People who live in parts of St. Louis County want to stop whoever is spreading antisemitic flyers across their neighborhoods.
Social media posts show many people were shocked and upset when they found flyers at their front doors. While the content is appalling, some activists are choosing to focus on messages beyond just what’s written on the flyer.
This is especially alarming due to recent rises in antisemitism nationally, spreading among tragedies like a recent deadly Texas mall shooting, and social media posts like Kanye West’s rhetoric about Hitler.
Hateful words are heavy, but the conversations that follow, can be hopeful.
“It was hate speech, basically,” J.K., a resident who found a flyer at his front door, said.
“It’s one thing to have a violation of material, but this was a violation of soul, to have that type of hatred placed on my property,” he said.
The strongest words come from what we take of such messages in our communities.
NGO StopAntisemitism has attributed the antisemitic propaganda to the Goyim Defense League. The League is led by white supremacist Jon Minadeo II. Minadeo and his followers travel the country spreading antisemitic messaging in the form of mass flyer drops.
“What it really alludes to is the larger context of these flyers and the messages they bring,” Helen Turner, director of education at the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum, said.
She said these messages are alarming.
“Antisemitism began before the Holocaust, and it continues after,” she said. “To learn this history is to really see the long thread of antisemitism.”
But she said while the messages appear differently, they’re all part of the same thread.
“There’s very little new that’s coming out here, it’s really just pulling on this historic thread of antisemitism,” she said.
Turner said this is where we can decide how to act.
“How do we learn from the past, to make a positive future?” she said.
She said there is positivity within negativity, fueled by community.
“They should know they’re not alone,” she said.
The museum’s memories are dark.
“If we see them along as singular moments or singular narratives, then we’re missing the larger context of antisemitism which is what this is all threading back to,”‘ she said.
And so were the flyers.
“I for myself tried to reach out to the very people this flyer was attacking, and I told them, was there anything I could do to help?” J.K. said.
But the conversations like these that follow, can be led by light.
“Because of that flyer, I got to know some people that I normally would not have gotten to know,” J.K. said.