“Sitting U.S. Senator David Perdue’s digital attack ad distorted my face to enlarge and extend my nose. I’m Jewish. This is the oldest, most obvious, least original antisemitic trope in history,” Jon Ossoff, opposing candidate for Senate.

I am not a fan of Senator David Perdue. He simply goes along with whatever Trump happens to say from day to day, slavishly backing him up no matter the topic.

caricature of Senator David Perdue (R-GA)
Sen. David Perdue, R-GA

While that concerns me, what really gets my goat is Perdue’s unmistakable antisemitic whistle calling in his campaign for reelection. First, he repeatedly calls his opponent, Jon Ossoff, “privileged,” including in a 7-8-20 fund raising email. And now, he’s digitally elongating Ossoff’s nose in an attack ad. In it he shows him with Chuck Schumer, another Jew, stating, “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia!”

Way back in 2015 before the market run-up, David Perdue was worth $30,098,571 – the 7th wealthiest US Senator. He’s worth a lot more today, estimates range up to $45 million.

He has run a disingenuous campaign all along, claiming that he didn’t have the resources to run a campaign and is being out raised due to “radical Democrats across the country” (see below by Don Jr.). In reality he has nearly $13 million in cash on hand, much greater than his Democratic competitor, Jon Ossoff with $4 million.

Georgia born Ossoff is not poor; his wealth is estimated at $2-$8 million, per the AJC piece. Other sources have his wealth lower, $1.7 million. 

But Perdue constantly calls him “privileged.” What is that supposed to mean coming from someone worth $45 million? Well, here’s what it really boils down to when you look beneath the surface. 

Gov. Brian Kemp won the last state election by a variety of means (including calculated voter suppression). Kemp lost all of Georgia’s major cities but won handily in rural counties. He played to that rural, less educated, white base, running offensive commercials with him pointing a shotgun at a teenage boy. And it worked. 

Perdue is doing the same thing, borrowing a page from both Kemp and Perdue’s buddy, Trump. He’s going for the lowest common denominator.  

He failed to say, “privileged Jew,” but that’s certainly what he meant, which now has become clear after he broadened and elongated Ossoff’s nose for the antisemitic ad. And that’s what his less tactful supporters will say out in the rural areas. I know, I’ve lived decades in the rural South. 

Perdue is emphasizing that “If we don’t stop him once and for all in November, it will mean socialism in the U.S. Senate.” Sounds just like something David Duke and friends would say about George Soros, a Jewish billionaire and a favorite foil of the extreme right. 

Perdue is denying his antisemitism, just like Trump did when asked about David Duke endorsing him in 2016 (and again in 2020). It has been shown that Trump was well aware of Duke, however, when “Asked if he would condemn the endorsement, Mr. Trump said, “I’d have to look at the group. I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn the group that I know nothing about.’’

Trump has taught Perdue his acolyte very well in how to be a bigot, while avoiding responsibility for your actions. Trump is a master at that tactic, denying he meant to say anything bigoted – you just misinterpreted him. Likewise, Perdue is saying the nose thing is an “unintentional error.” Right, he didn’t intend to be caught. 

I understand campaigning. I was Chair of a rural Georgia Republican County Party. I was elected to that County Commission twice. There’s a difference between running a clean campaign and a dirty one using dog whistles to call out the baser instincts of voters.

In a recent Atlanta Jewish Times column co-chairs of the Republican Jewish Coalition Chuck and Bonnie Berk, Georgia residents, stated: “It’s disheartening to see people trying to level false antisemitic allegations against him,”

He’s not the only GOP bigot. Don Jr. has sent out a fund-raising email stating: “George Soros, Mini Mike Bloomberg, and elitist billionaires are flooding airwaves with smears.” Is it a coincidence that they are both Jewish? I think not.  

Antisemitism should not be a partisan issue. I’ve contacted the Republican Jewish Coalition multiple times about Perdue’s remarks. They acknowledged receipt of my emails but said nothing else… and now they are defending him without saying much about the antisemitic ad.

That’s a shame. It shows the current level of partisanship in America. Electing a Republican is more important to them than electing an antisemite.

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Image Credit: the feature caricature of Senator David Perdue (R-GA) was created by DonkeyHotey (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.