SUN-KISSED OR­ANGE COUNTY HAS LINKS TO RAD­I­CAL RIGHT

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS -

BLAZE Bern­stein was raised in Or­ange County, a part of Cal­i­for­nia that has sun-kissed beaches and Dis­ney World. With a pop­u­la­tion that is 40 per cent His­panic and 20 per cent Asian, it is also di­verse and has a siz­able Jewish com­mu­nity of around 100,000.

It is also con­ser­va­tive: al­though its Repub­li­can in­flu­ence seems to be de­clin­ing, Or­ange County is the kind of place where Ron­ald Rea­gan is re­mem­bered as a states­man on a par with Lin­coln or Wash­ing­ton.

This helps por­tray Or­ange County as a prime ex­am­ple of the Amer­i­can Dream – wealthy, di­verse, and full of di­ver­sions – but it also has strong as­so­ci­a­tions with the rad­i­cal right.

This in­cludes the John Birch So­ci­ety, a group of ex­treme right wingers who banded to­gether in the 1960s to com­bat the sup­pos­edly per­ni­cious in­flu­ence of the Civil Rights Move­ment. Al­though its in­flu­ence has waned, the so­ci­ety re­mains a prime ex­am­ple of the Amer­i­can con­nec­tion be­tween the ex­treme right and con­spir­acy the­o­ries, in par­tic­u­lar an­tisemitic ones.

A “hate map” on the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter’s web­site shows a dense clus­ter of neo-Nazi groups in Or­ange County and its en­vi­rons.

None of this is proof that Mr Wood­ward mur­dered Bern­stein. But it is rea­son­able to as­sert that Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion has em­bold­ened the rad­i­cal right and that we have not seen the last of such vi­o­lence, whether against re­li­gion or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. GOR­DON HABER

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