In an astonishing but brutally honest admission to POLITICO today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor—the only Jewish Republican in Congress—openly discussed the challenges of anti-Semitism and racism confronted within the House Republican caucus, adopting his questioner’s labeling of it as the “darker side” of the caucus. National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris commented:
It’s both admirable and disturbing in the extreme to hear Majority Leader Cantor’s candid remarks regarding the dual challenges of racism and anti-Semitism that he has detected in the House GOP caucus. From the widespread use of abusive Holocaust rhetoric among House GOP members and candidates to behind-the-scenes skirmishes like Cantor’s own well-documented decision to oppose the reelection of Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) over his statement to Cantor that Cantor would not be ‘saved,’ there are clearly deep-seated problems within the GOP. The time has come for more GOP leaders to have Cantor’s courage to step forward, and for the GOP to start addressing the problem directly—with actions, not just words.
Today, Cantor, the only Jewish House Republican, nearly affirmed that this was the reason he fought against Manzullo’s re-election, insinuating that anti-Semitism—and racism—are lingering problems among the House GOP generally. He speaking at a breakfast event organized by Politico.
Calling it the ‘darker side,’ Cantor responded to Politico’s Mike Allen’s question of whether there is anti-semitism in Congress by trying to avoid commenting. But eventually he let up: ‘I think that all of us know that in this country, we’ve not always gotten it right in terms of racial matters, religious matters, whatever. We continue to strive to provide equal treatment to everybody.’
‘We’re talking about the House Republican Caucus, not America,’ Allen pushed.
Cantor then sat in silence, grimacing for several seconds before Allen changed the topic. [Think Progress, April 19, 2012]