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*** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois Jewish Legislative Caucus to Tribune: “Stop peddling anti-Semitism”

Monday, Jul 27, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Jewish Legislative Caucus welcomes the report that the Chicago Tribune may finally have had enough of the bigoted and anti-Semitic rants of John Kass, and is ending his 23-year reign as “lead columnist” for the paper.

Kass authored a winding, conspiracy-filled diatribe blaming George Soros for violence in Chicago and other major cities. “The Soros-funded prosecutors, not the mayors, are the ones who help release the violent on little or no bond,” he wrote on July 22, 2020. Kass knows, as most journalists know, that Soros-themed conspiracy theories have proliferated amongst the fringe white supremacist and Twitterazi’s. Kass knew about the rise in anti-Semitism, he just didn’t care.

The Anti-Defamation League and others have chronicled the rise of anti-Semitic tropes based on the Soros theories. On June 2, 2020, the ADL noted:

    “Although the vast majority of Soros-related conspiracy theories do not mention his Jewish heritage, the concern remains that they can serve as a gateway to the antisemitic subculture that blames Jews for the riots. This type of content can be found on mainstream platforms; a Twitter user wrote, “George Soros is paying for this he is a Jew America bows to the Jew [sic],” while another tweeted, “Antifa are on the payroll of the Jewish financier George Soros who often uses these paid thugs to intimidate any opposition towards the status quo that he and his Zionist allies have set up to control us.” Yet another claimed, “Soros is every bit the subversive, parasitic conspirator these people make him out to be. The problem they always neglect to mention is the fact that he’s a Jew.”

Not to be outdone, the Tribune Editorial Page Editor doubled down on support for Mr. Kass following his editorial and removal as lead columnist. Ms. McQueary also knows about the devastation of the anti-Semitic Soros fear-mongering, but cannot be bothered to apologize for it on her own editorial page. What message does this send to your Jewish readers? To your Jewish reporters?

Words matter, Mr. Kass and Ms. McQueary, so do a better job and stop peddling anti-Semitism. We assure you - we will hold you accountable to do just that.

Sincerely,

Illinois Jewish Legislative Caucus

    Illinois State Representative Jonathan Carroll
    Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy
    Illinois State Representative Daniel Didech
    Illinois State Representative Robyn Gabel
    Illinois State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz
    Illinois State Representative Will Guzzardi
    Illinois State Representative Mark Kalish
    Illinois State Representative Bob Morgan
    Illinois State Representative Yoni Pizer
    Illinois State Representative Sam Yingling
    Illinois State Senator Sara Feigenholtz
    Illinois State Senator Laura Fine

…Adding… Strannik in comments…

Not all criticisms of a billionaire who happens to be Jewish are antisemitic, but columns that talk about a rich Jewish person undermining the fabric of society through Jewish money is a bit on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion side.

*** UPDATE *** David Goldenberg, Midwest regional director, Anti-Defamation League, Chicago

John Kass’ column “Overwhelming sense of lawlessness growing” (July 22) perpetuates conspiracy theories against Jews that have been the gateway to anti-Semitism for centuries.

The scapegoating of George Soros for recent increases of violence in Chicago abandons the notion that correlation does not equal causation, as Kass directly alleges with insufficient evidence.

In leveling these absurd charges, Kass joins the ranks of those who employ long-standing anti-Semitic myths blaming Holocaust survivor Soros, his philanthropy and other Jews as manipulating government for their own benefit while plotting to control countries and global events.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism tracks attempts to spread these falsehoods, which have included in recent months laughable charges that Jews are funding antifa and violent protests and are responsible for the spread of COVID-19. While Kass gives oxygen to these anti-Semitic myths, the Tribune provided a platform.

Without question, Chicago has a rampant problem with violence. But the column offers no solution — and also does harm to the Jewish community.

Even if no anti-Semitic insinuation was intended, casting a well-known Jewish individual as a puppet master who manipulates high-profile events for malign purposes has the effect of mainstreaming anti-Semitic tropes and giving support, however unwitting, to bona fide anti-Semites and extremists who disseminate these ideas knowingly and with malice.

* Meanwhile, this defense of Kass relies on a lie about Soros

Let me pause here for a minute to discuss George Soros and today’s leftists. Soros is genetically Jewish. That’s his sole connection to Judaism.

As a 14-year-old during World War II, Soros worked with the Nazis. That was not his fault. He was a teenager and did what he needed to survive.

What is Soros’s fault is that he feels no guilt or sadness about this collaboration. At 14, if he had possessed a normal moral sense, Soros should have known what he did was wrong. His is a psychopathic world view

* The actual story

As part of their efforts to control and eventually eliminate the Jews of Europe, the Nazis sought the participation of the people whom they were attempting to destroy. In much of Nazi-occupied Europe, the Nazis set up “Jewish councils” and forced Jewish authorities — from religious leaders to trusted family patriarchs — to put Nazi policies and orders into practice.

In Hungary, the Nazis ordered the creation of the Central Council of Hungarian Jews in March 1944, intended to control the Jewish population without panicking them. The Council included both Zionist and Orthodox Jews, many of whom were aware of what the Nazis had done in neighboring countries but believed that they could somehow placate the Hungarian government and the Nazi authorities through smaller concessions — giving up furniture and other possessions, moving into ghettos created by the occupying German forces — and somehow avoid deportation to death camps until the war ended.

This was fruitless. As Ernő Munkácsi, the head of one of Hungary’s largest Jewish communities, put it in his postwar memoirs, “… the leaders of the Jews … lulled themselves into the unfounded optimism that we would be the exceptions, the tiny island in the sea of the destruction of European Jews.”

It was for the Jewish Council that 13-year-old George Soros worked for all of two days. He was asked to deliver messages across the city. When his father read one of the messages, he saw that they were in fact summonses, orders for Jewish individuals to report to a rabbinical seminar with food for two days and blankets.

There’s more, and even more here and here. It’s all bogus.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

32 Comments »
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 8:40 pm:

    Kass and “Statehouse Chick”, as far as columnist goes…

    They were above average beat reporters.

    That *is* me being thoughtful.

    To the letter, however, the caucus is spot on, not only about Kass, but the editor of the editorial page itself.

    It’s important to note the guild at the Tribune talked of Kass’ work, described as bigotry, called it what it was, bigotry… and Kass stands by his work, the editor of the editorial board sees no issues, it appears.

    When people tell you who they are… please believe them.


  2. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 8:47 pm:

    Glad to see “Hurricane” got called out by name.


  3. - Wire Tap - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 8:51 pm:

    Glad to see the Jewish Caucus do its thing. These two are horrible people


  4. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 8:55 pm:

    First 10 elected officials to add your names will be listed in alphabetical order. Those joining later will be added in order of when they e-mail the organizers of this group.


  5. - Roman - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 9:06 pm:

    I interacted with Kass quite a bit when he was the City Hall beat reporter for the Trib. I don’t believe for a second he is an anti-Semite. I do believe he is lazy and about 20 years past his prime. He holds on to his column by occasionally making a blatant play for clicks and page views by mindlessly regurgitating conservative talking points. It’s sad. He tries to cover politics from diners in the western suburbs by having breakfast with guys who haven’t been relevant since Daley second term.


  6. - Commisar Gritty - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 9:10 pm:

    PLEASE fire Kass, dude is a damn menace. Hurricane McQueary too. There’s opinion columnists, then there are dog whistle columnists, then there are K&M.


  7. - Chi Sox - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 9:19 pm:

    Maybe I don’t read the tribune enough but I don’t see how this is Anti-Semitic….at alll. He has an opinion about Soros funded candidates…writers can’t express opinions anymore?


  8. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 9:56 pm:

    exactly how would you like George Soros to be criticized? I’m guessing not at all.


  9. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 9:58 pm:

    Thanks Anon. I withdraw my comment.


  10. - Right to be wrong - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:16 pm:

    Again, how is being critical of Soros an automatic spew of anti-semitism?

    Because the ADL said so?


  11. - Ferris Bueller - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:22 pm:

    –“The Soros-funded prosecutors, not the mayors, are the ones who help release the violent on little or no bond,”

    Does he really not know that prosecutor are paid by the County and that Judges, not prosecutors, set bonds?


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:28 pm:

    ===Does he really not know===

    He just repeats talking points.


  13. - Strannik - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:29 pm:

    Not all criticisms of a billionaire who happens to be Jewish are antisemitic, but columns that talk about a rich Jewish person undermining the fabric of society through Jewish money is a bit on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion side.

    Context does matter. Calling a Black person, or a Native American, savage has a different connotations than calling a white person savage. Saying that a Japanese-American person must be disloyal to United States because of the options he or she expressed has different connotations than calling a WASP disloyal due to historical context. I could go on.

    I don’t think Kass is antisemitic, but he did flirt with some antisemitic tropes. And if I’m going to point out when left-wingers do that sort of thing, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t point out when a right-winger does it.


  14. - Strannik - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:33 pm:

    ANd, to add another pertinent example - accusing a politician of being a Nazi is bad regardless of their ethnic background, but it becomes worse if that politician is a Jew. Whether the person meant to be antisemitic or not, it’s not a good look.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:51 pm:

    ===Again===

    No one can help you can’t read, and have nothing but a question you can’t articulate better.

    If you have a point, make it.

    Saying you don’t understand is only highlighting your ignorance to making articulate points.

    If that’s your goal, to show ignorance with a feign question and nothing else, “again”, welp, you’ve made that point.


  16. - Juvenal - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 10:51 pm:

    As both The Bible and James Baldwin said in their own way:

    Ye shall know them by the fruits they bear.

    I don’t know whether John Kass is a bigot, but I do know that he uses bigoted words to peddle bigoted ideology.


  17. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 27, 20 @ 11:15 pm:

    Strannik is spot on.


  18. - Morty - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 12:24 am:

    I have to legitimately ask: what is the criteria for the Trib firing McQueary and Kass?

    Given all the buyouts, layoffs, and furloughs…THIS is what they protect?


  19. - 3rd Ward - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 6:53 am:

    Calling Kass an anti Semitic is so intellectually lazy and is the calling card of liberal policy disagreements. Do better. Again, what was factually incorrect of what he stated?


  20. - D. Passman - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 7:25 am:

    I stopped reading Kass before this happened, because he has become cranky and displays a mediocre intellect. I don’t learn anything from him.


  21. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 7:32 am:

    === Calling Kass an anti Semitic is so intellectually lazy and is the calling card of liberal policy disagreements===

    It’s very lazy… that *you* write this silliness, ignoring the ADL because your…

    “liberal policy disagreements”

    lol, ok, you don’t like the discussion of “liberal policy”, but that liberal policy you think Kass is fighting is based on a Anti-Semitic trope the ADL and others point out.

    I understand this idea that no one likes to support racist, so trying to say it’s “others”… “liberals”

    That’s not an argument, that’s protecting yourself from trying to be seen supporting an anti-Semite.

    == Do better.===

    Saying “liberal policy”… c’mon… trysts the best you have?


  22. - Pundent - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 7:38 am:

    =Again, what was factually incorrect of what he stated?=

    If Kass wore blackface or used the term redskin maybe it would be easier for you to spot the racism. Or maybe you’d be ok with that because it’s “factual” and doesn’t offend you. But I would encourage you to google “Protocol of the Elders of Zion” and maybe you’ll learn something here.


  23. - 1st Ward - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 7:55 am:

    @third Ward. Do you think Desean Jackson’s statement was anti semetic? If yes re-read Kass’ column. Replace undermine judicial system with undermine black people. You have the same statement.


  24. - All this - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 8:27 am:

    == Again, what was factually incorrect of what he stated?==

    Most of it.

    Soros did contribute to Fox’s election. That part is true.


  25. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 9:10 am:

    “I don’t know whether John Kass is a bigot, but I do know that he uses bigoted words to peddle bigoted ideology.”

    This is the thing: I genuinely don’t care if there’s bigotry lurking in John Kass’s heart, I care that there’s bigotry lurking in John Kass’s column.

    – MrJM


  26. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 9:17 am:

    ICYMI, here is Forward taking Mr. kass’s Editor to task, and also the editors of NYT:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/forward.com/opinion/451391/can-editors-even-recognize-anti-semitism-an-example-from-chicago-suggests/%3fgamp

    Anyone know who Kass’s editor is?

    === Again, what is factually inaccurate about his statement? ===

    This is a straw man argument. It’s hilarious to listen to the alt-Right rail against Kass’s removal from page two by arguing even a dimwit can recognize he is an opinion writer, but suggest here we should ignore his selection of facts, conclusions, opinions, narration, tone and word choice…all the things upon which opinion writers are judged.


  27. - Jake Arvey - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 9:23 am:

    The dog-whistly part was calling Soros’s activity “under the radar,” which connotes secrecy and conspiracy. Kass may or may not be anti-Semitic but he is experienced enough of a writer to know how certain combinations of words will be taken. “Under the radar” wasn’t a slip of the pen. And take a look at this Facebook page this morning. “They’re out to get me!”–my paraphrase. His actual caption, underneath his posted head shot: “And so it begins.” ???


  28. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 12:57 pm:

    Kass has only himself to blame…honestly.


  29. - jim - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 3:29 pm:

    “Does he really not know that prosecutor are paid by the County and that Judges, not prosecutors, set bonds?”
    come on, anyone with a brain knows he’s referring to campaign contributions. Look what’s happening right now in st. louis for the perfect example.


  30. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 7:36 pm:

    ===come on, anyone with a brain knows he’s referring to campaign contributions.===
    Anyone with a brain knows what this sentence means, Kass said “The Soros-funded prosecutors, not the mayors, are the ones who help release the violent on little or no bond.”
    The noun, prosecutors (adjective “Soros funded”)verb: release (on little or no bond). This is factually wrong. The prosecutors don’t set the bonds.


  31. - Joe - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 10:14 pm:

    Gentle People - A wise person once said to me: If you cannot clearly explain something to someone who does not understand that thing; you do not demonstrate real understanding, yourself.
    While I am not a fan of John Kass; I still don’t see the “dots” connecting his word to anti-Semitism?
    Is being anti-Soros equivalent to anti-Semitism?


  32. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 28, 20 @ 10:21 pm:

    === A wise person once said to me: If you cannot clearly explain something to someone who does not understand that thing; you do not demonstrate real understanding, yourself.===

    What is *confusing* you about the ADL letter.

    Be specific.

    Thank you.


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