On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in D.C., as a protest against the certification of Joe Biden as the next president. They ransacked the Capitol, forcing members of Congress to evacuate the chambers. Five people, including a police officer, died. It should not be surprising that these people, who had no respect for American democracy, also harbored hatred towards Jews.
The Capitol riot was rife with anti-Semitic symbols. One man sported a shirt that said, “Camp Auschwitz.” Some rioters were photographed with neo-Nazi tattoos such as the Valknut, a longstanding symbol of white supremacy. Rioters were also photographed performing the Nazi salute.
Also present were QAnoners, a vast conspiracy that was heavily influenced by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an infamous book that perpetuates anti-Semitism. Supporters of President Trump have flocked to QAnon in increasing numbers in recent months, repeating claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. It alleges that President Trump was the rightful winner, and that President-elect Joe Biden won via election interference. Because of this rising popularity with Trump supporters, it is not surprising that QAnoners showed up to the Capitol riot in droves. However, they did not just bring bizarre conspiracy theories. They brought anti-Semitism. The so-called “QAnon Shaman,” one of the most recognizable people from the riot, was photographed with numerous white supremacist tattoos.
The events of January 6 were horrifying for any American who wished to preserve American democracy. For some, it is unimaginable that an American could be depicted saluting the Nazis at the United States Capitol. After all, America defeated the Nazis 75 years ago. They were vanquished. How can they possibly still be so prevalent in America that one of them feels comfortable enough to perform the Nazi salute at the capitol of our nation?
But, if you were shocked that anti-Semitism was on full display at the Capitol riot, you have not been paying attention.
Rightwing extremism has been on a steady rise in recent years, and anti-Semitism has grown with it. In 2019, the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents in America were at an all-time high. Jews in America are suffering from an increased rate of hate incidents. Conspiracy theories that are based in anti-Semitic beliefs have become prevalent. A Congresswoman who believes in QAnon was elected to the House of Representatives — GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. [I WOULD ADD HERE: On Jan. 27, the Department of Homeland Security warned that violent domestic extremists represent a “heightened threat environment” across the United States. Last October, DHS named white supremacists as the biggest domestic terror threat in the United States.]
Anti-Semitism has never vanished. America has allowed for white supremacists to infiltrate our democracy. It is a natural consequence that these extremists would feel more comfortable displaying their anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.
The anti-Semitism shown at the Capitol riot is not shocking. It is the result of an extremist movement that has been forming in America for decades. America is not prepared to defeat it. Recent surveys have shown that an immense amount of Americans do not know how many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Ignorance begets extremism. It spreads hatred. The Capitol riot is not a spontaneous display of anti-Semitism, it is the result of angry generations of people, lacking adequate education, finally feeling free to express their hatred. Neo-Nazis saluted Hitler, someone who was an enemy of America and humanity, on the steps of the United States Capitol. It was a slap in the face of American democracy.
All rioters must face consequences, anything less is allowing for white supremacy to feel safe. Americans can no longer be passive towards anti-Semitism. If we do not want neo-Nazis in our society, we have to fight. We have to fight via education, deradicalization and law enforcement. We can no longer coddle white supremacists. The riot at the Capitol can be the last time white supremacists ever feel secure in America. It is not shocking that anti-Semitism penetrated the riot at the Capitol, but it should serve as a call-to-arms to fight against America’s enormous anti-Semitism problem.