The Missouri chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called on conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to apologize for using certain words in a recent speech that many Jews view as anti-Semitic, words such as "cosmopolitan," "cosmopolitan elite," "globalist," and "rootless." Hawley dismissed the criticism, tweeting that, "the liberal language police have lost their minds," and that he is an "ardent advocate of the state of Israel and the Jewish people."
In his July 18 speech at the National Conservatism Conference, Sen. Hawley spoke about contemporary politics and the "growing divide between cosmopolitan elites and the rest of America."
"For years the politics of both Left and Right have been informed by a political consensus that reflects the interests not of the American middle, but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities," said the senator. "This class lives in the United States, but they identify as 'citizens of the world.' They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community.... Call it the cosmopolitan consensus."
"On economics, this consensus favors globalization," he said. "According to the cosmopolitan consensus, globalization is a moral imperative. That’s because our elites distrust patriotism and dislike the common culture left to us by our forbearers. The nation’s leading academics will gladly say this for the record. MIT Professor Emeritus Leo Marx has said that the 'planet would be a better place to live if more people gave [their] primary allegiance to the community of human beings in the entire world.’”
"Just about any American worker without a four-year college degree will have a hard time in the cosmopolitan economy," said the 39-year-old senator. "Maybe that’s one reason why marriage rates among working class Americans are falling, why birth rates are falling, why life expectancy is falling."
Hawley then emphasized the importance of Christianity in history and especially among America's founders.
"We are a unique nation with a unique history and a unique purpose in the world," he said. "That history began 2,000 years ago, when the proud traditions of the self-governing city-states met the radical claims of a Jewish rabbi, who taught that the call of God comes to every person, and the power of God can work through each, so that every human being has dignity, and standing, and can change the world."
"And so the idea of the individual was born," said Hawley. "And our first forbearers brought that radical conviction to these shores and reshaped the republican tradition."
The National Conservatism Conference was organized by Yoram Hazony, a conservative Jewish author. Like Hawley, he dismissed the criticism of certain words.
"Sorry but 'cosmopolitan' is a normal term in political theory, history and other academic disciplines," he tweeted. "It means 'citizen of the world' and has no anti-Jewish valence. @HawleyMO used it correctly in his National Conservatism speech."
Nonetheless, Karen Aroesty, regional director of the ADL in St. Louis, Mo., criticized Hawley's use of "cosmopolitan" and "globalist," which apparently "have a sinister history as anti-Semitic dog whistles," reported the Kansas City Star. The news outlet further reported that Aroesty had called on Hawley to apologize.
Hawley’s speech, “raised real concern for members of the Jewish community who are and should be acutely sensitive with increased incidents of antisemitism in the US and beyond,” Aroesty told the Kansas City Star. “We have asked the Senator for an apology for even unintended harm caused by the speech. For the Senator and all who have a public platform that comes with power, context matters. Words matter.”
In a statement, the ADL urged Hawley to be tactful with his words. “While there’s nothing outwardly anti-Semitic in the Senator’s speech, we can understand why some are concerned about his use of the phrases ‘cosmopolitan elites’ and ‘money changing on Wall Street,’ which have a history of being used to demean Jews and may resonate with extremists,” said the ADL. “We hope the Senator will be more careful with his words in the future.”
Gavriela Geller, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau-American Jewish Committee, also criticized the senator. Geller said Hawley's words suggest a “shadowy elite class destroying the country from within, loyal only to ‘the global community,’" and "sound to many in the Jewish community eerily reminiscent of speeches from Germany in the 1930s.”
“We’ve reached out to his office to offer our support in explaining how certain language is received by the Jewish community, and we look forward to engaging with him and strengthening his understanding of our community," Geller said, as reported in the Kansas City Star.
Paul Krugman, a left-wing columnist at the New York Times, who is Jewish, said, "If you're Jewish and the use of 'cosmopolitan' doesn't scare you, read some history."
Jeffrey Goldberg, the Jewish editor of The Atlantic, stated on Twitter that, "Rootlessness is also a cause for concern."
Senator Hawley has a pretty solid record on defending Israel and the Jewish people, his office told the Kansas City Star. Also, on July 20, following the criticism, Hawley tweeted, "You’ll have to carry me out on a slab before I compromise my defense of the Jewish people, their greatness, their history, their safety, and the state of Israel."
"The liberal elites hate this speech because it calls out their failure," he tweeted. "It calls out their pretentiousness, their arrogance, their fake 'meritocracy,' their disdain for the middle of our society."