Nakba denier wins Republican primary for US Senate

People stand with QAnon banner

Jo Rae Perkins (in yellow), who has just won Oregon’s Republican primary for the US Senate, stands with fellow QAnon conspiracy supporters.

via Facebook

Jo Rae Perkins, a hardline supporter of Israel, on Tuesday won the Republican Party’s nomination to run in November against Jeff Merkley, a Democratic senator for Oregon.

Perkins is a believer in the QAnon conspiracy and a denier of the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Political paranoia and historical denialism have worked themselves deep into the Republican Party.

Travis View, who has written about QAnon for The Washington Post, has described the group’s theory as being “based upon the idea that there is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule the world, essentially, and they control everything.”

According to View, believers contend that this cabal controls politicians, the news media and Hollywood. They think that had it not been for the election of Donald Trump, this cabal “would have continued ruling the world,” View told the website Salon last year.

The FBI warned last year of possible violence originating from “fringe political conspiracy theories,” including QAnon. Believers, who think Trump’s efforts will lead to the arrests of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have been arrested in worrisome incidents. One armed man drove an armored vehicle to the Hoover Dam on what he claimed was a QAnon mission related to the never-ending saga of Clinton’s private email server.

Todd C. Young, a senator for Indiana and chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, claims not to know anything about Perkins’ support for QAnon, but notes that the committee “tends to support Republican candidates.”

It remains to be seen if the political paranoia of QAnon is a bridge too far for the Republican Party, but initial indications are that such views will not prove unacceptable.

Almost certainly, however, the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim bigotry displayed by Perkins will not cause distress. Such views are increasingly common within her party.

Outright bigotry is generally frowned upon within the Democratic Party, but much of its leadership is so pro-Israel that it refuses any meaningful measures to economically sanction Israel’s proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank. Entrenching Israeli apartheid is not the sort of racism most leaders of the Democratic Party are prepared to take meaningful action against.

Republicans, for their part, outright support Israeli apartheid and annexation.

Anti-Palestinian views

In January 2014, Perkins tweeted that “Israel has not systematically pushed out the indigenous population.”

Through that comment, she denied the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine when approximately 800,000 Palestinians were indeed systematically pushed out.

This was not a lone tweet. On the same day in 2014, Perkins also took issue with the term “Israel/Palestine,” arguing that only “Israel” should be used.

The Republican candidate provides a longer look at her views on Israel in this 10-minute video attacking the Obama administration for abstaining from UN Security Council resolution 2334 reaffirming that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. In it, she claims that President Barack Obama supports a “one-world government” and hopes that “Donald Trump gets rid of the UN.”

Via Twitter and Facebook, Perkins has repeatedly circulated Islamophobic material.

She has also promoted the anti-Semitic view holding Jews responsible for the death of Jesus with her retweet of this call for a new trial for Jesus.

Perkins has dabbled in anti-Black stereotyping while resorting to unhinged rhetoric seeking to move Black voters away from the Democratic Party. All of this is done while promoting the Trump MAGA hashtag as well as the QAnon WWG1WGA hashtag – “Where we go one, we go all.”

In 2016, Perkins excused Trump for how he refused to rent property to African Americans during the 1970s. Such discriminatory housing practices were “not unusual” for the time, Perkins claimed, while acknowledging that movement away from such discrimination is a good thing.

Also in 2016, she mocked the Black Lives Matter movement. Perkins asked if “only half of their life matters” for people she regards as “only 1/2 black.”

This is the Republican Party of Donald Trump, thoroughly marinated in conspiracy theories as well as anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and anti-Black sentiment.

Jeff Merkley, the sitting senator, is, however, the strong favorite to win again. Most of the West Coast has rejected Trump’s racism and anti-science views which have endangered voters throughout the country as COVID-19 has killed close to 100,000 people within the United States.

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The point isn't whether or not such a loopy view can get someone elected, but that in the world's richest country with a very expensive education system people can embrace such tosh. The spread of stupefaction and the consistent attack on the Enlightenment legacy of empiricism and rationality has done its work. Nor should we ignore the role popular culture plays in this. Junk culture turns people's minds to flab just like junk food does to their bodies. The purpose is to break down those mental procedures which permit people to think, to distinguish an opinion from a fact, evidence from assertion. Once you can get people to believe the earth is six thousand years old or the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians never happened, you have done the work of Big Brother. No even moderately educated person, looking at the evidence, could believe these things. That's why the education system has to be turned to an exam factory and popular culture must undermine the efforts of teachers. It's important to recognise, that this kind of out of kilter thinking is evident in Israel. There is a sub-culture which embraces the idea that Israel should go mad, be a crazy country, behave like a wounded animal,let the rest of the world know that if they are provoked that might go beserk; an apocalyptic threat in a country with nuclear weapons. There is a concerted effort to undermine reason and evidence-based thinking. This is not to do with freedom of belief, but rather a systematic assault on the conception of us as creatures capable of understanding. What triumphs is ideology and because that is engendered to fit whatever circumstance its proponents require, there's no barrier to wild, unhinged theories. Of course, wild though they may be, at their core is always a defence of the status quo. Defending the indefensible inevitably leads people into intellectual, moral and emotional confusion. The status quo is corrupt. No defence of it can be rational or empirically based.

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Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, TheNation.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.