(Salon) -- Is Ann Coulter an anti-Semite? What’s interesting to me about Coulter’s notorious tweet (“How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?”) isn’t what it does or doesn’t reveal about her, but the light that it sheds on the deep archetypes of American conservatism.
Watching the two Republican debates, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d come, in Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase, “unstuck in time.” Ted Cruz looks to me like a silent movie villain from the 1920s, and he talks like a wax cylinder recording of a Texas governor from the 1920s. Jeb Bush is, well, another Bush. Mike Huckabee is a beefier, more homespun Pat Robertson. And for all that he is a product of New York real estate and reality TV, Donald Trump is the living embodiment of the rural Populism that arose in the late 19th century.
The Koch brothers might not understand why the Republican base is so willing to overlook Trump’s heresies on progressive taxation and unions (Scott Walker is even more flummoxed); the media may be scratching its collective head at his appeal to Evangelicals, but Populism wasn’t about protecting the Haves or promoting the Holy. It was driven by the certainty that you were being robbed of your money and your status in the socioeconomic hierarchy, and that your enemies were establishment politicians, the elite money powers, and the swarthy immigrants that they used as their tools. Populism is all about fear and hatred, and starting around the 1890s, when the myth of Jewish money power and the tide of Eastern European Jewish immigration were both at their peak, the fear and hatred of Jews in particular.
Advertisement - story continues below