Tag Archives: anti-semitism

Peak Alt Right: How the Far Right Has Already Lost

For Richard Spencer, the Republican National Convention was a return to relevance, a coming out party for those who had been out for years before anyone cared.

This was not the first Republican event for Spencer, who spent his early professional years following the small paleoconservative niches blazed by people like Pat Buchannan and Taki Theodoracopulos.  After penning a defense of the student Lacrosse players at Duke University who were accused of sexually assaulting a sex worker of color for the William Taft society, he was brought on as an Assistant Editor of arts at the American Conservative.  The magazine made a name for itself through Scott McConnell’s attempt to channel Old Right politics into a world disgusted by most of the excess of Neoconservative foreign policy, coming out against the Iraq War while few on the right were.

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McConnell eventually helped Spencer to land a job further to the right at Taki’s Magazine, which keeps the overflow of racists let go from places like Forbes and The National Review.  As Peter Brimelow left behind his career attacking teacher’s unions for white nationalism and anti-immigrant extremism with his website VDare and John Derbyshire decided to go public with his with race and IQ arguments, Taki’s Magazine became a place where they could continue to rant to an audience that was almost relevant to beltway Conservatism.

It was here that Spencer decided to make a final transition to the fringes based on the community that he was seeing take shape out of the ashes of paleoconservatism.  Greg Johnson, the editor of the neo-fascist publishing house Counter Currents described the early days of Alternative Right, which Spencer founded as a “big tent” for these dissident right-wing movements, as a place for ideas often conflicting to find a common ground.

[Alternative Right] will attract the brightest ‘young’ conservatives and libertarians and expose them to far broader intellectual horizons, including race realism, White Nationalism, the European New Right, the Conservative Revolution, Traditionalismneo-paganismagrarianismThird Positionismanti-feminism, and right-wing anti-capitalistsecologistsbioregionalists, and small-is-beautiful types.

Though it has gone through several iterations, the Alt Right is the most recent stage of the process started by Spencer several years ago.  Together, it makes up an ideological fascist kernel of ideas, ones that drive the political movement of the racialist right.  While it is largely undefined, it can loosely be thought to encompass anti-egalitarianism, anti-democracy, elitist, racialist, anti-feminist, and other forms of anti-equality thinking that make up its ideological core.  Whether these are arguments to restore the monarchy, to return to the “Ethnic religions” of pre-Christian Europe, or simply proclamations that people of color are more prone to crime or have lower innate IQs, it is the ideological position in favor of hierarchy that drives its ranks, from the white nationalists to the Men’s Rights activists.

While they often mock the neo-Nazis, Klansman, and old guard of the insurrectionary racist movement, they share the same ideological ideas even if the Alt Right are more upper middle class and concerned with a different strategic orientation.

An Intellectual Tradition?

As Spencer walked the streets surrounding the convention in Cleveland he held above him a sign that said “Want to talk to a “racist?”  This is a strategic move for Spencer, who wants to reframe “racism” as simply a preference for one’s own “identity” and “tribe.”  He attempts to liken himself to Latino organizations looking to advance what he calls “ethnic interests,” or Black Nationalists looking to retain a culture that was robbed during colonial slavery.

His arguments, while ignored for years, have finally found an audience in the mainstream press who are trying to make sense of the ideological current that has been associated with the rise of Donald Trump.  HBO, shooting a documentary looking at racialist groups in the U.S., was following him around, and even set up a conversation between him and news anchor Jorge Ramos.  While this may seem like cheap controversy baiting, and it is, Spencer was presented as a reasonable point of debate with Ramos.  Instead of just a spectacle, the message has been sent that Spencer represents a growing point of view that must be considered in the debate.  Previously his ethnic nationalist message would have been considered so obviously repulsive as not to be considered relevant for inclusion, but these are apparently the times we live in.

The Alt Right has pushed itself into the discourse through a few convenient openings.  The first, and most obvious, is the self-destruction of the Conservative Movement.  As Spencer has discussed, at length, the Conservative Movement as we know it today is more of an invention of William Buckley and the National Review as a Cold War ideology.  Here it mixed Christian social conservatism, hawkish foreign policy, and free market economics into something that appeared as a coherent ideology for decades.  Right-wing scholar Paul Gottfried, who consorts with Spencer and company often, calls this ideological pairing “idea clusters,” where the ideas themselves are not necessarily ideologically related yet are put into a bunch and labeled as “conservative.”

As demographics change, capitalism heads into permanent crisis, and the culture shift dramatically, Buckley’s idea cluster is failing to resonate.  It is in this space that alternatives have been tried, with libertarianism being the ideological position popular in the younger areas of the GOP for the last few years.  This headed into decline as Ron Paul faded from view and places like Reason Magazine and the Caito Institute lost power or uniqueness.

Now, in the search for an identity, many of the edgier “dissidents” allied with American Conservatism have found Brietbart, post-Tea Party racial anger, and Donald Trump.

Now That’s What I Call Edgy

When mixed with the second key factor for the Alt Right, the horizontal nature of social media, you can see why the edgy “Shitlords” found a voice.  In an attempt to out offend each other, the culture of the Alt Right was formed on 4Chan, Reddit, and Twitter, where the need to find uniqueness and to rebel against what they believe orthodoxy to be (in this case it is “political correctness”), they united with old-fashioned white supremacy to form a semi-coherent white nationalism that is based in ironic catch phrases, internal jargon, trolling, and unrestrained anger.

With Twitter they can cut through to mainstream discourse by trending hashtags like #Cuckservative, using every media mention as a way to slowly seep in Nazi talking points with kitschy memes and constant trolling.  Gone are the days of concerted organizing around crossover topics like immigration and affirmative action, now it is better to dominate comments sections on articles and post blogs arguing in favor of slavery and Holocaust Denial.

This is perfectly fine with Spencer, who was always looking to foment a fascist cultural movement more than a political one.  As he often proselytizes, he is not a materialist, he is an idealist in the German tradition.  He believes the change starts in the minds and the culture, and “politics are a lagging indicator.”  This is why his movement starts with a tweet, not with a sign, and you will not see concrete goals listed as how to get to the Ethnostate he envisions on the North American continent.

It is all of these peculiarities and contradictions that lead to why the Alt Right is failing before it ever really begins.

What drew out Alternative Right and its successor, the Radix Journal, as well as the entire sphere of neo-fascist publications and publishers was its ability to create a philosophical foundation to the racialist and neo-fascist movement.  It was not just its congenial style, we have had suit and tie racists before (see David Duke wearing suits at Klan meetings), but what Alternative Right attempted to do was do have a real set of philosophical, academic, and new religious interventions.  This was a smart white nationalism, one that was attempting to find some coherence.  As you would expect, this has had mixed results as those with credentials and ideas are few and far between inside of the far right, as is art, music, and literature.

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Radical Traditionalist and esoteric fascist, Julius Evola.

In their pursuit a few key threads came out, from celebrating paganism to the Radical Traditionalism of Julius Evola, Spencer and his ilk worked hard to carry on the legacy of people like Alain de Benoit and Guilluime Faye.  This was to make fascism just as much of a philosophic project as Marxism and anarchism, and one that they hoped to decouple from the more obvious forms of violence and ugly racism that it usually resorts to.  While those on the anti-fascist left will usually point out that this is merely an act, and it is, there is often a deeper process here.  What they are searching for is to give reason and purpose to the bigotry that they feel, and they want to prove that it is not hatred but deep philosophical ideas and socio-biological identity that is driving them.  Spencer has constructed a culture that looks as much as possible like the academic left, using jargon and rhetoric that feels more like the Frankfurt School than like the National Alliance.  Oswald Spangler, Ernst Junger, and Carl Schmidt were pulled off the shelf, mixed with misreadings of Nietzsche, and an “intellectual” fascist tradition was continued in the few conferences the Alt Right had the money to muster.

With the innocuously named National Policy Institute, Spencer hosted conferences that were overpriced and set in posh venues, all with the idea of gaining legitimacy.  With Washington Summit Publishers, the NPI book publishing wing, he basically republished books by scientific racists of the past like Madison Grant as well as “new school” race and IQ ideologues like Richard Lynn and Kevin McDonald, all with names like the “Global Bell Curve” that both try to ride the wave of popular right-wing books in the mainstream and to sound as if they could blend into the world of scientific publishing.  Going further, with the launch of the Radix Journal website, Spencer created a Radix imprint for Washington Summit Publishers to print books that were more cultural.  Here they published a slick journal with themes like “The Great Erasure,” looking at the “global delegitimization of the white man.”  They republished crossover authors like Samuel Francis, who has the strange achievement of being published regularly in the Washington Times as well as for white nationalist publications like the Occidental Observer, American Renaissance, and the Citizen Informer, the newsletter of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Similarly, Greg Johnson of Counter Currents has tried to create an academic tone with his publishing, mixing in the pseudo-spirituality of Heathens like Stephen McNallen, the racial mysticism of Savitri Devi, and tribalists like Jack Donovan.  Going even further, publishers like Arktos Media have tried to build a culture on republishing Julius Evola and French New Right thinkers as well as neofolk records, all with the idea that they can create a far-right wing culture of art and philosophy.

All of this together brought a certain tone that, while masking the guttural racial hatred and genocidal justifications, was meant to make arguments for their position in a world disgusted by racism, sexism, and homophobia.

It wasn’t this culture, however, that gave the Alt Right the name it has today.

Blind Ideology, White Anger

The current state of the Alt Right is one that is based on a certain online cruelty, a culture built almost entirely on the insult.  This did not start with The Right Stuff and their headline podcast The Daily Shoah, but it certainly was popularized with it.  The Daily Shoah was created by a group of former libertarians who had turned towards white nationalism and wanted to create an Opie and Anthony styled radio show for their crew.  As they had built most of their ideological foundations on message boards rather than in political situations out in the real world, they had developed a caustic online culture of racial epithets and angry misogyny.  Uniting the worlds of white nationalism, Men’s Rights Activism, anti-disability blame-rage, and other indulgences of reactionary toxicity, they used the Alt Right philosophical underpinnings as a foundation for their anger.  They hate black people, and call them the N-word and other creative insults, and then pick at “Human Biological Diversity” terminology to justify their anger.  Kevin McDonald’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories fuel their bizarre belief that everything in the culture that pulls progressive or against systemic white supremacy is done by Jews, who conspire in their genes to undermine “Western Civilization.  They bring on other Nazis and right-wingers to indulge in esoteric Hitlerism, strange Euro-paganism, and the intermix of Christian orthodoxy, paleolibertarianism, and secular authoritarianism with their own angry racism to create a culture of Internet trolling rather than political organizing.

Through The Right Stuff, the Daily Stormer, and a slew of blogs and podcasts, we have seen the two cultures, the pseudo-academic and the vulgar anger, unite into one “Alt Right,” with a single soul and two dramatically different faces.

As Spencer walked in circles around the Quicken Loans Arena he tried to turn “stereotypes” about racists on their head, fighting to shake Jorge Ramos’ hand.  In an earlier interview, Ramos had a conversation with a KKK member who refused to lock palms with him, and Spencer wanted to show that he, in fact, respected Ramos.  In their conversation, Spencer wanted to prove that Ramos was an “Identitarian” just like Spencer, fighting for his people.  This is a common talking point among white nationalist who try to argue that they are fighting for white interests just like the NAACP fights for “black interests” and La Raza fights for “Latino interests.”  This is context denial, a term that the Alt Right loves to use, in that they do not like to admit that when it comes to Black Nationalism, it is an attempt to reclaim a stolen culture and identity, while white nationalism actually obliterates European history in an attempt to reconstruct formal white supremacy. One is organizing against verifiable oppression, and the other is the reactionary anger of a group who is having their privilege eroded by progress.

That evening Spencer was invited to Milo Yiannopoulos’ evening party, where he lived out one of the most profound paradoxes of the Alt Right and their participation at the RNC.  Milo has made a name for himself as the most high profile people donning the Alt Right label, though his version is the most watered down by most Alt Right standards.  Many on the Alt Right denounce Milo because he is a gay man with a Jewish ancestry; though the more savvy of the crowd like that he is mainstreaming their iconoclastic views at Breitbart.  Milo was there to lead the anti-Islamic charge, claiming that it Islam was not only irreconcilable with queerness, but incompatible with Western Civilization as a whole.  LGBTrump founder Chris Barron continued this rhetoric during the evening, which echoed the angry scapegoating of Jewish immigrants in 1920s Germany.  While comparisons to Nazi Germany are often obvious and overwrought, this situation seemed obvious as the contempt towards Muslims was explicit and there were open calls for their forced expulsion.

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Matt Forney (Middle)

While Spencer was softening the blows of his racism, Milo was riding the wave of this own offensiveness, all the way to being banned on Twitter.  Spencer was one of many Alt Right people at Milo’s events, including MRA clown Matt Forney reporting for Red Ice.  The party was an RNC associated event that openly invited people who argue that Black people should be forcefully returned to Africa in a “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”  If this doesn’t reveal the current orientation of the GOP, nothing does.

After the first couple days of the party, Spencer joined Jazz Hands McFeels at Fash the Nation, one of the other most popular white nationalist podcasts on the growing Right Stuff podcast network.  After telling Jorge Ramos that he respected all races and cultures, he used racial slurs to refer to black people and laughed along at comparisons between people of color and animals.  Fash the Nation enjoys using the n-word, calling black people “feral” and various types of apes, and laughs about killing Jews.  This is what has spiked its numbers, as its Alt Right Twitter army laughs with glee as they are given permission to revel in the darkest parts of their reactionary bigotry.

Appearance vs. Reality

It is here that the contradiction in the Alt Right has grown to proportions it cannot ignore: it wants to be both an inoffensive political and ideological movement while also being an angry and virulently offensive brand of political theater.  While Spencer previously found racial slurs offensive and idiotic, he dropped his standards once it was those qualities that gave the Alt Right legs.  While he was developing an “ideological” movement built on intellectual credibility, it was words like Dindu, Triggered, Echoes, and Merchant that gave it the culture to grow.

As it hits its zenith, many on the inside of these circles are beginning to realize that you cannot have both.  You cannot have an inoffensive “identitarianism” on one side, that argues that is simply wants its own identity and is not reveling in hatred of “the other” while also indulging in angry insults at people of color and mocking their suffering.

Holocaust Denial has come in waves as a sort of “crossover” topic for white nationalists, one that is intended to find some converts in conspiracy theory circles.  In the early 1990s it saw a peak with organizations like the Institute for Historical Review and the Barnes Review trying to legitimize “Holocaust Revisionism” as just another form of historical inquiry.  They argued that it was simply about uncovering truth and had no social or political agenda besides finding out what really happened.

If this was true, why was it that most of those involved in the revisionism were also involved in racial nationalist projects?  Why were the same people questioning the existence of gas chambers also presenting race and IQ arguments?  Could it be simply that they were repackaging the racial hatred of the past in new pseudo-intellectual arguments?  This became such an obvious sham that places like the IHR shut their doors, and Holocaust Denial became (until recently) an almost forgotten task left to basement dwellers on BlogSpot.

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Mark Weber

They attempted to say that their arguments were disconnected from all of the aspects that society finds repulsive: insulting racism, racial violence, genocide, persecution, and oppression.  Instead, they could not cover their tracks well enough, and it took only the briefest look to reveal them for who they were.  Mark Weber, the most well known front-man for the IHR (after wrestling it away from ignominious racist Willis Carto) often donned a suit and tie and used academic jargon when stating his case for reimagining the second World War.  If he really was just another historian who stumbled on this “inconvenient truth,” then how come he had been a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance since he was a teenager?

A similar situation marks the two-storied history of American Renaissance (AmRen), one of the largest and most established white nationalist projects in the country.  AmRen began in the late 1980s as a newsletter from Jared Taylor as a pseudo-intellectual white nationalist voice, intending to be an alternative to the toxic influence of neo-Nazi organizations that engaged in murderous fits of violence over the 1980s.  Taylor focused in on race and IQ arguments mainly, riding the wave of The Bell Curve and the candidacies of people like David Duke and Pat Buchanan, creating a “high brow” culture for their conferences.  Over the years they have hosted every scientist who has made arguments about the differences between races, often arguing that the organization is simply dedicated to getting out a clearer view of science, heredity, and biological difference.

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Donald Templar, speaking at American Renaissance.

If this were true, then their list of speakers would not be a “who’s who” of nationalist far-right political organizations, ranging from fascist organizations to ones with a history of racial terror.  If it was simply an organization for the scientific study of race, then you would not have “academics” like Donald Templar stepping to the podium to yell about how tired he is of black people “complaining” and how they need to be worked 60-hour weeks in prison so they will stop “giving aids to each other.”  If you listen to a large cross section of American Renaissance speeches, or read their newsletter, the only connective tissue is anger towards non-white people and the value-laden language meant to disparage anyone without pure Aryan ancestry.  All of the “difference” that they outline puts black and brown people in a negative light, and most of the terms and categories used are either antiquated or non-scientific in orientation.   Plainly put, American Renaissance is an organization dedicated towards developing white nationalism through the denigration of people of color, and the “science” is piecemeal, out of context, and almost always discredited.

Why American Renaissance has dropped its scientific veneer in recent years is that it did not work.  They attempted to gain credibility for its beliefs on the one hand, yet empowered a sub-intellectual culture of racial slurs, anger, and insults.

Spencer has spent years disassociating himself with the KKK and neo-Nazis of the world, but that is a surface act at best.  In his most recent podcast, Spencer interview former KKK leader David Duke about his upcoming big for the Louisiana legislature.  He often has Kevin McDonald, the sort of Karl Marx of anti-Semitism, who was on the board of the skinhead-associated American Freedom Party, a place where Spencer has also been interviewed.  He often joins The Daily Shoah, or invites them on his own show, where they do not skimp on the denigrations against Jews, transgender people, and all non-white people.  Spencer may play his rhetorical game, but the only difference between him and a KKK member is that his house is worth almost $4 million.  When it comes to every ideological point, from the “subhuman” nature of black people to the secret power structure of Jews, Spencer is identical to all of the neo-Nazis that the general public finds so repulsive.  When it comes to rhetoric, he is of the same circles as those calling Black people “Dindus,” making monkey sounds during Black History month, and applauding the murder of Mike Brown.

As Donald Trump publicly implodes going into the general election, he is continuing to drum up an “anti-PC” culture of racial animosity and fighting words.  This peak has given the Alt Right a place in the public discourse, but it has discredited all legitimacy it had hoped to gain.  While they main gain converts through their toxic discourse and rhetoric, they have undermined all ability to actually have an influence on even the broader American right wing.  While trying to take on both faces, that of the academy and of the bully, they have failed to actually benefit from either, and now they are seeing peak influence.  Even if Donald Trump was to pull a Hail Mary and win in the general election, their rhetoric will continue to fade as Trump’s administration heads to a socially conservative platform, bought into the same neoliberal interests that he has been tied to throughout his career as a bourgeois inheritance baby.  The Alt Right has played all of its cards, and its limited contributions to discourse will not withstand its self-destruction.

For anti-fascists going forward, the biggest lesson is that the Alt Right has rebranded the far right, and will make up the cultural touchstones of fascist organization for years to come.  Broad nationalism, Internet trolling, and silly jargon are what neo-Nazis are today, which gives a great sign of what to look for.  As far as influence, they have created a cap that they will never be able to move past.

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Tee-Spring Drops Daily Shoah T-Shirts

One of the key ways the Alt Right attempts to make its way into the culture is by sliding itself into casual discourse by normalizing racist jokes that have a very serious fascist undercurrent. This was exactly the intent with the Coincidence Detector, the Google Chrome-Plugin that put parenthesis around the last names that they think are Jewish. This “echo” is meant to make people think about all of these Jewish last names and think that is “can’t be a coincidence,” even though they are arbitrarily assigning Jewishness to some names, lumping them into groups, and then assuming some coordinated conspiracy to do a whole range of “degeneracies.”

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They have done this largely through their meme culture of slang words and goofy parody songs laced with incredibly offensive racist language. They repeatedly make jokes about “1488,” which is a neo-Nazi meme that they appropriate in a way to make fun of their more “LARPy” ideological counterparts. They have taken their memes a step further in different gifts they give to the donors to their show, starting with the oven mitts. During their run, when a donor gave $14.88 they were sent a Daily Shoah oven mitt. This is supposed to reference the ovens used to incinerate Jewish bodies during the Holocaust, which is a Holocaust they do not believe happened and intend to mock. They use “ovened” in casual conversation as a way to say something deserves to be destroyed, or simply to awkwardly insult something simply for rhyming(such as the “oven middle class” instead of Upper Middle Class).

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Their newest attempt at bringing the memes into the community is with their different shirts. Their “standard” shirt, which says Standard Pool Party, is a reference to their “standard pool parties,” which is just their meet-ups for Alt Right fans. Their Fash the Nation shirts were simply to promote their political show, and when the issue came forward with the coincidence Detector they came up with another one. This simply included the triple parenthesis around the world “Coincidence,” which is a coded reference to the “Jewish Question.”

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As the story about the Coincidence Detector went viral, people got wise to the t-shirt that was up on their Tee-Spring page and reported it for hate speech. The shirt was promptly pulled down, angering many in the Right Stuff forums and annoying the hosts. The other shirts still stay up, most of which are pretty vague in terms of racial references. Instead, the shirts are more just a reference to the Daily Shoah and, by relationship, to racial nationalism. There are, however, shirts with helicopters, referencing the helicopter murders by Pinochet’s army against dissidents.  The 616 Degrees shirt is also a reference to the concentration camp ovens used to incinerate bodies.  These would both also violate the Tee-Spring Terms of Service.

That was, however, until the TRS Merch page on Tee-Spring was pulled of all of its shirts. Since Tee-Spring campaigns for shirt sales are temporary, it could just be that their sale ended and will returns soon. This requires keeping an eye out to see if they return.

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Google Drops the Anti-Semitic (((Echo))) App from App Store

Anything associated with the Alt Right and popular blogs and podcasts of their ilk, such as the Daily Stormer or the Daily Shoah, seem to have a short shelf life in the non-racist world.

As we have reported on in the past, at length, the Daily Shoah and the Right Stuff have contributed quite a bit to neo-fascism and white nationalism in terms of language. They have created dozens, if not hundreds, of slang terms and memes for the far right, giving them their own internal language.

One of their favorites of these is the “echo.” Like most white nationalists and neo-Nazis, the Alt Right is incredibly anti-Semitic. Drawing on the work of people like Kevin McDonald, they see Jews as being in a struggle of ethnic conflict inside of their “host” societies in Western nations. Jews then create “pseudoscientific” ideas like Freudianism, Marxism, capitalism, etc, all to destabilize the rightful ethnic nationalism of white Europeans. If they do this, so their conspiracy theory goes, Jews can then outcompete Europeans for resources, then dominating institutions like investment banks and the media.

For this reason they say that Jewish last names “echo” through history and important institutions, and they try to prove this Jewish conspiracy by pointing out Jewish, or Jewish sounding, last names of people in positions of political or social power. None of this actually explains how Jews do this, how all of these political and social systems are false and traced back to Jewish ethnic interests, or how Jews know how to fall in line with this grand conspiracy by virtue of a few shared genes.

Never the less, they, like most on the far right, prove their accusation simply by pointing at anything they do not like and finding Jewish last names associated with it. Immigration, “cultural Marxism,” free market politics, pedophilia, pornography, feminism, and just about all other “degeneracies” that have no connection to each other are put under this umbrella.

The symbols they are using in text for these echoes are a parenthesis on each side, for example: (((name))). This is to say the name “echoes,” and it has been an inside joke for almost a year now on racist Twitter and Facebook. Because it is not as well known as other words of racial abuse, it does not get flagged easily on social media.

A Daily Shoah affiliate even created a Google Chrome extension that puts the echoes on Jewish last names automatically, and will crash your browser if you go to the Wikipedia page for neoconservatism because of the number of Jewish names. The extension was named the Coincidence Detector, another inside joke saying, “Look at all the Jewish names, must be a “coincidence.”

In the last week reports have come out about the echo internationally, with places like Gizmodo, Mic, and dozens of other news sites covering it. In response, Google dropped the app almost immediately, refusing to participate in such a disgusting form of anti-Semitic harassment. The app has about 2,500 users and has a five-star rating, which shows the level of reach that the Alt Right has.

The Right Stuff was obviously angry about it being pulled, so then they released their own new shirts featuring the (((Coincidence))). They are selling these over at Tee Spring, where they also had their Standard Pool Company and Fash the Nation shirts for sale. It won’t be long before pressure if put on Tee Spring and those shirts are taken down as well.

They also put up an article called “How to Spot a Jew in a World Without a Coincidence Detector,” which basically tells you what a Jewish name might look.

The most obvious clues the books details are Jewish names. One of the most obvious ways to identify a Jewish name is to take note of the suffix, the most famous suffix in the West being (((((((-BURG))))))). You can mishmash anything in front of it, but usually if there is a (((-burg))) at the end of a last name you know you are dealing with a Jew. Here is a short list of Jewish suffixes to watch out for. Remember this is only a clue to one’s heritage; there is a small chance this might be a goy.

  • -burg or -berg
  • -stein
  • -blatt
  • -man
  • -mann

And remember these names can be mish mashed together. You can have Steinburgs, Burgsteins or even Steinmanns. There are also the more popular Jewish family names that don’t use an identifiable suffix or even a set spelling. Names like:

  • -S(c)hapiro (sometimes spelled different from LITTLE BENJI)
  • -Cohen
  • -Katz
  • -Kaplan

All of these names echo and can help you build your 5th-generation Jewdar. But are there any other ways to identify Jews than just their names?

This is about the extent of their deep thinking about the Jewish Question(or the JQ as they call it), and it is worthwhile to continue to point out that their “grand theory” about Jewish “influence” is just gutteral anti-Semitism couched in fancy sounding words.

Sarah Schulman is Not an Anti-Semite

A recent series of headlines from well-known newspapers and news websites may have caught your eye if you are a fan of Sarah Schulman.  The novelist and playwright is well known both for her stage work and working on LGBT rights, including AIDS activism with ACT UP and direct action organizing with the Lesbian Avengers.  Schulman, now a professor at the City University of New York, is now being touted as a “suit and tie” anti-Semite.

The accusation comes from a CUNY student chapter of Zionist Organization of America, one of the oldest pro-Israel organizations in the world with over 30,000 members.  The accusations come, in part, from her sponsorship of the student organization Students for Justice in Palestine at the College of Staten Island.  Students from the ZOA wrote a letter to state Senator Jack Martins as well as bringing these charges before the CUNY administration.

The content that they use to make these allegations are largely things like tweets, support for the student organization and their work, and her public statements and writing on the Israel/Palestine conflict.  An example of this cited by the ZOA is an October 11, 2014 tweet from Schulman wrote saying, “I question the idea of exceptionalisms[..]The murder of 2,000 Gazans also reflects Jewish values.”  In response to accusations about anti-Semitism in her tweets, she also wrote “That’s not anti-Semitic to say that people who killed people murdered them.”

In 2012 she published Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, a book that shifts a little from her political work of the past.  The allegations have settled largely on, what for Palestinian human rights activists, are pretty standard discussion points.  This includes the violence perpetrated against children in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Defense Force, using language like “murderers” to describe them.  The students at ZOA have asked for Schulman, who is Jewish herself, to be removed from the adviser for the student group.

The purpose of Students for Justice in Palestine is to harass, intimidate and frankly assault Jews attending schools, and we can’t have the government or the university underwriting a hate group,” wrote Senator Jack Martins, who agreed with the ZOA about the group and Schulman.

The event culminated in forcing Schulman before the CUNY Task Force on Anti-Semitism, formed to look at incidents on the city campuses.  Schulman said afterward that it was clear that the college was after the student group specifically, and the inquiry was less about her and what she had said.  She was forced to discuss accusations against SJP that had no evidence, like the claim that they drew swastikas on campus.  She focused in the conversation about the students that she supported, and how their experience was the focus of the group and how anti-Semitism and homophobia was both never tolerated and never seen.

I also spoke about the students themselves: how much I respect our students, and how much I have been enriched by working with them. How many of our SJP students are Palestinian. Their families have been displaced. Their relatives have been held in illegal detention. They have been denied entry to Israel/Palestine because of their political activism. I told the Task Force that I have come to know the students, and some of their family members. That they have NEVER been anti-semitic or homophobic or done anything that justified any kind of negative institutional response.

One of the accusations was that a “Jewish student” hid her Star of David when she saw Muslim students. Besides the fact that this has nothing to do with SJP, I explained to the Task Force that there are Jews who have dehumanizing views of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, and project enormous anxiety onto to them. But that this has nothing to do with Muslim students, themselves. And certainly is not their fault.

In this statement, put on her Facebook on October 22nd, also she discussed Zionism as a concept with the panel, which she said was must different today than the historical trajectory of Judaism.

Then we discussed the relationship between Zionism and Judaism. I testified that since the onset of Zionism, since Theodore Hertzl published his book “The Jewish State” in 1896, there has been disagreement among Jews re Zionism. That for its entire history, for 5,700 years, Judaism has been a dialogic religion rooted in commentary and inquiry. And that this current moment is the only time that Jews have been told to be homogenous in thought. That in fact, this impulse to force all Jews into one opinion is ahistorical and not Judaic.

She went on to discuss how Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has approved of how CUNY was handling the allegation, showing tacit support for the singling out of Schulman.

When looking at Schulman after the allegations we wanted to be open to the idea that creeping anti-Semitism had, in fact, made its way into her discourse.  This has happened inside of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, not because radical support for the Palestinians and opposition to the State of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic, as Abe Foxman would have you believe.  Instead, it comes from a lack of a clear understanding of the historic role and character of anti-Semitism and the inability to for the movement to confront creeping caricatures, conspiracy theories, and anti-Semitic anger that has made its way in.

Instead, what we found was that Schulman’s accused “anti-Semitism” was almost purely one that is made up of for her pro-Palestinian organizing, and lacked any of the key qualities that anti-Semitism is made up of.  This vision of anti-Semitism is not built on any of the historic understandings of what anti-Semitism actually is, whether it is an unfair conspiratorial view of Jews or a targeting of Jews that is unique to their position as Jews.  Foxman makes the allegations that if you support other national liberation movements but oppose Israel, then you are anti-Semitic, plain and simple.  This erases the historical injustices of the formation of Israel, the colonization of land, the removal of families, the violent ethnic cleansing of the people living in the neighborhoods that was acquired.  It tells us that the ongoing atrocities, the imprisonment of Gaza, the building of Apartheid walls, and the ongoing imperialism in the settlements, is just common to liberation struggles.  This absurdity strips us of the ability to see anti-Semitism as an accurate phenomenon, one that continues as a point of genocidal racism that is not synonymous with criticism of Israel.

The ZOA itself is not a representative Jewish voice, but instead one that is uniquely Israeli in politics.  As Schulman pointed out, there is no “absolute” legacy for Israeli politics inside of the “Jewish people.”  This is, in part, why we oppose the use of the term Zionism, as it is also a Jewish religious concept, only one interpretation of such is actually the modern State of Israel.  We may make different language choices than Schulman has (such as not using the term Zionism), but this does not an anti-Semite make.

When looking through Schulman’s public statements, as well as the allegations of private statements and behavior, we found not one single example where charges of anti-Semitism could be leveled.  The danger this presents should be obvious as a political issue over the behavior of Israel is at stake here, not Jewish people or Judaism as a tradition and faith.  This creates a culture of social criminality for critics of Israel, equating the very real threat of anti-Semitism with incredibly logical politics on the left.  For Sarah Schulman, these allegations could destroy her life, get her fired, force her books to be pulled from shelves, and get her blacklisted from many of the artistic circles she has spent her life and energy to be a part of.  For many young activists, this could end the possibility of careers before they even begin.

At the same time, it obscures the actualities of anti-Semitism, giving reasonable cover to those that do perpetrate images of Jews as evil and conniving.  These voices are increasing as neo-fascists movements increase in the U.S. and Europe, but with a hazy understanding of what actual anti-Semitism is it is becoming more difficult to single those reactionaries out and to create a movement to remove anti-Semitism from the social discourse.

We are especially sensitive to anti-Semitic discourse, going further in our analysis than many would simply because creeping anti-Semitism has occurred inside of left spaces through areas like anti-banking politics and anti-Israeli ideas.  This, however, isn’t an example of that, and the idea that people like Schulman can be targeted with charges of anti-Semitism to wash over important politics is both frightening and revolting.

The incident at CUNY is not unique as a report from the University of California has now made the allegation that opposition to “Zionism” is often just a cover for anti-Semitism.  The administration plans to be asking for regular reports on intolerance, with a focus on anti-Semitism.  This is the kind of monitoring is something we actually support as challenging racism and anti-Semitism on campus is an important battle, but if the equation is that anti-Israeli politics are synonymous with anti-Semitism, then we will see the censorship of Palestinian politics on California campuses under the guise of fighting racism.  This would fundamentally undermine the BDS movement, which has followed the South African Apartheid movement in being heavy on campuses and pulling for campus divestment in Israel and the settlements.  The move would essentially socially criminalize Palestinian activism, and reframe the conversation of Israeli atrocities so that they could never be fairly discussed.

This is a point that Schulman knows well, and even if the CUNY administration decides that neither she nor SJP have done anything wrong, this may taint the conversation on CUNY campuses for years.  For our part, with our position that anti-Semitism should be rooted out at any point, also want to make a clear statement about what anti-Semitism is, and what its not.  We support Schulman and SJP’s work on campus and want to keep a conversation alive about how to correctly identify anti-Semitic behavior, and how to support the Palestinians to find justice.

Pop Conspiracy: B.O.B., Tila Tequila, and the Digitizing of Old School Anti-Semitism

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A Twitter-storm is now the new headline factory, which is no surprise since silliness often hits the top of CNN and the New York Times based on trending hashtags.  While the Malheur rebellion was hitting its twilight, and the police standoff ended in a fatal shooting, B.O.B. was stealing some of the spotlight with his geological ideas.

For those who have not seen the flurry of articles and late-night monologues about this: B.O.B. believes the earth is flat.  We don’t mean this as a Friedmanesque analogy about 21st century corporate globalization, but literally that it is a disc.  The Flat Earth Society has existed for over a century continuing to play on contemporary conspiracy theories to argue that the Earth is not a globe as all of contemporary science proves.  Instead, they make strange arguments about the angling of the horizon and fundamentalist readings of the Bible to argue against what has been the consensus for hundreds of years.  In this view the Arctic Ocean and North Pole reside at the center of this spinning disc, Antarctica is a 150-foot ice wall that holds the oceans in from falling off the edge, and the Sun is about 3,000 miles above Earth.

Those who do ascribe to Flat Earth Theory are not your regular Alex Jones type crackpots, or even those who believe world leaders to be secret Reptilian Humanoids from the lower fourth-dimension.  No, this is the fringe of the fringe, and it would be hard to believe that their numbers are larger than a few hundred in the whole world.  Now, they have a few celebrity cohorts.

This began several weeks ago with former reality-star Tila Tequila going to Twitter to post that the earth was, in fact, flat.  “I WILL STOP MY #FLATEARTH TALK IF SOMEONE CAN SEND ME A GOD DAMN PHOTO OF THE HORIZON WITH A CURVATURE! OTHERWISE IT IS FLAT!,” read one of these.

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B.O.B., the rapper also going by Bobby Ray, then took this idea and ran with it, quoting silly talking points from Flat Earthers about the edge of the horizon, the angle of the sun, and the angles of vision.  Both Tila and B.O.B. went on to basically insult the world’s intelligence and call non-believers sheep, which is why it has been easy to focus on the level of stupidity at pla.  The unfortunate part is that neither Tila nor B.O.B. are simply parroting innocent eccentricities.

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After being made fun of by famed physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, B.O.B. released a new track called Flatline.  Beyond being barely produced and sung, the song basically strung together various inane conspiracy theories.  Here he insinuates that NASA is a government control plot and pays Tyson for his participation.  Later B.O.B. tweeted him asking if he was a Freemason.  In Flatline, he goes on to discuss cloning, which he says is being done to black celebrities, and that science is a cult of liars.  At midpoint during the song he drops the following line:

Before you try to curve it, do your research on David Irving.

Stalin was way worse than Hitler.

That’s why POTUS gotta wear a Kippa

There is really only one thing that David Irving is famous for today: Holocaust Denial.

Irving began as a semi-respected historian of the Second World War, especially of Nazi Germany.  Though he was certainly allied with neo-fascist political programs while in college, he went on to publish major works on the Third Reich that were on cutting edge in terms of legitimate scholarship.  It was true that his work was problematic and sympathetic to Nazism even from the earliest publications, and he eventually began saying that the Holocaust was not on the direct order of Hitler.  After the Canadian trial of Ernst Zundel, who was being tried for “inciting racial hatred” for publishing the pamphlet Did Six Million Really Die?, Irving was swayed by the debunked testimony of Fred Leuchter.  He has associated with far-right and neo-Nazi groups, both in speaking for them in talks that blame Jews for their own persecution and for openly stating his own racial nationalist ideas.  Today, he is the most famous Holocaust Denier in the world as he is one of the only deniers who had a historical pedigree ahead of the denial.  He gained further notoriety after suing Deborah Lipstadt in the early 1990s after her book, the seminal work on holocaust denial, Denying the Holocaust, claimed that he was, in fact, a racist and a liar.  He then went through an embarrassing trial where he was forced to try and defend his claims about the Holocaust as a planned program for Jewish extermination, which he could not do.  He eventually lost both his claims and the counter-suit that Lipstadt leveled against him.  Later he was imprisoned in Austria for denying the Holocaust, where it is actually a serious crime.

What B.O.B. seems to be referencing here is a common claim on the far-right that Hitler’s numbers in terms of extermination and oppression were inflated, and in fact it was the Soviets who were the bigger criminals.  Part of this comes from the inclusion of German casualties to Soviet troops in WWII, as well as the numbers from political repression and incompetence in Stalin’s Russia.  The purpose of this comparison is to dethrone ethnic nationalism as an immediately recognized genocidal force and to instead list Nazi Germany as just one of the many violent regimes that have blanketed human history.  B.O.B. goes on to label the Jews specifically by mentioning the Kippa, saying that world leaders have to have Jewish allegiances.

This is not a coded message about Holocaust Denial, but an open reference to anyone that researched his message.  This took several days, and Salon was essentially the first source to go deep into his comments to analyze their background.  B.O.B. has referenced things like “false flag” U.S. attacks, bringing up the Alex Jones type conspiracy theories about 9/11.

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B.O.B. might seem like an outlier even to the conspiracy theory crowd, but, as Tila Tequila has shown previously, the connection to open anti-Semitism is much more ingrained.  In 2013 she inspired a massive controversy by posting a picture of herself in a modified Hitler costume.  Many people thought this was an ill-tempered attempt at provocation, but it was quickly put in context as she posted multiple blogs on her website showing admiration for Hitler and doubting the “official story” of the Holocaust.  If you were to then go through her forums and comments section, this connection became even more explicit.  Over and over again she said that contemporary Jews were in fact not Jews at all, but Khazars.  This is a less known conspiracy theory to the broad tinfoil hat crowd, and one that comes from the most violent annals of white nationalism.  Often present in Christian Identity churches, which also believe that people of color are not fully human and without souls, they believe that the ancient Israelites of the Bible were actually the European white race.  Jews were in fact a demonic tribe of people, sometimes considered to be a tribal band known as the Khazars.  They converted to the Babylonian Temple religion, a perverted version of the Old Testament, and its devious plans are fully revealed in the Babylonian Talmud.  In this theory, their main function is to leech on dominant national populations, trying to destroy the white race by inspiring race mixing.  This may sound too extreme for Tila Tequila to believe, and it is most likely from reading her mixed posts that she probably only read parts of a few blogs and articles before deciding Jews were evil, but this is certainly at the heart of her ranting.  Anyone that disagrees with her she calls a “dirty Jew” and a “Kike.”  She repeatedly says that Jews lie to get the State of Israel, that they tarnished great men like Hitler, and that they are in control of the media and the investment banks.  She was even thrown off of Celebrity Big Brother in mid-2015 after her comments surfaced, especially that she was the reincarnation of Hitler.

Hitler was a good man and it takes some f*****g balls for someone to say this out loud in this day and age, especially for a public figure like myself…Here is a man who was not a coward, stood up for his country in a desperate time of need… and yet not only did he try his best to help his country and people get out of what was a time of depression, economic collapse, high unemploymeny(sic). He lost the war and was painted out to be a monster after his death. This is what breaks my heart. (From her blog)

When speaking about the Jews in WWII specifically she was pretty candid.

What do you think war is about? People DIE in wars that is why I am against wars… I understand the Jewish people went through some s**t too, but hey guess what?? SO DID THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE WHO SUFFERED IN EVERY SINGLE WAR THAT TOOK PLACE! You were NOT the only ones! So please, if the rest of us can forgive and forget maybe it’s time you do also!!!

The question that comes up from many media outlets right now is how two folks of color, B.O.B. and Tila Tequila, would be parroting extreme genocidal racists who would likely want to see them in camps just as much as Jewish people.  This is complex, but anti-Semitism itself has been ever present inside conspiracy theories that are still common in some communities of color.  Often deeply held inside black nationalist groups like the Nation of Islam, the Black Hebrew Israelites, and the Nuwabian Nation, Jews are vilified and seen as a primary agent in the colonial slave trade.  Anti-Semitism has historically been a main focus of conspiracy theories, from the identification of Freemasons as controlling the secret government to the trans-national Illuminati that is repackaged for every ideological specific development.  In How to Overthrow the Illuminati, which was a popular pamphlet discussing conspiracy theories in African American communities, anti-Semitism is able to unite working class people against their own interest in the same way that general racism can unite the white working class against their class unity.

Anti-Semitism united poor workers with small business owners, despite their opposed interests. The poor workers were angry about their treatment under capitalism, but saw Jews as a bigger enemy than their exploiting factory bosses. The small business owners worked to become the big-time exploiters of the poor workers, and felt Jews stood in the way of their goals. These two classes were fundamentally opposed to each other, but temporarily joined together in a populist movement, because of their mutual, misguided anti-Semitism. Populist movements join poor people with the petit-bourgeoisie, against imagined elite enemies. They speak in the name of the “common man,” but they’re guided by middle class elements, and screw over poor and working participants in the end. Contemporary examples of populism include the Tea Party, some parts of Occupy Wall Street, and the Nation of Islam. Illuminati theories are often populist in character. Many populist theories draw on anti-Semitism to identify an evil elite that runs the world.

Anti-Semitism is so ingrained in the history of conspiracy theory that any new conspiracy theory that has any continuity to the past will lead back to the blaming of Jews.  This is present in the notion that it was Israelis who committed 9/11 as well as the David Icke presented idea that there are certain “bloodlines” that control banks and who benefit from global violence.  This brings us right back to B.O.B., who uses the lyric “there’s no superior bloodline” in Flatline’s chorus, which, in this context, seems like a clearly coded reference to Jews and their supposedly “secret bloodline” that allows them to control global affairs.

B.O.B. is continuing to mention online that there are cloning centers that he himself has witnessed and that he is “going up against the greatest liars in history.”  He will likely be dismissed as a crank, which he is, yet his return to very traditional anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is a frightening reminder that this caricature of Jews is on the tip of people’s tongues.  When David Irving was questioned about B.O.B.’s reference to him in his song, he said, “[B.o.B] does not quite go along with what the media (and shortly, Hollywood) says about me, quite right.”  As Salon pointed out, Hollywood in this context is likely a snide reference to Jews.  It took all of two days before B.O.B. was added to the Wikipedia list of Holocaust Deniers.

Neil deGrasse Tyson responded to the recent Flat Earth claims by discussing the failure of American education, especially when it comes to the physical sciences.  He kept it pretty light with an appearance on the Daily Show, basically making fun of B.O.B. for his statements.  This is part and parcel of a media representation that has largely missed the depth that his comments.

This actually presents a challenge to anti-racists in that it requires a certain understanding of the history of anti-Semitism, its role in conspiracy theory and economic populism, and how we can continue to highlight how it goes unchallenged in many political spaces.  As we hit Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is a critical time to remember what has come before and what unchallenged hatred and scapegoating can result in.