Responding to Ad Hominem Anti-Semitism on the Internet
Antisemitism is raising its ugly head all over the internet, again. Yesterday, I received an email from someone called “Rebel of Oz” with a link to post entitled “How We Can Overthrow the Jew World Order.” The sender of that email, breaking the usual protocol for these kinds of messages, added the names of 178 recipients to the carbon copy list. (Did you even remember that CC stands for carbon copy?) At first, I simply ignored the original email. Then, today, I received another email from someone else, also addressed to the same list, admonishing the original sender not to send emails to people “in the open” by posting the addresses to the CC option rather than the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) option, and began to question whether ignoring this email was a viable option for me….or, as it turns out, for you either.
As it happens, I know some of the people on this list, and therefore I also know that some of the people on this list are completely opposed to this kind of Anti-Semitic nonsense, in some cases because they are Jewish and in other cases because they are simply not stupid. I also know who provided the names of the people I know on this distribution list. He should have known better, but I will not name any names here.
Because I know him, I also know that this person absolutely had to know that some of the people on that list are Jewish, and this is where simple Antisemitism becomes an ad hominem attack on the Jewish people whose names appear on this list.
Think this through with me. You are Jewish. You receive an email inviting you to read a blog post entitled “How We Can Overthrow the Jew World Order” from someone you don’t know, but there are other names on the list including, perhaps, some people you do know. How are you going to feel about those people on that list? Are you going to automatically assume that they are as uninterested in Rebel of Oz’s thesis as you are, or are you going to wonder if some of them might not, in fact, be swayed by the specious arguments in Rebel of Oz’s arguments or might in fact already agree with the premise. (Why else would they be on the list, forgetting of course that you were too?) That cannot make you feel good, wondering if people you respect and whom you thought respected you might not eventually become convinced that there must be some validity to these old Anti-Semitic assertions under the old maxim: “Where there’s smoke, there must be fire.”
Now, turn that premise upside down. Imagine that someone else – someone you know in one capacity or another – sees your name on this list. How are you going to feel about that, as you wonder how they feel about it?
In fact, the fact that your name is on this list could (and maybe should) make you feel very, very uncomfortable….and that is exactly what the people who write and publish these things want from you. It’s called progressive destabilization and it is a step toward a totalitarian dictatorship, as people who otherwise might find a common cause among one another are divided by a false distinction that separates people from each other based on beliefs in false premises.
We live today in an age of disinformation in which the frequent repetition of false assertions has the effect of causing even fair minded people to wonder whether or not there might be some truth in even the most outlandish assertions. This has become one of the most crucial issues in the Information Age: we can no longer trust the information we find online. There’s nothing new about this. Disinformation has always been around. Hitler used it. Napoleon used it. Julius Caesar probably used it. What is new, and different, is that the information you read yesterday can disappear today and be replaced with diametrically opposed “facts” tomorrow….and you would never know about it, unless you are in the habit of reading the same articles over and over again. George Orwell was right. We are living in the world he predicted in 1949 with his so-called dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Can it still be considered dystopian if it comes true?)
That’s the slippery slope we are on, because when the facts change around you on a daily basis, no one knows what the truth is any more and all you are left with are divergent opinions. After all, it wasn’t so many years ago that “global warming” was considered an outlandish notion, and weren’t we supposed to run out of oil by 1992 according to the Club of Rome 1972 Limits to Growth report. Today, “climate change” is the widespread belief, and we have more proven oil reserves than we had in 1972.
Disinformation, as a political tool, involves the continual repetition of patently false assertions widely published in variety of sources over a significant period of time, the net effect of which is to make it more and more difficult to refute the presumptive “facts” since they are in such wide distribution that a reasonable person would have no reason to doubt their accuracy and without the requisite ammunition necessary to refute them.
Of course, you, for example, don’t believe those false assertions for a minute….because they are not aimed at you. They don’t care whether you believe them or not. What they care about is whether the”average working person” believes them or not, because those are the troops they are attempting to rally to their cause….not, you, or me, or even us. Nevertheless, the only reason that these strategies succeed is because we allow them to.
Antisemitism, however, is a special case. Climate change and oil supplies are (despite the beliefs of the lunatic fringe) based upon hard evidence. Antisemitism can only be based upon repeated assertions since there is no hard evidence one way or the other to prove or refute the statements. How can you prove that there is no world-wide Jewish conspiracy to control the earth? When did you stop beating your wife?
Whether you are Jewish or not (because even if you are not, you are probably related to someone who is but, if you are not, statistically, you are almost definitely related to someone who is related to someone who is Jewish) we owe it to ourselves and to each other to reject and oppose racism of any nature (and Anti Semitism is racism because it construes the identity of the Jewish people as a specific and divergent race)
We all know the old maxim, that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good [men] to do nothing. Here’s your chance to put up or shut up.
The reason you are receiving this email from me is that (with certain exceptions noted below) your name is on the distribution list along with mine. Someone went to a great deal of effort to ferret out all of these email addresses, including mine and yours, to promote an ancient and idiotic evil.
Imagine if the internet had existed when a Czarist Russian espionage agent purportedly (no one knows for sure) first published “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in 1903. Well, you don’t have to imagine it, because the Protocols still in circulation on the internet and, in every generation, there will always be a certain number of ignorant people who come across the Protocols and fall for them hook, line and sinker…because enough of us don’t raise our voices to declare the fraud a fraud.
How do we oppose this kind of racism? Simply by telling the sender of these obnoxious emails to stop. Is that enough? Just send the sender of the original email a reply stating your opposition to their Anti-Semitism.
I don’t think so. I think it is important to tell each other that we do not accept the ideas these demagogues are promulgating. Until now, I have always assume that no one I know agrees with them, but I can no longer draw that unilateral conclusion because that’s the ostrich’s answer to psychological aggression and I’m not a flightless bird.
I think we have to publicly assert our disapproval of these libels, and register our disbelief with each other, but there is no convenient venue for us to do that from, so I am now offering this one, right here.
You can register your comments here, for or against my thesis. No comments will be deleted, although some may be excoriated by other posters. Or, you can visit my Facebook page and make your comments there. Or, you can just do nothing. Remember how that worked out for us?
Image of Auschwitz/Birkenau Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
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