Republican Counsel Suggests Lt. Col. Vindman Has Dual Loyalty
Republican Counsel Steve Castor appeared to suggest that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a man of Jewish descent, has “dual loyalty” during his question at Tuesday’s impeachment hearing — a charge used by anti-Semites to attack Jews.
Castor mentioned the fact that Vindman was offered the position of defense minister by the Ukrainian government, but the decorated Iraq War veteran noted that he dismissed the offer and never gave it consideration.
From the moment Vindman was announced as a witness in House Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, Republicans began attacking his patriotism, suggesting or outright claiming that Vindman’s loyalty to the U.S. was in question due to his emigration from the Soviet Union to America.
But as Vindman noted during his testimony this week, he was brought to the United States as a toddler and considers himself an American first and foremost.
In discussing this line of attack, particularly its anti-Semitic undertones, Julia Ioffe wrote in GQ that Republicans are not attacking Vindman’s loyalty to the U.S. so much as his loyalty to President Donald Trump.
“Trump’s allies seized on Vindman’s birthplace and language abilities as proof of his disloyalty to the United States,” she wrote last month. “John Yoo, architect of the post-9/11 torture program, even went so far as to accuse Vindman of “espionage” on behalf of the Ukrainians.”
Those same Republicans were silent on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Ioffe noted, despite his regular work for foreign governments and admitted lies to the FBI over contact with Russia’s ambassador to Washington.
Trump himself accused Vindman of being a “Never Trumper,” though he failed to provide even an iota of evidence to back up the allegation. The goal was not to paint the lieutenant colonel as unpatriotic but insufficiently loyal to Trump.
And the GOP continues to use an anti-Semitic trope to accomplish this.
“While Trump has a history of attacking anyone who questions his power, there is a particularly insidious history to questioning the loyalty of Jewish émigrés,” Ioffe wrote. She went on to recount how Soviet Jews were distrusted following World War II — and how a mass exodus resulted from Joseph Stalin’s relentless persecution, which continued even after his death.
America’s 2016 election brought people to power who call to mind the distrust of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Ioffe wrote: “No matter what you do for this country, even if you give it your life and limb, you will always be foreign, suspect. And if, like Alexander Vindman, you dare to flag the president’s deeply problematic behavior and talk about it to congressional Democrats trying to impeach him, none of your service to your country will matter. There will be an effort to discredit you—you won’t be suspected of being secretly loyal to Israel, as your parents once were in the Soviet Union, but to Ukraine—any country but the one you actually serve.”