Erin Schrode, a Jewish entrepreneur and activist who in 2016 campaigned to be the youngest person ever elected to Congress, found herself the target of anti-Semitic harassment on social media near the end of her campaign.
According to an Associated Press report, Schrode, 25, was targeted by the Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi website run by Andrew Anglin (best known for his affiliation with the alt-right and his campaign last year to harass the Jewish community of Whitefish, Montana).
Emails sent to Schrode, a Democrat, included messages such as “get to Israel to where you belong. That or the oven. Take your pick,” and “get out of my country, kike.” The anti-Semitic vitriol reached Schrode after her contact information was shared in the comments section of a Daily Stormer article referring to her as a “Jewess.”
In a 2016 Facebook post, Schrode shared some of the offensive messages sent to her.
“Indiscriminate hatred,” she wrote. “Pure evil. I woke up yesterday and today to hundreds of such vile messages. I was told to keep my mouth shut, that this wasn’t the time or place to speak out against anti-Semitism, that such messaging wouldn’t serve me well as a candidate three days away.”
In her post, Schrode wrote that the “unspeakable vitriol” against her is “not merely an attack on me or on one people, but rather an attack on any individual or group who is targeted because of faith, race, nationality, gender, ability, orientation or other arbitrary classification.”
In its report, the Associated Press cited Andrew Auernheimer, a 31-year-old hacker, ex-convict, and internet troll better known by his online nom de plume, “weev.”
“The reality is internet trolling is entertaining,” Auernheimer, a techno-consultant for the Daily Stormer, told AP. “People love to watch it. It’s become a national sport,” Auernheimer said. “It’s something that anyone can jump into.”
A self-identified white nationalist who has defended himself against accusations of anti-Semitism by claiming to have Jewish ancestry, Auernheimer reportedly laughed off the idea of having any sympathy for Schrode.
“Why should I have any empathy?” Auernheimer asked. “What’s she ever done for me? I don’t feel any empathy for any Jew anywhere.”
Both Auernheimer and Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin are affiliated with the alt-right, a vaguely defined movement which promotes white supremacist ideology through internet memes and trolling. It is not surprising that Auernheimer is connected with the Daily Stormer, given that he and Anglin appear to be two of a kind, united by nihilism, neo-Nazi ideology, and a love of anti-Semitic pranks.
According to Times of Israel, for example, Anglin was delighted by an Auernheimer stunt last year in which the hacker sent Daily Stormer flyers with swastikas to numerous college campus fax machines. Anglin praised the act at the time as “the greatest troll in history.”
Schrode, for her part, seems as determined not to back down as her tormentors are to destroy her, and said she is not intimidated by the relentless anti-Semitic bullying.
“My mom would like it if I just closed my mouth about this,” Schrode told AP. “She’s very worried for her daughter’s safety. Backing down, recoiling, shutting up has never been an option for me.”