Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, is most famous for having participated in the January 6 insurrection, continuing to repeat Donald Trump’s election lies, and threatening to use his authority over that state’s election mechanics to instigate a constitutional crisis. But he also has maintained ties to an undisguised anti-Semite.
Mastriano has paid Gab, a white-nationalist site, for “consulting.” Gab’s founder and CEO, Andrew Torba, has responded to reporters who exposed his ties to Mastriano with a series of anti-Semitic diatribes.
Here (on Gab, via Media Matters) is one of Torba’s rants:
“We don’t want people who are atheists. We don’t want people who are Jewish. We don’t want people who are, you know, nonbelievers, agnostic, whatever. This is an explicitly Christian movement because this is an explicitly Christian country.”
The Jerusalem Post quoted Torba saying in one video that he boycotts non-Christian journalists, and boasting that Mastriano has the same policy:
“My policy is not to conduct interviews with reporters who aren’t Christian or with outlets who aren’t Christian, and Doug has a very similar media strategy where he does not do interviews with these people,” Mr. Torba reportedly said. “He does not talk to these people. He does not give press access to these people. These people are dishonest. They’re liars. They’re a den of vipers and they want to destroy you.”
In a May interview with Torba, Media Matters reported, Mastriano praised Torba for “giving us a platform for free speech” and told him, “Thank God for what you’ve done.”
Mastriano’s alliance with Torba finally attracted enough media attention to force him to issue a statement about it. The statement renounces anti-Semitism and says Torba does not speak for him. Unfortunately, it neither concedes that Torba is an anti-Semite nor promises to cut off ties with him:
This needs to be understood within the context of the ideological changes the Republican Party has undergone over the last half-dozen years. As Donald Trump drove a small faction of pro-democracy Republicans out of the party, he brought white supremacists into the fold. They do not occupy the party’s center, and Republicans may frequently support less extreme candidates running against them in primaries, but they do now have a place within the coalition.
Democratic erosion does not usually happen all at once, but in a series of progressive steps. One of those steps is the collapse of any efforts to bar Nazi-like extremists from any place of welcome within the party.