On Sept. 4, Elon Musk, the man whose family fortune was built largely on emerald mining in South Africa, which he parlayed into buying Twitter for $44 Billion and then tanking in remarkable fashion, amplified a Tweet from an Irish white supremacist to “#banTheADL,” before asking his followers if he should put the idea to a poll.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, has been one of the preeminent organizations at the forefront of the battle for civil rights through every year of the struggle since its inception, working with myriad marginalized groups to help them gain equity and equality. Past ADL leaders have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, waging war against discrimination, assisting in cases like Brown v. Board of Education and McCollum v. Board of Education, and materially participating in achieving the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, to name but a drop in the bucket of their advocacy efforts.
That Musk would flirt with his white supremacist Twitter fans isn’t necessarily surprising, given his on-the-record support for hate speech. Responding to Ireland’s proposal of a new anti-hate-speech bill, Musk claimed the legislation was a “massive attack against the freedom of speech,” dodging behind the age-old canard that all speech is equal and thus all speech must be free. In reality, even the United States has regulated freedom of speech in numerous instances, especially when it causes material harm to others or incites violence.
According to the Brookings Institute, immediately following Musk’s takeover of Twitter (now called X) the platform “…saw a nearly 500% increase in use of the N-word in the 12-hour window immediately following the shift of ownership to Musk. Within the following week, tweets including the word ‘Jew’ had also increased five-fold since before the ownership transfer. Tweets with the most engagement were overtly antisemitic.”
Much like what we’ve witnessed since the beginning of the Trump era in U.S. politics, the hateful are an emboldened lot on Twitter thanks to Musk’s involvement and refusal to act to curb hate speech in a meaningful manner. He then added more gasoline to the fire by attacking the ADL, tossing a boatload of red meat into a theater filled with white supremacist hyenas via his amplification of the tweet attacking the ADL.
That includes a small cadre of local melanin-challenged knuckle-draggers who mounted a little posse to descend on the ADL offices in Denver on Sept. 16.
This little boys’ club appears to mirror the kinds of activity seen in other “Active Club-style” groups, and may have ties to Patriot Front among other white supremacist organizations. Dressed in khakis and green shirts sporting their little club logos, a group of maybe ten white men — all but one hiding their faces behind balaclava-styled masks in a manner befitting their cowardice — brought a megaphone and a rudimentary banner to the ADL building on South Broadway.
The banner bore the words “Ban The ADL” along with a hashtag. And then they shot a short video for their Twitter page — which has all of 38 followers — yelled into their megaphone, and called it day.
Despite their covered faces, at least one of the megaphone-wielding speakers appears to have revealed himself via his distinctive tattoos.
The “Wolfsangel” symbol on his right forearm and the covered-up strip on his left forearm match the ink of William Planer, a Colorado resident previously associated with the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party who in 2017 was arrested for affixing a “Fight Terror, Nuke Israel” sticker to the door of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center in Colorado Springs.
He was subsequently transferred to California where, according to the Los Angeles Times, he was already wanted for felony assault for hitting a defenseless protester in the head with a pole, knocking her unconscious. Planer pleaded no contest and was sentenced to four years for that crime in 2019.
The group’s tweet about the ADL protest said they “… protested the Anti Defamation League’s corrupt influence on American values. #bantheADL was taken to the ADL office to remind those that censor voices who speak against their anti white agenda, WE WILL take the fight to your doorstep.”
Indeed, to misapply a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the tweet reads like “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
This column, in fact, is the most press they’ve received about their little tea party. The “action” wasn’t even enough to register a blip inside the margins of Life on Capitol Hill.
Regardless, it is worth mentioning here — because even though I’m not going to mention the name of their little hate club, I will call your attention to their tantrum — like a 6-year-old pounding his fists on the linoleum of the floor of the grocery store cereal aisle for not getting the box of Frosted Flakes he wants.
The ADL remains vigilant and concerned, thanks to Musk’s glad-handing and the resulting activity by white supremacists offline.
In an alarming twist, there’s a reasonable case to be made that this attack on the ADL — and Jews the world over — may be the result of a long-standing plan that has been in the works for well more than a year. NBC reporter Ben Collins posted a fascinating video on Twitter on Oct. 2. In it, he shared an article from far-right-wing rag Revolver that “predicted” the ADL/Musk conflict. You may remember Revolver for such luminary think pieces as “shoot the protestors,” and “Alex Jones is all of us.” The article, published auspiciously enough on April 1 of 2022, detailed a plan for Musk to purchase Twitter in order to restore what they referred to as “free speech” online (In their estimation, it’s obvious that free speech = platforming white supremacy). Consider this quote from the article:
“Free speech online is what enabled the Trump revolution in 2016. If the Internet had been as free in 2020 as it was four years before, Trump would have cruised to reelection. Massive censorship and suppression are the tools needed to prop up Covid tyranny, the Ukraine war fever, and the idea that Lia Thomas is a “woman.” America’s decrepit and illegitimate ruling class intuitively understand this: Absolute freedom of speech, or even the speech norms that prevailed a mere decade ago, would instantly cause the American regime as we know it to crumble.”
Later in the article, the author went directly at the ADL, proposing the battle that ultimately later ensued over the past several weeks. The article accused the ADL of having the gall to dare to provide facts and data proving the rampant antisemitism on Twitter was at an unrepentantly breakneck pace and should be curtailed. The article referred to the ADL as a “danger” to the platform.
In his video, Collins provides alleged proof that the article was sent to Musk before he even purchased Twitter. While it’s certainly a leap to suggest that Musk used the Revolver article as a blueprint for what played out, it would also be a bit unrealistic to think it’s all just a coincidence. Especially when you consider how the concerns raised by the ADL that were cited in the article included this prophetic concern from ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt from a Buzzfeed article published in 2016: “We’re already seeing (antisemitism) spread into the real world and mainstreaming in a way we’ve never seen in our over–100-year history as an organization.”
And all of this is exactly what has since happened.
“We saw the campaign manifest in the real world when masked men marched in Florida on Sept. 2 brazenly waving flags adorned with swastikas and chanting ‘Ban the ADL,’” said Scott Levin, Regional Director of the ADL Mountain States Region based in Denver. “And, of course, the September 16 protest in Denver is another example of how extremists are acting in the real world.
“It is profoundly disturbing that Elon Musk has engaged with a highly toxic, antisemitic campaign on his platform, X/Twitter,” he continued.“ We believe that boosting the voices of extremists, as Musk has done, is reckless and irresponsible, especially as antisemitism is on the rise in Colorado and across the country. We need responsible leaders to lead and to stop inflaming hatred.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.