Progressively Speaking: Wiley saga reminded me why I dislike Twitter so much

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Progressively Speaking: Wiley saga reminded me why I dislike Twitter so much

Rabbi Charley Baginsky reflects on the downside of social media with a Liberal Jewish angle

Some of Wiley's antisemitic comments online, which were left up by social media giants Twitter and Facebook
Some of Wiley's antisemitic comments online, which were left up by social media giants Twitter and Facebook

The recent antisemitic tirade of grime star Wiley catapulted him into our homes. Many of us who knew nothing of his music, let alone the reason for his MBE, now feel like we know far too much about him and his abhorrent views.

His words were gross, classic tropes of antisemitism dressed up (or down) in a different language.

Twitter’s initial reaction was quite rightly scorned – too little and too slow – but really only indicative of what many of us have seen before.

I’m proud of our Jewish community, which united across the religious and political spectrum to react quickly and generate action.

In a situation in which many of us felt powerless, we were able to feel like we had a method – through a 48-hour silence – of getting our voices heard. A time to talk and a time to be silent, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes.

And it worked. Wiley was banned, along with a host of other antisemites such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Honestly, I love Twitter. It is the fastest way into what is happening around the world and has introduced me to new and interesting people and ideas. Many of us who use Twitter will have disappeared down rabbit holes exploring this path and that.

But I also hate Twitter. I hate the abuse, both anonymous and named. I hate the hatred, antisemitic and racist. I hate the misogyny and bigotry. I hate that I cannot tell my children what just made me catch my breath and fight back the tears.

We must call out antisemitism. We must make Twitter and other social media platforms accountable. We must support our allies when the abuse turns on them and use our words and silences for advocacy for an end to all hatred.

We must also call out those who cannot debate constructively and not let them represent our Jewish community, which spoke so unitedly and with such dignity in this case. 

  •  Rabbi Charley Baginsky is interim director of Liberal Judaism
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