Not long after being introduced to the internet about 20 years ago, I realized that despite the internet’s many wonders, anti-Semitism was also rife online. The internet gave this old hatred with a long pedigree new and sturdy legs.

Do a search for some topic connected with the Holocaust, for example, and pretty quickly you’ll encounter the manifold Holocaust deniers and websites devoted to spreading anti-Semitic lies about all manner of Jewish things and all points of Jewish history. These sites are slick, numerous, and wide-reaching, and I have little doubt that they have increased the number of anti-Semitic people in the world who are firmly convinced that they are privy to the truth about Jews.

Which brings us to the current campaign season, and the modern spread of anti-Semitism. I only heard of the following for the first time yesterday, via a commenter on my blog (see this), but then I saw that today there’s a NY Times article about the phenomenon:

The Anti-Defamation League added a new symbol this week to Hate on Display, its database of prominent white supremacist imagery. It’s called the “echo,” and it is used online to call attention to Jewish names in the news.

The symbol originated in 2014 on an anti-Semitic podcast, “The Daily Shoah,” which applied a novelty sound effect to Jewish names that made them echo ominously.

That practice then spread to blogs and Twitter, where the podcast’s creators and fans created a visual translation of the echo sound effect by placing three sets of parentheses around a Jewish name, like (((Cohen))) or (((Goldberg)))…

This is how a hate symbol rises in 2016: A podcast sound effect becomes a Twitter meme and a browser extension before it finally slithers into the physical world.

The “echo” is the first officially recognized symbol to emerge from the “alt-right,” a movement of white-and-proud extremists who are as obsessed with cultural memes as they are with white nationalism. They play fast and loose with white supremacist iconography, remixing it with pop culture and the sardonic tone of internet subculture. Their regressive message, cloaked in an ultramodern skin, is being spread online to a new generation of race warriors.

Of course, the alt-right is not solely composed of anti-Semites and white supremicists. But it is folly to ignore the fact that there is a sizable proportion of the alt-right that does fit that description. Many people have an image of white supremicist anti-Semites as a bunch of inarticulate thugs, unsophisticated and not all that bright. Untrue; plenty of them are very knowledgeable about human behavior, just as they were in Nazi Germany. They may prey on the unsophisticated at times, but this is a polished, clever group that is especially internet-savvy.

They are also characterized by the left as being of “the right.” But they are not actually of the right—that’s why they call themselves the “alt-right.” They want to displace and then replace the current right by growing their own power and influence.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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