Reprinted from WSWS
Thursday night's debate in North Charleston, South Carolina was the sixth in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination, and by now, these events have settled into a predictable rut.
Each has been a political freak show, featuring crude insults, bizarre and brazenly false assertions, and appeals to racism and anti-immigrant bigotry. The candidates seek to outdo each other in fear-mongering and militaristic tub-thumping, to appeal to the fascistic "base" of the party.
The latest installment in this increasingly dismal spectacle added anti-Semitism to the mix, thanks to Senator Ted Cruz, whose attack on billionaire Donald Trump for holding "New York values" was a dog whistle to ultra-right prejudice against the largest Jewish community in the United States.
When asked what he meant by "New York values," Cruz replied, "I think most people know exactly what New York values are: socially liberal, pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion, focused on money and the media."
As one Jewish commentator noted later, "the key term in his debate explanation is 'money.' You'll find plenty of social liberalism in, say, Cambridge, Mass ... But that 'focus around money and the media'? That was 'New York = Jews' all the way. Don't kid yourself."
Neither the execrable moderators, Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business News, nor any of the network and newspaper commentators who bloviated after the debate, called attention to the anti-Semitic subtext of Cruz's comments.
An equally significant omission was the silence about the event last April that brought North Charleston to world notoriety: the horrific police killing of Walter Scott, a middle-aged black man who was shot in the back repeatedly by Officer Michael Slager. The cop then planted his Taser by the body in an effort to bolster his claim of self-defense.
Only the cellphone video of the killing, taken by a passerby and circulated widely on the Internet, prevented this cover-up from having its effect. Slager is now jailed and facing trial for murder. There was no mention of the Scott killing in the debate, and only one perfunctory reference to the killing of nine black parishioners of a Charleston church two months later by white supremacist Dylann Roof.
Senator Cruz set the tone for the evening when he was chosen to be the first candidate to respond to a question -- a tacit indication that, at least for Fox Business News, he is a favorite for the Republican nomination.
While he was asked to respond to President Obama's assertion, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, that the US economy was the strongest in the world, with 14 million new jobs created since 2010, Cruz chose to begin instead with a warmongering diatribe against Iran.
Citing photos of 10 US sailors surrendering to Iranian forces after they entered Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, Cruz declared, "many of us picked up our newspapers, and we were horrified to see the sight of 10 American sailors on their knees, with their hands on their heads."
He concluded, "I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America."
By the time of the debate, the 10 sailors had already been repatriated, a signal of the closer relations between US imperialism and the Iranian bourgeois-clerical regime, which bent over backwards to facilitate the return of the sailors, who may have been engaged on a spy mission against Farsi Island.
If one examines Cruz's demagogic statement more closely, it suggests a truly demented sense of US global dominion. American military personnel should be exempt from any consequences, even when they violate the territorial waters of another country. Any country which dares to defend its own lands and shores against such a US incursion "will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America": in other words, nuclear annihilation.
None of the other six candidates raised any objection to this stance, which the audience applauded enthusiastically. Several other candidates cited the Persian Gulf incident as proof of the spinelessness of the Obama administration and the need to replace it with an even more belligerent and militaristic government.