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On Current Events
Misinformation and hate spread online in the Israel-Gaza conflict
I’m excited to announce that I’m partnering with COURIER to produce Ctrl Alt-Right Delete. It’s an opportunity to expand my reach and have more help and resources as I write and edit the newsletter each week. Plus, it gives me the space to collaborate more closely with other newsletters I’ve long been a fan of, like FWIW.
CARD has some spiffy new branding, and moving forward will be published on Substack. You’ll be able to share articles more easily, and I’ll finally have a usable archive and homepage in one place that subscribers can find here. But the newsletter will remain free to everyone, and no content will go behind a paywall.
It’s an exciting new evolution and a perfect way to celebrate our upcoming 7th anniversary next month. Thanks for reading, sharing, and supporting me and the work. - Melissa
On Current Events
A few thoughts as I’ve been processing current events and watching them unfold online over the past week.
Your Jewish friends, neighbors, and colleagues are not OK.
I shouldn’t have to explain why. The terrorist attacks in Israel, innocent people, children, slaughtered in their homes and communities or taken hostage. The images and videos are all over the news for days.
Antisemitic incidents have been on the rise in America and hit an all-time high in the US this year. And reports of increased antisemitic incidents have surged around the world since the news broke. I’ve lost count of how many hate crimes at synagogues -- from vandalism to the Tree of Life mass shooting -- and other incidents of antisemitism I’ve written about in the past few years. Just last week, the DNA testing website 23andMe was hacked, and the hacker threatened to sell the names and locations of users with Jewish ancestry.
Hamas’ barbarism is antisemitism. It makes the world even less safe for Jews, in Israel and around the world. On a basic human level, there’s no justification for it. I’m not going to get into foreign policy here because that’s not what I cover. But I will say that it’s possible to have strong disagreements with Israel’s current government and treatment of Palestinians (I certainly do, and many Israelis do as well.) without blaming innocent people for their own slaughter. And if you find yourself doing the latter in a personal or professional context, you’ve lost the thread.
Your Muslim friends, neighbors, and colleagues are not OK.
As I write this, the humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic, and I suspect it will be far worse by the time we publish. More than 2 million people live in Gaza, and half of them are children. Gaza has been starved of infrastructure and resources for years, and now electricity, water, fuel, and supplies of any kind have been cut off. According to the UN, this “precipitate[s] a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where its population is now at inescapable risk of starvation.” Innocent people and children will suffer and die by the hundreds of thousands.
Since the attacks, violent and hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media has already increased, and based on precedent, we can assume that anti-Muslim incidents and hate crimes likely will as well. Potentially reversing a recent decline in organized anti-Muslim hate groups and Islamaphobia in America. Meanwhile, Right-wing politicians and media elites have mainstreamed rhetoric of dehumanizing violent incitement against Muslim Americans, starting with Muslim elected officials that’s made its way onto our TVs, radios, print, and digital media.
At a human level, this isn’t terribly complicated. I try to always focus my energy on those experiencing hate, harassment, and harm. I believe we all deserve to be safe and secure. It’s a good week to show both the Jewish and Muslim people in your lives some extra kindness, care, and solidarity.
Surprise, Surprise! Twitter is easy for Hamas and other bad actors to exploit.
The platform formerly known as Twitter (I still refuse to call it X) failed miserably at being a useful resource for anyone seeking news, information, or expertise. Disinformation wasn’t simply a problem; it absolutely dominated the platform. Elon Musk promoted an antisemitic account to follow the news. And because anyone can now purchase a verified badge for $8 a month, there’s no way to sort credible accounts from the trolls easily.
But the platform does work well as a propaganda amplification network for Hamas, which is using Twitter and other unmoderated platforms to seed violent propaganda videos. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok have been responsive to takedown requests, but Twitter doesn’t even have trust and safety staff for researchers or Israeli groups to contact and request takedowns. So Hamas and other bad actors can operate mostly unchecked.
If a Twitter replacement exists, it might have come into its own this weekend.
I’m on all the Twitter alternatives but mostly haven’t spent too much time on any one of them. Mostly because no place had reached critical mass among the people I follow. Until this weekend, I noticed a lot more activity on Bluesky. Anecdotally, there seemed to be an influx of people, news sites, and organizations on the platform. I was able to find relevant news and analysis the way I would have on Twitter a few years ago. Casey Newton reports a similar uptick on Meta’s Threads. It hadn’t occurred to me that Twitter’s successor might be forged during world news events, but that makes sense. Certainly, I’m rooting for at least one useful alternative to emerge.
A hopeful must-read about parents and educators who’ve had enough of Moms for Liberty tearing apart their community from Amanda Marcotte: “The response of fed-up parents and educators who, without anything close to the resources of their conservative opponents, are organizing a grassroots effort to restore American schools to their intended purpose, that of educating children to be citizens of a democracy and full participants in an open society.”
How Trump’s MAGA Movement Helped a 29-year-old Activist Become a Millionaire (Associated Press)
The only thing I enjoy more than reading articles calling out grifters like Charlie Kirk is reading articles where other grifters on the Right call out Kirk’s grift.
Libs of TikTok continues to be an engine of harassment disguised as activism. It’s actually shocking to me how little news coverage there was of this article. I suppose there’s no point in asking Elon Musk to take down the account, but you’d think such a clear pattern of incitement targeting schools would be more newsworthy. It says something about how desensitized to violence targeting schools we’ve become as a nation.
I want to take a moment to say goodbye to Action Network and thank everyone there for supporting Ctrl Alt-Right Delete from day one. Action Network has sponsored CARD for most of its existence, allowing me to keep the newsletter free for everyone no matter how big it grew. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. ❤️
As I mentioned before, I’m spending more and more time on Bluesky. You can find me @melissaryan.bsky.social. Come on over and say hello!
That’s all for now. Let’s do this again next week!