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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  • Kevin Andrews

    There is nothing more disgusting than the intentional chilling of Free Speech with the howl of “Anti-Semitism” and looking at Palestine today there are more than enough reasons, real World War Criminal reasons to just shut the half-citizens (The dual citizens) out of politics, media or education. The Zionist hides behind the Jew who is the original communist and Bolschevic murderers. The foreign policy of Israel is “Hasbara” or instructions to lie to the World from the Fascist Zionist, Apartheid, Rogue-Nuclear illegitimate State of Israel. The truth is not anti-Semitic. The real anti-Semites are murdering Palestinian women, children and men daily.

  • He is banned, Demosthenes.

  • Okay, you are out of here.

  • Demosthenes

    Why do you even exist, racist scum?

  • jimmyt

    why do you support jews and other minoritties voting as a bloc, but rail against whites doing the same?

    sounds like a racist to me.

  • jimmyt

    there is a reason jews have been kicked out of 109 countries.

    at some point we need to face the facts about their culture and its hatred of civilization

  • jimmyt

    the truth isn’t anti-semitic. hitler was right

  • goulo

    FWIW my number (3000) came from CNN’s site:
    http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/cnn-fact-sheet/
    “CNN has 40 editorial operations around the world and around 3,000 employees worldwide.”
    (I note now that this was posted in 2011, so granted, the current number of employees is probably different now, but presumably it is at least reasonably in the ballpark.)

  • Axe22

    First of all the meme has nothing to do with having a diverse workforce. It is a specific historic slur against Jews. It is along the lines of “12 Jewish bankers control the world” or that Jews kill Christian children for their blood to use in rituals. The goal is to mobilize a group that either hates CNN to associate that distaste with Jews or the converse which is to get a group that already has animus toward Jews to hate CNN. Take a quick look here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitic_canard at some of the historic slurs against Jews which over the last 10 centuries usually end up with Jews being slaughtered.

  • kinghenry666

    Why is the image anti-semetic?

    Is it not just pointing out a fact.

  • kinghenry666

    Jews are 2% of the general popultaion – so yes that is an “over representation”. Especially in upper management and above.

  • The people in the image are all senior level people and/or public-facing. It’d be like trying to argue that BET is not an African-American dominated channel because a lot of the back office folks are white (I am neither white nor black btw). You’re also not presenting actual statistics, I assume only CNN HR has those.

  • goulo

    You sincerely think that 100 or so Jewish people at a large organization like CNN (which apparently has about 3000 employees) is “over representation”, or a sign that “only Jews” work there?

  • Isn’t having a diverse workforce what all these big companies strive for? Seems curious that Jews would be so over represented as a percent of the population (if true, I have no idea if the image is true). If Christians were also overrepresented relative to the general population I would take issue with that too (I’m an atheist btw). If people are getting jobs because of their religious affiliation/social connections that’s not a meritocracy, and the product suffers as a result. I find it hard to believe that only Jews are competent to work in journalism.

  • Axe22

    What difference would it make, true or not? The implication is to gin up the old “Jews control the media” canard. The additional assumption is that there is something wrong with Jews, the implication is that having a lot of Jews in your organization is a bad thing rather than an asset.

  • Jimbo Jones

    Gee, CNN sure does get defensive if you point out how many Jews work there.

  • Is the image actually true though? Are there really that many Jews at CNN?

  • Niblet58

    It was pretty damned stupid of CNN to add that last bit bout releasing his name if he recanted. Talk about handing a gun to the guy robing your house. You cannot just give the right weaponized statements like that and expect them to not use them.

  • Demosthenes

    It’s increasingly obvious that Trump’s presidential pivot is going great, no?

    Thanks should also go out to the approximate 25% of Jews who voted for Trump, and to the “calming” influence of Javanka.

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