It’s the Luck of the Irish To Be Jewish on Twitter

My last name, in its original form, is so Irish it’s pretty much unusable in today’s Anglo-dominated world. Centuries ago, during the English occupation of Ireland, the spelling went from hUallaigh to Howley and never went back.

Despite my name’s Irish roots, today I’m designating it as Jewish — at least on Twitter. The Alt-Right, a collection of bigots devoted to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, is using three sets of parenthesis to identify, track and harass Jewish people online — particularly on Twitter. They even have a Chrome extension that adds the symbol to Jewish names. So, let’s all be Jewish.

I’m now tweeting as (((kathleenhowley))). Is my Irish grandmother rolling over in her grave? Naahh. If she were alive, and knew what Twitter was, she’d be doing it too. Click on your Twitter picture and select “Edit Your Profile” to make the change.

The triple parenthesis, dubbed an echo, comes to us via the right-wing blog The Right Stuff, which invented it as a visual symbol for the echo sound effect it plays on podcasts when commentators use Jewish names. They don’t like African Americans, immigrants or gays, either. All are “ovenworthy,” in Right Stuff’s horrific parlance.

To make Jew-baiting easy, supporters of the blog created an extension named Coincidence Detector for Google’s Chrome browser that uses an algorithm to add the triple parenthesis to Jewish names. Before Google removed the extension from its Web store this week, it had 2,700 users, listed more than 8,700 Jewish names, and had a five-star rating — the highest approval score.

Google’s yanking will hardly make it unavailable. With a few geeky tweaks to Chrome, users can download the extension from other websites and use it for bullying Jewish writers. Twitter is the most fertile social platform for hatemongers, as seen during so-called Gamergate when video gamers harassed women who dared to point out sexism in the industry. So far, Twitter’s attempts to counter hate speech and criminal threats have been feeble, at best.

So, let’s borrow the line used by Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, a 25-year-old American soldier captured in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. When a Nazi commander of a P.O.W. camp ordered him to identify the Jews among the 1,000 soldiers under his command, Edmunds, a Christian, responded, “We’re all Jews here.”

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