Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, September 19, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

 Daughter Katie Kennedy, the author of the marvelous LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA, has alerted me to a current white supremacist tactic.

They go on Goodreads, and possibly other reviewing sites, and give one star reviews [out of five] to the books of authors with Jewish sounding names. They often do this before the book is even released, when there is no chance they could have read it, to drive sales down even before it has a chance. After all, who wants to waste time or money on a one star book?

They often use as their reasons for giving the book a poor review that it is racist and anti-Semitic.

That is, of course, the tactic, straight out of the Roger Ailes and Karl Rove playbook, of current so-called conservatives. Claim that your candidate or position’s greatest weakness is actually his/its greatest strength. Claim that your opponent’s greatest strength is actually her greatest weakness. Repeat it over and over, regardless of how many people come out to say you are lying and you have it backwards, because eventually those folks will get fed up and start ignoring you instead of opposing you, and among the uninformed, your lie becomes truth. Do not engage in debate about your assertion; just keep saying it.

For instance, someone says, “But that’s a lie. Surely you can’t believe that.” Ignore what they have just said, and reply, “What I DO know is that Obama founded Isis,” or whatever falsehood you are pushing. Make it sound like you have some secret source of knowledge.

Of course, an author with a Jewish sounding name may not even be Jewish. I know Methodists with the names of Steinmetz and Rosenthal, et al. I know Jews with names like Richards and Stewart. The white supremacist reviewers don’t bother with niceties like that, of course.

When Katie learned of this reversing-the-truth in the book reviewing of authors who have Jewish names, she started reviewing them herself and giving them the stars they deserved. So the Nazis in retaliation started giving her book one star reviews. The LEAST anyone else has given it is four stars, and about 90% of the time it gets 5 stars.

I don’t know how to deal with this. It’s not worth it to get into a starring war with these sorts of people. They are persistent and devious; they will win a stars war. Goodreads or other review sites might try barring them, but computer savvy folks can create a myriad of aliases so that as soon as one name/address is banned, another takes its place.

For the moment, at least, be aware of this tactic. Don’t trust the reviewer unless that person has been reliable in the past. And if the author has a “Jewish” name, assume that a poor review is false review and judge it for yourself.


I remember the first time I encountered this tactic, at a ministerial association meeting. The minister of a cult/fundamentalist church asserted that his church was the only one in town that practiced the Bible literally, and that they did it all the time, especially following Jesus literally. I, stupidly, said, “Do you wash feet in your services?” “We do it all the time,” he said, “spiritually.” “But that is not literally,” I said. “Yes,” he said, “It is. We follow Jesus literally.” Other pastors began to be amazed and said things like, “But that is not what literal means.” “Yes, it is,” Roger asserted. He was never flustered, never debative, just persistent in repeating a non-sequitur even though he knew no one else there believed him. In a different setting, with more vulnerable people, eventually someone would fall for it.

I tweet as yooper1721

Here I come to save the day! No, not Mighty Mouse. Yuri Strelnikov, the boy genius of Katie McFarland Kennedy’s delightful Learning to Swear in America. Buy it or borrow it, but read this book! [What do you mean, you’re not old enough to remember Mighty Mouse?”

1 comment:

  1. I have had Katie's book on my Wish List on Audible for a while, but after reading this I'm buying it today, now! AND I will review it, and give it the stars it deserves.
    Thanks for this post.