A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Strange bedfellows:

An upcoming Toronto conference is going to feature anti-Islam speakers, anti-hate advocates and some of the most recognizable Jewish organizations in Canada.

The “national teach-in” on hate and racism is organized by a group called Canadians for the Rule of Law, which argues on its website that “‘political correctness’ is distorting valid criticism” and “‘Libel chill’ is preventing the sharing of ugly facts.” The teach-in seeks to expose those who perpetuate these problems to the detriment of Canadian democracy.

To that effect, the March 17 conference will scrutinize “(A) the radical left; (B) radical Islamists; and (C) the radical right,” in that order of priority. The teach-in was supposed to take place at an important synagogue in Toronto until it pulled out last week over security concerns.

B’nai Brith Canada, one of the country’s most prominent Jewish advocacy groups, has agreed to their CEO Michael Mostyn moderating one of the panel sessions, while Robert Walker, the head of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a pro-Israel group that works primarily on campuses, is also speaking at the event next March.

Though the conference features a number of well-known, mainstream anti-hate advocates such as Donald Carr, who sits on the board of CFTRL, David Matas and Anita Bromberg, a significant number of organizers and featured speakers are active in Canada’s anti-Muslim or alt-right circles.

Perhaps most notable among these are Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, and Christine Douglass-Williams, who was fired from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation board for being an active writer to Jihad Watch, a leading Islamophobic platform. McVety had a national TV show pulled off the air in 2010 for his remarks against the LGBTQ community. His college hosted a Rebel Media event in Feb 2017, emceed by prominent far-right propagandist Faith Goldy. He also hosted the popular anti-Islam activist and then Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders in 2011. At the time, McVety described the spread of Islam in Canada as a “demographic jihad.” “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover,” he said in 2011.

“No reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion.”

John Carpay, who heads up Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, will also be at the conference. He spoke at a Rebel Media event in Calgary last month about the threat of totalitarianism in Canada partly by comparing the Nazi swastika to the “rainbow flag,” a comment he later said was “unintentionally” made. Rebel also fundraised on behalf of Carpay’s centre and some of its initiatives.

B’nai Brith Canada’s media liaison Marty York qualified his organization’s overall involvement when asked whether the decision to send its CEO to participate was made with the consideration that it features such a prominent anti-Muslim presence.

“Mr. Mostyn is moderating one single session on hate speech, which is something he does regularly,” York told VICE News. “He found out who the panelists are going to be and he was comfortable with their identities. Whoever else is involved during the day in other sessions, I’m not even sure if he even knows.”

He said Mr. Mostyn saw “no reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion” on hate speech in his one session.

“So there seems to be a smear by association campaign going on, and if that’s the case it’s very unfortunate.”

He added that B’nai Brith Canada “supports the rule of law” in Canada and thus “has no qualms at all about” Mostyn’s participation, regardless of who else is involved throughout the day-long conference.

David Matas, a noted human rights specialist and Senior Honorary Counsel for B’nai Brith, says he’s troubled by the anti-Muslim presence in the planned conference, but didn’t know until friends and colleagues emailed him their concerns.

“This all sort of just popped up and I have to go through all of it and make a decision collectively with my colleagues,” he says. “I admit that from what I’ve seen, there are obviously concerns that we need to discuss and I may end up not participating, but we have to look at all the information first.”

Robert Walker, executive director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, cited addressing “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism” as the main reasons for his involvement in the conference, preferring to offer no comment on the anti-Muslim participants.

“There are obviously concerns that we need to discuss.”

Hasbara is an initiative run out of Aish Hatorah, a major international network of Jewish educational centres and synagogues.

“Contemporary anti-Semitism often masquerades behind different masks, such as anti-Zionism, which is denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland,” he told VICE News. “I do not and cannot speak for other panelists or speakers.”

Among the conference’s main topics is “Actions Against BDS,” or the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.

The conference was originally supposed to take place at the prominent Beth Tikvah synagogue in North York. But in an email to VICE News, Rabbi Jarrod Grover of the synagogue noted that it has pulled out of the arrangement, leaving CFTRL without a host.

Grover stated that the decision to pull out was based primarily on security concerns for participants and to avoid a “media circus” — not over any ideological concerns.

“I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law.”

“We like dialogue and free speech, but we are a religious, not a political organization,” he wrote. “I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law, despite the fact that I obviously have different beliefs than many speakers at this conference.”

According to the Canadian Jewish News, the decision to pull out came after Karen Mock, president of the progressive Jewish group JSpace Canada, reached out to Rabbi Grover to discuss “potential damage control” over media interest in the event due to “the Islamophobia and bigotry associated with some of these groups and individuals.”

A response for a media request to CFTRL’s general inbox was replied by board member David Nitkin, who rejected the request on the basis that VICE News is an “alt-left” publication. Carr did not respond to requests for comment. He told the Canadian Jewish News that the event will go on, and “we reject any attempt by those who wish to stifle free speech.”

Nitkin is also a leading organizer and board member of the anti-Islam group, Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF), which indicates in its mission statement that “Islamophobia” is a concept invented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies to infiltrate Canada and implement Shariah law. It is listed as a “community supporter” of the conference, along with ACT! Canada, which is a prominent anti-Islam group.

Source: A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Steven Spielberg on Storytelling’s Power to Fight Hate

Good long read and interview with Spielberg:

Pinchas, how old are you?” Steven Spielberg asked the wall screen, a life-size video image of an elderly man in a cardigan, who blinked and answered without missing a beat.

“I was born in 1932, so you can make your own arithmetic,” responded Pinchas, in a Polish accent.

“He asked me to do the math!” Mr. Spielberg laughed. “How did you survive when so many did not?”

“How did I survive?” the screen responded. “I survived, I believe, because provenance watched over me.”

The chat went on for five minutes, and while the artificial intelligence looked eerily reminiscent of Mr. Spielberg’s earlier films, the goal wasn’t entertainment — it was education. On the sound-sensitive screen was an interactive biography of Pinchas Gutter, a Polish Holocaust survivor and part of a tour the director was leading through the redesigned headquarters for the U.S.C. Shoah Foundation, the organization he founded in 1994 to collect testimony from Holocaust survivors. Now Mr. Spielberg has expanded the foundation’s footprint on the University of Southern California campus, along with its mission and public focus: to fight hate, which he says has become commonplace globally.

“The presence of hate has become taken for granted,” Mr. Spielberg said. “We are not doing enough to counter it.”

The prerecorded video conversation is part of a series using playback technology that invites visitors to converse with 16 survivors of genocide, based on specific word patterns and more than 2,000 questions that vary from views on God to personal history. Earlier this month, the testimony of Pinchas was displayed at the United Nationson the 70th anniversary of the adoption of genocide laws, a storytelling tool to raise awareness.

While the foundation continues to archive stories from victims of anti-Semitism, and advocate on their behalf, it is also collecting what Mr. Spielberg calls “living testimony” from modern genocide victims. “The Holocaust cannot stand alone,” he said with conviction. “We decided to send our videographers into Rwanda to get testimony. From there we went to Cambodia, Armenia — we’re doing a critical study in the Central African Republic, Guatemala, the Nanjing massacre. Most recently, we’re doing testimony on the anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar and the current anti-Semitic violence in Europe. We’re expanding our scope to counter many forms of hate.”

The 10,000-square-foot space — which opened to the public last month — is a far cry from the organization’s beginnings following “Schindler’s List,” in 1993. Mr. Spielberg sent an army of videographers around the globe to record Holocaust survivors’ stories. Betamax tapes of the interviews were stored at his Amblin Entertainment offices on the Universal Studios lot, and then at a storage company before the foundation’s move to U.S.C.’s Leavey Library in 2006. (There are a little over 51,000 recordings of Holocaust survivors in the visual history archive, a staggering 115,000 hours.)

Today the group has 82 employees and an annual budget of about $15 million, which includes $3 million from the university. It also has received millions in donations. Its new home — part office, part media lab — is packed with video testimonies from 65 countries in 43 languages, along with survivor-inspired artwork (a hanging steel sculpture by the British artist Nicola Anthony incorporates phrases from filmed testimony.) Visitors can tour the offices Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“Everyone thinks the Shoah Foundation is about archiving the past but it’s about understanding empathy and using testimony to shine a light,” Stephen D. Smith, its executive director, said.

Reflecting its founder’s legacy, the organization has produced multiple films, including the recent documentary “The Girl and the Picture,” about 88-year-old Xia Shuqin, who witnessed the murder of her family in the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. It was directed by Vanessa Roth, whose mother was an interviewer for the foundation in the early 1990s. “The Last Goodbye,” a virtual reality memorial screening at Holocaust museums in Florida, New York, Illinois and California, takes audiences into the Majdanek concentration camp in German-occupied Poland, with Pinchas Gutter as guide, using thousands of photos and 3-D video to explore a railway car, gas chamber and barracks. David Korins, the scenic designer of the musical “Hamilton,” is now the foundation’s director of museum experiences, with the goal of getting the collection of archival footage into more museums.

Rising anti-Semitism is providing fresh impetus for the foundation’s relaunched efforts. “Not only are people willing to forget about the Holocaust, they’re willing to deny it,” said Aaron Breitbart, a senior researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the human rights organization that has worked with the foundation since the 1990s. “The Shoah Foundation has made a great contribution in that battle for memory.”

The relaunch coincides with the theatrical rerelease of “Schindler’s List.” In her 1993 review of the film for The Times, Janet Maslin wrote: “Rising brilliantly to the challenge of this material and displaying an electrifying creative intelligence, Mr. Spielberg has made sure that neither he nor the Holocaust will ever be thought of in the same way again.”

The film ran in about 1,000 theaters in mid-December and was screened free for students nationwide. Although it was digitally remastered in 4K resolution, Mr. Spielberg said, “I didn’t touch a frame.” The original version of the film is currently available on Netflix.

A quarter century on, it remains a complex depiction of Nazi horrors.

“We were surprised that somebody even attempted to make a film about it,” said Renee Firestone, 94, whose story is told at the foundation.

Despite the expansion, some challenges remain, Mr. Smith said. Most testimonies are unavailable online, which means they can only be seenat the foundation or the 146 partner libraries and universities (links are free for families of those interviewed). There are no transcripts of the recordings yet, but the foundation is spending $10 million building a free online platform for researchers, schools and the general public starting in late 2019, Mr. Smith said.

Days before Mr. Spielberg’s 72nd birthday, wearing a suede jacket and 1860s-style boots from his 2012 opus, “Lincoln,” the director munched a granola bar at the foundation’s headquarters. The color of his beard is now saltier, he has a few more inches around the middle, but his gray-green eyes still shine boyishly when he’s discussing his foundation and his seminal film. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

Why expand the mission of the Shoah Foundation?

I think there’s a measurable uptick in anti-Semitism, and certainly an uptick in xenophobia. The racial divide is bigger than I would ever imagine it could be in this modern era. People are voicing hate more now because there’s so many more outlets that give voice to reasonable and unreasonable opinions and demands. People in the highest places are allowing others who would never express their hatred to publicly express it. And that’s been a big change. There’s all kinds of efforts to take the truth and subvert it to twisted ideology. We saw it happen in Europe first, in France, then Poland again — I never thought it would come back home to us like it has existed over the last two years.

Many groups are clamoring that they have it harder than others — how do we overcome that?

We can commiserate with each other about suffering and pain, but we should never compete that way. Being marginalized, being discriminated against, having racist and anti-Semitic slurs hurled is something that unites [all people]. Everything against black society is also against the Jewish community. Everything against the gay and lesbian, LGBTQ community is against black and Jewish communities. Hate is hate and the spillover makes us all responsible for watching each others’ backs and standing up for each other. None of us could ever be bystanders again.

How can Hollywood combat this?

Look how many movies are now telling the stories of women. There’s a huge shift that is gender-centric, and we saw it happen at the beginning of the Harvey Weinstein downfall. Storytelling is fundamentally human. But the art of listening is what I’m hoping the Shoah Foundation is able to inspire.

[In 2018, Amblin Television, a division of Amblin Partners, Mr. Spielberg’s production company, was one of three parties to a $9.5 million settlement agreement with an actress on the CBS show “Bull” who was dropped after she confronted its star about inappropriate comments. A representative for Amblin declined to comment, directing inquiries to CBS, “the sole owner of the show.”]

You are rereleasing “Schindler’s List” after 25 years. Do you believe it can still make an impact?

At the Tribeca Film Festival, I experienced my first audience in 25 years watching “Schindler’s List.” It was a full house, and the reaction — I turned to Kate [Capshaw, his wife] and said “Oh my God, they’re still listening.” With this renewed cycle of hate, and initiatives at the Shoah Foundation, I thought it could open up a conversation that genocide can happen anywhere when an ordinary society goes wrong. Charlottesville and the aftermath made a huge impact on wanting to reissue the film.

If you made the film today, what are the things you would have changed?

No. There’s nothing I would have changed, absolutely nothing. I stand by the film as it has stood its own test of time.

What sticks with you 25 years later about filming in Poland, where the carnage happened?

In four months’ filming in Krakow, the hair on the back of my neck never went down. It was really hard every morning to simply get out of the car and walk to the set. I wanted to use the locations where Schindler stayed in Krakow, including the Jewish Ghetto, even shooting very close to the Płaszów forced labor camp. We shot just outside Auschwitz, building a barracks and backing the train into Auschwitz proper, so when the train exits Auschwitz, it appeared in the film as if it’s entering the death camp. That was one of the coldest nights I ever experienced. That mournful silence within the company of actors — you could hear a pin drop.

The foundation decided to include modern testimonies about genocide when it already has over 51,000 testimonies on record about anti-Semitism. My grandparents were filmed by the foundation in 1996; is video the best teacher?

Look, we’re all storytellers. There’s no one alive who isn’t a storyteller, even if they don’t think they are. Every day is a story. Maya Angelou said: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

What are your earliest memories of being different?

My grandmother taught English to Hungarian Holocaust survivors in Cincinnati. I was 2 or 3, and I would sit with them around the table. That’s where I learned my numbers — on the arm of an Auschwitz survivor who showed me the numbers of his forearm. That was my “Sesame Street.” That’s how I first learned to count.

What more can we do? What do you plan to do?

Teachers and parents who need to take responsibility for the acceptance of hatred in the fabric of society. I’m working with the Discovery Channel and the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney on a six-hour study called “Why We Hate.” I’m not planning any more dramatization on the Holocaust itself. I’m putting all my attention on the documentary format.

Hungary backs $1.7 million to combat anti-Semitism in Europe

Hard to take seriously given their campaign against Soros and the overall xenophobic tenor of the government:

The Hungarian government says it will spend 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) a year to support programs countering anti-Semitism in Europe.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Thursday that funds have been earmarked for a Hungarian Jewish civic group — the Europe Action and Protection League. It will have an office in Brussels and operate a hotline to report anti-Semitic incidents.

Other activities of the group will include evaluating local justice systems within the EU, advising on unified legislation to effectively combat anti-Semitism and a comprehensive analysis of state curricula and educational materials used in EU states.

Hungary’s government has been criticized for campaigns against billionaire George Soros which were seen as having anti-Semitic overtones and for views which seemingly diminished Hungarians’ involvement in the Holocaust.

Deborah Lipstadt wrote a new book on anti-Semitism. Then Pittsburgh happened

Good long and thoughtful interview, particularly on the enablers and the need to think outside one’s bubble:

The advance copies of Deborah Lipstadt’s new book, “Antisemitism Here and Now,” display a cover photo of a white supremacist carrying a tiki torch.

But that iconic image of the August 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, could now be replaced by another one: Police tape cordoning off the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. Or perhaps the row of cut-out stars displaying the names of that massacre’s 11 victims.

“Antisemitism,” written earlier this year and due out in February, offers a concise and comprehensive overview of the various forms of Jew-hatred that have reappeared or intensified during the past few years. And before Pittsburgh, there already was plenty to write about: anti-Semitic attacks in Europe; the “alt-right” in the US; the persistence of Holocaust revisionism and denial; whether and when criticism of Israel qualifies as anti-Semitic; and of course Charlottesville.

Then the shooting happened. For Lipstadt, the renowned Holocaust historian and Emory University professor, the tragedy in Pittsburgh was both a surprise and a reaffirmation of her warnings.

Lipstadt, 71, spoke with JTA in New York City this week about what the Pittsburgh shooting means for American Jews and how Jews should fight anti-Semitism. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

JTA: What are your thoughts about the book following Pittsburgh?

Lipstadt: I wasn’t surprised by Pittsburgh, but I was shocked. I wasn’t surprised because I kept saying something’s going to happen in our country, and had been happening.

It would be easy to say everything changes after Pittsburgh, and I do think everything changed for Jews, for synagogues. Any synagogue board that in the past 10 days hasn’t met to discuss security operations is crazy. That’s the new normal.

We had one incident, a horrible incident — it doesn’t characterize our whole country — but it is disturbing. I tell the story, the one I end the book with, of walking into shul with a little friend who’s now 6 1/2, and her mother said, “Say thank you to the police officer for keeping us safe.”

She’s going to figure it out soon enough. She’ll look across the street at the church dead opposite our shul and there are no police officers there. How do you recognize a shul now if you don’t know exactly what the number is or what the cross street is? Look for the police officers. Kids recognize that.

There will be kids who say what do I want to go to Hillel for? There will be parents who will say, you know what? Why should I take my kid to a place where there’s danger?

In your book, you focus largely on people who enable or minimize anti-Semitism, as opposed to hardcore anti-Semites themselves. Why is that?

It’s “farfaln” [Yiddish, roughly, for “a lost cause”] to try to change those people. I could write about David Duke from here until the cows come. I’m not going to change David Duke’s mind. We all know David Duke is a lowlife of the first order, but it’s the people who might be influenced by David Duke who I want to reach.

Farrakhan, he’s a disgusting excuse for a human being. But it’s the people around him, Linda Sarsour, [Women’s March co-chair] Tamika Mallory, who have the voice of the press, who are listened to. They’re enablers. The enablers are much more dangerous to me than the people we recognize.

On some level, it’s the non-Hitlerian kind of anti-Semite, the one who doesn’t quite present as an anti-Semite, who’s much more dangerous because that’s the person who’s going to have access to the public.

How do you view Linda Sarsour’s activism and fundraising on behalf of Jewish causes, and her collaborations with progressive Jewish groups?

There are lots of people who proclaim they’re against anti-Semitism — “Pittsburgh? Terrible!” Linda Sarsour, you know. At the same time, on the other side of her mouth, she’s talking about don’t humanize Israel and when you wear a Jewish star it makes me feel unsafe. She’s talking out of two sides of her mouth.

[At an event in September, after criticizing Israel, Sarsour said, “If you’re on the side of the oppressor, or you’re defending the oppressor, or you’re actually trying to humanize the oppressor, then that’s a problem…” In 2017, speaking at a march protesting racism, Sarsour said, “I’m going to be honest, there are instances of things that happened to me at this space that made me feel unsafe.” Some people took that as a reference to Zionist signs.]

I don’t trust people like that. One of the reasons I’m particularly not trusting of someone like that is that there are so many Jews on the left who come so cheap. They wrote me, “Look, Linda Sarsour criticized Pittsburgh, look, she’s helped to rebuild a cemetery,” etc. Give me a break. Anyone who’s not going to criticize what happened in Pittsburgh … someone gets credit? OK, so she’s raising money to help rebuild a cemetery, that’s very nice. But at the same time she’s making awful statements about Jews. Not just about Zionists but about Jews.

Farrakhan, he called Jews termites, and Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory and leaders of the Women’s March are embracing him and praising him. He called us termites. How much more do you need?

On the right, is a person with 50 Twitter followers who sends a meme something we really need to be concerned about?

If it were one person with 50 followers I’d say let’s get a life. But it’s not one person with 50 followers. It’s 500 people with 50 followers and one of them with a thousand and another, like a Richard Spencer, who figures out how to take those 50 and 50 and 50 and turn them into something more acceptable and more mainstream.

It’s a ripple effect. The internet can be a weapon or it can be a great tool for connecting people. Given that we now have the internet, given that these right-wingers have learned how to use it, they have a tool they didn’t have before.

The thing that really galvanized it was, of course, having a president who — I don’t know if Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, I doubt that he’s an anti-Semite. But that’s the wrong question to ask. The question to ask is, does he enable anti-Semites?

[Lipstadt then refers to anti-Semitic abuse from Trump supporters directed toward reporter Julia Ioffe, who wrote a critical profile of Melania Trump in 2016.]

That would have been the moment for him to look straight into the camera and say, “Listen, this is not how I want to win the presidency. This is not what America is about.” Instead he said “I have no message for them.” [Trump told CNN, “I don’t have a message to the fans.”]

You have a president who glorifies violence. You have this violence, this glorification of violence. You put it together with white nationalism, white supremacy. At the heart of that white nationalism is a deep-seated anti-Semitism.

You criticize activists who lead the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel. But could you explain why you also have harsh words for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who they oppose?

Bibi has done a number of things. First of all, his welcoming and embrace of [Hungarian prime minister] Viktor Orban, who has been pushing this Soros imagery [billboards criticizing the liberal Jewish philanthropist George Soros] and cracking down on the Jewish community of Budapest in a horrible, horrible way.

No. 2, what happened with the critics of BDS and that policy of keeping them out [of Israel]. Not only is it antithetical to Israel being a democracy, but it steals us of our best argument against BDS. BDS says “shut down the conversation, don’t bring anybody who might disagree with you,” and we say “no, open up the conversation.”

Most of all, the Polish law [criminalizing blaming Poles for collaborating with the Holocaust]. When the Polish law came out, Israel was appalled and was absolutely critical of Poland for this law. But then they announced with great fanfare, with Bibi at the table, we’ve worked things out with Poland, and Poland is changing the law so that it’s not as offensive.

What they had done is essentially changed the punishment from criminal to civil, but at the same time taken away protections for professors and artists.

This bending to Poland on this law was realpolitik. Bibi did it because he wants Orban in Hungary and whoever’s leading the Polish government at the moment, and Austria, to be his friends. Now you can say that’s realpolitik, but don’t do that and then claim Israel is the primary spokesperson and the address for fighting world anti-Semitism when you have coddled an anti-Semite like Orban, when you have made room for a soft-core Holocaust denial law like the Polish law. When you’re talking about anti-Semitism, there’s a red line.

You criticize people on both left and right, anti-Israel activists and the Israeli prime minister. Do you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle trying to carve out space in the middle?

I call it as I see it. If I thought it was a losing battle I probably wouldn’t do it.

I think there are a lot of Jews who feel like I do. I think there are a lot of Jews who will read half the book and remember half the book, who will be appalled when I’m putting down the right and love it when I’m putting down the left and be appalled when I’m putting down the left and love it when I’m putting down the [right].

I’m not out to win a popularity contest. I hope I’m not a voice crying out into the dark. I didn’t write the book to convince people who already know what they think. If the book makes people a little bit uncomfortable, and makes them reassess where they are and what they’re doing and where they see things, that’s good, too.

So what should we do to fight anti-Semitism?

I compare anti-Semitism to herpes. For most of the time we’ve had herpes, it couldn’t be cured. And if you were suddenly under stress, boom, up would come a herpes infection. Anti-Semitism is like herpes. When a society is under stress, it appears.

I would say the following things: They won’t cure it, but at least it might help alleviate it.

Don’t see anti-Semitism only on the other side of the political transom from which you are located. All these Jews on the left who suddenly, when Trump was running, saw anti-Semitism on the right and began to get all upset about that. And they weren’t wrong. But they had a patch on.

All those people on the right who are now saying Pittsburgh was a one-off, but we really should be worried about BDS. Of course we should be worried about BDS, but if you’re on the right you can have a conversation with those people. If you’re on the left you can try to have a conversation with those people.

If you’re only seeing it on the opposite side of the transom, you’re instrumentalizing this for political purposes.

I call for civil society. It used to be we could take our lead from government and leadership. We can’t. So it becomes incumbent on civil society to take a role.

A healthy democratic society cannot tolerate anti-Semitism and racism. If that is festering in its midst, it says something is unhealthy about the society. It’s not just Jews for whom this is dangerous. This should terrify you. Because if this is happening to Jews, it may start with the Jews but it doesn’t end with the Jews.

Source: Deborah Lipstadt wrote a new book on anti-Semitism. Then Pittsburgh happened

Amazon’s Algorithm Has an Anti-Semitism Problem

As we are also seeing in the ongoing Facebook scandals, tech hasn’t managed to include ethical and moral considerations in its business models and algorithms:

In the wake of the Pittsburgh massacre, I invited my followers on Twitter to send me their inquiries about anti-Semitism. The response was overwhelming, and ran the gamut from questions about specific aspects of the prejudice to requests for advice on how to help fight it. One reader asked for more information about the Rothschild family, the Jewish banking dynasty that is a favorite bogeyman of anti-Semites and is typically used as a stand-in for the Jewish conspiracy that purportedly controls world affairs. He explained that some in his circle of friends regularly make bigoted remarks about the Rothschilds and their vast power and he wanted to set them straight. I’d written a report about the Rothschilds in school years ago, but figured there was probably better, more up-to-date material out there. So like anyone else, I went to Amazon.com and plugged in “history of rothschilds.” To my surprise, this is what I got:

amazonrothschilds
Rather than direct me to serious scholarship on the Rothschilds, like historian Niall Ferguson’s multivolume history on the family, Amazon first recommended blatantly bigoted content.

This isn’t the only instance of Amazon’s algorithm feeding intellectually bankrupt content to intellectually curious readers regarding fraught subjects. A search for “who did 9/11” yields this book as the #1 search result:

amazon911

As the book’s own blurb notes, its author, Nick Kollerstrom, is a “longtime member of Britain’s 9/11 truth group.” Among other conspiracies, the book contains an entire chapter entitled “9/11 and Zion” which blames the attack on the Jews. (Kollerstrom also happens to be a Holocaust denier who infamously declared, “Let us hope the schoolchildren visitors are properly taught about the elegant swimming pool at Auschwitz, built by the inmates, who would sunbathe there on Saturday and Sunday afternoons while watching the water polo matches.”)

Similarly, if one searches for “Jews and the slave trade,” the second, fourth, and fifth results are not scholarship on the subject, but notoriously anti-Semitic publications from Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Farrakhan has worked for years to mainstream the baseless anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews were behind the African slave trade.

(All searches above were done logged out from Amazon while incognito on Chrome, to ensure that the search results were the default ones, and not influenced by the specific user or their past search history.)

This isn’t Amazon’s first run-in with anti-Semitism concerns. Back in 2000, the company came under fire for stocking The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the most influential anti-Semitic tracts in history. At the time, while firmly distancing itself from the bigoted content, Amazon insisted that it would not remove it from the catalog, because the company does not censor books. Today, copies of The Protocols on Amazon carry a cautionary message from the Anti-Defamation League and the following disclaimer from the company:

As a bookseller, Amazon strongly believes that providing open access to written speech, no matter how hateful or ugly, is one of the most important things we do. And because we think the best remedy for offensive speech is more speech, we also make available to readers the ability to make their own voices heard and express their views about this and all our titles in reviews and ratings.

It’s a reasonable defense. But it does not cover Amazon’s algorithm prioritizing the bigoted books over the legitimate ones.

The problem here is not that Amazon sells anti-Semitic material. The problem here is not that Amazon is trying to be anti-Semitic. It’s that the company is ignorant of anti-Semitic ideas, and so has not trained its algorithm to discount them. If a human librarian were asked about the Rothschilds, 9/11, or Jews and the slave trade, they would know how to distinguish between conspiratorial rantings and genuine documentation. They would also likely be aware of the anti-Semitic canards swirling around the subjects, and would steer interested readers away from them. Amazon’s vaunted search engine, perfectly tuned to maximize sales and the user’s shopping experience, has no such cultural competency.

Beyond the moral failure, these results also represent a straightforward professional failure. When a person searches for “history of rothschilds,” they are looking for historical information on the family, not a book featuring a shadowy figure squeezing blood out of globe. A bookselling algorithm that feeds readers misinformation is a broken bookselling algorithm.

If big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google want to get serious about combating online hate and misinformation, they need to start developing cultural competency on bigotry—and fast. They need not just coding experts working on their algorithms, but anti-hate experts who can flag conspiratorial currents. After all, it’s impossible for computers to identify a prejudice if they don’t know what it looks like. It’s about time we started teaching them.

Source: Amazon’s Algorithm Has an Anti-Semitism Problem

What has Germany really learned – and remembered – from Kristallnacht?

Good commentary with the lingering questions “What have we learned from the Shoah?”:

Last week, Germany memorialized the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht – “the night of broken glass” – during which 1,400 synagogues and innumerable Jewish businesses throughout the country were vandalized. There were dozens of killings on that day, Nov. 9, 1938. At least 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

It was the visible unravelling of the old as a violent new social order was born, yet the savagery had not emerged from a void, as many have since argued. For almost a century, anti-Semitic speech had been increasingly normalized in public discourse. The brutality of Kristallnacht was an unsurprising outcome once a leader able to channel hatred arrived on the scene.

As the 2018 memorial date approached, the German government banned a planned protest march by far-right groups. This was a risky move in a liberal democracy, but necessary, according to Thomas Lutz, who heads the Memorial Museums Department of the Topography of Terror Foundation in Berlin. Mr. Lutz told me he encouraged the authorities to take preventative action. He belongs to the postwar generations who have made moral responsibility and Holocaust education their life’s work – a group that is being tested as never before. The radical Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is a serious threat to the German liberal consensus. Having entered the political mainstream in 2017, its leaders are hostile to foreigners and to Holocaust memorialization in the name of resurgent ethnic nationalism.

Two political streams are emerging where, until recently, there was only one. The AfD is increasing its support, but last week the older ethos was also visible when a 94-year-old former SS guard went on trial for crimes committed in Poland. “Germany owes it to the families and victims to prosecute these Nazi war crimes even today,” the prosecutor said. “This is a legal and moral question.”

No country has made greater efforts to atone for Second World War crimes than Germany, the perpetrator state. Since the 1970s, schoolchildren have learned about the Holocaust through history classes and mandatory visits to concentration camps. Museums such as Mr. Lutz’s superb Topography of Terror, which details the Nazi regime in words and pictures, have been erected. Small and large memorials pepper Berlin, including the massive and unsettling Holocaust Memorial near the famous Brandenburg Gate.

On the other hand, the former East Germany did not parallel this education. According to Communist ideology, there were no war criminals east of the Wall: they all lived in the West; a fiction that blocked acknowledgement and reflection. At reunification in 1990, the two cultures were largely strangers, and in the subsequent years, the promise of measurable gain has not materialized in much of the East. One can plot the growth of animosity. Simmering resentments soared in 2015 when Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed a million poorly vetted refugees into the country. Postwar taboos against racist speech loosened, possibly liberated by trash talk from the new U.S. President. Permission to spout hatred almost always radiates from the top.

On the anniversary last week, Ms. Merkel delivered a powerful address in a reconstructed synagogue in Berlin. She decried the “worrying” rise of anti-Semitism in her country. She called for the safeguarding of protective institutions and the liberal values that underpin them. And she asked the seminal question we once thought we had answers to, but has since become ambiguous: “What did we really learn from the Shoah, this rupture of civilization?”

“Democracy is complicated,” she said. “It relies on balance between majority and minority, on the division of powers.” Then she addressed an evident truth: Those who felt left behind were looking for simple, not complicated, answers – and they were finding them among racist nationalists.

Given its 20th-century history, the revival of right-wing German nationalism is a fearful prospect – not least to Germans themselves. Yet as important as it is to march in the streets, simple confrontation is not an effective strategy. New research suggests that cultural memory has a shelf life of 70 to 80 years – exactly the time that has elapsed since the Holocaust. Better solutions to the economic problems and social resentments of those who feel outstripped must be reimagined.

Angela Merkel is Europe’s wisest leader, but she has been fatally weakened by the political rise of the extreme right in both parts of her country. In her forthcoming absence, others must defend the democratic values she embodies and with which she has served her country.

Her question, “What have we learned from the Shoah?” hangs in the air.

Source: What has Germany really learned – and remembered – from Kristallnacht?

The anti-semitism intersectionality gap

While I dislike the term “intersectionality,” I haven’t found an alternative term that describes how the interactions between race, class, gender and religion and their complexities.

But conflating Jews with Whites misses the commonalities of discrimination and prejudice, even if they play out differently with respect to Jews compared to other groups:

My mom is stoic and rarely ever cries. Last week she FaceTimed me from California, dewy-eyed, while I was in the subway in New York. She mentioned the news—11 Jews shot in a synagogue in Pennsylvania. I had already read about it in the morning, but talking about it with my mom forced me to feel it.

She told me, “It’s okay to feel sad.”

I forget sometimes that I’m allowed to feel sad for Jews. The discourse in the School of Social Work around anti-Semitism has dwindled in large part due to the hyperbolic conflation of Jewishness with whiteness. I am therefore quick to forget that Columbia often fails to treat anti-Semitism with the legitimacy it deserves. My mom’s simple acknowledgement allowing me to feel Jewish pain reminded me that it was ok to feel so deeply.

My experience in the Columbia School of Social Work has often made me feel hollow. It can seem like I have no role as a Jew in both the course curriculum and in class discussions. “How Jews Became White Folks” is my school’s single mandatory reading regarding Jewish people in contemporary society. And, even though this piece takes a dive into important assimilation markers of the American Jew, this is only a 20-page reading shoved in among the several books and 40 articles that make up our curriculum. In discussions, fellow classmates have confessed that they have become frustrated when Jewish people speak up about their experiences. On one occasion, I tried to explain to a close peer how my Jewishness guides my social justice work and she told me that I needed to stop talking, since my white privilege dominated any authentic form of solidarity I could claim as a Jewish person. During my time at Columbia, I often wonder if I truly belong at the School of Social Work.

Why do my peers dismiss my Jewish identity due to my white skin? Why do I feel so disingenuous for being Jewish in social justice work?

This message from my peers, that Jews are white, isolates the Jewish people from the broader cultural context. It creates an assumption that renders the dialogue around anti-Semitism obsolete and minimizes the Jewish experience. Not only is this generalization detrimental to understanding the nuances and diversity of Jewish identity, but it also inhibits an honest conversation about the ways being Jewish has been contextualized in discourses of race, ethnicity, and culture. Frankly, perceiving Jewishness as a mere form of whiteness or as just a religion is ignorant. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel knew this, and cautioned us against these toxic and reductive comparisons when he said, “No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.”

Intersectionality—the interrelation between race, class, and gender—is a central theme in our curriculum that promotes a solidarity-driven approach to social justice. Unfortunately, it seems that this ideology is not being taught to address issues pertaining to anti-Semitism. Social workers are often so concerned about abiding by these pre-established intersectionality guidelines that they unintentionally perpetuate the very kinds of discrimination that they supposedly oppose. Thus, Jewish students whisper to each other in the secrecy of dimly lit dive bars about our shared experiences of anti-Semitism, but we don’t risk speaking out in class. An intersectionality gap exists between engaging in discussions of anti-Semitism and those pertaining to other forms of racism. Rather than avoiding discussions of anti-Semitism, we must break the silence by discussing solidarity.

Before this shooting happened, people didn’t seem to care about the plight of the Jew. But I have found myself obsessed with the topic and unable to stop writing about it in different forms. I’m calling upon Columbia School of Social Work and schools of social justice everywhere to break this silence and take meaningful action to change their current practices of omitting Jewish identity and experience from their classrooms and conversations.

Source: The anti-semitism intersectionality gap

The anti-Semitic history that brought Canada’s MS St. Louis decision to light

Good read on how the history became known:

The telegram reached Prime Minister Mackenzie King as he was escorting the Royal Family in Washington in early June, 1939. Now was the time to show “true Christian charity,” said a group of writers, historians and business people, and let the 907 German Jews of the St. Louis come ashore.

But Mr. King said it was not Canada’s problem and left the matter to officials such as Frederick Blair, the architect of Canada’s restrictive immigration policies, known for his inflexibility. “The line must be drawn somewhere,” Mr. Blair wrote in an internal document.

Almost 80 years later, another Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, will apologize to Canadian Jews after Question Period on Wednesday for turning away the desperate refugees of the St. Louis, hundreds of whom would die in Nazi death camps. The purpose, he said last May, is to draw attention to this country’s failings, “as we vow never to let history repeat itself.”

The broader story – of Canada’s closed-door policy toward the Jews of Europe before, during and even after the war – is by now well-known. But that history, of which the St. Louis forms but one episode, might have slipped down a memory hole if not for a student’s discovery in public archives of that telegram entreating Mr. King to act, as well as memos revealing the chilly rejections that passed between government officials, which she copied and sent to her professor, Harold Troper, at the University of Toronto.

Intrigued, Prof. Troper sought additional expertise. A friend introduced him to Irving Abella, a labour historian. The two went to Ottawa thinking they might write an academic article on Canada’s prewar refugee policy. “We weren’t sure there was any story at all,” said Prof. Troper, still teaching full-time at the age of 76 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, in an interview. “Once we started digging, we found ourselves with a Niagara Falls of paper.”

They spent four years in archives and conducting interviews from Canada and the United States to Switzerland, Britain and France. The title of their 1982 book, None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948, would be drawn from a remark by an anonymous government official, at a press briefing after the war, about how many Jews were now to be admitted into the country. “It was a sense of uncovering a scab,” Prof. Abella, 77, a professor emeritus of history at York University, said of the research. “We discovered how deep the commitment was to keep Jews out of Canada.”

The scholarly partnership came naturally to the two academics. Prof. Troper’s father was a garment worker, and Prof. Abella’s father ran a restaurant serving dairy meals to garment workers. Both had lost relatives in the Holocaust. (A “cascade of death,” Prof. Troper called it, in his family and that of his neighbours.) Prof. Abella had married a child of survivors, born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946. (Rosalie Abella is now a Supreme Court justice, the first refugee to hold that post.)

“I was a Jewish kid raised in Toronto with a PhD in history,” Prof. Troper said. “It had never occurred to me … what Canada’s role in the unfolding events might be.”

In all, Canada took in fewer than 5,000 Jewish refugees between 1933 and 1945, a period in which the United States (which also turned the St. Louis away) accepted 200,000 and Britain 70,000 (plus another 125,000 into British-administered Palestine). As for the refugees on the St. Louis, they were taken in by Britain, the Netherlands, France and Belgium – but were ultimately safe only in Britain. Two hundred and fifty-four died in death camps.

Prof. Troper recalls finding appeals from European Jews to a Jewish immigrant aid agency, who understood Canada was closed to them but enclosed photographs of their children.

“I was so caught up seeing parents trying to give away their children so they would have a chance at life.” He went home early from his research that day, overwhelmed.

“You read many of the documents, there are anti-Semitic comments – as if they’re talking about the weather,” Prof. Abella said. “It was just normal conversation. And this was a time when anti-Semitism was current in Canada. There were no Jewish university professors in all of Canada in the 1930s. There were no Jewish doctors in hospitals. No judges who were Jewish.”

Prof. Troper says he will never forget an interview with Malcolm John MacDonald, who had been British High Commissioner in Ottawa. “He told us the year he spent in Ottawa he had never seen such anti-Semitism in all his life.”

“Nobody cared,” Prof. Abella said. “Jews were a marginal issue. There was never a full cabinet discussion about Jews. It was always talked about at the tail end of meetings, sotto voce.”

Quebec was an important influence on the government’s policy, he said. “Quebec was opposed to all immigration because it felt that its influence in Confederation would be undermined. And since Jews at that time were the most visible of the minorities allowed into Canada, [Quebec] led the campaign against Jewish immigration and threatened Mackenzie King with separation, with a crisis in Confederation.”

But it was Mr. King – in power for most of the 1920s and from 1935-48 – and his cabinet who were ultimately responsible for closing Canada’s doors, the authors wrote. The PM’s diary records his sympathy for the racial ideas emanating from Nazi Germany: He feared “too great an intermixture of foreign strains of blood.”

A pro-refugee petition from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Dec. 7, 1943.

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS

The work of the two professors had an immediate impact. At a time when Vietnamese refugees were fleeing their country in boats, Canada’s top-ranking immigration official, Jack Manion, read their academic article, published long before the book, and gave it to the immigration minister, Ron Atkey.

”This should not be you,” he told Mr. Atkey, who then spoke passionately about it to cabinet. “He drew the parallels to our attention, was moved by it himself, and we all were,” Joe Clark, who was then prime minister of a Progressive Conservative government, said in a 2015 interview with The Globe and Mail. Mr. Clark then increased Canada’s resettlement of the Vietnamese refugees to 50,000 from 12,000. And on that resettlement program, widely viewed as a success, the current government modelled its intake of 50,000-plus Syrian refugees over the past three years.

Mr. Trudeau’s apology comes 10 days after a gunman, apparently angry about Jewish efforts to help refugees from Central America, shot 11 Jews dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“For the guy who did the shooting in Pittsburgh,” Prof. Troper said, “when it comes to Jews and refugees, none continues to be too many.”

Source: The anti-Semitic history that brought Canada’s MS St. Louis decision to light

Roald Dahl Denied Commemorative British Coin Over Anti-Semitism

Notwithstanding how much we enjoyed as a family his stories, his personal history is pretty odious:

Roald Dahl, who passed away in 1990, would have turned 100 in 2016. But the Royal Mint, which has a tradition of issuing commemorative coins for notable British figures’ significant anniversaries — recent among them Jane Austen and Mary Shelley — never introduced the author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Matilda” into celebratory circulation.

As The Guardian reports, the reason behind that curious choice has now been revealed: Dahl’s anti-Semitism.

Per files disclosed to The Guardian after a request through freedom of information laws, the decision not to honor Dahl was made during a 2014 meeting about potential coins for 2016. The minutes of that meeting note that Dahl’s centenary was brought up, but he was “Associated with anti-Semitism and not regarded as an author of the highest reputation.”

Dahl admirers might quibble with the latter statement, but the author’s anti-Semitism wasn’t just something others observed — it was something he openly proclaimed.

“I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become anti-Semitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism,” Dahl told the Independent in 1990.

“It’s the same old thing: we all know about Jews and the rest of it,” he later added. “There aren’t any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media — jolly clever thing to do — that’s why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel.”

As the Forward noted on what would have been Dahl’s 100th birthday — September 13, 2016 — Dahl’s anti-Semitic statements also included a note, in a 1983 book review for the Literary Review, that the U.S. government was “utterly dominated by the great Jewish financial institutions over there.” That same year, he told the New Statesman that “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”

Notably, the Royal Mint’s decision predates the United Kingdom’s recent conflicts over anti-Semitism, which arose following the September, 2015 election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader. Rather than Dahl, the Mint selected Shakespeare and Beatrix Potter for commemoration in 2016, markedly less controversial choices. Well, maybe. After all, 2016 marked 420 years since the premiere of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice,” and only slightly fewer years of ongoing conflict over whether that play is anti-Semitic. Whether the Mint discussed that matter is as of yet undisclosed.

Source: Roald Dahl Denied Commemorative British Coin Over Anti-Semitism

Trump visit to Pittsburgh after deadly synagogue shooting met with anger, protests

Appropriate reaction – can’t stoke the fires of hate and then deny moral responsibility:

President Donald Trump visited a grief-stricken Pittsburgh on Tuesday in a trip meant to unify after tragedy, but his arrival provoked protests from residents and consternation from local officials in the aftermath of the synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead.

The hastily planned day trip – which the city’s mayor urged Trump not to make – was executed with no advance public itinerary and without congressional and local politicians. Some had declined to accompany the president, and others were not invited.

Trump did not speak publicly during his brief trip, instead quietly paying tribute at Tree of Life synagogue by laying flowers for the 11 victims and visiting a hospital to see officers who were wounded in Saturday’s shooting. But Trump’s trip to the area so soon after the attack tore open political tensions in the largely Democratic city, as residents angered by Trump’s arrival protested even as the first couple tried to keep a low profile during the solemn, afternoon visit.

“The sense in the community is that they didn’t think this was a time for a political photo shoot,” said Rep. Mike Doyle, D, whose congressional district covers the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the synagogue is located. “There are strong feelings in the community about him and the divisive nature of his rhetoric.”

Trump has faced charges in recent days that his harsh political tone and effort to stoke public fears about immigrants has fomented a rising right-wing extremism embraced by the man charged in the synagogue shooting and by the suspect arrested last week after a series of bombs were mailed to prominent critics of the president. Trump has pushed back, saying the media is responsible for the growing tensions across the country.

As the president touched down in southwestern Pennsylvania on Tuesday, almost 2,000 demonstrators assembled not far from where some of the shooting’s victims had been buried that day. The relatives of at least one victim declined to meet with Trump, pointing to his “inappropriate” remarks immediately after the shooting, when the president suggested the shooting could have been avoided if the synagogue had had an armed guard.

City officials said they were concerned about protests, which occurred on the same day as funerals for some of the victims, and were not involved in planning the visit – learning about it only when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced it Monday.

The White House also declined to invite two Democratic officials who represent the area – Doyle and Sen. Robert Casey Jr.

“We received no call or any kind of correspondence,” Doyle said.

A spokesman for the city’s Democratic mayor, Bill Peduto, said he was invited to appear with the president but declined. Peduto had urged Trump not to visit Pittsburgh until after the funerals for the victims, saying, “all attention should be on the victims.”

The family of one of those victims – Daniel Stein, 71 – declined a visit with Trump in part because of Trump’s comments about having armed guards.

“Everybody feels that they were inappropriate,” said Stephen Halle, Stein’s nephew. “He was blaming the community.”

The White House said Trump spent about an hour Tuesday with the widow of Richard Gottfried, one of the 11 victims.

“She said that she wanted to meet the president to let him know that people wanted him there,” Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. Gottfried, 65, and his wife, Peg Durachko, had just celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary and were planning to retire soon.

Some residents said they welcomed the president even if it did anger some of their neighbors.

…..

The White House had asked the top four congressional leaders – House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., – to accompany Trump to Pittsburgh, but all declined, according to three officials familiar with the invitations.

Trump’s remarks and incendiary rhetoric in office contributed to the pushback his visit received before Air Force One touched down. Tens of thousands of people signed an open letter from a progressive Jewish group based in Pittsburgh saying he would not be welcome “until you fully denounce white nationalism” and “cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.”

About an hour before Trump arrived, more than 100 protesters jammed onto a street corner in Squirrel Hill, the predominantly Jewish neighborhood where the synagogue is located and many victims lived.

“This didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Ardon Shorr said. “There is a growing trend of white nationalism. And that has been enabled by Trump, who traffics in the kind of conspiracy theories that we know were foremost in the mind of the shooter last Saturday.”

“He refused to cancel his rally when it would have been the decent thing to cancel the rally,” said Jonathan Sarney, 72, referring to Trump’s campaign stop in Murphysboro, Illinois, held the same day the shooting occurred. “And now he’s coming to intrude on the funerals when it’s an indecent thing to do.”

Meanwhile, Barbara Kay remains largely in denial about the impact of Trump’s words and rhetoric in providing social license for others to express hate and the moral responsibility, if not direct responsibility, for such hate crimes: Barbara Kay: Trump’s rhetoric didn’t cause this massacre