White supremacists are truly a scourge. Every time they think you can't go lower, they find a new way to burrow underground and prove you completely wrong, as they did when they targeted two celebrities over the internet and tricked them into spewing garbage.
Brett Favre, star football player, and Soulja Boy, recording artists, were approached by a group claiming to be "a U.S. veterans organization for Cameo, a company that enables consumers to book personalized video greetings from celebrities."
Favre recorded the message, assuming the "request stemmed from [his] interest in veterans affairs" and recorded the message, a service that the perpetrators paid $500+ to complete.
Later on, Favre found his request was appropriated for the agenda of an anti-Semitic hate group.
"I was distressed to learn that the request came from an anti-Semitic group that reposted my video with comments implying that I endorsed their mission. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am therefore donating my $500 Cameo fee to Charities supporting their fight against hate and bigotry."
The organization refers to itself as the GDL, or Goyim Defense League. "Goyim" is the Hebrew word for a non-Jewish person.
According to BuzzFeed News, the group is run by two YouTubers who go by "Handsome Truth" and "Sway Guevara."
"Brett Favre here with a shoutout to the Handsome Truth and the GDL boys," they tricked Favre into saying. "You guys are patriots in my eyes. So keep waking them up and don't let the small get you down. Keep fighting, too, and don't ever forget the USS Liberty and the men and women who died on that day. God bless and take care."
The coded phrases here include "small" for "small hats," a slur for yarmulkes, and the USS Liberty:
"The USS Liberty is a dog whistle referring to an incident in 1967 where Israeli forces fired on the US spy ship, killing 34, during the Six-Day War. In the aftermath, Israel said that its pilots had thought the ship was an Egyptian vessel, and apologized — the government eventually paid out $6.7 million in reparations to the survivors and families of the dead. Ever since, there have been unproven conspiracy theories surrounding the circumstances that question whether the attack was intentional. Both the Israeli and the United States governments have said that it was a case of mistaken identity."
Soulja Boy was also tricked by the group, recording a video saying "Shoutout to Handsome Truth and Sway at GDL," and "GDL for life, b*tch."
The head of the group, Handsome Truth, admitted to the deception in a Livestream on Wednesday:
"Here's the deal, guys, they can reject it if they don't like it, right, so we were trying to get it, like — we wanted to be cryptic enough to where they would say it."
"Soulja Boy was unaware that the video on Cameo was tied to a group that promotes hate," said a Soulja Boy spokesperson. "The promo video was what the Cameo had directed and in no way supports his personal beliefs. He greatly apologizes to anyone who may have been offended."
The malice of this particular incident runs deep.
"On or about November 22nd, Cameo talent received requests that appeared to be aimed at supporting the American military. After recording the videos Cameo learned that the request came from an anti-Semitic group and contained content that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic," Cameo said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
"This was a blatant misuse of the Cameo platform and a violation of Cameo's terms of service. This is the first incident of its kind in more than 93,000 Cameos and a gross misrepresentation of the talent's political beliefs," the statement continued. "Cameo immediately removed the videos from the website, requested YouTube to remove the content and created new filters to prevent this from happening in the future. The user has been banned from purchasing Cameos."
But will it quell the hate speech? Racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and misogyny have become commonplace since the election of Donald Trump, and it seems there are weekly incidents of that bigotry. Patrick Little, profiled by the Anti-Defamation League for spreading anti-Semitic hate speech, ran for State Senate in California, winning less than 2% of the vote and being barred from all California Republican events for his gross anti-Semitism. He greatly endorsed the white supremacists' actions.
If historical signs are correct, this sort of speech is likely to be misunderstood and catch fire, thereby inspiring even more hatred. The fight against bigotry must get stronger.