Antisemitism’s evolution: its history and future


Graphics courtesy of Flaticon

Unfortunately, Antisemitism is an ancient and deadly prejudice. One of the earliest examples dates back to the third century BCE when prejudice and hatred towards Jews were already prevalent throughout the ancient world. Jews in Greece at the time were forced to live in separate parts of cities reminiscent of ghettos. One of antisemitism’s distinctive and ugly properties is the ability to endure, constantly shapeshifting to suit the needs of bigots. It is changing again, and if we are not careful, it could go unnoticed. Antisemitism is hatred towards or prejudice against Jewish people. Jewish communities have always been supportive of each other and their success and unwillingness to become Christian has engendered resentment and jealousy.

Fascistic ideologies have to adapt in order to survive, since it was no longer politically viable to espouse open antisemitism, proponents had to resort to; euphemism. The first to popularize the rhetorical strategy of coded language was President Ronald Reagan famously utilized what is referred to as the “Southern Strategy.” Crucial to his election he needed to earn the vote of a racist south. Learned that he could get away with saying things that were not outwardly offensive, but nonetheless were racist. Republican Strategist for Reagan, Lee Atwater, elaborates on the purpose of the southern strategy in an interview with Southern Politics. He states at first, to earn the vote of racists, being openly bigoted works, but eventually, it may backfire.

“You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

The growing neo-Nazi movement widely adopted the methods of the southern strategy. With the inception of cable tv and the internet, this process accelerated as far-right agitators developed new ways of peddling their beliefs to the masses. The goal of the average far-right pundit is to “red-pill” the audience, initially a line from “The Matrix.” Red pilling refers to learning the dangerous truth. The phrase took on new meaning within the online movement in spaces such as 4chan and Stormfront; it came to represent one of the core pillars of fascism, the “Jewish question”— the belief that Jews control the whole world. Instead of talking directly about Jews, they instead speak about prominent Jewish families such as the Rothschilds, or, very commonly, Holocaust survivor and philanthropist George Soros. He is made a scapegoat and is blamed for nearly every single left-leaning protest and for funding “Antifa.” Evolutions of  Anti Semitism have always been about finding new ways to blame the Jewish community for everything, and now prominent far-right figures have recently found another term — “the Matrix.” 

Famous misogynist Andrew Tate is the most popular figure to use the phrase “the matrix” — but in reference to what? A clever tactic used by streamer and Youtuber Sneako is to pose the question of who runs the matrix but never answers it. This leaves viewers primed to pick up on the not-so-subtle hints left by him. Unlike many others, Sneako is very open about his bigotry, bringing on White Supremacist and Neo-nazi, Nick Fuentes on to his live show hosted on Youtube to openly ask what he, the Neo-nazi, thinks of the Jewish community. Fuentes emphatically begins to respond; Jews control the world but veers off into incoherent conspiracism. The audience then draws conclusions that lead them to believe outlandish lies. It is a more effective rhetorical strategy and highly manipulative: it sheds the stigma associated with the red pill but retains the antisemitic message. Dog whistles and coded language only have so much power as people are ignorant of them. The key to countering this vile new aspect of Anti Semitism is to be aware of its new manifestations and oppose them.