As any high-profile Twitter user with a Jewish-sounding last name can tell you, the surest way to see anti-Semitism flood your mentions column is to tweet something negative about Donald Trump. My anti-Trump tweets have been met with such terrifying and profound anti-Semitism that I bought a gun earlier this month. Over the coming weeks, I plan to learn how to shoot it better.
After the South Carolina primary, I made an offhand remark on Twitter about Trump’s legions of anti-Semitic fans. It wasn’t my first time commenting on this; I’ve even written about the phenomenon in these pages. But the response was unlike anything I’ve seen before on Twitter. I was called a “slimy Jewess” and told that I “deserve the oven.” Not only was the anti-Semitic deluge scary and graphic, it got personal. Trump fans began to “dox” me — a term for adversaries’ attempt to ferret out private or identifying information online with malicious intent. My conversion to Judaism was used as a weapon against me, and I received death threats in my private Facebook mailbox, prompting me to file a police report.
I’m not alone in being doxed by Trump supporters. The Daily Beast recently profiled my experience alongside that of other anti-Trump activists. One of the ways Trump supporters find new targets to dox is through the website Breitbart News, now little more than a platform for Trump boosters. While I was never mentioned on the site before the Daily Beast profile, several others have been, including my former editor at Commentary magazine, John Podhoretz; Republican strategist Rick Wilson, and radio host Erick Erickson.
Wilson has privately shared with me his experiences of being doxed and targeted by Trump supporters. When he discovered a man looking through his windows, and when his daughter was threatened with graphic descriptions of sexual violence, he was glad to be an experienced gun owner and user. Erickson began to receive such frightening letters at his home address that his children are no longer allowed to fetch the mail.
Hearing stories like Wilson’s and Erickson’s as I was on the receiving end of an influx of hateful and personalized tweets inspired me to finally purchase a gun. I’d applied for a permit earlier this year. Here in New Jersey, a state where it isn’t exactly easy to avail yourself of Second Amendment rights, my husband and I decided to obtain the means to protect ourselves. Other Jewish anti-Trump writers would be wise to do the same — and several have told me privately that they are considering doing so.
“I have augmented my firearms collection and training, obtained a Concealed Carry weapon permit, and became a NRA life member because of the approval of violence Trump has encouraged,” Republican strategist and consultant Nathan Wurtzel told me. “It’s not just the anti-Semitism of his most ardent fans, but the general breakdown of civil society they seek. I think all American Jews should be armed per the laws of their state.”
As for Breitbart, it’s currently facing major upheaval, with five employees — writers and editors — having quit over the course of a week, with rumors of more to follow. Most reports of their resignations mention the site’s uncomfortably close relationship with Trump as well as its refusal to stand by one of its own reporters, whom Trump’s campaign manager assaulted.
The most high-profile Breitbart employee to leave, Ben Shapiro, resigned on March 13. In response to Shapiro’s defection from the pro-Trump site, he himself was doxed. Editor-at-large Joel Pollak published a piece mocking Shapiro and linking to his State Bar Association page, which until very recently displayed his home address. Luckily, Shapiro had changed the address listed, protecting his family from the kind of in-person harassment Wilson and Erickson described.
To add insult to injury, the post mocking Shapiro was published under his own father’s pen name on the site, which Shapiro believes was done to force the disclosure of his father’s identity and endanger him as well. The elder Shapiro, David, adopted the pen name to avoid the same death threats his son has experienced in the past, especially as an outspoken Ted Cruz supporter on the pro-Trump site.
After Shapiro’s departure from Breitbart and the ensuing post, which not only mocked him but also made a point of noting that he is an Orthodox Jew, he has been inundated with anti-Semitic tweets — including ones from David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
“There are an outsized set of Trump supporters who will threaten your safety,” Shapiro told me. “I’ve been hit with a number of death threats, and sleep with a shotgun beside the bed. I’ve had my office address and phone number posted on the Internet by my own employer, Breitbart News, via a link to the State Bar website, after resigning from the publication and announcing I did so because of their allegiance to Trump.”
Given the wrath and danger that we conservative Jews incur when we take a stand against Trump, it’s beyond frustrating to see fellow Jews criticize us for our supposed passivity. In one recent Haaretz opinion piece, Lea Rappaport Geller condemned Republicans’ “damning silence on Trump.” The piece was almost laughable in its shortsightedness. Although many organizations and rabbis stay pareve on politics, few Jews in the trenches have remained silent on Trump. Thankfully, other Jewish publications, including the liberal Forward, have been printing full-throated denouncements of Trump penned by Jewish conservatives since the beginning of the campaign season, even before anyone thought Trump had a shot at the Republican nomination.
The conservative Jewish writers who have spoken out against Trump and received death threats in return are almost too many to list. These writers (myself included) have taken a stand at personal risk. We have been outspoken from the start of the Trump campaign. As it gained strength, many of us sacrificed a great deal, including our own family’s safety, to try to stop this wannabe strongman. We laid our bodies across the tracks in an effort to stop the Trump train — and accusations of damning silence do nothing but push us further in the way of danger. Now is the time for Jews against Trump to stand together, not to cast stones within our own camp.
Bethany Mandel writes on politics and culture, usually from a conservative perspective. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyShondark