My commentary will follow the reprinted excerpts from this article from the Chicago Tribune.
Target of online trolls suing
neo-Nazi website’s publisher
April 18, 2017
by Michael Kunzelman,Associated Press
A Montana real estate agent sued the founder of a neo-Nazi website on Tuesday, saying the publisher orchestrated an anti-Semitic “campaign of terror” that bombarded the woman and her family with hateful messages from anonymous internet trolls.
Andrew Anglin, the Tanya Gersh
The Daily Stormer
The barrage of emails, phone calls, texts and social media comments threatened and harassed Tanya Gersh and her family — including her 12-year-old son — with messages replete with slurs and Holocaust references, according to the federal lawsuit.
The trolling campaign started in December after Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin published the family’s personal information, including the 12-year-old’s Twitter handle and photo. In a string of posts, Anglin accused Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Gersh, 44, told The Associated Press that she has been so scared for her family’s safety that she packed a bag and left it on her bedroom floor for three months in case they decided to flee their home.
“I’ve never experienced that kind of fear in my life,” she said.
Gersh is represented by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. Her suit accuses Anglin of invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting “emotional distress” and violating a Montana anti-intimidation law.
The mother of two young sons said she suffers panic attacks, goes to bed in tears and wakes up crying. She also said her real estate business suffered because she had to take down her website and is too afraid to answer the phone.
Her suit, filed in Missoula, Montana, seeks unspecified damages against Anglin, who didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Law center president Richard Cohen, one of Gersh’s attorneys, said the case could be a blueprint for fighting a digital strain of white supremacy.
“In the old days, they would have burned a cross on Tanya’s front lawn. Now, in the digital age, they launch a troll storm,” Cohen said.
. . . cases like these are very rare because many victims are too scared to sue or can’t afford a lawyer, said Danielle Citron, a University of Maryland law professor and author of the book “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.”
Anglin uses a mailing address in Worthington, Ohio, for his website, which takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. The site includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”
The Daily Stormer’s trolling targets have included prominent journalists, a Jewish congressional candidate in California, a British Parliament member and Alex Jones, a radio host and conspiracy theorist whom Anglin derided as a “Zionist Millionaire.”
Anglin’s Dec. 16 article about Gersh urged readers to “take action” against her and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, posting their telephone numbers, email addresses and Twitter handles.
Richard Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to describe a fringe movement loosely mixing racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism and anti-immigration.
Gersh fears her lawsuit will stir up another round of threats, but she said she is suing because the campaign against her family went “far beyond harassment.” She and her husband, Judah, felt compelled to teach their sons about the Holocaust after the trolling started.
“Our dinner conversations at home now regularly include that they shouldn’t be in fear for being Jewish,” she said.
Whitefish, Montana, is a rural town with a population of approximately 5,000 souls, of whom about 100 families are Jewish.Tanya Gersh and her husband moved there because they felt that Whitefish was one of the quietist and most beautiful places on earth.
As I read the article above, I began to feel sympathetic to the Gersh family, after all, they are my fellow Jews and are being victimized by one of the most ugly forms of anti-Semitism, that is, until I came to the lines “She and her husband, Judah, felt compelled to teach their sons about the Holocaust AFTER the trolling started.”
I assume that we can infer from the text, therefore, that until the outbreak of the neo-Nazi threats against her and her family, she had neglected to teach her son about the Holocaust.
What the h--- is going on? I know that my generation and my children’s certainly were educated about the basics of the Holocaust by the time we and they reached age 12. Yes, we felt "compelled" to do so but we didn't wait until our kids had directly experienced anti-Semitism. Has life in rural America become so tranquil that Tanya and her husband truly felt that anti-Semitism was an extinct species?
Before I continue with Tanya, permit me to digress for a moment and relate to you an episode from 48 years ago. Lois and I were members of a new Young Israel in Great Kills, Staten Island, New York.As part of an early evening Holocaust Remembrance program at the synagogue, I rented a 16 mm reel of the half hour documentary Nacht und Nebel, or Night and Fog (narrated by Eli Weisel). Quite a few of the parents came but not with their 12 year old or even teenage kids. I confronted one of them with the words that “after all, we know about what happened . . . this film (used frequently in high schools when I taught in those days) is more for our children than us.” She replied that her son was busy attending some frivolous activity. The stance of this mother (and the others like her whose coming-of-age offspring were absent that evening) was a symptom of a growing malaise in Jewish communities all over America. While my contemporaries were in total agreement with the slogan, “Never Again!” I worried about the next generation . . . and the one after that.
Now, back to Tanya. Tanya, I have no idea as to whether the public schools in your town teach anything about the Holocaust or, if they do, at what age such instruction begins but I will say to you that it is YOUR RESPONSIBILTY to educate your offspring about the genocide against the 6 million, REGARDLESS of what is or is not offered in the school curriculum. Holocaust education is not sex education, so please, don’t be shy and hesitant with your kids and only act when they are finally stung by the lash of Jew hatred.
Every Passover, assuming that your family still attends a Seder, we recite the words,
“In every generation they (our enemies) rise up against us to destroy us . . . .”
This haunting phrase is preceded by an injunction to all parents: Ve-higgadta le-vinkha – "And thou shalt tell thy son," Ex. 13:8. The “telling” should not be just about the Exodus of three thousand years ago. And, IF your family celebrates Purim, the story of Esther and Haman is irrelevant if your kids know nothing about the Haman who arose and who, barely 77 years ago, came close to succeeding where the ancient Haman had failed.
Tanya Gersh, wise up about the virus of anti-Semitism. The maggots may hide in the woodwork for a while but they emerge “in every generation to destroy us.” By not having educated you children about the Nazis you have done yourself a great disservice . . . and your children an even greater one!
And, to my readers,
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p.s. If you have never seen a copy of The Stormer, keep on reading.