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October 30, 2015 3

American Anti-Semite and Holocaust Denier Willis Carto Dies

Willis Carto, one of the most vir­u­lent anti-Semitic pro­pa­gan­dists in the United States, died this week at age 89, accord­ing to Counter-Currents, an online white suprema­cist jour­nal. Carto had been active on the extreme right for over 60 years and was asso­ci­ated with var­i­ous move­ments from neo-Nazism to Holo­caust denial. He spread hatred against Jews through anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented pub­li­ca­tions and by hold­ing con­fer­ences that fea­tured other well-known anti-Semites and Holo­caust deniers.

Willis Carto

Willis Carto

Carto estab­lished an intri­cate net­work of big­otry and was most well-known for two out­lets that had a last­ing impact on the extreme right. He founded the Lib­erty Lobby, based in Wash­ing­ton, DC, in the 1950s, which became an impor­tant source of anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda. Lib­erty Lobby united var­i­ous right-wing con­stituen­cies, from hard-right lib­er­tar­i­ans to con­spir­a­to­r­ial anti­com­mu­nists to racists, by using pop­ulist rhetoric to inflame their anti-government and nativist fears, while incor­po­rat­ing implicit anti-Semitic notions in many of its publications.

Lib­erty Lobby pub­lished The Spot­light, a weekly news­pa­per which pro­moted anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries. The Spot­light became the pre­miere pub­li­ca­tion of the extreme right from its incep­tion in 1975 until it ceased pub­li­ca­tion in 2001.

In 1979, Carto took the lead in a grow­ing area of anti-Semitism when he founded the Insti­tute for His­tor­i­cal Review (IHR), to cre­ate and mar­ket Holocaust-denial pro­pa­ganda. Based in Cal­i­for­nia, IHR oper­ated under a guise of schol­ar­ship and pub­lished “revi­sion­ist” stud­ies laced with anti-Semitic themes in the Jour­nal of His­tor­i­cal Review. It soon became the lead­ing Holo­caust denial orga­ni­za­tion in the U.S.

In the 1990s, Carto lost con­trol of IHR in a legal dis­pute but went on to found another Holo­caust denial pub­li­ca­tion, The Barnes Review, which is still in cir­cu­la­tion. Carto filed for bank­ruptcy fol­low­ing his legal prob­lems with IHR, which led to the end of Lib­erty Lobby and The Spot­light in 2001. How­ever, Carto and the for­mer staff of The Spot­light went on to found a new weekly pub­li­ca­tion, Amer­i­can Free Press, which con­tin­ued Carto’s run of anti-Semitic propaganda.

Amer­i­can Free Press and  The Barnes Review, attract the most vit­ri­olic anti-Semites. While it is unclear what will hap­pen to Carto’s anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda empire, his death may dis­rupt or shut down the publications.

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October 29, 2015 0

Moroccan Group Stands Against Anti-Semitism At Pro-Palestinian Rally


Screen­shot from Moroc­can news­pa­per arti­cle about the petition

A group call­ing them­selves “Moroc­can cit­i­zens united against incite­ment to kill Jews in Morocco” orga­nized a peti­tion to protest the anti-Semitic mes­sage of the “Al-Aqsa Intifada march,” a pro-Palestinian rally held on Octo­ber 25, in the Moroc­can city of Casablanca.

The pro-Palestinian rally drew inter­na­tional media atten­tion for fea­tur­ing men dressed as Ortho­dox Jews being led at gun­point by masked men wear­ing keffiyehs.

Report­edly, the peti­tion against anti-Semitism stated, “Even though it is of course every citizen’s right to pub­licly man­i­fest their sup­port for a cause that they con­sider just, it is obvi­ously ille­gal to call for someone’s death because of their reli­gious beliefs. ” The peti­tion also noted that scenes from the protest are spread­ing fear among the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in Morocco and across the world. It reads in part, “Such anti-Semitic acts are a threat to the secu­rity and the safety of Moroc­can Jews and a threat to [the prin­ci­ples of] co-existence in the coun­try. It is also against val­ues of plu­ral­ism and tol­er­ance which are enforced by the supreme law of the King­dom, which rec­og­nizes the Hebrew com­po­nent as an essen­tial part of the Moroc­can identity.”

Accord­ing to local Moroc­can news sources, more than three thou­sand Moroc­cans already signed the peti­tion, which called upon the Min­is­ters of Inte­rior and Jus­tice to bring their atten­tion to the rally, and hold account­able those respon­si­ble for its anti-Semitic scenes.

Mouna Izd­dine, a spokesper­son for the group, which orga­nized the peti­tion, told a Moroc­can news­pa­per, “The images reported by media out­lets chal­lenge the type of social exam­ple we are try­ing to pro­vide for our chil­dren. As Moroc­cans, regard­less of our faith, we want to live in peace and harmony.”

The vio­lent anti-Semitic mes­sage of the pro-Palestinian march in Casablanca raised con­cern as well for the safety of the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in Morocco. Jews in Morocco have a rich his­tory dat­ing back thou­sands of years. They have enjoyed great sup­port from the royal fam­ily, and Moroc­can soci­ety has tra­di­tion­ally been rel­a­tively accept­ing of the Moroc­can Jew­ish community.

The peti­tion orga­niz­ers pro­vide a valu­able learn­ing oppor­tu­nity about tol­er­ance and the fight against anti-Semitism. By stand­ing up against expres­sions of hate that tar­get fel­low Jews, under the guise of sup­port­ing Pales­tini­ans, those Moroc­cans who signed the peti­tion send a clear mes­sage not only to their fel­low Moroc­can Jews but also to the world at large. Their mes­sage is loud and clear; voices of rea­son can­not be silent in the face of hate.

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October 23, 2015 9

Plumbing the Depths: Were the Umpqua Shootings an Anti-Christian Hate Crime?

On Octo­ber 1, 26-year-old stu­dent Christo­pher Harper-Mercer walked into a class­room at Umpqua Com­mu­nity Col­lege in south­west Ore­gon and opened fire, killing nine peo­ple and wound­ing another nine before killing him­self after law enforce­ment arrived and wounded him.christopher-harper-mercer-hate-crime-shooting

In the weeks since the shoot­ing, Harper-Mercer’s moti­va­tion has remained largely a mys­tery, the sub­ject of spec­u­la­tion and alle­ga­tions, thanks to the lim­ited, often ambigu­ous infor­ma­tion avail­able on the shooter.

The issue most often raised about the shoot­ings is whether they con­sti­tute an anti-Christian or anti-religious hate crime.  Pro­po­nents of this the­ory note that Harper-Mercer asked sev­eral of his vic­tims about their reli­gion before shoot­ing them, and that his lim­ited on-line foot­print sug­gests a dis­dain for orga­nized reli­gion.  On the other hand, it turns out, Harper-Mercer was angry about a great many things, some clearly more so than reli­gion.  He also had a his­tory of men­tal health and behav­ioral issues.

What moti­vated the shooter?  It seems pos­si­ble that a clear-cut answer will never emerge.  But an analy­sis of what is known so far about Harper-Mercer and the shoot­ings may offer a slightly clearer pic­ture of what hap­pened that day—and why.

Acquain­tances of Harper-Mercer inter­viewed since the shoot­ing have not revealed much about his atti­tudes towards reli­gion.  But on an on-line dat­ing pro­file, Harper-Mercer chose the options “not reli­gious” and “not reli­gious but spir­i­tual” to describe him­self.  As a prospec­tive match, he sought some­one pagan, Wic­can, or “not reli­gious, but spir­i­tual.”  On the same site, he joined groups called “doesn’t like orga­nized reli­gion,” “mag­ick and occult,” and the “left-hand path,” another occult ref­er­ence.  How­ever, to date no on-line anti-Christian or anti-religious rhetoric by Harper-Mercer has been discovered.

Accord­ing to the accounts of wit­nesses, on the day of the shoot­ing itself, Harper-Mercer walked late into his writ­ing class and fired a gun, appar­ently to get people’s atten­tion.  He fatally shot the instruc­tor, Lawrence Levine, after telling him, accord­ing to the account of one wit­ness, “I’ve been wait­ing to do this for a really long time.”

Harper-Mercer than ordered the 15 or so stu­dents onto the floor.  Accord­ing to one sur­vivor, Mathew Down­ing, he “fired a cou­ple of shots into the crowd of stu­dents in the cen­ter.”  He sub­se­quently ordered sev­eral stu­dents to stand, one at a time, and asked about their reli­gion, then shot them.  For exam­ple, the mother of one vic­tim told reporters that Harper-Mercer asked her daugh­ter, Cheyeanne Fitzger­ald, about her reli­gion, shoot­ing her in the back when she didn’t answer.

The sis­ter of one Umpqua stu­dent told NBC News shortly after the attack that Harper-Mercer asked his poten­tial vic­tims if they were Chris­t­ian.  If they said yes, he would shoot them in the head.  How­ever, if they said some­thing else, or noth­ing, “they were shot else­where in the body, usu­ally the leg.”  This state­ment was widely repeated on the Inter­net.  How­ever, the stu­dent, J. J. Vic­ari, was not actu­ally in the shooter’s class­room at the time, but in another class­room in that build­ing.  When NBC sub­se­quently inter­viewed Vic­ari him­self, he said that he never heard Harper-Mercer ask about religion—or even heard his voice at all.

The most frequently-repeated account came from the father of vic­tim Anas­ta­sia Boy­lan.  Her father told the media that Harper-Mercer asked peo­ple if they were Chris­t­ian, then said “Good, because you’re a Chris­t­ian, you’re going to see God in just about one sec­ond,” killing peo­ple who had iden­ti­fied them­selves as Christians.

How­ever, when Anas­ta­sia Boy­lan her­self was sub­se­quently inter­viewed by Good Morn­ing Amer­ica, her account was dif­fer­ent:  “He had us get up, one by one, and asked us what our reli­gions were.  The shooter said [vic­tims] would only feel pain for a cou­ple of sec­onds, and that [they] would be with God soon.  And then he shot them.”  Boylan’s descrip­tion makes it seem as if Harper-Mercer was actu­ally engag­ing in some sort of bizarre attempt to calm or give solace to the peo­ple he was about to mur­der.  He also told the stu­dents he would be join­ing them in death in just a lit­tle while.

Other sur­viv­ing wit­nesses also ques­tioned whether Harper-Mercer was “tar­get­ing Chris­tians.” Rand McGowan said, “He didn’t, really, honestly…Obviously, he was ask­ing what reli­gion, but he wasn’t really just tar­get­ing.  He was kind of just say­ing, ‘Oh, since you have a God, you’ll be join­ing him in a lit­tle bit.’  It wasn’t really like, ‘I’m tar­get­ing you and I’m going to kill you.’”

Tracy Heu, another sur­vivor, recalled that Harper-Mercer told vic­tims, “I’m going to send you to God.  You’re going to see God.”  How­ever, she did not think that Chris­tian­ity or reli­gion were a motive, not­ing that he shot peo­ple regard­less of how they responded to his ques­tion about religion.

It is not clear how many stu­dents Harper-Mercer asked about their reli­gion.  How­ever, it is clear from Downing’s detailed writ­ten account that a num­ber of stu­dents were shot or shot at with­out hav­ing been asked any­thing about their religion.

Harper-Mercer killed or wounded most of the stu­dents in the class­room (shoot­ing one vic­tim at least five times), regard­less of faith.  How­ever, one stu­dent he spared, giv­ing him an enve­lope for police that allegedly included a flash drive and doc­u­ments, includ­ing what has been described as a “manifesto.”

Weeks after the shoot­ings, author­i­ties still have not yet released any of the con­tents of this enve­lope.  How­ever, offi­cers or oth­ers with appar­ent access have leaked descrip­tions and excerpts of its con­tents to the media.  The doc­u­ment allegedly con­tains racist lan­guage, though race does not seem to have been a motive for the attack (and Harper-Mercer was from a multi-racial fam­ily).  It also allegedly con­tains lan­guage about his sex­ual frustrations—which echoes com­ments Harper-Mercer made on-line prior to the shoot­ings.  One anony­mous source told Peo­ple Mag­a­zine that the shooter wrote, “I am going to die friend­less, girl­friend­less, and a vir­gin.”  The source also said that the man­i­festo had “666” writ­ten on it and that Harper-Mercer wanted “to serve darkness”—characterizing the attack as “strictly for Satanic purposes.”

How­ever, in a sub­se­quent Peo­ple arti­cle, an appar­ently dif­fer­ent anony­mous source allegedly read parts of the man­i­festo to reporters, telling the mag­a­zine that the man­i­festo chron­i­cled Harper-Mercer’s life and his frus­tra­tions:  “no job, no life, no suc­cess.”  Accord­ing to this source, Harper-Mercer allegedly wrote, “I was hated ever since I arrived in the world.  I was always under attack.  I’ve always been the most hated per­son in the world.”

Harper-Mercer allegedly wrote in the man­i­festo about pre­vi­ous mass killers (as he did on-line, prior to the attack), claim­ing that they too had been denied every­thing they deserved and wanted.  This source quotes Harper-Mercer mak­ing ref­er­ences about demons and Hell, though the ref­er­ences sound as though they may have been more metaphor­i­cal than actu­ally Satanic.  How­ever, with­out being able to see the actual lan­guage in its true con­text, it is hard to know for sure.

So was Harper-Mercer’s deadly attack a hate crime?  Cer­tainly, Harper-Mercer was capa­ble of hatred.  The evi­dence sug­gests that he was a supremely dis­turbed and alien­ated young man, frus­trated by vir­tu­ally all aspects of his life, from being kicked out of the mil­i­tary, to being placed on aca­d­e­mic pro­ba­tion, to being unable to form con­nec­tions with other peo­ple, espe­cially women.

Hate and resent­ment, Harper-Mercer thus had in full mea­sure. But anger alone does not define a hate crime.  Was his attack directed against Chris­tians or against peo­ple with reli­gious beliefs?  The evi­dence that has so far emerged to sup­port such a propo­si­tion is not very strong.  Harper-Mercer appears to have stored up anger against soci­ety in general—and when he unleashed his deadly fury, he spared nei­ther Chris­t­ian nor non-Christian, nei­ther the reli­gious nor the agnostic.

It may well have been the act of shoot­ing and killing peo­ple, rather than shoot­ing any­one in par­tic­u­lar, that was most impor­tant to Harper-Mercer.  And while new infor­ma­tion could prompt a re-examination of the entire event, it seems quite pos­si­ble that pro­found alien­ation and resent­ment, rather than ani­mus directed specif­i­cally at Chris­tians or the reli­gious, was the most impor­tant moti­va­tion in Harper-Mercer’s mur­der­ous rampage.

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