Twitter says no plans to ban Farrakhan after comparison of Jews to termites

ADL urges removal of Nation of Islam leader’s tweets after he thanks Jewish ‘deceivers’ for ‘putting my name all over the planet because of your fear of what we represent’

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speaking on October 14, 2018, in Michigan. (Twitter screen capture)
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speaking on October 14, 2018, in Michigan. (Twitter screen capture)

The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday called on Twitter to remove tweets by Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader, from the social network after he posted a video in which he appeared to compare Jews to termites.

But when the Buzzfeed news site asked Twitter whether Farrakhan’s latest post violated its newly announced policy against “dehumanizing language,” it was told the religious leader was not in violation of any rules as the new policy had not yet gone into effect.

“The spokesperson did not give a date for when the new rule would go into effect, or if it would at all. He did not address whether Farrakhan’s tweet would be in violation were the policy in effect,” Buzzfeed said.

In a two-minute video posted Wednesday drawn from an October 14 speech in Michigan commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, Farrakhan addressed “members of the Jewish community that don’t like me.” Calling them “our deceivers,” he thanks them for “putting my name all over the planet because of your fear of what we represent…. I can go anywhere in the world and they’ve heard of Farrakhan. Thank you very much.”

In the tweet that contains the video, Farrakhan wrote, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.”

A notorious anti-Semite, Farrakhan remains active on Twitter despite losing his “verified” status after posting a clip in June of a speech about “the Satanic Jew.”

The blue “verified” badge with a check mark tells visitors that the page of a prominent person is authentic.

Farrakhan’s offending tweet, which is still on the social network, says he is “thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.” It links to a video of Farrakhan speaking on May 27 at the Nation of Islam’s international headquarters at Mosque Maryam in Chicago.

In the sermon, Farrakhan warns his listeners about “Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.”

He also claimed that contemporary Jews are responsible for promoting child molestation, misogyny, police brutality and sexual assault, among other social ills. In addition, Farrakhan asserted that contemporary Judaism is nothing but a “system of tricks and lies” that Jews study in order to learn how to “dominate” non-Jews.

In the latest video, he seems to argue that he doesn’t hate Jews for being Jews, but for their purported “termite” characteristics. After explaining that he’s “anti-termite,” he protests, “I don’t know nothing about hating somebody because of their religious preference.”

In a statement to the California-based Jewish Journal, ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said, “Louis Farrakhan has a long history of vile, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. His latest remarks dehumanizing Jews by calling us termites are despicable. We call on Twitter to remove Farrakhan’s hateful content from the platform to prevent him from spreading and normalizing such hateful messages. This content is exactly the kind of thing the new Twitter policy the company outlined just a few weeks ago is meant to stop.”

It is relatively easier to have a user’s check mark removed. According to Twitter’s terms of service, it may remove verified status at any time, for reasons that include promoting hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening, other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease; inciting or engaging in harassment of others; and directly or indirectly threatening or encouraging any form of physical violence against an individual or any group of people, including threatening or promoting terrorism.

In November 2017, Twitter revoked several verification checks from far-right and white nationalist accounts. They included Richard Spencer, Laura Loomer and Tim Gionet, as well as Jason Kessler, who organized the deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2018.

But critics have challenged Twitter to explain why it believes removing the verification check, which merely attests that the individual is who they claim to be, is a relevant response to hate speech.

In September the site permanently banned American right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his “Infowars” show for abusive behavior.

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