(((Weisman))),” read the message from someone named
It was a
seemingly benign tweet that New York Times editor
Jonathan Weisman received after sharing a bit of a
column about the rise of fascism.
triple parentheses around Weisman’s name were a dog
whistle that rousted a cyber mob of alt-right,
anti-Semites who would barrage his phone, computer and
voicemail with hate.
iconography. Taunts. “The Holocaust didn’t
happen,” one person tweeted to Weisman. “But boy,
was it cool.”
who might be considered culturally Jewish but whose
faith had lapsed, had no sense of the anti-Semitism that
churned just below the surface in America, even though
he is the deputy Washington editor for the largest
newspaper in the country.
the attacks moved from his Twitter to his Facebook to
his voicemail, he learned. He started fearing for his
children. One of his grown daughters considered changing
her last name.
later, Weisman watched with the rest of the country as
white nationalists held a “Unite the Right” march
through Charlottesville; and as a young woman was killed
the next day, when a man mowed down a group of
counterprotesters with his car. (President Donald Trump
would later say there were “very fine people” on
both sides of the events.)
inspired Weisman to write “(((Semitism))): Being
Jewish in America in the Age of Trump,” a book that
chronicles how his experience forced him to confront his
own Jewish identity, and examine how a new
administration had emboldened a dark tide of hate and
was already working on the book when, last October, 11
people were killed when a man with an assault rifle,
shouting anti-Semitic slurs, opened fire inside a
Americans had not suffered too much violence,” he said
the other day. “But I predicted it would come and it
at this moment in America,” he continued. “Since the
1950s, there’s been a sense of a slow, uneven, but
steady rise toward a more egalitarian, more tolerant and
it’s shaking, and heading down. And we don’t know if
it will right itself or if we are at a real fault line.
We just don’t know.”
do know, Weisman said, is that the White House — which
currently employs a first daughter and close adviser,
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who openly observe
Jewish laws — is not doing enough to condemn these
events, to call off the dogs unleashed by those triple
parentheses, as they were with him.
(Trump) gets talked into denouncing hate, a few days
later, somebody at the White House will let you know
that he really didn’t want to do that,” he said.
“There’s this inability to renounce his wing of
supporters. He’s not blessing them, but it’s as if
he can’t jeopardize a single vote, and these people
are his core supporters.”
to do? Where to start?
has been criticized for suggesting in the book that
politically conservative Jews spend less energy on
supporting the Israeli government and turn to the crisis
of hate here in America. More liberal Jews are
sympathetic, but have called Weisman out for being
ignorant about the work that smaller Jewish and
interfaith organizations are already doing to fight
that point,” Weisman said. “But I still believe that
the large mainline American-Jewish organizations are
reluctant to speak out.”
a unification of American Judaism in defending not only
itself, but others under attack: undocumented
immigrants, refugees, Muslim Americans and black
activists who have not only been targeted by the
alt-right, but the Trump administration.
Jews and Muslims and immigrants and Latinos and African
Americans work together to fight bigotry, I think that
is a (…) powerful movement.”
though he wrote a book about anti-Semitism, he said, it
could apply to anyone who is vulnerable to what lurks
the wolves of hate are released,” Weisman said, “no
one is safe.”
told him as much.