BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray reported Monday that the alt-right is popularizing an old Nazi term used to discredit journalists: “lügenpresse,” German for “lying press.” As upsetting as that is, the more pernicious problem Gray identifies in her piece is the way white nationalists justify this language as “serious … ironic … and with a sly reference to boot.”
This is becoming a pattern. Earlier this year, after National Review editor Jonah Goldberg was bombarded with anti-Semitic messages online, alt-right hero Milo Yiannopoulos told talk-show host Dave Rubin that “it’s not because there’s a spontaneous outpouring of anti-Semitism from 22-year-olds in this country.” “What it is,” Yiannopoulos said, “is it’s a mischievous, dissident, trolly generation who do it because it gets a reaction.”
Words have specific meanings. Using anti-Semitic slurs, however mischievously, does not erase the original meaning of those words, or the very real pain that their usage causes. Trolling with hate speech is no less bigoted than earnest hate speech.