The DOJ Sent An Anti-Semitic Rant From A White Nationalist Site To Every Immigration Court Worker In America
Imagine you're an immigration judge. You've just had your coffee and are going about your business on a Monday morning, checking your inbox, when you see your daily news briefing email from the Department of Justice. You click on it, and you see a link to what turns out to be a completely batshit anti-Semitic article about, well, immigration judges like yourself, from a notorious white nationalist site. That would be pretty weird, right?
Well, that is what happened Monday.
BuzzFeed reports that the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent out an email to all immigration court employees that included an article from VDare (archived link), a white nationalist site where they scream about immigrants all day long. The site is named for Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas, to a woman in the Roanoke Colony, and its mission is to protect white people from disappearing, just like the lost colony of Roanoke did. CROATOAN!
This particular article was about how super great it is that the Trump administration is moving to decertify the immigration judges' union and was written by a guy calling himself "Federale," who uses an almost definitely not ironic picture of the still dead Generalissimo Francisco Franco as his avatar. It features a plethora of Nazi buzzwords, including "Lugenpresse" (the German word for "lying press") and "kritarch." Kritarchy refers to shoftim, an ancient Hebrew system of "rule by judges" and it is used pretty exclusively by anti-Semitic people alluding to their belief in Jewish people running the world or whatever. The article featured several pictures of immigration judges with "Kritarch" before their names.
And all this right after Trump proclaimed himself King of the Jews. Awkward!
Naturally, many judges were pretty pissed off, prompting union leader Ashley Tabaddor to fire off a letter to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department's EOIR.
"Publication and dissemination of a white supremacist, anti-semitic website throughout the EOIR is antithetical to the goals and ideals of the Department of Justice," she wrote. The court, Tabaddor wrote, should immediately withdraw the email and issue an apology to all immigration judges, including those mentioned in the post.
"Separately, EOIR should take all appropriate safety and security measures for all judges given the tone and tenor of this posting," she wrote.
In case you are wondering exactly what kind of site VDare is, not only is it the kind of site that regularly publishes the work of one Ann Coulter and white supremacist Jared Taylor, it also published, just this week, frighteningly bad fan fiction about Donald Trump and Charlottesville. Said fan fiction involved everyone in the land collectively agreeing that the real problem with Charlottesville was not the several hundred creeps in polo shirts holding tiki torches and yelling "Jews will not replace us," but rather the Democratic legislators in the state and Antifa.
It's like the saddest thing I've read since Stella Dallas.
The site's owner and editor-in-chief, Peter Brimelow (ironically an immigrant himself, but he's a white person from England so it's OK) claims it is not actually a white nationalist site (which it very obviously is), while defending publishing Jared Taylor, explaining that his white nationalism is not bad on account of how he brushes his teeth.
So that's what we're dealing with here.
After the BuzzFeed article was published, the EOIR responded, saying that it was very sorry and it wasn't their fault, it was the fault of whoever's job it is to compile it:
"[T]he daily EOIR morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included. The Department of Justice condemns Anti-Semitism in the strongest terms."
Another former DOJ official also explained that the articles were "generated by a third-party vendor that utilizes keyword searches to produce news clippings for staff. It is not reviewed or approved by staff before it is transmitted."
So, sure! Maybe it was that person's fault. But it's pretty unlikely that this happened because of a keyword search. Were that the case, if they were relying exclusively on just "Oh here are some articles we found in a keyword search," this would probably not be the first time VDare ever found its way in there. All they write about is immigration. Additionally, given the subject matter, there would have to be some kind of review process or all they would ever get in these emails would be garbage from wacky white supremacist sites like VDare.
If that were the case, surely someone would have picked up on that before now.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse