Back in July, the Anti-Defamation League, the nation’s firewall against anti-Semitism and racism, got very upset when Twitter users said anti-Semitic things about Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the former MVP who had broken baseball’s drug policy and been suspended. In a posting on its blog, “Foul Ball: Hate Speech, Twitter, and Baseball,” the ADL wrote:
…some Twitter users responded by posting distinctly anti-Semitic messages…
ADL ardently supports the right to free speech, but believes that social media and other Internet sites also have an obligation to police their communities and confront those who promote anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of hate speech.
Well, the worm has turned. As the JTA reports:
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun during his appeal of a drug suspension in 2012 told players on opposing teams that the collector of his urine sample was an anti-Semite.
Braun, the son of an Israeli-born Jewish father, was suspended in July for the remainder of this season for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement…
Deadspin fills us in a little more:
According to both ESPN and Yahoo (curiously, both cite “three sources”), Braun intimated to players that [sample taker Dino] Laurenzi might have had it out for him because he was anti-Semitic, and Braun is Jewish. Or perhaps, Braun implied, it was because Braun is a Brewer and Laurenzi roots for the Cubs. (Love this bit from Yahoo: “A source close to Laurenzi…said the anti-Semitism allegation is untrue; his fan allegiance is unclear.”)
To its credit, Deadspin calls this “a private smear campaign” and says that Braun has made himself more disreputable than Alex Rodriguez for conducting it. But will the ADL have anything to say against this? Its anti-Semitism blog is silent. The charge of anti-Semitism is extremely damaging– it can be a libel– and has become “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” to borrow Samuel Johnson’s definition of patriotism. Thanks to Daniel Crowther and Max Blumenthal.