At around 11:30 this morning, I was blown away by what I saw at Matt Drudge’s website. Drudge made use of a classic antisemitic visual template—the sinister, overlarge, and shadowy Jew—as a way of supporting his “reporting” on the besieged Pope Benedict. In his visit to Israel, the pope has been under criticism from some Jews for not apologizing for Catholic complicity in the Holocaust. I was so shocked at Drudge’s blatant use of an antisemitic trope to support his lead story, that I felt it should be preserved (see below). About a half hour after I saved the below image, Drudge had switched to a different image and story. Therefore, over the course of the morning, I don’t know how long Drudge had run with this banner image, but here it is:
The clear implication of the image is that sinister and shadowy Jewry is harassing an old man (and given that the aged and decrepit John Demanjuk was recently deported for trial to Germany for Nazi war crimes, it seems hardly a coincidence that Drudge is evoking right-wing Catholic resentment toward Jews). Drudge apparently knows that some of his loyal audience is at least reflexively antisemitic. He frequently runs, for example, images and advertisements against a favorite conservative bogey, George Soros, implicitly depicting him as an eastern European Jew conspiratorially involved in the undermining of America.
Below are two antisemitic propaganda images from World War II. The first is of a shadowy Jew, behind curtains, clearly plotting subterfuge against Catholic Vichy France and Nazi Germany:
And here is a fascist cartoon characterization of Oslo in 1941, suggesting that behind the shoulders of global leaders—such as Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin—is always a lurking and outsized world dominating Jew:
I think that Drudge, when he invokes such antisemitic visual tropes, knows exactly what he is doing. I don’t think it’s innocent or merely coincidental. In my view, Drudge uses postmodern irony to generate ambiguity about his intentions—even as he manages to feed his non-ironic and earnest paleo-conservative core audience the kind of demonological archetypes that they so clearly crave.
Source for World War II images: Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination (Sam Keen 1986, pp. 20, 35).