Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Back to Opinion

When Your Husband Gets Called a ‘Filthy Kike’ On Twitter

It was bracing to learn on Monday that my husband, Glenn Thrush, had been called a “filthy kike” on Twitter. He is the chief political correspondent for Politico, and his run-in with the “alt right” American fascist movement stemmed from a roundtable with academics, of all things.

His editor, Susan Glasser, convened a half-dozen experts for a feature in Politico — a Q&A discussion of the declines in life expectancy and income that whites without college educations have seen in the last decade or so.

The article itself is about what you might expect from a cadre of economists, historians and the stray memoirist: measured, deliberate, thoughtful. But the initial headline on the piece, “What’s Wrong With America’s White People?” was a Twitter siren that quickly answered itself in part. A few of America’s white people are angry, bitter, racist anti-Semites who aren’t ashamed to spew hate all over social media.

Glasser and Thrush were called “Jewish supremacists” by @FashNova (fash, as in fascist) and “two kikes pretending to be white” by someone with the charming screen name AdolfJoeBiden. There’s more, but you get the gist. Thrush tangled with some, let most slide and reported the person who combed his podcast transcripts looking for the places he had mentioned his Jewishness.

For him, it was basically another workday in this most unusual 2016 election cycle. But for me, it pointed to something I had imagined, but hoped I would never see.

I am Catholic, not Jewish (“race mixing,” to use a term I picked up on one of these hateful feeds). And we have raised our twins in the Jewish faith’s Reform movement.

I know that many Jews do not consider my sons “real” Jews. But I also know they are real enough Jews in the eyes of bigots.

When our boys started Jewish preschool, though, this specter of them being attacked for their heritage was theoretical, off in a distant, hazy, maybe future. I never imagined that their dad and other Jewish journalists would be targets of persistent hate speech in 2016, just a few months after our boys’ b’nai mitzvah.

I wanted my kids to have a Jewish education for two reasons. First, with six million people wiped out two generations ago, Jewish identity shouldn’t be thrown away. Second, there is so much to know: Hebrew language, midrash, Mel Brooks movies, and the long, sad history of persecution.

That history is not remote to our family. Glenn is named after his grandmother, Gertrude Wiesenfeld Thrush, who lost her parents and siblings in the Holocaust. She survived because she immigrated here as a teenager before the war.

Ironically, the story that got the American Nazis up in arms is about another side of our kids’ heritage. Thrush is not a Jewish name. Gertrude Wisenfeld met Jack Thrush (whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War) at an infirmary during the 1918 Spanish Influenza. The Jewish immigrant and the working-class English-Irish-Scotsman would raise four kids in East New York, Brooklyn. Poor, white Jewish Americans.

My father, William Webber, was also of English-Irish stock. He often called himself “poor white trash” (but it probably would have been a bad idea for anybody to sling that back at the career Special Forces soldier). He was born dirt poor in Appalachia, and he died well ahead of the life-expectancy charts’ predictions — and ahead of this latest trend of online hate — at age 61, in 1994.

My dad didn’t have an easy life, but he never responded to his travails with hate or prejudice. He’d be appalled at this racist name-calling. His daughter sure is.

Diane Webber is a health policy journalist based in Washington, D.C.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.