During the days leading up to the election, and certainly during the day itself, there was a lot to be nervous about as a Jewish journalist. Trump’s supporters, especially those on the so-called “alt-right”, have taken it upon themselves to ramp up hateful, odious anti-semitism against Jewish journalists to a degree unprecedented in recent memory.
Between August 2015 and July 2016 alone, at least 800 journalist received upwards of 19,000 anti-Semitic tweets — sentiments which Donald Trump declined to denounce, and in fact arguably stoked with dog-whistling in his speeches, interviews and ads.
On the day of the election, anxious and on-edge, I decided to punish myself with a trip into the troll-ridden underbelly of alt-right Trumplandia, a subreddit called r/altright. They seemed to be spending election day the way they spend most days: mired in anti-Semitic fantasies, bloviating about the master race (which, it seems, has a disproportionate number of cheeto-fingered basement dwellers among its ranks, for something so masterful), and generally going on about their desire to harm Jews, black people and Muslims.
I decided to put together a piece with a selection of choice idiocy from the subreddit, hoping to simultaneously remind people that subreddits like this are out there, and to offer some comic relief to the tension of the building election. Because they are, after all, basically just clowns. Clowns touting ideas with frightening histories, but clowns nonetheless.
When the announcement was made that Trump had won the election, I was shocked like many were shocked, and dismayed like many were dismayed. I have to admit, there was a level of naivete to blame for that shock. It simply didn’t occur to me that a Donald Trump president could be a reality. It didn’t occur to me that, really, in the end, that sort of pandering to hate and bigotry would win out. But, of course, it did.
What truly didn’t occur to me was that the effects would be so immediate — though, perhaps, it should have. That night, my piece got comments celebrating the hateful nonsense it was calling out. From “I think you jews would be much happier in israel. the west is getting tired of you,” to “Such an Aryan sounding surname, such a shame that you got pozzed :’( …oh well another one for the oven! The Train doesn’t fuel itself! CHOO CHOO!”, to various conspiracy theories about that good old mainstay, the Jewish cabal that is controlling/destroying the world, the anti-Semitic comments came forth on the post calling out anti-Semitism.
It was hard not to see a correlation between Trump’s victory and trolls feeling emboldened to be particularly open with their backward beliefs.
But some ultimately worthless, historically forgettable losers trolling on the internet are not the only ones feeling emboldened.
While calling the media “very unfair!” Donald Trump has done nothing to denounce or even address this uptick of violence among his supporters and in his name, despite the fact that multiple hate groups have publicly stated that they consider a lack of denouncement an endorsement. This felt lik unacceptable behavior for a presidential candidate, and feels even more like unacceptable behavior for a president elect.
Though Trump supporters and a sizeable faction of Hillary fans keep stressing that now is the time for unity and reaching across the aisle for the sake of the country, that will be literally be impossible for many whose very existence is being threatened by those across the aisle.
President-elect Trump has said he wants to represent all Americans, and that means he needs to make at the very least a symbolic gesture against the torrent of hate and bigotry he’s unleashed on the world.
Lana Adler is a Forward Fellow working on Opinion. Follow her on Twitter @Lana_Macondo