Responding to a media inquiry over his anti-Semitic tweet, Farrakhan said, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-termite.”
Twitter announced on Wednesday that it would not be suspending Louis Farrakhan — the viciously antisemitic leader of the Nation of Islam — over a tweet in which he compared Jews to “termites.”
Responding to a media inquiry from BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the messaging site said that Farrakhan’s account would remain active despite a tweet on Tuesday in which the Nation of Islam chief stated, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-termite.” The tweet linked to a speech delivered by Farrakhan last Sunday in Detroit in which he derided “members of the Jewish community who hate me” for contributing to his fame.
Farrakhan continued: “I can go anywhere in the world and they’ve heard of Farrakhan … I’m not mad at you, because you’re so stupid.” Later on, he declared of his Jewish adversaries, “when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, call me anti-Semite. … I’m anti-Termite. I don’t know nothing about hating somebody because of their religious preference.”
Several observers pointed out Farrakhan’s tweet repeating the termite comparison was a violation of Twitter’s new policy against “dehumanizing” language, which frowns on postings that compare “groups to animals and viruses.” Modern anti-Semitic rhetoric has been replete with examples of both, with Jews variously compared to “vermin” and “rodents,” and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler describing them as “race- tuberculosis” in one of his earliest published statements.
The Twitter representative said that the new policy was still to be implemented, without giving a date for its taking effect. Neither did he address whether Farrakhan’s tweet would be in violation were the policy in effect now.
Twitter did take disciplinary action against Farrakhan last July, removing the Nation of Islam leader’s verified status after he tweeted, “Thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.”
An analysis of Farrakhan’s Detroit speech by the Anti-Defamation League published on Wednesday noted that the Nation of Islam leaders’ “rhetoric and prejudices, which inform and influence his followers, continue to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy and hatred in this country.” The same speech also gave vent to Farrakhan’s anti-white and deeply homophobic animus, the ADL noted, with Farrakhan speaking of “the sins of white people that have been imposed on us since we have been under their rule,“ along with the claim, “We didn’t have homosexuality in Africa, that’s not our tradition.”