Easy Bean Farm Hit With Anti-Semitic Cyberhate

You wouldn’t expect dealing with anti-Semitic “trolls” to be something a farmer in Milan, Minn., would have to deal with. But unfortunately for Mike Jacobs and his family at Easy Bean Farm, that is precisely what he’s had to do.

In an email to community-supported agriculture subscribers Tuesday morning, Jacobs referenced the attacks, which started on their Facebook page. The attacks came in the guise of constant one-star reviews which were “very anti-Semitic.”

“On the one hand, I thought this was par for the course at this point in history,” Jacobs said. “This sort of thing is becoming more and more common. I’ve been here 20 years and this was the first time we’ve had this. There’s no way to find out who’s doing it: If it’s one person, if it’s teenagers doing this because they think it’s funny? You can’t help but wonder if it’s all it is. It’s so hard to tell, because you look on the internet, it’s like it’s a fad. It’s hard to tell if they have these real views, or that they’re just an asshole.”

Jacobs wrote that the posts referred to them as “dirty Jews and posted many Hitler and Nazi themed posts to our page. The minute we would get one taken down, another would pop up.” Racist e-mails were sent to them from an e-mail app that allows for anonymous sending of messages. Finally, staring on New Year’s Day, whomever is doing this started using a program to make racist, prank phone calls that had the phone number for Easy Bean Farms in the caller ID. They also took to personal attacks on family members of Jacobs.

“The most frustrating part is wondering how to react and how much of my brain do I let it occupy,” Jacobs said. “It’s a funny situation in that there’s not a lot to be done. I could have made it so that no one could comment at all, but then the business site doesn’t function.”

Jacobs said it has gotten into his head.

“I had one night when the rest of the family was gone, where at 2 a.m., someone nosed into our driveway,” he said. “My normal gut reaction is ‘someone needs help.’ This time it was ‘get the gun.’ Which is a headspace that I don’t like living in. They were just turning their car around, but this is the reverberating, negative effects.”

Each anti-Semitic post on Facebook has come down immediately thanks to reporting it to Facebook – but not before he took screenshots of the offensive posts. He also contacted the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Mike followed the proper course of action,” said Anthony Sussman, director of communications and community security at JCRC. “It is critical to document these hate incidents so that there is a record of this type of harassment. It is important to get a screenshot of the hate speech and flag it with the social media outlet where it occurred, as well as report it to law enforcement and the JCRC. The ADL has also created some informative resources on how to deal with cyberhate and bullying.”

Sussman indicated that there has been an uptick in the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported to the JCRC over the course of 2016. Sussman said that if a community member has been the victim of an anti-Semitic incident, please report it to the JCRC at (612) 338-7816 or info@minndakjcrc.org.

 

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About Lonny Goldsmith

Lonny Goldsmith is the editor of TC Jewfolk and Director of Communications for Jewfolk Media. He's an award-winning journalist who is involved in his third Jewish community after growing up in Michigan and spending a three-year stint in Chicago. He likes to write, cook and drink really good beer. He dislikes negotiating with his children to eat dinner yet gets sucked into it anyway. He can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @lonny_goldsmith

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