The Spectacle Blog

No, Eric Cantor Didn’t Lose Because of Anti-Semitism

By on 6.13.14 | 5:47PM

Most of us are still trying to figure out exactly what was behind Eric Cantor’s shocking primary loss on Tuesday. But some on the left were able to jump to conclusions almost immediately after the election. Their hypothesis? Eric Cantor is a victim of Tea Party anti-Semitism.

Even ignoring the fact that Dave Brat was not technically a Tea Party candidate, the theory has zero supporting evidence. It is ridiculous to suggest that a district that has been electing Cantor since 2000 recently developed a case of raging anti-Semitism. This is a case of liberals assuming that everyone is as racially aware and involved in identity politics as themselves.

The careless speculation began immediately with leftist tweets smugly noting that Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in the House. Amanda Terkel, a Huffington Post journalist, retweeted a tweet that noted, “Cantor lost to someone who quoted the New Testament in his acceptance speech.” Not the New Testament!

The liberal blogs were predictably contemptible. Daily Kos asked the question, “Did House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lose the Virginia Republican Primary (VA-07) to Tea Party candidate David Brat because of an anti-Semitic Evangelical Christian backlash against the only Jewish Republican in Congress?” and then noted that “During his victory speech David Brat called Cantor's defeat 'a miracle from God'" as if that answered the question.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times decided the issue was legitimate enough to explore:

Now Mr. Cantor’s stunning primary loss on Tuesday — to a little-known economics professor, David Brat, who called his election “a miracle from God” — has raised questions about whether anti-Semitism was at work. “Did Eric Cantor lose because he’s Jewish?” asked TheWeek.com, a newsmagazine.

Stolberg went on to conclude that anti-Semitism was not the reason behind Cantor’s loss, but included what she thought was a noteworthy point:

But analysts do say that Mr. Brat — who has a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and often invokes God in his speeches — appeals to Christian conservatives in a way that Mr. Cantor simply cannot.

Wait, so people with similar backgrounds relate to each other better? I’m glad she brought in the analysts for that one.

Perhaps the most disturbing and outrageous post came from the Wall Street Journal blog:

David Brat, the Virginia Republican who shocked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) Tuesday, wrote in 2011 that Hitler’s rise “could all happen again, quite easily."

Mr. Brat’s remarks, in a 2011 issue of Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, came three years before he defeated the only Jewish Republican in Congress.

Writing academic papers that use the word "Hitler" and defeating a Jewish congressional candidate in a fair election? We have a serious anti-Semite on our hands.

The left’s reaction highlights a broader lack of understanding among liberals when it comes to the Tea Party. Rather than try to understand why middle-class Americans would possibly oppose government salvation in the form of entitlements and greater involvement in their lives, they jump to the one thing that is always on their minds: bigotry. The problem is that it’s difficult to argue against faux outrage.  

I’m not sure exactly why Eric Cantor lost, but chances are that it's not so simplistic as to easily fit into either side’s narrative. But here’s a guess: it probably had more to do with his lack of presence in his own district than the fact that he is Jewish. 

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