This week's column:
I am reluctant to feed trolls.
When someone posts something despicable on the internet, it is not unusual for me to ignore it and to hope it dies a slow, quiet death in obscurity.
But sometimes people go too far and need to be called out.
Such is the case with a recent post on “The Triad Conservative” by a local blogger, Dr. Joe Guarino.
Joe, who was once a community columnist for the News & Record, pounded out a frothing screed about HB 2 that quickly veered into a ditch and then bored deeper into stereotypes and poor taste.
Somehow he sees a link between NBA Commissioner Adam Sliver moving the NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte and, well, let’s let Joe tell it himself: “We have seen much discussion regarding Mr. Silver’s manipulations,” he writes. “But no one has yet addressed the elephant in the room.
“Adam Silver is Jewish, and he apparently subscribes to the world view of contemporary Judaism — politically and culturally.”
Then the post gets worse. “Those within the Jewish community possess wealth, power and influence far out of proportion to their share of the population. For instance, Jewish Supreme Court justices — Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan — levied three of the five votes that forced same-sex marriage on the entire country. ... The democratic socialists love to nominate Jewish judges, for obvious reasons.”
As Guarino apparently sees it, there is a vast Jewish cabal out there with designs on the conquest of North Carolina. Or something like that. Then he connects HB 2 and the NBA All-Star Game to the race for attorney general in North Carolina.
“Adam Silver himself cannot force the state of North Carolina to do anything differently,” Guarino writes. “But there is a new threat looming. His name is Josh Stein. He is the Democratic socialist candidate for North Carolina Attorney General.”
“Mr. Stein proudly proclaims on his website that he is a member of Temple Beth Or. That is a ‘progressive’ Reform Jewish congregation in Raleigh. And his politics are completely consistent with the worldview of contemporary Judaism.
“If you want to understand Josh Stein ... look at Adam Silver.”
Those who are familiar with him will say this is merely Joe being Joe, as he has for years. He has traipsed recklessly into dark places before.
His relentless personal attacks on former Mayor Robbie Perkins during Perkins’ well-publicized marital problems were cold and merciless. They not only invaded private places with blissful abandon, but they were relentless and judgmental.
He disparages Jews and Presbyterians. In the wake of the 4th Circuit Appeals Court’s overturning of North Carolina’s racially and politically motivated Voter ID law, he posted that the court is “transparently motivated by demonic impulses.”
What’s worrisome is that Joe has company — lots of it. So much that I could list a page’s worth of examples without mentioning the word “Trump.” And some of it makes Joe look tame by comparison:
A Mecklenburg County commissioner’s willful use of a transgender slur.
The divisive and unhelpful tendency of some idiots at Black Lives Matter rallies to call for killing police.
The appropriation of the word “thug” as a thinly veiled successor to the n-word.
The blistering attacks on a black actor, Leslie Jones, who played a female “Ghostbuster” and paid the price on Twitter. For her trouble, Jones was called an “ape” and worse. Milo Yiannopoulos, a tech editor for the conservative website Breitbart, rallied a trolling campaign against the actor that was mean and hurtful almost beyond belief, prompting Jones to quit Twitter and Twitter to ban Yiannopoulos. A Twitter spokesman posted that “no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”
Separated by all this crudity by only a few thin degrees, the campaign of Gov. Pat McCrory emailed a post from Yiannopoulos’ employer on the bathroom law, HB 2, last week, that characterizes opponents of the law as “gender-hating.”
The fact is, this kind of stuff is becoming acceptable.
Who needs a dog whistle when you can growl it out loud?
And, make no mistake, this is more a loss for common decency than a victory over “political correctness.”
It is corrosive and destructive and eats away at the underpinnings of a civil society.
Have we no shame?
Contact Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson at email@example.com or (336) 373-7010.