The renewed attacks on CNN and the mainstream effort to normalize anti-Semitism

2016 was the year that virulent anti-Semitism came roaring back, enabled by social media, especially Twitter. And in 2017, we witnessed the subtle normalization of Jew-hating.

I’ve written before about the neo-Nazi “Alt Right” using Twitter to systemically attack Jews, women, people of color, and LGBT people in an effort to ethnically cleanse the Internet. What’s happening now is perhaps even more troubling: Senior Republicans, and even members of the media, attempting to normalize such behavior.

Donald Trump has already been repeatedly accused of being insensitive to anti-Semitism, including: Trump’s refusal to mention Jews in a Holocaust remembrance day proclamation; his hiring of far-right Hungarian Seb Gorka; and his son, Donald Jr.’s, open embrace of Alt Right memes and associates.

And now, Trump Sr. is tweeting memes created by a man who compiles and publishes online lists of “known Jews” in the US media. We know this because CNN, through some awfully good reporting, uncovered the identity of the man who created the “Trump beating up CNN” video that Trump shared the other day. The man is also responsible for disseminating an image documenting the allegedly known Jews working at CNN. Note his caption: “Something strange about CNN… can’t quite put my finger on it.”

It’s not the only racist or anti-Semitic thing the man has shared. And CNN has confirmed, he is a man, he’s not a child, as some on the right have claimed.

You’d think after it was revealed that the man has a history of racist and anti-Semitic comments, Republicans would shun him. Nope. Donald Trump Jr. is now publicly defending the man, and accusing CNN of extortion. Trump Jr., and many on the right, are now claiming that CNN threatened the man. In fact, CNN refused to publish the man’s name since the man expressed legitimate remorse when they tracked him down. CNN did say that should the man recant his apology, they retain the right to reveal his identity.

The right is claiming this is a threat, when in fact it’s proof of CNN’s forbearance — they could have, and should have, identified the man from the git-go. anti-Semitism online is a huge and growing problem. And compiling and publishing lists of known Jews is not simply “posting stuff we don’t like,” as one reporter with Vox claimed today.

And it’s more than some “some random man being an a**shole on the Internet,” as an editor with the conservative Daily Caller claimed:

Even Donald Trump Jr. is now defending the anti-Semite:

What this man did is a threat against a protected class of American citizens. It’s not simply an “Internet meme” or “posting stuff we don’t like.” It’s part of a larger concerted effort by neo-Nazis and their sympathizers to cleanse the Internet of Jews, women, people of color and LGBT people. Twitter’s initial feeble response to the problem last year was an early sign that some Internet-savvy people don’t take bigotry, and the threat is actually represents, seriously.

This harkens back to the notion that the Internet is less serious than the real world. Back in the day, you wanted your story published in the “real” New York Times, the dead-tree version, and not the Web site. And even now, some are arguing that this is simply Internet banter that should be ignored, and even protected (“it’s free speech!”). Yet, if this same man were compiling lists of known Jews and sharing it with thousands of people offline, he’d probably be put on the no-fly list.

In the end, I’m not sure if the defense of this man is based on an antiquated notion of Internet communications as “less serious,” or whether it’s a sign of a growing tolerance for intolerance. Or both. In the case of many Republicans, it’s a willingness to overlook the sins of anti-Semitism in order to buttress Donald Trump’s jihad against freedom of the press.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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