American Hate: It’s Time to Speak Up

Image: Storm clouds gather over a landscape. Photo by Unsplash at

Friends, I want to make you aware of something happening right now in the United States. This is something that transcends politics; whether you voted Trump or Clinton or 3rd Party or not at all, it concerns all Americans of good will.

More than 800 journalists have received hate mail and/or death threats via Twitter and other social media outlets over the past year, and the pace has escalated since the election. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report:

The top 10 most targeted journalists – all of whom are Jewish – received 83 percent of those 19,253 tweets. The top 10 includes conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, and CNN’s Sally Kohn and Jake Tapper.

More than 2/3 of these tweets were sent by only 1200 Twitter accounts, out of the 313 million accounts currently active on Twitter. Twitter has deactivated 21% of the offending accounts; the ADL is in conversation with them about the others.

Language in these tweets is overtly anti-Semitic. In an Atlantic article by Emma Green, she reports:

Beyond hateful language, users often photoshop journalists’ faces into images from the Holocaust, like Jews lined up to get food in concentration camps or lying in bunks in barracks. Users might share cartoons that depict ugly stereotypes about Jews, showing them with big noses and surrounded by piles of money. The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, was one of the handful of most frequently targeted journalists. In June, he wrote about some of the tweets he’s recently received, including a cartoon of the U.S. “Jewpreme Court,” a picture of money coming out of an oven, and a tweet that asked, “Why do Jews get so triggered when we mention ovens?”

There are death threats as well, as well as threats against the families of the journalists. This is not the kind of speech which qualifies for the protection of the First Amendment. Specific threats have been brought to the attention of law enforcement and I hope will continue to be pursued as the crimes they are.

Among the bios of the 1200 source accounts, the words that appear most frequently are “Trump,” “nationalist,” “conservative,” and “white.” The Trump campaign has not endorsed or supported this language; troublingly, though, it has not repudiated the anti-Semitic language and behavior of supporters, either.

I am aware that Mr. Trump has Jewish family members. I’m not sure why he does not take the anti-Semitic language of his supporters more seriously.  History teaches us that this kind of hate never stops with just one small group of people. I assure you that if Mr. Trump and his administration do not discourage this hate fully and quickly, we are going to see things in America no decent American ever wanted to see. 

It might start with “just the journalists,” “just the Jews,” “just the Muslims,” or “just the black activists.” I assure you that it will not stop there unless we put a stop to it now. We are seeing a rapid escalation of this language, plus acts of violence, and there is no time to waste.

What can we do? Here are some options:

  1. Send a strongly worded message to Mr. Trump directly (@RealDonaldTrump) asking that he repudiate his supporters’ hateful words and behavior and that he order them to stop it now. If you voted for him, please say so.
  2. If you are a Twitter user and you see hate speech against any group or a threat to any person, report it. Here is a set of directions for doing so. Don’t shrug it off. Twitter has been slow to respond to individual incidents, so it is important that your report be available as support to other reports. For other ideas, check out the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry.”
  3. Send supportive messages to any journalist whose work you appreciate. All of them, not just the Jews, are feeling threatened these days.
  4. Send supportive messages to anyone you know who might feel threatened by the outcome of the election. Tell them what you are doing to work against hate. Don’t tell them, “It’s going to be OK.” The rhetoric during the election was very threatening and incidents of actual violence against minorities have escalated since the election.
  5. If you see harassment or bullying of any kind in person, intervene before it escalates into violence. Read What Should I Do If I See Bullying? for an effective, psychologically sound method for intervention. Know what to do, so that when you see it you will know how to act safely and effectively.
  6. Support the Anti-Defamation League. Read their website. Sign up for their newsletters. Stay informed. ADL is not a partisan organization; major supporters include Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, lefties and right-wingers.
  7. Support the Southern Poverty Law Center. They track the hate groups behind many of these threats, and provide valuable information to law enforcement. Read the article on that website entitled White Supremacists Think Their Man Won the White House.

When I was ordained in 2008 I never dreamed that I’d have to write an article like this. Not here, not in the United States of America! I beg you to choose your course of action and follow through on it.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

12 thoughts on “American Hate: It’s Time to Speak Up”

  1. Rabbi, I am very frightened. My family posts messages on Facebook to the effect that Trump voters are decent people, but I wonder how decent people could deliberately vote for a man who was so upfront about his views regarding women, disabled people, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and, of course, Jews. My husband died exactly 9 months ago on November 9, and so he died before the country decided the best way to deal with America’s problems was to scapegoat the above groups. their souls might be pure, but at this point I just do not trust my fellow Americans.

    I give regularly to the Southern Poverty Law Office. They sue groups like the Klu Klux Klan and they win.

    1. It’s very, very troubling, Anne. Encourage your optimistic relatives to press Trump to disavow the KKK and other hate groups. I think that like every group that large, Trump voters are a mixed bag. Some of them appear to be very hateful; some were just angry. Some of them, like the Brexit voters, may have thought he didn’t have a chance and so they voted for him as a “protest.” My hope is that there are enough people in America who don’t want to see Nazis in power here, and who will encourage Trump on a saner path.

      1. My stomach has been in knots I cry in silence so not to upset my family especially my grandchildren ages 10, 6 and 10 months. I feel despair and violated in every way. I belive we are one people sharing the direct emotional asault to our lives, and fracture in our communities. We need to join our efforts and legally file a law suit against Donald J. Trump for the emotional damage his words have caused us and our children. Demeaning, and scare tactics that terryfy the very center of our soul. I don’t know how to start getting the word out to the millions of people who have been affected as I have. Please help. Protesting is not working we need to unite in legal format and take it to court.

        1. Dear Rose, I just read your post now. I hope your life is a bit easier these days. Trump was elected legally (well, except for the Russian & Facebook interference 😎🙃), so I don’t think we can sue him as you describe.

          Instead, I spend 1-2 hours daily, resisting his ideas & actions, emailing my senators & congressman. Here’s hoping!

  2. There are more of us this time and we are aware of the hateful comments. It’s been a busy week reporting them to the related social network owners.

    Here is another tip for reporting. Many people use Facebook to log on to a website. When you see their comments about a J– conspiracy (and more) look on the right side of the comment. A drop down menu lets you report it directly to Facebook. They are very responsive.

    It’s actually quite invigorating being of service to humanity. Good articles to read Rabbi Adar.

    “Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision” Tecumseh

  3. I wrote a really good comment on your blog, but it seems to never show up. Very frustrating. 

    Pamela Fender, Author

    From: Coffee Shop Rabbi To: Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2016 5:00 PM Subject: [New post] American Hate: It’s Time to Speak Up #yiv4483626012 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4483626012 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4483626012 a.yiv4483626012primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4483626012 a.yiv4483626012primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4483626012 a.yiv4483626012primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4483626012 a.yiv4483626012primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4483626012 | rabbiadar posted: “Image: Storm clouds gather over a landscape. Photo by Unsplash at, I want to make you aware of something happening right now in the United States. This is something that transcends politics; whether you voted Trump or Clinton or 3rd ” | |

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