They don’t have jobs, they can’t afford a house, but millennials have one thing going for them: They’ve finally found their Ronnie and Maggie, the political match-up to define their era. British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have held what the latter calls ‘a lovely and wide-reaching’ phone conversation and followed it up with some Twitter gushing about progressiveness and stuff.
Great to speak to @AOC on the phone this evening and hear first hand how she’s challenging the status quo.
Let’s build a movement across borders to take on the billionaires, polluters and migrant baiters, and support a happier, freer and cleaner planet.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 3, 2019
And the reply:
It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, @jeremycorbyn!
Also honored to share a great hope in the peace, prosperity, + justice that everyday people can create when we uplift one another across class, race, + identity both at home & abroad. https://t.co/7qnz42I8du
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 3, 2019
One of the benefits of centrism collapsing is that left-leaning politicians no longer sound like human resources consultants. The downside is they now talk like people who write a lot of Justice League fanfic in their spare time. The buzzwords change but get no less shallow. Notice two things about Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, though. 1) She is a fan of the Oxford comma, grounds enough to make her the nominee in 2020. 2) She identifies the three building blocks of contemporary progressivism: ‘Class, race, and identity’. Whatever this new leftism becomes, and whatever comes of it, we at least have a title for the HBO miniseries.
Although the age gap is much larger than that which separated Reagan and Thatcher, Corbyn and Ocasio-Cortez otherwise have much in common. Both consider themselves socialists and both consider socialism to be a melange of populist economic policies and undergraduate hostility to American power. Both inspire a special kind of crazy in their devotees, slightly more political iterations of schoolgirls who stab each other with compasses over which one Jungkook would marry. (If right-wingers think they’re immune to blind political fandom, I’ve got a Mexican-funded border wall to sell them.)
Both hinge their appeal on being different from the moderate managerialism that went before and Corbyn is very different in an important, troubling way. The leader of the Labour Party is — there’s no way around it — an anti-Semite. Yes, he’s extremely pro-Palestinian, viscerally anti-Israel, and is a harsh critic of settlements and checkpoints. None of that, though, is anti-Semitic. Corbyn, bluntly, has a problem with Jews. He boasts of his ‘friends’ in anti-Semitic terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. He has defended a London street mural depicting Jews, complete with prominent noses, counting money as they play Monopoly on the backs of naked blacks under an Illuminati symbol.
He attended a wreath-laying ceremony for one of the terrorists behind the Munich massacre that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. He has invited to the House of Commons one Islamist who claims Jews murder children for blood to bake in their Passover bread and another who urges Arabs to spray-paint walls with images of ‘hoax gas-chambers built in Hollywood in 1946 with Steven Spielberg’s approval stamp’. As recently as 2013, Corbyn was still attending events run by Paul Eisen’s Deir Yassin Remembered; Eisen is the author of tracts including My Life as a Holocaust Denier (2008) and How I Became a Holocaust Denier (2012).
Under his leadership, the Labour Party has witnessed an explosion in anti-Semitism from party members, many of whom joined to vote for Corbyn, and even elected officials. The party failed to expel Corbyn ally Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, who contends that Adolf Hitler was a supporter of Zionism who ‘went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’. Lawmaker Naz Shah was briefly suspended after endorsing the ‘transportation’ Israelis out of the Middle East and urging her Facebook followers to vote in an anti-Israel poll because ‘the Jews are rallying’. John Cryer, chair of the Parliamentary Labuor Party, says some of the anti-Semitism among members ‘is redolent of the 1930s’. Nearly 40 percent of British Jews report they would ‘seriously consider’ fleeing the country if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minister.
Is this really someone Ocasio-Cortez wishes to be associated with? Her fanboys may plead ignorance on her behalf but while she’s not the sharpest on policy or details or the three branches of government, she is not politically dumb. She knows who Corbyn is, what he is, and the anguish he has caused the Jewish community. Google exists and she is capable of using it, just as Corbyn was before sharing a platform with his grim rabble of fellow-travelers. But he is a brand — as is she — and forging common cause with the man American leftists still think is the British Bernie Sanders is presumably something Ocasio-Cortez considers beneficial.
The last time I wrote about Ocasio-Cortez, some objected to my calling her a ‘congressgirl’ but her youth may be her saving grace. She has found political stardom at 29, which brings with it a scrutiny that Corbyn was able to avoid until his mid-60s. Any unsavory associations she wants to pursue will have to be done in public view. In response to her Corbyn conversation, one left-wing Jewish activist tweeted her:
The congresswoman replied that leftists ‘will not move forward without deep fellowship and leadership with the Jewish community’ and promised that her team would ‘reach out’, while telling another she was ‘looking forward to the discourse and community-building ahead’. She still talks like one of Captain Planet’s Planeteers and has a Trumpian disregard for the truth but if Ocasio-Cortez is to be the future of the Democrat party, she can get there without tainting herself by association with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn.