A Republican candidate running for state office in Connecticut was criticized for sending out a mailer to constituents that many have condemned as being anti-Semitic.
Republican candidate for State senate Ed Charamut’s flyer had an image of his opponent, Democratic state Rep. Matthew Lesser. It’s not uncommon for politicians to use imagery of their opponents in such mailings, but Charamut’s image of his opponent depicted Lesser, who is Jewish, as holding several hundred dollar bills in front of his face, with a wickedly large smile and wide eyes, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
Depicting Jewish people as being obsessed with money is a stereotypical trope that has been around for centuries. But Charamut apparently found nothing wrong with the ad, at least initially, defending it as being about tax policy more than Lesser’s heritage.
“Those wishing to portray a graphic illustration as something hateful are completely wrong. I reject hate speech in all its forms,” Charamut explained. “The mailer draws a stark contrast between myself and Matt Lesser. Do you want to protect your wallets, or do you want to make Matt Lesser your new state Senator?”
After being called out for the mailer, and with the story going viral, making national headlines, Charamut and the state Republican Party later apologized for the ad.
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) October 30, 2018
“[I]t is clear now that the imagery could be interpreted as anti-Semitic, and for that we deeply apologize as hate speech of any kind does not belong in our society and especially not in our politics,” a statement from Charamut’s campaign read.
Lesser explained he was deeply disturbed upon first hearing about the ad.
“I did not believe them, because we live in America. I assumed it was some sort of mistake or misunderstanding,” Lesser said.
Upon seeing the mailer for himself, Lesser saw it as a clear example of stereotypical imagery against Jewish individuals.
“It uses imagery that’s been used to vilify the Jewish people for hundreds of years, and grossly caricatured my face and has me clutching a pile of money. That’s as explicitly anti-Semitic as anything can be.”
The Connecticut chapter of the Anti-Defamation League felt similarly. “We do know, though, the feelings that the flier is evoking — the juxtaposition of a Jewish candidate for office and money in this manner — suggests an age-old anti-Semitic trope,” said Steve Ginsburg, who works with the organization. “We can’t and don’t know the [motive] of the producer of the flier, but we do know its impact, and they should clarify what they meant.”
The mailer comes after a particularly troubling time. Many across the nation are still grieving the loss of life that occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where a man with strong anti-Semitic views shot and killed 11 Jewish individuals over the weekend.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.