Subscribe for 33¢ / day

As most people now know, some phony footage of a Muslim migrant supposedly attacking a boy on crutches was recently retweeted by President Trump, but it was done so poorly that only a cognitively-challenged fanatic could have believed it was real. (Indeed, it is worth noting that white supremacist David Duke was ecstatic about it.)

Trump also retweeted footage supposedly of a Muslim destroying a Christian religious statue, which again was done with such incompetence that its main effect was to call attention to the nihilism of the people responsible for it.

Far from denouncing those loathsome attempts to stir up religious hatred, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said “the threat is real,” adding that they were really all an attempt—by whom, she did not say — to “elevate the conversation.”

That is pure Trumpism. It is not enough to embrace gutter bigotry, it must be presented as the most elevated kind of social intercourse, and you must likewise pretend that it is.

Of course, the hate-mongering is not limited to slandering Muslims. The following story appeared in November in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency regarding the Roy Moore campaign in Alabama.

“Earlier this week, an unknown ally of [Roy] Moore sent a fake robocall to households in Alabama saying that he was ‘Bernie Bernstein,’ an ersatz reporter for the Washington Post. The recording offered a cash reward to women willing to make [false] accusations against Moore.” Referring to him as ‘RoboBernie,’ the JTA reporter wrote that the mystery caller spoke in a “generic but thick ‘regional’ (read: Jewish) accent.”

It did not take long for the Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Jonathan Greenblatt to get on the case, correctly denouncing the robocall as “ugly” and “slanderous.” One of the JTA reporters, Ron Kampeas, pointed out that ‘Bernie Bernstein’ seemed to be a fake composite of the names of socialist Bernie Sanders and journalist Carl Bernstein, both famously of New York and both famously Jewish.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency apparently decided to handle it as a joke, but I am not convinced that some people (particularly the kind who like Roy Moore) might not be vulnerable to anti-Semitic propaganda. There are just far too many people who are willing to believe in fantastic scenarios these days.

Therefore, I’d like to know who was behind the offensive robocalls, and I’d like that knowledge to be made public.

In the case of the phony footage supposedly of Muslims attacking Christians, the footage retweeted by President Trump, we know very well where it came from. It was concocted by “Britain First,” an extreme right-wing group that is intensely disliked by most people in Britain.

It was “Britain First!” that was shouted by the assassin of Member of Parliament Jo Cox as she was murdered on June 16, 2016.

Jo Cox was an extremely popular British Labor Party politician who represented the Batley and Spen constituency from her election in May 2015 until her murder in June 2016.

Jo Cox is survived by her husband, Brendon Cox, who made a public statement this week after it became known that Donald Trump had retweeted the hate videos. “This [Britain First] is a criminal group of people being retweeted by the President of our closest ally, and that is a problem, because hate has impact. When you drive hatred, it has consequences, people lose family members. I am testament to that. Wherever that hatred comes from, we need to crack down on it, and this president is promoting it.”

Lawrence Swaim

Interfaith Freedom Foundation