The oldest hatred gets woke

Antisemitism is usually associated with the extreme right, for good reason: “alt-right” activists were literally chanting “Jews will not replace us!” in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia not too long ago. And while the current President may not be personally anti-semitic, he’s certainly shown no qualms about amplifying Jewish stereotypes and even neo-Nazis when he thinks it suits his purposes.

But antisemitism is a slippery and adaptable beast, and it has a foothold even among those who insist they’re against all forms of bigotry and hatred. Two recent examples:

First, a heartwarming viral photo from a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London showed a kindly-looking elderly man speaking to a young activist. Turns out that lovely old man is a veteran Holocaust denier:

Britain’s ITV News has been forced to retract a report purportedly about two anti-racism campaigners, one a young black girl and the other an elderly white man, joining forces across the generational divide, after it emerged that the man in question was known to attend antisemitic meetings where Holocaust denial was commonplace.The story was supposed to be a heart-warming one.

A photograph of Rosie Grace and Jim Curran in conversation, snapped by a student at a recent Black Lives Matter protest in London, had quickly gone viral, lauded across the internet as an illustration of the power of the anti-racism protests to bring people together in unity. Curran was particularly praised for a sign he was wearing, which read: “Racism is the virus and we are the vaccine.”

[…]

A report published jointly earlier this year by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which protects British Jews against antisemitism, and anti-racism charitable trust Hope Not Hate named Curran as a regular attendee of “Keep Talking,” described in the report as a “conspiracy theory organization” that meets regularly in north London.

According to the report’s authors, a meeting they attended included “open and unchallenged Holocaust denial and antisemitic conspiracy theories about Mossad and the Rothschild banking family.”

A March 5, 2019 meeting was titled: “The loss of freedom of speech on Israel, thanks to bogus antisemitism claims.”

Grace, in a series of since-deleted tweets, made it clear she agrees with Curran:

The difficulty with the photo appears to first have been brought to light by Joanne Bell, an activist against antisemitism, according to CAMERA UK, which tweeted its opposition to the image being lauded. Bell commented in her tweet: “Racists can also wear suits and kindly elderly faces.”

Bell then put Curran’s record to Grace on Twitter, but the latter was unapologetic, defending Curran and his record. In a return tweet, Grace commented “I spoke with Jim and judge him on our convo and from his vibe and his work. The Jews are not innocent.” That tweet appears to have since been deleted.

In a separate tweet Grace added: “He is an activist and a beautiful man. Spoke some real deep truths. His words brought me to tears. He said the genocide the news [sic] went through, was nothing on slavery and what black people endured and are still enduring.”

Meanwhile, Hollywood has apparently decided that veteran Jew-hater Louis Farrakhan is a voice worth amplifying:

Actress Chelsea Handler shared a video of Louis Farrakhan discussing racism on her Instagram page on June 14 and called it “powerful.”

The video is a clip of the nation of Islam leader taking questions from the audience during an appearance on “The Phil Donahue Show” on an unspecified date. During the clip, Farrakhan discusses issues of racism and white supremacy.

“I learned a lot from watching this powerful video,” Handler wrote on her Instagram page.

One Instagram user responded in the comments section, “Based on this logic, if you find a video of Hitler saying something positive and powerful, will you feel equally compelled to share it? You gave hate credibility and a large platform today.”

In the comments section, Handler defended posting the video.

“Hitler was responsible for killing millions of lives,” she replied. “Farrakhan is just responsible for his own promotion of anti-Semitic beliefs. They are very different.”

Another commenter praised Handler for posting the video, stating: “Truth is truth, regardless of who it comes from and whether you like them.”

Handler responded, “Agreed. The message should stand alone.”

[…]

Writer Hazel Cills noted on the feminist website Jezebel that actor Sean Hayes and actress Lisa Rinna also praised the video, and that actress Jessica Chastain may have posted it to her Instagram page before deleting it.

“While he has denied being anti-Semitic, Farrakhan has previously called Judaism a ‘gutter religion,’ has referred to Adolf Hitler as a ‘great man,’ and has spoken about ‘powerful’ and ‘Satanic’ Jews as being his enemy, among many other statements condemning Jewish people,” Cills wrote.

None of these people have access to the nuclear codes, Thank God. But every really bad idea starts out on the fringe and gains currency because more mainstream people adopt it. We should be trying to snuff them out before they get that far.

John-Paul Pagano, a veteran observer of antisemitic conspiracy culture, puts it best:

An alt-lawyer for the alt-right

The Washington Post profiles the eccentric Elmer Woodard, a Virginia lawyer who  represents the most deplorable of deplorables:

Woodard, 57, lives about two hours south of Charlottesville, in the tiny town of Blairs, Va., where he has his own law practice, according to public records. His email address, a nod to his past when he filed lawsuits against used-car dealerships, begins with “isuecrooks.”

When he has a case in Charlottesville, he is easy to spot. A driver drops him off in front of the courthouse. Dressed some days in a beige or light-blue seersucker suit, Woodard always dons his signature straw boater hat, encircled with a navy and red ribbon. Most of the time, as he walks past the gantlet of local reporters, he’ll tip his hat and wave a courtly hello. But the press-averse attorney rarely stops for interviews, usually shuffling straight into the courthouse with his cane and black Velcro-strap shoes.

But on his way out of a hearing in May, Woodard agreed to field a few questions from a Washington Post reporter. Asked numerous times whether he regarded himself as a white supremacist, ­Woodard repeatedly said: “I consider myself an attorney.”

Pressed to elaborate, Woodard said: “Just because I represent a pervert doesn’t mean I support perversion. I represent murderers, drug dealers and perverts. Miraculously, I’m not one of them. If you know any, send them my way — only the rich ones.”

Even neo-Nazi scumbags are entitled to legal representation, and as a sole practitioner myself, I can’t really blame Woodard for finding his niche and exploiting it.  Gotta keep the lights on (and straw boater hats on the rack), after all.

But if it makes you feel better, he kind of sucks at his job:

Although prosecutors didn’t raise during the trial Goodwin’s public denial of the Holocaust or his alliance with an Arkansas white nationalist group, ­Woodard made race an issue during his closing arguments. “They want you to convict this man because he’s white, and DeAndre is a black man,” Woodard declared to the jury, which included two African Americans.