1. It’s Thursday, June 9, 2016.
2. Both of my journalism classes at William Paterson heard me expound this past semester on what’s bad about social media and the Internet in general.
One flaw I pointed out is as obvious to them as it is to me – the anonymity afforded people when they comment on stories or post tweets.
That anonymity is seen by its availers as a license to spew hate.
3. That point is hammered home by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, a journalist whose work includes the insightful exit interview with President Obama on foreign policy.
In his latest piece, Goldberg writes about the anti-Semitism he’s encountered online, particularly on Twitter. And he explains why he has added multiple parentheses to his name in his Twitter handle – he’s appropriating a tactic the haters use to signal that someone they’re writing about is Jewish, as if the parentheses diminish them somehow.
Goldberg’s piece demonstrates his talent. On the one hand, he treats the haters like the lowlifes they are and shows how they twist themselves into pretzels to make their case.
But he’s hardly dismissive. Goldberg sees the danger these crackpots pose to the world and understands that fighting this crap is a job for all thinking people. And while I see the anonymity the jerks hide behind as a negative, he sees some hope in it – if people were more brazen about their anti-Semitism, it would signal more acceptance of such sentiment.
Since Goldberg started using parentheses in his Twitter handle, other writers who are Jewish have done likewise. They’re taking their stand against the hatred that, I still believe, the anonymity of the Internet gives a home.
4. Jews are not alone in this. Women, African-Americans, Hispanics and others who don’t conform to some dopey preconception get trashed by people hiding behind what they think are clever handles.
I applaud Jeffrey Goldberg and other journalists of the Jewish faith who stand up to anonymous hatred. Perhaps neo-Nazism is the cockroach of hatred – it keeps getting stomped and yet survives. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep on stomping.