrase “New York term,” exaggerated the guttural “ch” to more laughter and applause.
But “chutzpah,” of course, is not a “New York” term. It’s a Yiddish — a Jewish — one. And using “New York” as a euphemism for “Jewish” has long been an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
It wouldn’t be the first time Cruz has been accused of using anti-Semitic dog whistles. What about his claim to support an “America first” foreign policy–the same slogan of Charles Lindbergh and those who opposed involvement in World War II?
But in this particular case, most of what Cruz said can equally be attributed to responding to Donald Trump’s equally nasty attacks. Let’s break down the points one-by-one: