Shoot the Jewish Senator in the Face: Not News?
If a Jew -- and a senior-ranking US Senator at that -- is targeted with violence and nobody bothers to report it, does it still count as news?
Well, that's what happened. Dmitry Dyatlov, a 23 year-old Philadelphia resident originally from Uzbekistan, wrote in his rambling and frequently offensive personal blog that although watching a Rammstein (Teutonic eurometal rock band) concert is so great it's even "better than killing Jews," that "there is, at least, one Jew, who we absolutely must shoot in the face (many times), ASAP: Joe Lieberman." In addition to his being Jewish, Dyatlov "hates" Lieberman, he wrote, because he is "liberal," doesn't like two of Dyatlov's musical idols (both of whom are ultra-liberal), and because he finds it to be a threat that Lieberman is on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
What else does Dyatlov put up to the peephole of the Internet? On "Competitive Collaboration" his blog (which was still online as of this writing), he wrote that Adolf Hitler was really just an artist who used blood instead of paint, and anyway he did that because "some stupid Jews" stifled his ambition.
Dyatlov's blog contains many entries about various women, much of it apparently fantasy, some of it brutal. His writing is relentlessly narcissistic and grandiose with touches of sociopathy. Although he is now an American citizen, there are repeated refrains in which Dyatlov lashes out at America and Americans ("I Know that i could rape and murder A*L*L of "your" families, America.")
On Aug. 2, the day that he posted the threat to Lieberman, agents from the FBI went to Dyatlov's apartment and questioned him. He admitted writing the blog but, according to the affidavit, claimed he did not plan to shoot the senator, although he "didn't care if someone else killed" Lieberman because of what he posted on the Internet. After they left, Dyatlov blogged about the FBI visit, writing that they came to him "because I told them that Joe Lieberman is a sick f*ck who should be shot in the face many times."
Dyatlov was later arrested. At his pretrial detention hearing, on Aug. 9, 2011, Dyatlov's attorney argued his client needed to be released and have access to a computer in order to conduct his job search. The federal magistrate ordered Dyatlov to remain in his apartment and told him that his computer was going to be fitted-out with electronic monitoring equipment. Dyatlov was then released on $50,000 bail. Let's hope his apartment is also being monitored.
The FBI learned about Dyatlov from his former employer, Accenture Consulting, one of the world's premier consulting companies. After he failed to show up for work for a week, someone from Accenture looked at Dyatlov's blog. After reading the threat to Lieberman, the company contacted the authorities and then, apparently, fired him.
It is possible that this 23 year-old former IT analyst and University of Michigan grad is a seriously deranged and possibly dangerous individual, or could it be that his stream of consciousness, unfiltered blogging is the kind of standard fare that dribbles through the synapses of many post-adolescent pre-marital males? Either way, threatening - and encouraging others - to attack an elected official, especially after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of others just eight months ago, is undoubtedly news.
Who could forget the feeding frenzy the media engaged in trying to figure out whether there were early signals given by the accused shooter in Texas, Jared Loughner, that should have been recognized, thereby averting that terrible tragedy. The same is true for the bloodbath in Utyoeya, Norway -- was Anders Breivik writing or saying things before July 22nd that should have tipped off an alert friend, neighbor or public authority?
Now add into the mix some hostile racial or ethnic or gender-preference term coupled with violent expressions by a Loughner or a Breivik: news or ho-hum? Well, most of the major newspapers this time came down on the side of ho-hum. The "shoot the Jew in the face" story did not make it into the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or the Wall Street Journal.
There was a small story written by the AP wire service that was picked up by the Washington Post and about two hundred smaller media outlets, although none gave it significant play. And of those outlets that did include the story, when any reason was given for the threat, none of them included the fact that Dyatlov specifically referred to Lieberman as "one Jew": all reproduced the nonsensical list from the blog post, which begins by labeling Lieberman "a liberal."
But here's the part that is really odd. Given that the man arrested lives in Philadelphia and the threat was made there, both of the major Philadelphia papers ran the story, as did Philadelphia Magazine. The really strange thing: the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and the magazine each ran the same AP wire service story that the other media carried. But there was one difference. Although the stories in the Philadelphia media stated that Dyatlov threated to shoot Lieberman in the face, in each, the word Jew was excised and the name "Lieberman" was substituted. What? Is it that the word was not significant, or is it that it was too significant? Imagine what these same media would do if instead of "Jew" some other ethnic minority was targeted.
It may be a welcome relief not to have everyone jumping all over any mention of ethnicity and blowing it up into a federal offense, except, of course, that this actually is a federal offense. So why the blackout? Why the lack of interest? It cannot be that the issue is being soft pedaled for fear of race riots -- when was the last time Jews stood up together on their hind legs to defend one of their own? Right. Maybe that's the problem. You know the line, "what would Jesus do?" Maybe it's time Jews looked at a threat directed at them as Jews and ask "what would CAIR do?"
Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the president of Z STREET