Police in New York (recently on the news for apparently eating each others’ underpants) are now alerting the public to a new menace: one who ventures out at night in a brightly colored jumpsuit to daub hateful messages on Jewish houses or set fire to Jewish institutions. He is the African American neo-Nazi – not identical to the 1930s German type for he doesn’t shriek ‘Sieg Heil!’ or goosestep between daubing sessions, but he admires the Führer, loves bonfires and hates Jews.
That at least is what the public may believe after reading press accounts of recent events. Last week the NYPD published CCTV surveillance photographs of two African American operatives drawing swastikas (very inaccurately, I might add) onto Jewish doors in Brooklyn Heights, while on Friday they arrested another man in a jumpsuit, called James Polite, caught on camera writing ‘DIE JEW RATS WE ARE HERE’ and ‘HITLER’ on the walls of a stairwell at the Union Temple Synagogue, a few miles away. It has not been reported if the two outrages are connected, but much has been written of the curious case of Mr Polite who had every reason to be a philo-Semite on account of his upbringing, education and work experience.
For the last five years Polite has enjoyed the ‘moral adoption’ of Jewish foster-carers Jenny and Josh, whom he lovingly described to reporters as ‘my second set of parents’. They sound reasonably fun. Jenny describes herself as ‘a social justice activist whose work focuses primarily in the areas of immigrant rights and racial equality, economic justice, disability rights, LGBTQ equality, counter-white nationalism, and progressive Jewish activism,’ while Josh makes documentary films on Jewish themes and is a fervid champion of Yiddish folksong. You can catch him on YouTube warbling his way through ‘Yaninke’ and ‘Der heyliker moshiakh’, if you’re interested. Jenny and Josh helped Polite get into Brandeis, the prestigious Jewish-funded University that is demonstrably welcoming to non-Jewish students. After that, Polite worked as an activist for the Obama Campaign before taking an internship at City Hall, under the direct patronage of Democrat minority rights campaigner, Christine Quinn, in the department for fighting racism and hate crime.
So what went wrong? What could have inspired this bright and hopeful young man, five days after the massacre in Pittsburgh, to have behaved in such an unspeakable way? I can quite understand that having a social justice warrior for a second mother and a fanatical minstrel for a second father might be tiresome at times, but surely not tiresome enough to threaten their entire race with extinction? Reports have stated that Polite is bipolar with a history of mental illness. This, and the fact that his anti-Semitic misdemeanors are trifling in comparison to Robert Bowers’s atrocities of the previous week, seem to have encouraged most of the media to drop the case from their commentary agenda.
Since his arrest last Friday Polite has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation at the Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn. It is important that the doctors there make an effort to understand his motivations. Does he really hate Jews enough to kill them? Will he try to dispose of Jenny and Josh if he is released, or was it only ever his intention to rough them up a bit or stamp on a few of their Yiddish CDs? Has he been online looking to buy Messerschmitts and Mausers? These are the questions that need to be asked. Equally the doctors need to enquire if he is biddable. Did anyone manipulate him into wearing that jumpsuit? Polite’s curriculum vitae suggests that the social and professional circles in which he has mixed for over a decade are entirely obsessed with left-wing activism. Is there anyone among them demented enough to prey upon such an unstable and vulnerable mind?
Where, I wonder, is Scott Foval? He, it will be remembered, was the Democratic Party adjutant in charge of the field office of ‘Americans United for Change,’ who was secretly filmed by Project Veritas in 2016 boasting: ‘We have mentally ill people we pay to do shit’, by which he meant people whom he paid to start violent insurrections at Trump rallies. ‘It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherfucker’, he was filmed saying during the Presidential elections.
Foval, though he claimed the video was edited in a misleading manner, was sacked from his job for these remarks, and while he is unquestionably innocent of manipulating Polite, it does not follow that others of his morbid mould are not trying the same tricks. The midterm campaigns have been nastier than any in living memory. Had Polite’s garish jumpsuit not been so easily identified and he not so quickly apprehended, the media would have undoubtedly resorted to ear-splitting pre-election hysteria about white supremacists and Trump’s hate rhetoric. As it is, the wires have gone rather quiet. Somewhere out there, I suspect, is a mini-Foval sweating with apprehension at what Mr Polite might be telling his doctors.