What’s different about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting – Japan Today
Shortly after the shooting, we learned that the murderer was active on Gab, a social network that advertises its protection of free speech above all else. In recent weeks, he posted comments such as “jews are the children of satan” and “there is no #MAGA as long as there is a kike infestation.” He called one member “a deceptive little oven dodger” for debunking a rumor that trucks marked with the Star of David were bringing migrants to the United States. Unsurprisingly, this did not appear to violate the platform’s community guidelines, which reserve the right to police explicit calls for violence but make no specific mention of hate speech. Though Bowers ultimately wrote “screw your optics, I’m going in” just minutes before the shooting, it was too late. Only after the attack did Gab close the account and refer it to the FBI. (Gab was offline Monday, posting a message that it was “under attack” and inaccessible while it transitioned to a new hosting provider.)
This isn’t just the stuff of fringe, extremist websites. According to an extensive study by the Anti-Defamation League, approximately three million users posted a total of at least 4.2 million English-language anti-Semitic items to Twitter between January 29, 2017 and January 28, 2018. Three MILLION, spewing hatred specifically directed at Jews. In at least one prominent case, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan blamed society’s moral decadence on the “Satanic Jew and the synagogue of Satan” and later quipped “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” While Twitter removed his blue verification badge after the first tweet, they apparently did not find the second in violation of any existing policy. Following an uproar, Twitter said in a statement to BuzzFeed that it would not suspend Farrakhan or remove the offending tweets because they did not contravene Twitter policies in place at the time.
Bigotry is contagious, and social media companies are failing in their obligation to curtail it.
Anti-Jewish hate speech has also spilled out beyond the internet. An avowed Nazi who told Politico he was running to fight a “two-party, Jew-party, queer-party” system will be on the ticket for an Illinois congressional seat this November. One candidate for state office in North Carolina wrote on his campaign website that Jews were the descendants of Satan and that God “is a racist and white supremacist.” A candidate for the Missouri House of Representatives said “Hitler was right” during a radio talk show interview. A councilman in Washington D.C. this March apologized for a comment accusing the Rothschilds, a prominent Jewish family, of being behind climate change.
Under Trump, bigotry, racism and sexism is growing nationwide. Violent acts against minorities are increasing by huge percentages and the Trump administration is doing nothing about it.