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Dear Linda Yaccarino
Do you really want to be associated with the most vile public outpouring of antisemitism in American history?
I wasn’t going to write about this because I assumed it would be all over the news, but it wasn’t. There was one brief article in Rolling Stone: Elon Musk Wades Deeper into Antisemitic Propaganda:
A hashtag pushed by right-wing ideologues and rife with antisemitic content is trending on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, and being shown support by owner Elon Musk. It’s a new low for a platform that has seemingly abandoned the fight against hate speech.
On Thursday, a number of accounts began tweeting #BanTheADL, calling on Musk to remove the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) from the site. The ADL is a civil rights organization focused on combating antisemitism and extremism. Momentum for the action seems to have been stirred by a meeting earlier in the week between the ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, and Linda Yaccarino, in which the pair discussed how to curb the hate and toxic propaganda that have flourished on X ever since Musk’s takeover last year.
But unless I’ve overlooked it, the only other articles I found about this were published in Israel. From the Jerusalem Post:
… Elon Musk is engaging with white nationalists and antisemites who want to ban the Anti-Defamation League from Twitter, the influential social media platform he now calls “X.” Musk on Saturday asked his followers whether he should poll the platform about a hashtag, #BanTheADL, embraced in recent days by white nationalists and others on the far right. Musk had earlier “liked” the tweet launching the hashtag by Keith Woods, an Irish white nationalist and self-described “raging antisemite.” …
Musk liked two subsequent tweets by Woods, who touted Musk’s support to his followers. The hashtag was widely embraced on twitter by the far right, including by Andrew Torba, a Christian nationalist who refuses to speak with Jewish reporters and who founded Gab, a social media site, as a redoubt for the far right after Twitter started banning extremists. The shooter who killed 11 Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 broadcast hours plans on Gab before the attack.
Following a 72-hour social media storm of antisemitic conspiracy theories and attacks on the Anti-Defamation League, alarms sound on Elon Musk’s platforming of hate speech under the guise of free speech.
Except alarms aren’t sounding. Rolling Stone and The Forward seem to be the only publications in the US that wrote about it, unless I’m missing them. (If I am, please let me know.) In other words, only one publication that isn’t explicitly oriented to the concerns of Jews thought this newsworthy at all.
From The Forward:
Since Musk bought Twitter in 2022, the platform, which he rebranded as X, has reinstated thousands of accounts that had been banned for promoting hate speech, including O’Brien’s, Kanye West’s and Donald Trump’s. Musk himself has made and amplified a variety of disturbing comments related to Jews, including quotes from Nazis and friendly public exchanges with bigots.
They helpfully compiled these “disturbing comments” in another article. They also wrote, in another article, Elon Musk is the most dangerous antisemite in America.
That article is important, because as I’ve realized from discussing this with my father, if you don’t use Twitter, you don’t realize how big Elon Musk’s vuvuzela is, or what it means when he signals approval to other users by liking, responding, or retweeting their comments. In fact, the words “liking, responding, and retweeting” probably mean nothing to you. As it happens, only 25 percent of the US population uses Twitter, so that’s probably many of my readers.
Here’s what happens: When Musk calls attention to someone that way, he makes them famous, immediately. It directs a human tidal wave of attention—some 140 million Elon Musk fans—to their accounts. When he calls attention to these loathsome radical losers, they suddenly garner more attention than they ever have before in their pathetic lives and ever otherwise would.
Usually, Musk doesn’t explicitly endorse the most outrageously antisemitic thing the outrageous antisemite has said. He likes or retweets or responds to something that, taken independently, is just ambiguous enough that it might be hard to construe it as antisemitic if you were, for example, an irretrievable imbecile.
But Musk has turned all of Twitter into a giant engine for knowing what Musk is thinking, at all times. It’s inescapable. This means that every time Musk “likes” an antisemitic account, or replies, “concerning!” to one of its lunatic claims, some 140 million aimless, vague, discontented young men learn all about this fascinating theory that Jews secretly rule the world. Now, some of them live in countries where they’ve heard this all before, of course. Some of them have even heard it all before in America—and they’ve believed it, too. But how exciting it is to them that now, it’s mainstream. It’s all over Twitter! Elon Musk is letting us tell the truth, at last, about the Jews!
In the articles to which I linked above, the authors refer delicately to “antisemitic tropes.” That won’t do the job, I’m afraid. Saddle up, folks, because you have to see it to understand. What you see below is but a small sample of what I—and the whole world—saw the moment we opened the app and looked at the “Trending Topics.” It lasted for a good 72 hours.
In terms of cultural influence, you could say that “trending on Twitter” is what “being on the front page of The New York Times” used to be. Maybe. I don’t know how else to explain the significance of it. The point is that a massive number of young men were exposed—some of them, probably, for the first time—to the grand, unifying theory that explains everything wrong with the world. And those who already knew this will have found hundreds upon hundreds of new friends:
You see the problem now, I trust? And here’s Elon Musk, their patron saint, having a grand old time with them:
Meanwhile, and strictly coincidentally, I’m sure, neo-Nazis marched through Florida:
A large group of neo-Nazis wearing red [idiots can’t even get that right—Claire] and waving flags with swastikas marched through Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on Saturday shouting “we are everywhere,” according to a video shared by a state lawmaker. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, said in a tweet that the demonstrators were raising “Heil Hitler” salutes.
The head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, said what you might expect the head of the ADL to say about this. Here’s a sample of the response he received.
There are cheery videos of the parading neo-Nazis all over Twitter. I’ll spare you. Trust me, ain’t nothing nice to see.
And it’s their Constitutional right. But you know what’s not their Constitutional right? To post videos of themselves—recruitment videos, that is—on any private social media platform that doesn’t care to be used as Nazi recruitment tool. So you know where there aren’t such videos to be found? On YouTube. YouTube took a look at those videos and said, “Nazis? Yeah, we may be skeevy, but that one’s a bridge too far. Even for us. Not compatible with our terms of service.”
It’s actually not compatible with Twitter’s terms of service, either. This is their official policy:
A pretty reasonable policy for a large media organization with massive reach, I’d say. Except that obviously, this was written a long time ago and has nothing to do with their policy now.
So, Ms. Yaccarino—may I call you Linda?—let’s you and I have a heart-to-heart. You seem like a nice-enough woman to me. I tried to reach you on the platform you’re running to chat with you about this, but I guess you were having a hectic day and didn’t have time to circle back, as they say.
You’ve got a tough job as the new CEO of that pigsty. Trying to convince advertisers to come back to Twitter—oh, excuse me, X—when that filth is the first thing they see when they open the app? I can just about imagine how those conversations are going with the brand safety managers at Hamburger Helper and Hello Kitty. You’re talking about all the great safeguards you’ve put in place to ensure that no one hears the State Farm jingle over the “Burn Jon Greenblatt in Auschwitz” meme, then just as you think they might be coming around, Elon asks his 140 million fanboy drones: “Who wants to see a poll on that?”
Linda, it’s hopeless. You can’t rescue that company. You are working—just as The Forward said—for the most dangerous anti-Semite in America. That whole “ban the ADL” thing was one of the most vile public outpourings of antisemitism in all of American history. Since the founding. I’m serious. I’ve never seen anything like it. That stuff is straight out of Der Stürmer, and since I have a suspicion you won’t know what that was, that’s straight-up Nazi pornography: it’s Third Reich filth—and it was trending for days, even making it to the top of the trending list. Where other people’s kids saw it.
So no, you’re not just giving these freaks “freedom of speech.” You’re bestowing upon them extraordinary reach; allowing them to dominate the platform; galvanize each other; meet each other freak-to-freak; organize; and promptly proceed to real-world freakathons—as we just saw in Florida—which will lead to real-world murder. Guaranteed.
And may I remind you that you’re not just beaming this filth into American homes, but into the homes of impressionable young men and women around the world, including places where exactly this kind of rhetoric has, does, and will inflame yet more terrorism, war, and genocide?
What kind of person does that for a living?
Here’s what happens, by the way, when I do what Twitter urges its users to do should they encounter “hateful imagery.” If you press the button that says, “Report post,” what ensues is kind of hilarious. Sort of.
First, you receive a nice note thanking you. (I guess this was written back in the old days, and you don’t have anyone left who knows how to change the logo?)
Here’s what happens if you duly click the link. (And it happens no matter what you report, I checked.)
Righty-ho. So either no one’s reading these reports (first guess), or the office is staffed by people so moronic that they don’t know that promoting the idea that the West must “candidly address” the problem of “Jewish overrepresentation in almost all arenas of power (finance, politics, media)” is indeed part of a hateful “pattern of activity?” Or—third option—it’s staffed by people who know full well why someone might report that tweet as hateful, but you know, tough shit, Jews, because they agree with it?
So here’s what happens if you actually go to the trouble of answering those questions, one by one. (And where does one start, really?) You wait a day, and then you receive this:
Yes, really. And this happens no matter how grotesque the tweet in question. Jews as rats, Jews as vermin, Jews as parasites, Jews as octopi—I tried reporting them all, but as far as Twitter’s concerned, all of that’s just fine. They cannot “identify any violations of the Twitter Rules” in any of it. (Yes, they still say “Twitter Rules.”)
I do notice that now, at last, some of it being taken down with this notice:
Vive la France. (Never thought I’d be a fan of France’s liberticide laws on Holocaust denial, but I never thought I’d see so much of it in my entire life, no less in one single day.)
So. Back to you, Linda. You can no longer pretend your company is merely a reluctant host of antisemitic content. The company formerly known as Twitter is now—undeniably—a wholly antisemitic entity. A magnet for every Jew-hater in the world. A place they can call home. It’s their safe space.
So if I were you, Linda, I would resign.
If you resign now, you’ll still be employable. In fact, in today’s environment, you’ll probably look heroically principled. (The bar these days is really low for “heroically principled.”)
But if you keep working as the front woman for that font of putrescence, you will forever and correctly be identified with it. Musk has enough money that he can afford to be as repellent as he pleases. Do you?
And really, is this how you want your grandkids to remember you? ⤵️
I’m sure any advertiser who was foolish enough to still be on Twitter a week ago has grasped that the brand of the platform is now, “Antisemites 'R Us.” Its name (whatever the hell it is) is now associated with filth like the name “McDonald’s” is associated with burgers. I mean: Would you buy a handbag you saw advertised on X?
Truly, it’s disgusting, Linda. Remember this?
Sure looks to me as if there's a place for antisemitism on X—in fact, as if antisemitism might be X’s whole raison d'être.
I wasn’t going to write about this. I had more important things to write about—like the news—and more important things to do. But when days went by and this didn’t make headlines, when it just went unremarked, it began to really bother me. This sort of thing should still make the news. People should still be disgusted enough by this at least to say, loudly, “That is disgusting”—and to remind people like Elon Musk that he’s now an American, and Americans don’t laugh and banter with Nazis. We hang them at Nuremberg.
And you know, Jews shouldn’t be the only ones saying so.
Come on, everyone. A bit of decency.
I don’t have statistics on hand for other countries, but I doubt there’s a country in which Twitter users exceed 50 percent of the population. But it’s certainly higher in Turkey than it is in the US: As of 2018, 44 percent of the Turkish public used it, for example. See: Diffusion of Twitter in Turkey, from the October 2018 issue of The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. From the abstract:
It was first founded in 2006; however, was introduced in Turkey in 2011 after the addition of Turkish language support. It became one of the most used platforms in Turkey in a relatively short time. The aim of this study is to explain how Twitter has diffused and become a success in Turkey using Rogers’s diffusion theory (2010). The diffusion of Twitter in Turkey is carefully analyzed using the four main elements of Rogers’s theory which are the innovation, communication channels, time, and social system.
Twitter was, when I was there, massively popular, and if your world was confined to my neighborhood of Istanbul, you’d conclude 100 percent of the Turkish population was on Twitter 100 percent of the time.
Speaking of which,, I see you took advantage of our sale! Welcome! Nice to see you. I just searched for the Tweets we exchanged during Gezi, thinking they could illustrate why Turks were so glued to Twitter. I remember your tweet about the tear gas billowing around our block and the way it evoked that scene from Lord of the Rings—it was much pithier as you originally wrote it, but I forgot what you said, exactly, and when I looked for it, I discovered that you’d quit Twitter. So that tweet is gone now, forever, unless you saved your archive.
Perhaps you quit so for reasons unrelated to the sewer the place has become. Still, seeing that you were gone—and that everything you ever wrote there is now irretrievable—made me want to weep. Most people do now grasp that Musk’s takeover has been a triumph for incels, WaffenStaffen88, Vladimir Putin, and Catturd2. But it’s worse than that. I find it strange that this aspect of the thing is so little remarked: It is such an immense act of cultural vandalism. On the order of the burning of the Library of Alexandria.
By the way, Linda: Read this essay, too. The Last Days of Twitter:
… For all critics’ affected cynicism, the truth is that Twitter is astonishing: Humanity has never before had a giant, live, pulsating representation of everyone’s thoughts, at every second of the day, everywhere. It’s not just a locus of idiocy and propaganda. It’s a fantastic display of human creativity and wit, a massive, intelligent organism. Its uses are limitless. If you can’t see its astonishing value, you lack imagination.
It was, Linda. But now, people like Elif are gone. She’s been replaced by Kanye and @Catturd2.
Esin, you never have time to read this newsletter. But if you were to read it, you’d see that I paused here to say I owe some of my dearest friends from Turkey to Twitter. And to my other Turkish friends: I’m thinking of you, too, as I write this sentence (Evet. Evet. Tabii ki seni kastetmiştim.) I wish you were all still on Twitter and that Twitter was still a place you would all wish to be. But you’re not and it’s not.