Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for the Senate in Arizona who won the endorsement of former President Donald J. Trump, has been dogged by a trail of youthful writings in which he lamented the entry of the United States into the First and Second World Wars, approvingly quoted a Nazi war criminal and pushed an isolationism that extended beyond even Mr. Trump’s.
In the most recent examples, unearthed and provided to The New York Times by opponents of Mr. Masters, he took to the chat room of CrossFit, his workout of choice, as a Stanford undergraduate in 2007 to espouse views that might not sit well with the Republican electorate of 2022.
As he had in other forums, Mr. Masters wrote on the CrossFit chat room that he opposed American involvement in both world wars — although World War II, he conceded, “is harder to argue because of the hot button issue of the Holocaust (nevermind that our friend Stalin murdered over twice as many as Hitler … why do we gloss over that in schools?).”
He did not address Pearl Harbor or say whether he thought the United States should have ignored it.
Also on the CrossFit chat room, Mr. Masters, then 20, argued that Iraq and Al Qaeda did not “constitute substantial threats to Americans.”
“In my view, a true libertarian is anti all wars that are not strictly defensive, and with U.S. Military (many of our best men and women!) sadly stationed in 100+ countries and bombing several dozen since war was last declared, defense is not the name of the game,” he told his fellow CrossFit enthusiasts. “We ought to be more like the Swiss in this regard — decentralized and defensive.”
Such views might well have fit with the Ron Paul brand of libertarianism that Mr. Masters subscribed to as a college student. But they would be an extreme outlier in the Senate he hopes to join next year.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Masters’ youthful writings have already become fodder in the hotly contested race for the Republican nomination to take on Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, a freshman Democrat who is among the most vulnerable incumbents this year. The Arizona primary is Aug. 2.
Another G.O.P. contender, the businessman Jim Lamon, latched onto Mr. Masters’ 2006 writings on an early blogging site, Live Journal — reported by Jewish Insider in April and June — in which Mr. Masters had claimed that “‘unrestricted’ immigration is the only choice” for a libertarian-minded voter.
As a candidate, Mr. Masters, now 35, takes a position diametrically opposed to that of his younger self and in line with Mr. Trump’s views: He favors militarizing the border and ending what he calls an “invasion” by immigrants entering the country illegally.
Mr. Masters declined to comment for this article. His campaign manager, Amalia Halikias, issued a statement calling him “the clear front-runner,” noting Mr. Trump’s endorsement, and expressing disdain for journalists “spending their time sifting through CrossFit message boards from 2007 to try to discredit him.”
She said voters cared more about “how we can solve the inflation crisis and border crisis that Joe Biden and Mark Kelly have given us.”
Mr. Masters has also been denounced for contemporary statements, like his April 11 remark that America’s gun violence problem boiled down to “Black people, frankly,” and his apparent embrace of the “replacement theory” promulgated by white supremacists when he accused Democrats of trying to flood the nation with immigrants “to change the demographics of our country.”
Mr. Masters’ early writings covered a wide range of subjects and touched a number of tripwires for someone with mainstream political aspirations.
In a 2006 post on the libertarian site LewRockwell.com, he rehashed an elaborate conspiracy theory about the United States’ entry into World War I, implying a connection between the banking “Houses of Morgan and Rothschild” and the failure to alert American steamship passengers to German threats that preceded the sinking of the Lusitania. His main source was C. Edward Griffin, an ardent libertarian who once said that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — a notorious antisemitic forgery — “accurately describe much of what is happening in our world today.”
The post ended with what Mr. Masters called a “poignant quotation” from Hermann Goering — Hitler’s right-hand man and one of the most powerful Nazis of the Third Reich.
Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, assailed Mr. Masters’ invocations of Goering and Griffin, calling them “historical figures who trafficked in some of the worst antisemitic tropes imaginable.”
“Any student of history should know better than to elevate leaders who once gave voice to dangerous antisemitic tropes such as the notorious ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’” Mr. Greenblatt said.
He added, “Regardless of how old he was at the time, Mr. Masters needs to disavow his decision to uphold these men and their ideas and condemn antisemitism in all forms.”
Mr. Lamon, for one, has taken political advantage, running an ad framing Mr. Masters as a conspiratorial antisemite.
Mr. Masters released a response in which he said he knew “the left-wing media” would “try to smear me” and “call me a racist and a sexist and a terrorist.” He added: “Well, it turns out loser Republicans would do that, too.”
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Mr. Masters has defended his 2006 writings as the youthful scribblings of a teenager recoiling from the war in Iraq. “I was 19, writing in opposition to the Iraq War — a stance that turned out to be prescient,” he told Jewish Insider in April. “I went too far and stated that no recent American wars have been just.” He added: “I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got called antisemitic for criticizing wartime propaganda in an essay I wrote as a teenager.”
Still, as a student at Stanford, one of the nation’s most elite universities, he should have known better, said Abe Foxman, a longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, now its national director emeritus.
“While Masters may not have been familiar with Griffin’s antisemitism, as a Stanford undergrad he certainly would have been familiar with who Goering was and what he did — especially quoting him from the Nuremberg trials,” Mr. Foxman said.
In 2007, Mr. Masters expanded upon his libertarian critique of the United States in the oddly chosen forum of CrossFit’s chat rooms.
“To he or she who comes back at me with the claim that Iraq and even al-qaeda constitute substantial threats to Americans, I have little more to say than I have arrived at the opposite conclusion,” he wrote.
He called the United States “an empire-driven (soft and hard) nation-state with security craving sheep” and dismissed the Federal Reserve Board as a “semi-private banking cartel.”
And, on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Masters — who now embraces Mr. Trump’s “America First” slogan — asked, “what about the non-Americans in the twin towers? Personally I see no reason to lament the demise of ‘American’ innocents any more than those of other nationalities.”
Finally, on Sept. 25, 2007, Mr. Masters, then a Stanford junior, bid adieu to his CrossFit interlocutors, signing off with one last expression of sophomoric-sounding self-assurance.
“I don’t mean any disrespect — but it takes years to understand where I’m coming from, let alone agree or disagree,” he wrote. “To expect NOT to receive the usual (intelligent, perhaps, but still typical) objections and questions in response to a post such as mine above would be silly … I don’t know what gave me the urge to try anyways.”
He punctuated it with an emoticon of a wink.
Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics