Far-right, white supremacist Internet culture explored in new book

This book could serve as a literary wake-up call, smack in the face

HENRY FORD with a Model T, 1921. One can still easily purchase his century-old diatribe ‘The International Jew.’ (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
HENRY FORD with a Model T, 1921. One can still easily purchase his century-old diatribe ‘The International Jew.’
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
 If you’ve been living in a cave for the past four years, or are one of those incurable cockeyed optimists of South Pacific fame who hasn’t noticed the steep rise in antisemitic rhetoric and violence in recent times, this book delivers a wake-up call in the form of a literary smack in the face. 
This scourge, author Talia Lavin graphically posits in Culture Warlords, is growing, fed by ravings on the Internet and emboldened by the controversial messages of US president Donald Trump
Antisemites are innately violent. “Everything about them goes back again and again to violence, as a hummingbird to nectar; it is what they crave, it fills them with a fleeting sense of virility and meaning,” Lavin writes. It is the “ideological linchpin” of white supremacy, for white nationalists see Jews as the brains behind the campaign to enslave white people.
There also is a definite link between misogyny and radical antisemitism, the author notes. Antisemites tend to hate independent women and feminism, but the reverse also is true. “Just as white supremacy leads to misogyny, the causal relationship could be reversed. No hate is an island.” 
What’s most discouraging is the continued proliferation of many fraudulent antisemitic screeds. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purports to be minutes of a secret Jewish council fixated on world domination, has been shown to be fiction – invented by Tsarist officials in 1903 to discredit Jews – and has been debunked many times since. But it won’t go away.
You still can easily purchase Henry Ford’s 100-year-old anti-Jewish diatribe The International Jew, which along with The Protocols has helped shape “white supremacist ideologies” during the last century “and into the present day,” according to the author.
Then there’s the blood libel, the preposterous idea that Jews, forbidden by Jewish law from consuming animal blood, use Christian children’s blood to bake matzah. This absurd notion, whose creator apparently knew nothing about Jews or their customs and laws, is still hanging around almost 1,000 years since its inception.
Most ironic of all are the pagan antisemites. “Jesus was a kike and deserves to be burned,” Lavin quotes one white supremacist as saying online. “Every Bible should be burned.” 
Another offers: “If he [Jesus] were in Auschwitz, I’d give him a tattoo.” 
Think about that for a minute. For 2,000 years, Christians have been discriminating against, persecuting – and even murdering – Jews because of Christian ideology: their belief that Jews killed Jesus and their frustration over their largely unfulfilled demand that Jews abandon their religion and become Christians. Now we have a pagan movement which rejects that faith and all it stands for – but enthusiastically adopts Christianity’s antisemitism.
As the author notes, Christian racists have a tradition of antisemitism, but “heathen racists must create their own justifications for loathing Jews.” 
In addition to laying out the bases of modern antisemitism, Lavin chronicles her efforts to infiltrate the dark world of hate on the Internet and “out” the haters.
She lays out the tremendous efforts she and others have made to discover the real people behind the phony online personas these individuals create to protect themselves from the authorities and deceive their employers, who might fire them if their distressing activities became known, and their neighbors, who might shun them.
After the insurrection at the US Capitol in January, we see that these extremists are a threat to more than just Jews. The man who wore the sweatshirt with “Auschwitz camp staff” emblazoned on the front made clear what his aspirations are toward Jews. But his presence in the mob shows his ambitions go beyond that.
We must hope that the authorities in the US and other democracies take that attack and books like Culture Warlords as a wakeup call. 
The writer is a former editor at The Jerusalem Post and Washington Jewish Week. His memoir, Figs and Alligators: An American Immigrant’s Life in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, will be launched at a Zoom event on March 7 at 11 a.m. EST. For free registration, go to www.htaa.org/event/AaronsBook/.
By Talia Lavin 
Hachette Books
240 pages; $27