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Brooklyn Coffee Shop Owner who Posted Anti-Semitic Rant Has Closed Shop

Brooklyn Coffee Shop Owner who Posted Anti-Semitic Rant Has Closed Shop

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Michael Avila, the Bushwick businessman who published an ugly and hate-filled anti-Semitic tirade on the shop’s Instagram on October, ranting against “this general culture’s behaviors of dominance and Illuminati sensibility,” has closed down The Coffee Shop, reports DNAInfo.

The incensed shop owner also described interacting with “two jewish[sic] young men with generally rude behavior” whom he described as having “the look of death within them.”

Previously the shop owner told DNAInfo that his words had been “misunderstood” — and that there were some Jews he did like, including Roseanne Barr — and that he had no intention of shutting down The Coffee Shop, despite public outcry.

Avila subsequently deleted his social media accounts and offered his "deep and sincere apologies."

Now it seems that Avila’s plans have changed. A handwritten sign posted to the shop’s window says that The Coffee Shop has “closed temporarily” and that it will reopen in the spring, “under new management.”

This Brooklyn Landlord Just Canceled Rent for Hundreds of Tenants

Mario Salerno, who has 18 apartment buildings, said he did not want renters to stress about their payment during the coronavirus pandemic.

A few days after losing his job in March, Paul Gentile was throwing away trash outside his Brooklyn apartment building when he noticed a new sign hanging near the front door.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought life to a near standstill in New York City and caused an untold number of people to lose their jobs, tenants in the building did not need to pay April rent, it read.

“STAY SAFE, HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS & WASH YOUR HANDS. ” the landlord, Mario Salerno, wrote on the signs, which he posted at all of his 18 residential buildings in the borough.

More than any large city in the United States, New York is made up of millions of renters, many of whom survive paycheck to paycheck and pay a large portion of their monthly income for a place to live.

The sudden collapse of the economy has left many New Yorkers stressing about how they can pay their bills, especially rent.

Across New York City, landlords have started to panic as well, as it has become clear some tenants are unable to afford rent. Several surveys conducted last month estimated that 40 percent of renters in New York City, if not more, would not make April rent, which was due on Wednesday.

The trickle-down effect could be swift and devastating, according to landlords, leaving them scrambling to find ways to pay their own bills, such as water, sewer and taxes at their buildings.

It is too soon to get an accurate gauge of how many renters withheld their April rent and what the fallout would be for landlords.

But Mr. Salerno said in an interview on Thursday that he did not care about losing his rental income in April, nor did he care to calculate the amount that he would not be collecting from his 80 apartments. He said he had about 200 to 300 tenants in total.

He is likely forgoing hundreds of thousands of dollars in income by canceling April rent.

His only interest, he said, was in alleviating stress for his renters, even those who were still employed and now working from home.

“My concern is everyone’s health,” said Mr. Salerno, 59, whose rent gesture was first reported by the local news site “I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.”

Mr. Salerno said a handful of his tenants messaged him last month saying that they could not afford rent. Three renters from Ireland packed up a few belongings and moved back home, he said.

When Mr. Gentile spotted the sign last week, he said he was surprised but not shocked. For the nearly four years Mr. Gentile has lived in the apartment, Mr. Salerno has been a model landlord.

Emergencies are fixed almost immediately, he said, such as a water leak in Mr. Gentile’s ceiling that was fixed, patched and painted within several hours.

“You don’t see that, especially in a landlord-tenant relationship in New York City,” Mr. Gentile, 28, said. “He’s amazing.”

As New York City started to shut down in mid-March, Mr. Gentile quickly lost his job. He was a lawyer for a personal injury firm who spent most of his time in courthouses, all of which were closed on March 18. There was little work for him outside the courtroom.

The law firm’s partners told him that they hope to rehire him when the economy rebounds, he said. But without a job and rent almost due, Mr. Gentile spent the end of March stressing about using his savings for bills, including what he and his fiancée had reserved for their wedding in November.

“It has alleviated a huge amount of stress that I have been having with the unemployment system in the state,” he said, adding that he had called the New York State Department of Labor roughly 240 times over two days in March to finally connect with a person to file for benefits.

For decades, Mr. Salerno has been a larger-than-life character in his part of Williamsburg, on the other side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from the ritzy high-rises near the East River. During the day, he runs the Salerno Auto Body Shop and gasoline station, which his father opened in 1959.

In the 1980s, Mr. Salerno started to buy vacant lots across Brooklyn to store cars damaged in accidents before they were repaired. In the late 1990s, he started to turn 18 of the lots into apartment buildings.

The repair shop and station are both open, though gasoline sales are down about half from a month ago, he said. He would prefer not to be working on people’s cars during the pandemic, but wanted to be there for his customers.

“Do I really want to do a simple oil change and a brake job?” Mr. Salerno said on the phone at the auto shop on Thursday. “No, but I have a lot of doctors and nurses who need their cars serviced.”


In the mid 17th century, Peter Stuyvesant, the last Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, sought to maintain the position of the Dutch Reformed Church refusing to allow other denominations such as Lutherans, Catholics and Quakers the right to organize a church. He also described Jews as "deceitful", "very repugnant", and "hateful enemies and blasphemers of the name of Christ". [2] Prior to this, the inhabitants of the Dutch settlement of Vlishing had declared that "the law of love, peace, and liberty" extended to "Jews, Turks, and Egyptians." [3]

According to Peter Knight, throughout most of the 18th and 19th centuries, the United States rarely experienced antisemitic action comparable to the sort that was endemic in Europe during the same period. [4]

Civil War Edit

Major General Ulysses S. Grant was influenced by these sentiments and issued General Order No. 11 expelling Jews from areas under his control in western Tennessee:

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled . within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Grant later issued an order "that no Jews are to be permitted to travel on the road southward." His aide, Colonel John V. DuBois, ordered "all cotton speculators, Jews, and all vagabonds with no honest means of support", to leave the district. "The Israelites especially should be kept out . they are such an intolerable nuisance."

This order was quickly rescinded by President Abraham Lincoln but not until it had been enforced in a number of towns. [5] According to Jerome Chanes, Lincoln's revocation of Grant's order was based primarily on "constitutional strictures against . the federal government singling out any group for special treatment." Chanes characterizes General Order No. 11 as "unique in the history of the United States" because it was the only overtly antisemitic official action of the United States government. [6]

Immigration from Eastern Europe Edit

Between 1881 and 1920, approximately 3 million Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe immigrated to America, many of them fleeing pogroms and the difficult economic conditions which were widespread in much of Eastern Europe during this time. Pogroms in Eastern Europe, particularly Russia, prompted waves of Jewish immigrants after 1881. Jews, along with many Eastern and Southern European immigrants, came to work the country's growing mines and factories. Many Americans distrusted these Jewish immigrants. [5]

Between 1900 and 1924, approximately 1.75 million Jews immigrated to America's shores, the bulk from Eastern Europe. Whereas before 1900, American Jews never amounted even to 1 percent of America's total population, by 1930 Jews formed about 3.5 percent. This dramatic increase, combined with the upward mobility of some Jews, contributed to a resurgence of antisemitism.

As the European immigration swelled the Jewish population of the United States, there developed a growing sense of the Jew as different. Jerome Chanes attributes this perception on the fact that Jews were concentrated in a small number of occupations: they were perceived as being mostly clothing manufacturers, shopkeepers and department store owners. He notes that so-called "German Jews" (who in reality came not just from Germany but from Austria, Poland, Bohemia and other countries as well) found themselves increasingly segregated by a widespread social antisemitism that became even more prevalent in the twentieth century and which persists in vestigial form even today. [7]

Populism Edit

In the middle of the 19th century, a number of German Jewish immigrants founded investment banking firms which later became mainstays of the industry. Most prominent Jewish banks in the United States were investment banks, rather than commercial banks. [8] [9] Although Jews played only a minor role in the nation's commercial banking system, the prominence of Jewish investment bankers such as the Rothschilds in Europe, and Jacob Schiff, of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. in New York City, made the claims of antisemites believable to some.

One example of allegations of Jewish control of world finances, during the 1890s, is Mary Elizabeth Lease, an American farming activist and populist from Kansas, who frequently blamed the Rothschilds and the "British bankers" as the source of farmers' ills. [10]

The Morgan Bonds scandal injected populist antisemitism into the 1896 presidential campaign. It was disclosed that President Grover Cleveland had sold bonds to a syndicate which included J. P. Morgan and the Rothschilds house, bonds which that syndicate was now selling for a profit, the Populists used it as an opportunity to uphold their view of history, and argue that Washington and Wall Street were in the hands of the international Jewish banking houses.

Another focus of antisemitic feeling was the allegation that Jews were at the center of an international conspiracy to fix the currency and thus the economy to a single gold standard. [11]

According to Deborah Dash Moore, populist antisemitism used the Jew to symbolize both capitalism and urbanism so as to personify concepts that were too abstract to serve as satisfactory objects of animosity. [12]

Richard Hofstadter describes populist antisemitism as "entirely verbal." He continues by asserting that, "(it) was a mode of expression, a rhetorical style, not a tactic or a program." He notes that, "(it) did not lead to exclusion laws, much less to riots or pogroms." Hofstadter still concludes, however, that the "Greenback-Populist tradition activated most of . modern popular antisemitism in the United States."

In the first half of the 20th century, Jews were discriminated against in employment, access to residential and resort areas, membership in clubs and organizations, and in tightened quotas on Jewish enrollment and teaching positions in colleges and universities. Restaurants, hotels and other establishments that barred Jews from entry were called "restricted". [13]

Lynching of Leo Frank Edit

In 1913, a Jewish-American in Atlanta named Leo Frank was convicted for the rape and murder of Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old Christian girl who he employed. In the middle of the night on April 27, 1913, a 13-year-old girl named Mary Phagan was found dead by a night watchman in the basement of a pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia. [14] Leo Frank, the superintendent of the factory, was the last person to acknowledge seeing her alive earlier that day after paying her weekly wages. Detectives took Frank to the scene of the crime and the morgue to view the body. After further questioning, they concluded that he was most likely not the murderer. In the days following, rumors began to spread amongst the public that the girl had been sexually assaulted prior to her death. This sparked outrage amongst the public which called for immediate action and justice for her murder. On April 29, following Phagan's funeral, public outrage reached its pinnacle. Under immense pressure to identify a suspect, detectives arrested Leo Frank on the same day. Being a Jewish factory owner, previously from the north, Frank was an easy target for the anti-Semitic population who already distrusted northern merchants who had come to the south to work following the Civil War [15] [16] During the trial, the primary witness was Jim Conley, a black janitor who worked at the factory. Initially a suspect, Conley became the state's main witness in the trial against Frank.

Prior to the trial, Conely had given four conflicting statements regarding his role in the murder. In court, the Frank's lawyers were unable to disprove Conley's claims that he was forced by Frank to dispose of Phagan's body. The trial gathered immense attention especially from Atlantans, who gathered in large crowds around the courthouse demanding for a guilty verdict. In addition to this, much of the media coverage at the time took an anti-Semitic tone and after 25 days, Leo Frank was found guilty of murder on August 25 and sentenced to death by hanging on August 26. The verdict was met with cheers and celebration form the crowd. Following the verdict, Frank's lawyers submitted a total of five appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Supreme Court claiming that Frank's absence on the day of the verdict and the amount of public pressure and influence swayed the jury. After this, the case was brought to Georgia governor John M. Slaton. Despite the public demanding for him to hold the verdict, Slaton changed Frank's verdict from death sentence to life imprisonment, believing that his innocence would eventually be established and he would be set free. [15] This decision was met with immense public outrage, causing riots and even forcing Slaton to declare Martial Law at one point. On August 16, 1915, 25 citizens stormed a prison farm in Milledgeville where Leo Frank was being held. Taking Frank from his cell, they drove him to Marietta, the hometown of Mary Phagan, and hanged him from a tree. Leaders of the lynch mob would later gather at Stone Mountain to revive the Ku Klux Klan.

In response to the lynching of Leo Frank, Sigmund Livingston founded the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) under the sponsorship of B'nai B'rith. The ADL became the leading Jewish group fighting antisemitism in the United States. The lynching of Leo Frank coincided with and helped spark the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan disseminated the view that anarchists, communists and Jews were subverting American values and ideals.

With the entry of the United States into World War I, Jews were targeted by antisemites as "slackers" and "war-profiteers" responsible for many of the ills of the country. For example, a U.S. Army manual published for war recruits stated that, "The foreign born, and especially Jews, are more apt to malinger than the native-born." When ADL representatives protested about this to President Woodrow Wilson, he ordered the manual recalled. The ADL also mounted a campaign to give Americans the facts about military and civilian contributions of Jews to the war effort. [17]

Antisemitism in the United States reached its peak during the interwar period. [ citation needed ] The rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, the antisemitic works of newspapers and radio speeches in the late 1930s indicated the strength of attacks on the Jewish community.

One element in American antisemitism during the 1920s was the identification of Jews with Bolshevism where the concept of Bolshevism was used pejoratively in the country. (see article on "Jewish Bolshevism").

Immigration legislation enacted in the United States in 1921 and 1924 was interpreted widely as being at least partly anti-Jewish in intent because it strictly limited the immigration quotas of eastern European nations with large Jewish populations, nations from which approximately 3 million Jews had immigrated to the United States by 1920.

Discrimination in education and professions Edit

Jews encountered resistance when they tried to move into white-collar and professional positions. Banking, insurance, public utilities, medical schools, hospitals, large law firms and faculty positions, restricted the entrance of Jews. This era of "polite" Judeophobia through social discrimination, underwent an ideological escalation in the 1930s.

Restriction on immigration Edit

In 1924, Congress passed the Johnson–Reed Act severely restricting immigration. Although the act did not specifically target Jews, the effect of the legislation was that 86% of the 165,000 permitted entries were from Northern European countries, with Germany, Britain, and Ireland having the highest quotas. The act effectively diminished the flow of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe to a trickle.

The Dearborn Independent Edit

Henry Ford was a pacifist who opposed World War I, and he believed that Jews were responsible for starting wars in order to profit from them: "International financiers are behind all war. They are what is called the international Jew: German Jews, French Jews, English Jews, American Jews. I believe that in all those countries except our own the Jewish financier is supreme . here the Jew is a threat". [18] Ford believed that Jews were responsible for capitalism, and in their role as financiers, they did not contribute anything of value to society. [19]

In 1915, during World War I, Ford blamed Jews for instigating the war, saying "I know who caused the war: German-Jewish bankers." [20] Later, in 1925, Ford said "What I oppose most is the international Jewish money power that is met in every war. That is what I oppose—a power that has no country and that can order the young men of all countries out to death'". According to author Steven Watts, Ford's antisemitism was partially due to a noble desire for world peace. [20] [21]

Ford became aware of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and believed it to be a legitimate document, and he published portions of it in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. Also, in 1920–21 the Dearborn Independent carried a series of articles expanding on the themes of financial control by Jews, entitled: [22]

  1. Jewish Idea in American Monetary Affairs: The remarkable story of Paul Warburg, who began work on the United States monetary system after three weeks residence in this country
  2. Jewish Idea Molded Federal Reserve System: What Baruch was in War Material, Paul Warburg was in War Finances Some Curious revelations of money and politics.
  3. Jewish Idea of a Central Bank for America: The evolution of Paul M. Warburg's idea of Federal Reserve System without government management.
  4. How Jewish International Finance Functions: The Warburg family and firm divided the world between them and did amazing things which non-Jews could not do
  5. Jewish Power and America's Money Famine: The Warburg Federal Reserve sucks money to New York, leaving productive sections of the country in disastrous need.
  6. The Economic Plan of International Jews: An outline of the Protocolists' monetary policy, with notes on the parallel found in Jewish financial practice.

One of the articles, "Jewish Power and America's Money Famine", asserted that the power exercised by Jews over the nation's supply of money was insidious by helping deprive farmers and others outside the banking coterie of money when they needed it most. The article asked the question: "Where is the American gold supply? . It may be in the United States but it does not belong to the United States" and it drew the conclusion that Jews controlled the gold supply and, hence, American money. [23]

Another of the articles, "Jewish Idea Molded Federal Reserve System" was a reflection of Ford's suspicion of the Federal Reserve System and its proponent, Paul Warburg. Ford believed the Federal Reserve system was secretive and insidious. [24]

These articles gave rise to claims of antisemitism against Ford, [25] and in 1929 he signed a statement apologizing for the articles. [26]

According to Gilman and Katz, antisemitism increased dramatically in the 1930s with demands being made to exclude American Jews from American social, political and economic life. [27]

During the 1930s and 1940s, right-wing demagogues linked the Depression of the 1930s, the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt, and the threat of war in Europe to the machinations of an imagined international Jewish conspiracy that was both communist and capitalist. A new ideology appeared which accused "the Jews" of dominating Franklin Roosevelt's administration, of causing the Great Depression, and of dragging the United States into World War II against a new Germany which deserved nothing but admiration. Roosevelt's "New Deal" was derisively referred to as the "Jew Deal". [27]

Father Charles Coughlin, a radio preacher, as well as many other prominent public figures, condemned "the Jews," Gerald L. K. Smith, a Disciples of Christ minister, was the founder (1937) of the Committee of One Million and publisher (beginning in 1942) of The Cross and the Flag, a magazine that declared that "Christian character is the basis of all real Americanism." Other antisemitic agitators included Fritz Julius Kuhn of the German-American Bund, William Dudley Pelley, and the Rev. Gerald Winrod.

In the end, promoters of antisemitism such as Coughlin, Smith, Kuhn and Winrod achieved no more than a passing popularity as the threat of Nazi Germany became more and more evident to the American electorate. Steven Roth asserts that there was never a real possibility of a "Jewish question" appearing on the American political agenda as it did in Europe according to Roth, the resistance to political antisemitism in the United States was due to the heterogeneity of the American political structure. [28]

American attitudes towards Jews Edit

In a 1938 poll, approximately 60 percent of the respondents held a low opinion of Jews, labeling them "greedy," "dishonest," and "pushy." [29] 41 percent of respondents agreed that Jews had "too much power in the United States," and this figure rose to 58 percent by 1945. [30] Several surveys taken from 1940 to 1946 found that Jews were seen as a greater threat to the welfare of the United States than any other national, religious, or racial group. [31]

Charles Coughlin Edit

The main spokesman for antisemitic sentiment was Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest whose weekly radio program drew between 5 and 12 million listeners in the late 1930s. Coughlin's newspaper, Social Justice, reached a circulation of 800,000 at its peak in 1937.

After the 1936 election, Coughlin increasingly expressed sympathy for the fascist policies of Hitler and Mussolini, as an antidote to Bolshevism. His weekly radio broadcasts became suffused with themes regarded as overtly antisemitic. He blamed the Depression on an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers, and also claimed that Jewish bankers were behind the Russian Revolution. [32]

Coughlin began publication of a newspaper, Social Justice, during this period, in which he printed antisemitic polemics such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Like Joseph Goebbels, Coughlin claimed that Marxist atheism in Europe was a Jewish plot. The 5 December 1938 issue of Social Justice included an article by Coughlin which closely resembled a speech made by Goebbels on 13 September 1935 attacking Jews, atheists and communists, with some sections being copied verbatim by Coughlin from an English translation of the Goebbels speech.

On November 20, 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, when Jews across Germany were attacked and killed, and Jewish businesses, homes and synagogues burned, Coughlin blamed the Jewish victims, [33] saying that "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted." After this speech, and as his programs became more antisemitic, some radio stations, including those in New York and Chicago, began refusing to air his speeches without pre-approved scripts in New York, his programs were cancelled by WINS and WMCA, leaving Coughlin to broadcasting on the Newark part-time station WHBI. This made Coughlin a hero in Nazi Germany, where papers ran headlines like: "America is Not Allowed to Hear the Truth."

On December 18, 1938 two thousand of Coughlin's followers marched in New York protesting potential asylum law changes that would allow more Jews (including refugees from Hitler's persecution) into the US, chanting, "Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!" and "Wait until Hitler comes over here!" The protests continued for several months. Donald Warren, using information from the FBI and German government archives, has also argued that Coughlin received indirect funding from Nazi Germany during this period. [34]

After 1936, Coughlin began supporting an organization called the Christian Front, which claimed him as an inspiration. In January, 1940, the Christian Front was shut down when the FBI discovered the group was arming itself and "planning to murder Jews, communists, and 'a dozen Congressmen'" [35] and eventually establish, in J. Edgar Hoover's words, "a dictatorship, similar to the Hitler dictatorship in Germany." Coughlin publicly stated, after the plot was discovered, that he still did not "disassociate himself from the movement," and though he was never linked directly to the plot, his reputation suffered a fatal decline. [36]

After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war in December 1941, the anti-interventionist movement (such as the America First Committee) sputtered out, and isolationists like Coughlin were seen as being sympathetic to the enemy. In 1942, the new bishop of Detroit ordered Coughlin to stop his controversial political activities and confine himself to his duties as a parish priest.

Pelley and Winrod Edit

William Dudley Pelley founded (1933) the antisemitic Silvershirt Legion of America nine years later he was convicted of sedition. And Gerald Winrod, leader of Defenders of the Christian Faith, was eventually indicted for conspiracy to cause insubordination in the armed forces during World War II.

America First Committee Edit

The avant-garde of the new non-interventionism was the America First Committee, which included the aviation hero Charles Lindbergh and many prominent Americans. The America First Committee opposed any involvement in the war in Europe.

Officially, America First avoided any appearance of antisemitism and voted to drop Henry Ford as a member for his overt antisemitism.

In a speech delivered on September 11, 1941 at an America First rally, Lindbergh claimed that three groups had been "pressing this country toward war": the Roosevelt Administration, the British, and the Jews—and complained about what he insisted was the Jews' "large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government." [37]

In an expurgated portion of his published diaries Lindbergh wrote: "We must limit to a reasonable amount the Jewish influence. . Whenever the Jewish percentage of total population becomes too high, a reaction seems to invariably occur. It is too bad because a few Jews of the right type are, I believe, an asset to any country."

German American Bund Edit

The German American Bund held parades in New York City in the late 1930s which featured Nazi uniforms and flags featuring swastikas alongside American flags. Some 20,000 people heard Bund leader Fritz Julius Kuhn criticize President Franklin D. Roosevelt by repeatedly referring to him as "Frank D. Rosenfeld", calling his New Deal the "Jew Deal", and espousing his belief in the existence of a Bolshevik-Jewish conspiracy in America.

In the years before and during World War II the United States Congress, the Roosevelt Administration, and public opinion expressed concern about the fate of Jews in Europe but consistently refused to permit immigration of Jewish refugees.

In a report issued by the State Department, Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat noted that the United States accepted only 21,000 refugees from Europe and did not significantly raise or even fill its restrictive quotas, accepting far fewer Jews per capita than many of the neutral European countries and fewer in absolute terms than Switzerland. [38]

According to David Wyman, "The United States and its Allies were willing to attempt almost nothing to save the Jews." [39] There is some debate as to whether U.S. policies were generally targeted against all immigrants or specifically against Jews in particular. Wyman characterized Breckenridge Long as a nativist, more anti-immigrant than just antisemitic. [40]

SS St. Louis Edit

The SS St. Louis sailed out of Hamburg into the Atlantic Ocean in May 1939 carrying one non-Jewish and 936 (mainly German) Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution just before World War II. On 4 June 1939, having failed to obtain permission to disembark passengers in Cuba, the St. Louis was also refused permission to unload on orders of President Roosevelt as the ship waited in the Caribbean Sea between Florida and Cuba. [41] [42]

During the Holocaust, antisemitism was a factor that limited American Jewish action during the war, and put American Jews in a difficult position. It is clear that antisemitism was a prevalent attitude in the US, which was especially convenient for America during the Holocaust. In America, antisemitism, which reached high levels in the late 1930s, continued to rise in the 1940s. During the years before Pearl Harbor, over a hundred antisemitic organizations were responsible for pumping hate propaganda to the American public. Furthermore, especially in New York City and Boston, young gangs vandalized Jewish cemeteries and synagogues, and attacks on Jewish youngsters were common. Swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans, as well as antisemitic literature, were spread. In 1944, a public opinion poll showed that a quarter of Americans still regarded Jews as a "menace." Antisemitism in the State Department played a large role in Washington's hesitant response to the plight of European Jews persecuted by Nazis. [43]

In a 1943 speech on the floor of Congress quoted in both The Jewish News of Detroit [44] and the antisemitic magazine The Defender of Wichita [45] Mississippi Representative John E. Rankin espoused a conspiracy of "alien-minded" Communist Jews arranging for white women to be raped by Black American men:

When those communistic Jews—of whom the decent Jews are ashamed—go around here and hug and kiss these Negroes, dance with them, intermarry with them, and try to force their way into white restaurants, white hotels and white picture shows, they are not deceiving any red-blooded American, and, above all, they are not deceiving the men in our armed forces—as to who is at the bottom of all this race trouble.

The better element of the Jews, and especially the old line American Jews throughout the South and West, are not only ashamed of, but they are alarmed at, the activities of these communistic Jews who are stirring this trouble up.

They have caused the deaths of many good Negroes who never would have got into trouble if they had been left alone, as well as the deaths of many good white people, including many innocent, unprotected white girls, who have been raped and murdered by vicious Negroes, who have been encouraged by those alien-minded Communists to commit such crimes.

US Government policy Edit

Josiah DuBois wrote the famous "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews," which Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., used to convince President Franklin Roosevelt to establish the War Refugee Board in 1944. [46] [47] [48] Randolph Paul was also a principal sponsor of this report, the first contemporaneous Government paper attacking America's dormant complicity in the Holocaust.

Entitled "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews", the document was an indictment of the U.S. State Department's diplomatic, military, and immigration policies. Among other things, the Report narrated the State Department's inaction and in some instances active opposition to the release of funds for the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, and condemned immigration policies that closed American doors to Jewish refugees from countries then engaged in their systematic slaughter.

The catalyst for the Report was an incident involving 70,000 Jews whose evacuation from Romania could have been procured with a $170,000 bribe. The Foreign Funds Control unit of the Treasury, which was within Paul's jurisdiction, authorized the payment of the funds, the release of which both the President and Secretary of State Cordell Hull supported. From mid-July 1943, when the proposal was made and Treasury approved, through December 1943, a combination of the State Department's bureaucracy and the British Ministry of Economic Warfare interposed various obstacles. The Report was the product of frustration over that event.

On January 16, 1944, Morgenthau and Paul personally delivered the paper to President Roosevelt, warning him that Congress would act if he did not. The result was Executive Order 9417, [49] creating the War Refugee Board composed of the Secretaries of State, Treasury and War. Issued on January 22, 1944, the Executive Order declared that "it is the policy of this Government to take all measures within its power to rescue the victims of enemy oppression who are in imminent danger of death and otherwise to afford such victims all possible relief and assistance consistent with the successful prosecution of the war." [50]

It has been estimated that 190,000–200,000 Jews could have been saved during the Second World War had it not been for bureaucratic obstacles to immigration deliberately created by Breckinridge Long and others. [51]

Liberty Lobby Edit

Liberty Lobby was a political advocacy organization which was founded in 1955 by Willis Carto in 1955. Liberty Lobby was founded as a conservative political organization and was known to hold strongly antisemitic views and to be a devotee of the writings of Francis Parker Yockey, who was one of a handful of post-World War II writers who revered Adolf Hitler.

Antisemitic violence in this era includes the 1977 shootings at Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue in St. Louis, Missouri, the 1984 murder of Alan Berg, the 1985 Goldmark Murders, and the 1986 Murder of Neal Rosenblum.

NSPA march in Skokie Edit

Seeking a venue, In 1977 and 1978, members of the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA) chose Skokie. Because of the large number of Holocaust survivors in Skokie, it was believed that the march would be disruptive, and the village refused to allow it. They passed three new ordinances requiring damage deposits, banning marches in military uniforms and limiting the distribution of hate speech literature. The American Civil Liberties Union interceded on behalf of the NSPA in National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie seeking a parade permit and to invalidate the three new Skokie ordinances.

However, due to a subsequent lifting of the Marquette Park ban, the NSPA ultimately held their rally in Chicago on July 7, 1978, instead of in Skokie. [52]

African-American community Edit

In 1984, civil rights leader Jessie Jackson speaking to Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman referred to Jews as "Hymies" and New York City as "Hymietown." He later apologized. [53]

During the Crown Heights riot, marchers proceeded carrying antisemitic signs and an Israeli flag was burned. [54] [55] Ultimately, black and Jewish leaders developed an outreach program between their communities to help calm and possibly improve racial relations in Crown Heights over the next decade. [56]

According to Anti-Defamation League surveys begun in 1964, African Americans are significantly more likely than white Americans to hold antisemitic beliefs, although there is a strong correlation between education level and the rejection of antisemitic stereotypes for all races. However, black Americans of all education levels are nevertheless significantly more likely than whites of the same education level to be antisemitic. In the 1998 survey, blacks (34%) were nearly four times as likely as whites (9%) to fall into the most antisemitic category (those agreeing with at least 6 of 11 statements that were potentially or clearly antisemitic). Among blacks with no college education, 43% fell into the most antisemitic group (vs. 18% for the general population), which fell to 27% among blacks with some college education, and 18% among blacks with a four-year college degree (vs. 5% for the general population). [57]

Other manifestations Edit

During the early 1980s, isolationists on the far right made overtures to anti-war activists on the left in the United States to join forces against government policies in areas where they shared concerns. [58] This was mainly in the area of civil liberties, opposition to United States military intervention overseas and opposition to US support for Israel. [59] [60] As they interacted, some of the classic right-wing antisemitic scapegoating conspiracy theories began to seep into progressive circles, [59] including stories about how a "New World Order", also called the "Shadow Government" or "The Octopus", [58] was manipulating world governments. Antisemitic conspiracism was "peddled aggressively" by right-wing groups. [59] Some on the left adopted the rhetoric, which it has been argued was made possible by their lack of knowledge of the history of fascism and its use of "scapegoating, reductionist and simplistic solutions, demagoguery, and a conspiracy theory of history." [59]

Towards the end of 1990, as the movement against the Gulf War began to build, a number of far-right and antisemitic groups sought out alliances with left-wing anti-war coalitions, who began to speak openly about a "Jewish lobby" that was encouraging the United States to invade the Middle East. This idea evolved into conspiracy theories about a "Zionist-occupied government" (ZOG), which has been seen as equivalent to the early-20th century antisemitic hoax,The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. [58] The anti-war movement as a whole rejected these overtures by the political right. [59]

In the context of the first US-Iraq war, on September 15, 1990 Pat Buchanan appeared on The McLaughlin Group and said that "there are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East – the Israeli defense ministry and its 'amen corner' in the United States." He also said: "The Israelis want this war desperately because they want the United States to destroy the Iraqi war machine. They want us to finish them off. They don't care about our relations with the Arab world." [61]

Many in the Jewish community celebrated the vice-presidential candidacy of Senator Joseph Lieberman as marking a milestone in the decline of antisemitism in the United States. [ citation needed ]

New antisemitism Edit

In recent years some scholars have advanced the concept of New antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the left, the far right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and argue that the language of Anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack the Jews more broadly. In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and attribute this to antisemitism. [62]

A 2009 study entitled "Modern Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israeli Attitudes", published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009, tested new theoretical model of antisemitism among Americans in the Greater New York area with 3 experiments. The research team's theoretical model proposed that mortality salience (reminding people that they will someday die) increases antisemitism and that antisemitism is often expressed as anti-Israel attitudes. The first experiment showed that mortality salience led to higher levels of antisemitism and lower levels of support for Israel. The study's methodology was designed to tease out antisemitic attitudes that are concealed by polite people . The second experiment showed that mortality salience caused people to perceive Israel as very important, but did not cause them to perceive any other country this way. The third experiment showed that mortality salience led to a desire to punish Israel for human rights violations but not to a desire to punish Russia or India for identical human rights violations. According to the researchers, their results "suggest that Jews constitute a unique cultural threat to many people's worldviews, that anti-Semitism causes hostility to Israel, and that hostility to Israel may feed back to increase anti-Semitism." Furthermore, "those claiming that there is no connection between antisemitism and hostility toward Israel are wrong." [63]

In October 2014 the controversial opera The Death of Klinghoffer was staged in the Metropolitan Opera in New-York. The opera tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists, and the killing of Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer. Some of the criticism opposed to the opera claimed it's partly antisemitic and glorifies the killers, [64] as American writer and feminist Phyllis Chesler, an opera aficionado, wrote:

The Death of Klinghoffer also demonizes Israel—which is what anti-Semitism is partly about today. It incorporates lethal Islamic (and now universal) pseudo-histories about Israel and Jews. It beatifies terrorism, both musically and in the libretto. [65]

On April 25, 2019, The New York Times 's international edition included a cartoon featuring US President Donald Trump wearing a kippah and being led by a dog with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing a Star of David collar. [66] The New York Times issued an apology. [67]

College campuses Edit

On April 3, 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced its finding that incidents of antisemitism are a "serious problem" on college campuses throughout the United States. [68]

Stephen H. Norwood compares the Antisemitism in contemporary American University to the antisemitism in campuses during the Nazi era. [69] His article shows how the support in Anti-Zionist opinions encourages anti-Semitism inside American campus. Norwood describes in his article: "In 2002, Muslim student groups at San Francisco State University similarly invoked the medieval blood libel, distributing fliers showing a can with a picture of a dead baby beneath a large drop of blood and two Israeli flags, captioned: "Made in Israel. Palestinian Children Meat. Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License." On that campus a mob menaced Jewish students with taunts of "Hitler did not finish the job" and "Go back to Russia." The transfer between the criticism on Israel to pure anti-Semitism is significant.

During April 2014 there were at least 3 incidents of swastika drawings on Jewish property in University dormitories. At UCF for example, a Jewish student found 9 swastikas carved into walls of her apartment. [70]

On the beginning of September 2014 there were two cases of antisemitism in College campuses: two students from East Carolina University sprayed swastika on the apartment door of a Jewish student, [71] while on the same day, a Jewish student from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte was told "to go burn in an oven." The student had also told the media she is "hunted" because of her support in Israel: "I have been called a terrorist, baby killer, woman killer, [told that] I use blood to make matzah and other foods, Christ killer, occupier, and much more." [72]

In October 2014 fliers were handed out in the University of California in Santa Barbara that claimed "9/11 Was an Outside Job" with a large blue Star of David. The fliers contained links to several websites that accused Israel of the attack. [73] A few days later antisemitic graffiti was found on a Jewish fraternity house in Emory University in Atlanta. [74] Another graffiti incident occurred in Northeastern University, where swastikas drawn on flyers for a school event. [75]

A survey published in February 2015 by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law found out that 54 percent of the participants had been subject to or witnessing antisemitism on their campus. The survey included 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 campuses nationwide. The most significant origin for antisemitism, according to the survey was "from an individual student" (29 percent). Other origins were: in clubs/ societies, in lecture/ class, in student union, etc. The findings of the research compared to a parallel study conducted in United kingdom, and the results were similar. [76]

In October 2015 it was reported that a few cars in the parking lot of the UC Davis were vandalized and scratched with antisemitic slurs and swastika sketches. [77] A few days later, antisemitic slurs were found on a chalkboard in a center of the campus at Towson University. [78]

Nation of Islam Edit

Some Jewish organizations, Christian organizations, Muslim organizations, and academics consider the Nation of Islam to be antisemitic. Specifically, they claim that the Nation Of Islam has engaged in revisionist and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust and exaggerates the role of Jews in the African slave trade. [79] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleges that NOI Health Minister, Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, has accused Jewish doctors of injecting Blacks with the AIDS virus, [80] an allegation that Muhammad has denied.

The Nation of Islam claimed that Jews were responsible for slavery, economic exploitation of black labor, selling alcohol and drugs in their communities, and unfair domination of the economy.

Some members of the Black Nationalist Nation of Islam claimed that Jews were responsible for the exploitation of black labor, bringing alcohol and drugs into their communities, and unfair domination of the economy.

The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied charges of antisemitism, [81] and NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan has stated, "The ADL . uses the term 'anti-Semitism' to stifle all criticism of Zionism and the Zionist policies of the State of Israel and also to stifle all legitimate criticism of the errant behavior of some Jewish people toward the non-Jewish population of the earth." [82]

American attitudes towards Jews Edit

According to an Anti-Defamation League survey 14 percent of U.S. residents had antisemitic views. The 2005 survey found "35 percent of foreign-born Hispanics" and "36 percent of African-Americans hold strong antisemitic beliefs, four times more than the 9 percent for whites". [83] The 2005 Anti-Defamation League survey includes data on Hispanic attitudes, with 29% being most antisemitic (vs. 9% for whites and 36% for blacks) being born in the United States helped alleviate this attitude: 35% of foreign-born Hispanics, but only 19% of those born in the US. [84]

Hate crimes Edit

Escalating hate crimes targeting Jews and other minority groups prompted passage of the federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act in 1990. On April 1, 2014, Frazier Glenn Miller, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan arrived to the Jewish center of Kansas City and murdered 3 people. [85] After his capture the suspect was heard saying "Heil Hitler". [86]

In April 2014, the Anti-Defamation League published its 2013 audit of antisemitic incidents that pointed out a decline of 19 percent in antisemitic records. The total number of antisemitic attacks across the U.S. was 751, including 31 physical assaults, 315 incidents of vandalism and 405 cases of harassment. [87]

The Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine published a Nazi World War II propaganda poster in May 2014. The poster displays Jews as part of a monster who tries to destroy the world. Vassar college president Catharine Hill denounced the poster. [88] A few months later, a physical attack occurred in Philadelphia, when a Jewish student on the campus of Temple University was assaulted and punched in the face by a member of the organization Students for Justice in Palestine, who called him an antisemitic slur. [89]

In May 2014, a Jewish mother from Chicago accused a group of students at her eighth-grade son's school of bullying and antisemitism. They used the multi-player video game Clash of Clans to create a group called "Jews Incinerator" and described themselves: "we are a friendly group of racists with one goal- put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of. Sieg! Heil!" Two students wrote apology letters. [90] [91]

In June 2014 there were several antisemitic hate crimes. A swastika and other antisemitic graffiti were scrawled onto a streetside directional sign in San Francisco. [92] Another graffiti found at the Sanctuary Lofts Apartments, where a graffiti artists drew antisemitic, satanic and racist symbols inside the apartment complex. [93] Towards the end of the month a young Jewish boy was attacked while he was leaving his home in Brooklyn. The suspect, who was on a bike, opened his hand while passing and struck the victim in the face, then yelled antisemitic slurs. [94]

In July 2014, during operation Protective Edge in Gaza, there was an increase in the occurrence of antisemitic incidents. In the beginning of the month an antisemitic banner was flown above Brighton Beach and Coney Island. The banner contained symbols that meant "peace plus swastika equals love". The word "PROSWASTIKA" also appeared on the banner. [95] Additionally, there were more than 5 incidents of antisemitic graffiti across the country. In Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York, three man were arrested for vandalizing a Yeshiva property and a nearby house in the Jewish neighborhood by spraying swastikas and inscriptions such as "you don't belong here". [96] Later that month swastika drawings were found on mailboxes near a national Jewish fraternity house in Eugene, Oregon. [97]

Swastika drawings and also the phrase 'kill Jews' were found on a playground floor in Riverdale, Bronx. [98] There were also two incidents of graffiti in Clarksville, Tennessee and Lowell, Massachusetts. [99] [100] Some vandalism incidents occurred on a cemetery in Massachusetts. [101] and in country club in Frontenac, Missouri [102] Toward the end of the month there were two places were the word 'Hamas' was scribbled on Jewish property and on a Synagogue [103] [104] In addition, linked with the operation in Gaza Strip, anti-Jewish leaflets were found on cars in the Jewish neighborhood in Chicago. The leaflets threatened violence if Israel did not pull out of Gaza. [105]

In August 2014 there were two incidents in Los Angeles and Chicago where leaflets from the Nazi era in Germany got resurrected. In Westwood, near the UCLA a Jewish store owner got swastika-marked leaflets contained threatens and warnings. [106] A few days earlier, during a pro-Palestinian rally in Chicago, antisemitic leaflets were handed out to passersby. Those leaflets were exactly the same Nazi propaganda used in 1930's Germany. [107] Besides the above, there were more than six [108] incidents of graffiti and vandalism aimed at the Jewish populations in various cities in the United States. Some of the graffiti compared Israel to Nazi Germany. [109] There was also an antisemitic attack on four Orthodox Jewish teens in Borough Park, Brooklyn towards the mid-month. [110] Another physical attack occurred in Philadelphia, when a Jewish student on the campus of Temple University was assaulted and punched in the face by a violent member of the anti-Israel organization SJP. [89]

In the beginning of September 2014 there were more than 6 incidents of antisemitic graffiti across the country, [111] three of them outside religious buildings such as a synagogue or Yeshiva. [112] Most of the drawings included swastika inscriptions, and one of them had the words "Murder the Jew tenant". [113] Later that month another antisemitic graffiti was found on the Jewish Community Center in Boulder, Colorado. [114] Then, a few days later a violent attack occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, when during Rosh Hashanah a man who drove near the Jewish school shot three man after shouting "Jews, Jews, Jews". [115]

Towards the end of the month a rabbi was thrown out of a Greek restaurant when the owner found out he was Jewish. Moreover, the owner suggested him a "full size salad" or "Jewish size salad" which according to him meant "cheap and small". [116] Besides the above, Robert Ransdell, a write-in candidate for US Senate from Kentucky used the slogan "With Jews we lose" for his running. [117] Another incident occurred in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, when a Jewish student was told "to go burn in an oven." The student had also told the media she is "hunted" because of her support in Israel: "I have been called a terrorist, baby killer, woman killer, [told that] I use blood to make matzah and other foods, Christ killer, occupier, and much more." [72]

October 2014 started with an antisemitic slur from a coffee shop owner in Bushwick who wrote on Facebook and Twitter that "greedy infiltrators" Jewish people came to buy a house near his business. [118] Later that month, two synagogues were desecrated in Akron, Ohio and in Spokane, Washington. One of them was sprayed with swastika graffiti [119] and the other one was damaged by vandalism. [120] During the month there was also a physical attack, when the head of a Hebrew association was beaten outside Barclays Center after a Nets-Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game. The attacker was a participant in a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the hall. [121] During another incident in October, fliers were handed out in the University of California in Santa Barbara that claimed "9/11 Was an Outside Job" with a large blue Star of David. The fliers contained links to several websites that accusing Israel of the attack. [73] A few days later an antisemitic graffiti was found on Jewish fraternity house in Emory University in Atlanta. [74]

During December 2014 a Jewish Israeli young man was stabbed in his neck while standing outside of the Chabad-Lubavitch building in New York City. [122] Another antisemitic incident in New York occurred when a threatening photo was sent to a Hasidic lawmaker. The photo showed his head pasted on the body of a person beheaded by the Islamic State jihadist group. [123] Besides those incidents, several antisemitic graffiti found across the country, [124] and a couple of synagogues were vandalized in Chicago [125] and in Ocala, Florida. [126]

The C.E.O. Who Called Trump a Racist (and Sold a Lot of Spice Mix)

A week after Donald Trump was elected the forty-fifth President of the United States, Bill Penzey sent an e-mail to a few thousand people. “The open embrace of racism by the Republican Party in this election is now unleashing a wave of ugliness unseen in this country for decades,” he wrote. “The American people are taking notice. Let’s commit to giving the people a better choice.” The recipients weren’t friends or colleagues or the fellow-members of an activist group. They were customers—subscribers to the mailing list of Penzey’s Wisconsin-based company, Penzeys Spices, which, with an online store and sixty-five retail locations, is America’s largest independent spice retailer. At the end of the message, he mentioned the company’s Thanksgiving specials, including a gift box of four mini-jars of spices for ten dollars.

Penzey, a bespectacled, rosy-cheeked man in his middle years, founded his namesake company in the late eighties as a mail-order business. Almost from the start, he used the brand’s official communiques as a megaphone, devoting the first and last pages of his catalog to personal notes and op-eds. Over the years, Penzey expressed his dismay at, among other things, urban white flight, low teacher pay, and the use of Native American iconography in sports. With the advent of social media, he expanded his platform to include the e-mail newsletter and a company Facebook page. And with the election of Trump, he found an issue that nearly everyone took personally.

Penzey’s post-election statements—including a follow-up e-mail telling Trump supporters, “You just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America”—went viral, earning coverage everywhere from USA Today to Fox News. It won praise from Web sites like DailyKos and Upworthy, and intense derision from members of the right-wing news media. The pundit Michelle Malkin tweeted the American Conservative’s take, with a caption claiming that Penzey had gone “full moonbat,” while David Clarke, who was at the time the Milwaukee County sheriff, tweeted his opinion that Penzey was a “typical hate-filled white elitist lefty.” A conservative food blogger declared his intent to boycott the company, going so far as to mock up a satirical jar of “Socialist Sea Salt.” Almost overnight, the bleeding-heart spice magnate became a bannerman of the #resistance and an icon of activist capitalism.

In the business world, conventional wisdom holds that controversial political opinions should be kept as far away from products as possible. You never know who among your customer base (or your potential customer base) will be wildly turned off by whatever you have to say, and you don’t want money walking out the door. The result is a sea of milquetoast advertisements, with brands fastening their identities to anodyne, dream-journal abstractions like “community” and “craftsmanship,” urging their fans and acolytes to “be more” or “dream bigger” or, in Pepsi’s case, to “join the conversation.”

Penzey wasn’t the first C.E.O. to speak out against Trump or to use his position to advocate for progressive values. But he was quite possibly the first to publicly call Trump’s election an “embrace of racism,” and he was definitely the first to do so while hawking a free bottle of Quebec Seasonings with any five-dollar purchase. In a letter addressed to “America’s CEOs” posted to his Facebook page that December, Penzey wrote that, in the two weeks following his post-election e-mail, the “right wing firestorm” cost the company three per cent of its customers—but that online sales rose nearly sixty per cent in the same period, and gift-box sales increased by more than double that. He urged other business owners to follow his lead: “If, as a company, you have values, now is the time to share them. You may well lose a chunk of your AM radio-listening customers, but if you really are honest and sincere, don’t be surprised to see your promotions suddenly, finally, find active engagement with the Millennial generation.”

For customers who preferred their cardamom pods without a side of flaming liberal politics, another spice company awaited with open arms. A few days after Penzey’s e-mails exploded onto the national stage, the Spice House, another Wisconsin-based retailer, posted a message on its own Facebook page. “My husband and I are very careful to never bring politics or personal opinions into our spice company, they have no business there,” Patty Erd, who owns the Spice House with her husband, Tom, wrote. Never mind that the spice trade itself is one of the most intensely political industries in history, or that “staying out of politics” is, of course, its own kind of political statement. “Heck, I would not even want to get into a subjective debate over which cinnamon is the best!” Erd wrote. It may have been mere coincidence that she chose to single out cinnamon only days after the meticulous kitchen testers at Cook’s Illustrated had named Penzeys Spices’ Vietnamese varietal their pick for the best on the market, praising its “big, spicy flavor” and high percentage of volatile aromatic compounds. It was not, however, a coincidence that Erd felt the need to distance her business from Penzey’s: the two of them are siblings.

Patty and Bill are second-generation spice mavens. In 1957, their parents opened a coffee and tea store in their home town of Wauwatosa, which eventually became known as the Spice House. Bill Penzey, Sr., was a philosopher and storyteller who liked to put his customers to work grinding spices as he off-handedly lectured about the lore and history of the spice trade. Bill, Jr., spun off his own namesake spice company in 1986 Erd and her husband, Tom, took over her parents’ business in 1992. The two companies have not always coexisted peacefully: a Crain’s story from 2009 described a “palpable” tension between brother and sister. But, in the wake of Trump’s election, the sibling rivalry became a fundamental matter of business philosophy. Shortly after the Spice House distanced itself from Penzeys, Erd and her husband began reaching out to conservative bloggers, sharing a special offer for anyone in need of a new spice purveyor: free shipping to those who used the promotional code NOPOLITICS.

In the past year, Penzey has used his business as a platform to deliver missives about America’s culture of mass shootings, used Pi Day as an opportunity to talk about truth in science, and hailed the Democratic victory in the special Senate election in Alabama. He introduced Tsardust Memories, a “ripped-from-the-headlines” Russian spice blend (including cinnamon, nutmeg, and marjoram), and put together a spice rainbow (red cayenne, orange curry powder, etc.) to celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. On July 6, 2017, two years after Trump kicked off his Presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants to the United States “a tremendous infectious disease,” Penzey announced that the company would be doing a no-strings-attached giveaway of Mexican vanilla extract, writing, “Today, on this anniversary, it seems a good day to apologize to the people of Mexico and Latin America.” That post, and a follow-up a week later reporting on the success of the special, generated such a flood of business that the company suspended its regularly planned promotions to focus on replenishing inventory.

Penzey isn’t shy about how his politics have continued to benefit his business’s bottom line. “This is the future,” he told his home-town paper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, in February of last year. “I think if you don’t care about your customers and what they care about, in a world of social media, no one’s going to talk about you.” Recent studies show that today’s consumers feel more allegiance to companies that take a position—any position—on major political issues, and that those pesky millennials are going out of their way to support companies led by figures who take left-leaning, progressive positions. In other words, Penzey is a savvy salesman who’s figured out how to capitalize on the political outrage of the Trump era and social media’s way of amplifying it—which might seem cynical if his political outrage weren’t so obviously real. When I wrote asking for an interview last month, he responded with one of the great rejection letters of my career, a long e-mail in which he assailed the food media, critiqued my past reporting, and suggested that I skip this story altogether and instead focus on the food industry’s sexual-harassment problem. “If you ever have a spare year, spend a lot of time with old food magazines through the decades,” he wrote. “Before advertising and marketing took control there really were some amazing publications.”

  • Joseph Borgen, 29, was heading to a pro-Israel rally Thursday when he was assaulted by a gang of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Times Square
  • The Jewish accountant, who lives on the Upper East Side, said he had been wearing a kippa when a man with a black bandana started chasing him
  • 'The next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to physically attack me,' he told on Friday
  • Video of the assault showed Borgen was left defenseless as he was kicked, punched, and beaten with crutches and flag poles by a mob of eight to 10 people
  • Borgen recalled hearing them shout, 'You filthy Jew', 'We're going to f*****g kill you', 'Go back to Israel' and 'Hamas is going to kill you,' as he lay on the ground
  • 'After I wound up on the ground, I was literally just in a fetal position, trying to guard my head and face, literally just trying to make it out of their alive,' he said
  • Borgen was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated for injuries he sustained all over his body and chemical irritation from being maced in the face
  • NYPD on Friday identified 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh as the suspect who seen using a crutch to beat Borgen. He has been charged with hate crimes

Published: 23:00 BST, 21 May 2021 | Updated: 18:40 BST, 26 May 2021

A Jewish man heading to a pro-Israel rally says he thought he was going to die after a gang of pro-Palestinian demonstrators assaulted him in Midtown Manhattan, punching him to the pavement and then pummeling him while he was down while yelling anti-Semitic epithets.

Joseph Borgen, 29, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, was wearing a grey kippa and walking toward Times Square around 6:30pm Thursday when a young man with a black bandana started chasing him.

'I turned around to try to figure out what was going on and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to physically attack me, beat me, kick me, punch me, hit me with crutches, hit me with flag poles,' he told Friday afternoon from his apartment after being released from Bellevue Hospital.

Joseph Borgen, 29, spoke to one day after he was left bruised and battered by a group of pro-Palestinian men in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday

The Jewish man, who lives in the Upper East Side, had been wearing a kippa as he headed to a pro-Israel rally when he was suddenly targeted by the group who kicked, punched, and beat him with crutches and flag poles on the street. Pictured: Borgen's bruised and battered face

On Friday, the NYPD identified 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh as one of the suspects in the attack

'I don't even want to look in the mirror,' said Borgen, his face and body bruised, and head throbbing from a possible concussion.

Video of the assault showed Borgen was left defenseless on the ground as he was battered by the angry mob outside of 1604 Broadway.

'After I wound up on the ground, I was literally just in a fetal position, trying to guard my head and face, literally just trying to make it out of their alive,' Borgen said.

'I thought I was going to die. I thought I was really going to die.'

Borgen said there were eight to 10 people taking part in the beatdown and they were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as: 'You filthy Jew. We're going to f*****g kill you. Go back to Israel. Hamas is going to kill you.'

He said the most painful part occurred toward the end, when they pepper sprayed him.

'I thought I was getting urinated on because I felt a stream on my face. 'They maced me or pepper sprayed me for like a minute straight.

Video of the assault showed Borgen was left defenseless as he was kicked, punched, and beaten with crutches and flag poles by a mob of eight to 10 people

Borgen recalled lying on the ground in a fetal position, 'trying to guard my head and face, literally just trying to make it out of their alive'

Awawdah, of Brooklyn, is charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon

'My whole face was on fire. I couldn't see. In the hospital, they literally had to drain out my eyes. My skin's still on fire in certain places,' he added.

The NYPD on Friday announced one of the alleged suspects has been taken into custody, and up to six others are being sought.

The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh, of Brooklyn, who was arrested last night.

Exclusive photos show Awawdeh wearing a black t-shirt with 'Palestine' emblazoned on the front, as he was led out of the 5th Precinct in handcuffs on Friday.

Awawdeh is charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.

He's being held at Central Booking downtown.

Borgen said the ruthless beatdown finally came to an end when police officers showed up and dispersed the crowd.

'It could have been worse. If you've seen the video, especially, it could have been much worse,' he added.

Borgen, pictured in the hospital, said the most painful part occurred toward the end of the beatdown, when he was pepper sprayed

Borgen, an accountant, recalled hearing his attackers call him a 'filthy Jew' and say 'Hamas is going to kill you' as they pummeled him

He said he was expecting it be a peaceful demonstration as he headed to midtown, where friends were gathering for a rally to support Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

Violent clashes have erupted between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the city over the last week as tensions in the Middle East flared.

On Thursday, two fireworks were thrown into a crowd near Times Square, leaving a 55-year-old woman injured just hours after a cease-fire was declared between Israel and Gaza militants.

'I was going there to show my support, show my pride in Israel, let them know we have their back even though we're 6,000 miles away,' Borgen said.

He said there were no real problems last week when he joined a similar demonstration.

Exclusive photos show Awawdeh wearing a black t-shirt with 'Palestine' emblazoned on the front, as he was led out of the 5th Precinct in handcuffs on Friday

Wassem Awawdeh is walked out of the 5th Precinct and into Central Booking for the attack on a Jewish Man during a Palestinian/Israeli Protest on 47th Street in Manhattan

He believes the mere fact he was wearing a kippa triggered a mob to attack him.

Besides the actual culprits, he blamed 'certain politicians' for creating an atmosphere that encourages such attacks, citing US Rep. Ilham Omar's tweet accusing Israel of committing an 'act of terrorism' as an example.

'They feel like they can get away with more because they have politicians backing them up,' Borgen said.

'Some of the things I see in the news and on social media, it's just sickening to me'

'I would never think I'd ever have to worry about my religion or my skin color or my ethnicity being a problem in New York city,' he continued.

'Beyond just the Jewish perspective, the amount of hate that's going on these days is really just mind blowing to me.

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Stateside Opens Today and Replaces The Coffee Shop, That Posted Anti-Semitic Rant

Remember in October 2014 when The Coffee Shop posted anti-Semitic rants on their Instagram account? We sure do. The Coffee Shop has since closed after boycotts from the Bushwick neighborhood and really, really bad Yelp reviews. So, what happened with the space previously occupied by The Coffee Shop on 203 Wilson Avenue? Meet Pierre Guiterrez and Emma-Jean Taylor, the dynamic duo from Stateside — Bushwick’s newest coffee shop slated to open today, on April 22.

Pierre and Emma-Jean are close friends who both share passions for entrepreneurship, food and coffee. After a brief four months spent living in New Orleans, Emma-Jean returned back to her hometown of New York City in December 2014 and discussed with Pierre the idea to open a coffee shop. Queens native Pierre has an entrepreneurial spirit and previously managed an art gallery. Partnering with Emma-Jean on this project was a natural fit because she has past experience working in her mother’s bakeries and in the coffee industry.

When Emma-Jean and Pierre decided to turn their coffee shop dream into a reality, they found the perfect location within two weeks of Emma-Jean’s move back to the city. “It was like the previous owner just dropped everything and left. We loved the space and even got really lucky because the espresso machine was still there,” stated Pierre.

One of the Yelpers wrote in his review of the former coffee shop: “By supporting this business you are supporting hate. Please hold off going here until he closes and the next place moves in to replace him.” It is important to note that Bushwick residents Pierre and Emma-Jean are completely unaffiliated with the previous owner and aren’t worried about Stateside occupying The Coffee Shop’s former space. “We have a totally different style and we think people are smarter than that. We don’t want to be treated unfairly for someone else’s wrong-doing,” states Pierre. We are certainly wishing Stateside much better luck in this location.

Stateside is a quaint coffee shop that has a comforting, homey feel. The decor is inspired by the post World War II revitalized “American Dream.” Soldiers referred to the United States during WWII as “stateside” because it reminded them to remain hopeful that they would be returning home soon.

Pierre’s grandfather, Fred Stein fled Germany during World War II and moved to New York City. Fred was a photographer and captured inspiring images of people and places in NYC from 1946 to 1949. These old, heart-warming photographs of American pride and dreams decorate the exposed brick wall inside of the cozy Stateside coffee shop. The red and white checkered curtains and chair cushions are also a nice touch.

Stateside values the local community and has selected to brew coffee roasted by Brooklyn’s Variety Coffee Roasters. Stateside is reasonably priced with a small drip coffee for $2.00 to the most expensive coffee on the menu, a large mocha for $5.50. Eight Harney & Son’s teas ($2.75) will also be available like peppermint, hot cinnamon spice, chamomile and more. Milk options include whole, soy, almond and 2-percent.

Stateside will offer a few food options including pastries, croissants and danishes from New York City’s Balthazar Bakery. Demi-ficelle sandwiches will be available for those with a heartier appetite. The three sandwich options are simple, yet delicious: butter with prosciutto, butter with jam, and vegetable cream cheese with cucumber. Vegan options from Brooklyn’s Champs Diner will also be offered.

Stateside is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Patrons are encouraged to use Stateside’s free WiFi, and good news — there are lots of outlets! So, grab a coffee, pull up a chair and linger a while at Bushwick’s newest coffee shop, Stateside.

Follow Stateside’s Instagram for more details about their grand opening celebration, which will be in early May.

Sweatpants Forever: How the Fashion Industry Collapsed

It’s difficult, in retrospect, to pinpoint when exactly panic about coronavirus took hold in the United States, but March 12 stands out. Stores ran out of canned goods. Streets emptied of cars. Tom Hanks had just tested positive for the virus. That evening, Scott Sternberg, a fashion designer, was lying awake at home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, thinking about Entireworld, a line of basics he founded two years earlier. Would people still buy clothes? How much cash did he have to keep going? When would he have to lay people off? “My Band of Outsiders battle scars just opened wide,” he said.

Band of Outsiders was Sternberg’s previous company. He founded it in 2004 as a line of slim shirts and ties. (Remember the skinny-tie boom? That was Sternberg.) Eventually it grew into full men’s and women’s collections that won over the fashion world with self-consciously preppy clothes. Sternberg took home two Council of Fashion Designers of America (C.F.D.A.) awards, the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars. He posed for photos with Kanye West. Michelle Obama wore one of his dresses. He opened stores in Tokyo and New York. Then, in 2015, to everyone’s surprise, Sternberg announced that Band was going out of business. An investment with some Belgians had gone bad, but that didn’t feel like the whole story. Sternberg knew the whole story. Every choice he made at Entireworld was to prevent it from happening again. Now a global pandemic had hit. He couldn’t foresee that. No one did.

Unlike other designers, Sternberg studied not design but economics, a major he chose in part because the year he entered Washington University in St. Louis, the economist Douglass North, a professor there, won a Nobel Prize. Sternberg graduated summa cum laude. His senior thesis was about the economics of actors in Hollywood, which is how he wound up in Los Angeles in the first place. This is all to say that Sternberg knew what uncertainty does to consumer behavior.

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“What was going through my head was: Man, I don’t know how big businesses are going to deal with this,” he said. “But for a small business this is enough to take all of us out” — he snapped his fingers — “in one shot.”

As it happened, it was the giants who would fall first. Over the next few months, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy. Gap Inc. couldn’t pay rent on its 2,785 North American stores. By July, Diane von Furstenberg announced she would lay off 300 employees and close 18 of her 19 stores. The impending damage to small businesses was inconceivable.

The next morning, a Friday, Sternberg drove to Entireworld’s offices in Koreatown. He sat down at his desk and began drafting an email: “Wow. I mean, WTF.”

He didn’t run the email by his staff. There was no meeting about it. He just sat down and wrote it.

“Am I sick already? Can I leave my house? What do I tell my employees? Will my mom be OK on her flight home today? Can Zod” — Sternberg’s dog — “get coronavirus? Did I buy enough T.P.? How long will this last? Who’s in charge? What’s next?”

The email went out to the brand’s 30,000 subscribers on Sunday, March 15. It was, in a sea of daily promotional emails, a distinctly human one. But this was still a promotion: for a sweatsuit, the brand’s top seller, a “hero item” in industry speak. Inspired by a French children’s film, Entireworld’s sweatsuits come in a prism of cheery colors and, in Sternberg’s vision, “sort of make you look like a cross between a Teletubbie, Ben Stiller in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ and a J.C. Penney ad from 1979.”

It wasn’t long before Sternberg’s employees began texting him happy-face emoji. On an average day, the brand — still in its nascent stage — sells 46 sweats. That day they sold more than 1,000. When they ran out of sweatsuits, shoppers moved through the T-shirts, socks and underwear. By month’s end, the brand’s sales were up 662 percent over March the previous year.

The day we met, April 24, was the highest-grossing day in the company’s history. A new shipment came in that morning and promptly sold out again. Entireworld had now grossed more in two months than in its entire first year in business.

By “met,” I mean that we were in Sternberg’s backyard in chairs positioned 20 feet apart, with a setup of disinfectant wipes between us. At this point, Sternberg hadn’t been leaving the house much, instead subsisting on deliveries from BlueApron, the meal-kit service, and rationing the ingredients into multiple meals. Entireworld’s managing director, Jordan Schiff — formerly of Dov Charney’s American Apparel, whose heyday Sternberg’s line openly pays homage to — had just come down with Covid-19. But he was still tracking the numbers. Just a few days before, Schiff reported that the company had sold out of 600 pairs of lavender women’s socks.

Sternberg was in a good mood. This was obviously not just because of an email. Nor was it simply because America had settled into sweatpants for the foreseeable future. He’d been laying down this groundwork since Band of Outsiders imploded. Entireworld wasn’t a departure in name only, suggesting as it does the opposite of the in crowd. It was also Sternberg’s rejection of the traditional fashion system, the one that once vaulted him to success. No more fashion shows, no more seasonal collections, no more wholesale accounts that had become unreliable (R.I.P. Barneys) or the markups required to pay for it all. (Band’s shirts started at $220 Entireworld’s are $95.)

For years, Sternberg had been saying that the fashion industry was a giant bubble heading toward collapse. Now the pandemic was just speeding up the inevitable. In fact, it had already begun. An incredible surplus of clothing was presently sitting in warehouses and in stores, some of which might never reopen. “That whole channel is dead,” Sternberg said. “And there’s no sign of when it’s turning on again.”

In April, clothing sales fell 79 percent in the United States, the largest dive on record. Purchases of sweatpants, though, were up 80 percent. Entireworld was like the rare life form that survives the apocalypse. By betting that the luxury market would fail, Sternberg had evaded the very forces that were bringing down the rest of the industry. “Because you could see the writing on the wall,” he said. “The Neimans writing on the wall, the Barneys. . Listen, Barneys? That was not a shock to anyone.”

If there’s one image that I will remember from the last days of the fashion industry as it has existed for the last two decades, it’s Marc Jacobs streaming live from the Mercer Hotel in New York in pearls and perfect makeup. The broadcast ran to 75 minutes in length over two different virtual events. It began on April 15, with Vogue’s Global Conversations, a series the magazine introduced to figure out how to fix the fashion industry, and continued a month later, on May 15, with Business of Fashion, the industry’s go-to news website.

“I’m in the process of grief right now,” Jacobs told Vogue.

Why are you grieving, Marc? the moderator asked.

“Why? Because this is all very sad.”

Then, later: How are you going to present your spring/summer '21 collection?

“I’m not sure there will be a spring/summer ’21 collection.”

‘This has been a very difficult business to be in for a long time, I think.’

Jacobs had come to see his fall 2020 show as a kind of farewell. “I’ve said this to my psychiatrist, my lovely Dr. Richardson,” he told Business of Fashion, after taking a long drag from his vape pen, “that I would be very happy if that were my last show.” That collection would never be produced. Buyers couldn’t place orders, and even if they had, factories were shut down. Jacobs said he had to lay off “a bunch of people” and ask others to take pay cuts. Not that this began with the pandemic. Since 2013, Jacobs’s business had shrunk from 250 stores to just four. Speaking to Vogue, he said, “This has been a very difficult business to be in for a long time, I think.”

Things looked different in 2005. I’m choosing that year somewhat subjectively, because that’s when I started as an intern at Women’s Wear Daily. It was a thrilling time in American fashion. A new guard of young designers had just entered the scene, displacing the stars of the 1980s and ’90s (Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, et al.) and re-energizing the runways. Interns don’t see much, but occasionally fashion week invites trickle down. My first show was Zac Posen, in something like Row 8. My second was Proenza Schouler. Those designers, along with Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone, Rodarte, Jason Wu and later Joseph Altuzarra, seemed to grow into global brands overnight, with the help of store buyers and fashion editors eager to usher in a post 9/11 generation of American talent.

Band of Outsiders was part of that. Sternberg was 29 when he started the brand in 2004. Like the Rodarte sisters, who had no formal training and lived with their parents in Pasadena, Calif., Sternberg, a former agent at Creative Artists Agency designing a line in what was then a fashion desert, was an outsider instantly embraced. Within months he had a full-page photo of his ties in GQ and was picked up by Barneys. “We were next to Dries, Balenciaga, Prada,” he said. “And ‘we’ were . me, making shirts and ties in L.A.”

Along with brands like Thom Browne, Band joined the wave of the nerdy-preppy resurgence — shrunken blazers, polos, boat shoes — or what Sternberg called “preppy clothes about preppy clothes.” Once he expanded into women’s wear, the brand grew into a $15 million wholesale business, sold in 250 stores worldwide. “It wasn’t by the end all that good for us, obviously, because we weren’t building a sound business,” Sternberg said. “But it’s pretty incredible the power of what that global fashion system could do.”

When Sternberg says “global fashion system,” he’s referring to the ecosystem of designers, fashion media and stores that puts us all in clothes. Fashion week is where those entities meet. The reason spring collections are shown in the fall (and vice versa) is so they can be ordered, reviewed and produced in time for the actual season. As with most things, this system was upended by the internet. Once normal people could view collections online — which, confusingly, they couldn’t buy until six months later — everything began to accelerate. Now stores needed deliveries earlier to fill demand, and two deliveries simply weren’t enough. Suddenly midseason collections — mainly, pre-fall and resort (also known as cruise) — became the norm, even for smaller designers whose customers were not necessarily among the small subset of people who jet off to Capri or St.-Tropez for the winter months.

So designers went from making two collections a year to four. If you had a men’s line, maybe it was actually six, and if you were Dior or Givenchy, you were also doing couture. As fashion shows had grown into huge marketing events because Rihanna or Anne Hathaway or whoever was sitting in the front row, each of those collections was also a show. Somehow this was all still going pretty well. Consumers were consuming, store buyers were buying more and designers produced more and faster. Business boomed. And everyone just kept growing.

If there was a turning point, it might have been fall 2008. That year, New York Fashion Week drew an estimated 232,000 attendees and generated $466 million in visitor spending. Three days after it ended in September, the economy collapsed. The luxury market was already oversaturated, and now there was no one to buy the stuff. Stores panicked and marked everything down early. But then they did it again the next year, and the year after that, relying on markdowns to generate revenue and training consumers to shop on sale. So now you had summer dresses arriving in January and being discounted before the weather would even allow you to wear them.

The fashion cycle stopped making sense. Despite dwindling budgets, thousands of people were still flying all over the world every two months for the shows. Designers started to crack under the pace, most notably John Galliano, who attributed his 2011 anti-Semitic rant (and subsequent firing from Dior) to work-related stress. And the clothes themselves got kind of weird. The sped-up calendar gave birth to “seasonless dressing,” a trend of Frankenstein clothing items: toeless boots, sleeveless coats — you get it. When you’re delivering fall in July, it’s really not about the weather anymore.

This might have been the time to rethink things. Instead, everyone doubled down and made more stuff.

As online retailers like Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion gained traction, and everything was suddenly sold everywhere, department stores looked for new ways to draw customers. Enter “novelty,” a term for the sometimes-literal bells and whistles that buyers increasingly asked designers to add to collections in order to entice straying customers like cats. If in the last decade you’ve gone looking for a simple cashmere sweater and instead encountered ones with zippers, giant animal faces, glitter shoulders or “distressed” anything — that’s novelty. If you found yourself annoyed, you were not alone. “That was so we could sell to Saks, Neiman, Barneys, Nordstrom, Colette, and everybody could have their own special thing,” Sternberg recalled. “I was basically making stuff I didn’t like because I thought a buyer wanted it, not even the customer.”

‘I was basically making stuff I didn’t like because I thought a buyer wanted it, not even the customer.’

It used to be that stores attracted shoppers with the promise of an exclusively carried designer. Once designers could no longer afford to remain exclusive to a certain store, the compromise was exclusive styles. In addition to a presented collection, buyers requested slightly altered looks — lengthen a hem here, add a sleeve there, take the print from that dress and make it into pants — that could then be exclusive to their customers. This is still going on. “The amount of work you do for exclusives is out of control,” Batsheva Hay, a former litigator who started her namesake line of off-kilter prairie dresses in 2016, told me. “ ‘I want this, can you make this with a little this. . ’ Some of it is because they think it might sell, but some is just so they can say it’s exclusive.”

Molly Nutter, a former V.P. for merchandising at Barneys, worked for the department store for 19 years. “The system has been broken for a long time,” said Nutter, who is now the president of ByGeorge, a specialty store in Austin, Texas. “There was a lot of pressure on designers to produce more collections, and therefore more product. I would say it wasn’t a real demand by the customer I think it was just retailers trying to grab market share. They thought, If I can get more in, and earlier, then I can get more clients through my door. But with everyone doing this, it just compounds the problem. Then of course all of these stores end up with too much inventory, and this is where all of the promotional activity starts to take place. You’re basically putting luxury product out there and devaluing it almost right away. It was just this vicious cycle.”

This is what Jacobs would later be mourning in his hotel room. While everyone seemed eager to define fashion’s future, he was holding space for its present. He was lucid, candid, somehow smarter than everyone. (I was relieved when he declined to be interviewed for this article.)

“We’ve done everything to such excess that there is no consumer for all of it,” Jacobs told Vogue. “Everyone is exhausted by it. The designers are exhausted by it. The journalists are exhausted from following it.” He added, “When you’re just told to produce, to produce, to produce, it’s like having a gun to your head and saying, you know, Dance, monkey!”

In 2013, Sternberg sat down with the chief executive at Barneys at the time, Mark Lee, who Sternberg says overpromised how much inventory the department store would be able to sell. “Barneys promised us the world and never delivered on any of it,” Sternberg said. (Lee did not respond to requests for comment.) “And it was stupid of us to listen to them. But we trusted them. That was a complete killer. And you feel insecure, like, I need Barneys to be cool. And then there are these things called R.T.V.s.”

R.T.V. stands for “return to vendor,” which is what it sounds like: If a collection — the one that the store has asked you to pad out with novelty and exclusives — doesn’t sell, the retailer can return it and ask for its money back. According to Nutter, as stores struggled, the terms of this deal got worse. In some cases, stores asked designers to sell on consignment or to share costs if a certain percentage of the collection didn’t sell at full price. So let’s say a store decided to mark the collection down early: You now owed it for those losses. “Even as I’m telling you this,” Nutter said, “I’m like, Isn’t that crazy?”

It is. It is crazy. And here’s where it got even crazier: In order to protect exclusivity, stores had to commit to even larger buys, ordering more clothes than they could possibly sell. Then, when they couldn’t move the stuff, they’d return it. Thanks to the rise of fast fashion and the luxury market’s simultaneous attempt to keep up with its impossible pace, it all started to feel disposable. So detrimental was the cycle of overproduction and discounting to luxury goods that in 2018, Burberry, the British label, revealed that it had been burning — not metaphorically but literally: burning — $37 million of worth of merchandise per year to maintain “brand value.”

‘I was just a kid in a candy store, waiting for an adult to step into the room and rein it all in.’

In short, fashion seemed to slowly annihilate itself. Remember fashion week? While incurring all those losses, designers were still putting on shows roughly every three months, productions that ran hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Or millions, if you were Chanel.) The problem is that everyone who attended the shows and streamed them out via endless blurry Instagram videos was actively making the case for the demise of their jobs. Because if you’re there watching via the tiny screen on your phone while the real live show is happening feet away, why even go? “God bless fashion media,” Sternberg said. “They still have not caught up to the idea that everyone is seeing it at the same time.”

“It’s such a little scam, fashion week,” he continued. “I love doing shows, but you get caught up in it. And then you can’t stop. Because if you stop, they’re going to write about you stopping, and you’re going to look like a failure. Or the stores will stop buying your stuff, and you don’t really know why they’re buying your stuff, but they’re buying it. And you’re not relevant anymore if you’re not doing a show.”

Sternberg acknowledged that there were other factors that killed Band of Outsiders, chief among them his own inexperience in scaling a niche brand, but ultimately he was underfunded and overleveraged. The day he opened the store in SoHo — with a Momofuku Milk Bar attached — he knew it was over. Sternberg took a $2 million convertible loan from CLCC, a fashion fund backed by a Belgian shipping magnate, and defaulted six months later. The brand was collateral. (Band has since been reborn as a zombie version of itself, run by the Belgians.) In May 2015, he handed off passwords, keys and a storage locker in Pomona, Calif., with the brand’s archive and walked away. “But it wasn’t some big disaster,” he said. “Well . by the end it was a little bit of a disaster.”

Sternberg’s story was not unique among his peers. In Europe, luxury fashion conglomerates like LVMH and Kering paired young designers with experienced businesspeople. “In America, it was much more entrepreneurial,” Andrew Rosen, a founder of Theory and an early investor in Proenza and Rag & Bone, told me. “You had a lot of these incredibly talented young designers that frankly didn’t have the business partnership to go along with it.”

I asked Sternberg if he felt as if he’d lost the narrative. “To some extent, I didn’t lose the narrative, because I never had one,” he said. “I started making shirts and ties for men, and everybody loved them. Then I made men’s clothes for women, and everybody loved them. All these amazing stores and magazines were eating them up. I was just a kid in a candy store, waiting for an adult to step into the room and rein it all in.”

The adult never came. Proenza Schouler has gone through myriad investors, ending up with one that specializes in distressed assets. Last summer, Derek Lam shut down his high-end line. In November, Zac Posen went out of business the same week as Barneys, the store that once discovered him, followed closely by Opening Ceremony in January.

Consumers stopped having any need for fashionable clothing. Retailers scrambled to cancel and return orders. (Remember R.T.V.s?) Designers were unable to cover basic expenses like rent and payroll, let alone upcoming collections. Suddenly an industry that was already on the brink ground to a complete halt.

“It crystallized a lot of conversations that the fashion industry had been having for some time,” Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, told me when we spoke via Zoom in May. “For an industry that is meant to be about change, sometimes we take a long time to do just that, because it’s so big and there are so many moving parts. But now we were really forced into a moment when we had to reset and rethink.” (Full disclosure: I’ve written for Vogue.)

Later, I asked Wintour why so many designers of that generation were now struggling. “I think in general, we’ve created a system that is unrealistic and a strain for even the largest of brands,” she wrote in an email. “It could be that some younger designers were playing the same game and trying to keep up with the big brands rather than determining what’s best for them.”

In March, Vogue partnered with the C.F.D.A. to set up A Common Thread, a pandemic-relief initiative that has raised $4.9 million to date. By May, more than 1,000 companies had applied for aid. “I was truly saddened by the number,” Wintour said, adding: “I think it really is a time where we need to learn from what’s happened, almost about how fragile and on the edge we were all living. And that it wasn’t that solid.” Steven Kolb, the president of the C.F.D.A., was even more blunt. “I think there will be brands that don’t come out of this still a business,” he said.

How did we get here? This is a question I asked almost everyone.

“I think everybody would say it’s the other and not themselves,” Kolb told me.

“I don’t think you can blame one person, or one part of the industry,” Wintour said. “Certainly the media had something to do with it as everything went so instant through digital and the emphasis on what’s new.”

‘Certainly the media had something to do with it as everything went so instant through digital and the emphasis on what’s new.’

In May, I called Jeffrey Kalinsky, the retail pioneer who opened Jeffrey in New York’s meatpacking district in 1999, transforming the neighborhood into the retail zone it is today. Kalinsky was first in New York to sell Band of Outsiders. In 2005, his stores were acquired by Nordstrom, one of the department stores said to be well positioned to survive the pandemic. “I think all of us played a part,” Kalinsky said. “It was the stores and the customers and the brands and . all of us. I hate what’s happening in the world. But I think if there’s anything good that can come out of this, it’s the chance to look at ourselves.” Four days after we spoke, Nordstrom announced that it was closing Jeffrey.

Sternberg never intended to design a uniform for sheltering in place. After Band of Outsiders folded in 2015, he padded around his house for a few weeks and avoided the press. Then, he got an email from Gwyneth Paltrow. “I was so sad when Band closed,” she wrote. “It was a dark day for fashion. I’m not sure what you’re doing, where your head is at or if you have a noncompete, but I have an idea I’d love to run by you.”

Soon Sternberg had a job designing Paltrow’s clothing line for Goop, her wellness-and-lifestyle business. Meanwhile, he thought about what he might like to do next.

Sternberg surveyed the fashion scene and saw a lot of noise: the luxury minimalism of countless Celine copycats the maximalism of brands like Gucci the full gamut of streetwear, from Supreme to Vetements. He wanted to do something that felt like a palate cleanser. Sternberg took meetings with Target and Amazon fashion and pitched Superproduct, a line of well-designed basics that he hoped could be what the Gap once was. When neither went anywhere, he decided to do it on his own.

Entireworld was born in 2018 as a D.T.C. (direct-to-consumer) line, with no seasons, no shows, no novelty. “I wanted complete freedom from that,” he said. You probably know what D.T.C. is even without knowing it. Reformation, Everlane, Outdoor Voices, Warby Parker, Allbirds — all those sans-serif, venture capital-funded brands that have proliferated so much in the last decade that you’re probably wearing one of them right now. Have you ever bought clothes from an Instagram ad? That’s D.T.C. Entireworld is sort of post-D.T.C., which is to say that there is no Silicon Valley boardroom trying to solve a problem for you. It’s just Sternberg, a fashion-industry refugee, feeling his way through it.

“I’m incredibly business-minded,” Sternberg said. “But we’re design-driven. I come out of fashion. I’m not coming out of a PowerPoint deck.”

Most styles in his line are perennial. There are pleated trousers that are sort of the cooler version of what your ’80s dad might wear, and a “Giant Shirt” inspired by Ralph Lauren’s “Big Shirt” of the ’90s. The sweatsuit, made of fabric that Sternberg developed from scratch, feels like the sartorial version of a hug. Something about its combination of color, fabric and fit makes it feel OK to wear not only to bed but also out. (In January, I saw a woman in New York wearing it under a Burberry coat.) Unlike Band’s slim fit, most things by Entireworld are roomy and wide. Its slogan is “The stuff you live in.”

In recent years, the collapse of the fashion industry has pushed other runway designers, like Thakoon Panichgul and the shoe designer Tamara Mellon, to redefine themselves as D.T.C. companies. Those who haven’t are now being nudged in that direction. Take Batsheva Hay, for instance, who in April had more than half of her wholesale orders slashed and $100,000 owed to her by retailers. When I reached her, she was packaging web orders from a lake house in upstate New York and selling face masks via Instagram. She estimated that before the pandemic D.T.C. was about 10 percent of her business. “But now, it’s kind of all my business,” she said.

Emily Adams Bode, a men’s-wear designer who won a C.F.D.A. award last year, was until recently sold in 120 stores worldwide, with e-commerce accounting for less than 10 percent of her sales. In May, Bode was at her fiancé’s parents’ home in Canada, rushing to put her spring/summer collection online. “Stores that we’ve had in our Excel sheets on the probability of getting paid at 90 percent now call us and say they’re closing,” she told me. “We have to completely rely on our own selling, because at the end of the day, I don’t know how many stores are going to be able to carry the weight in another six months.” Last November, just as everyone declared that retail was dead, Bode opened her own brick-and-mortar store on the Lower East Side. The store, which is sort of the old-school version of D.T.C., ended up saving her. What she projected to sell in a month she started selling in a day. “I don’t think we’d be here without the store,” she said. Hay was also looking at store space just as the crisis began, and planned to again. “There’s going to be a ton of empty retail space,” she said, “I’m sure I can find an amazing deal.”

‘There will definitely be something, but nothing resembling fashion week as we knew it,’ Wintour told me.

The pandemic has also forced a correction of the calendar. With factories shut down and deliveries delayed, many of this year’s fall collections will, for the first time in a long while, actually arrive in season. Some in the industry have even talked about pushing the unseen and unsold 2020 collections to 2021 to avoid losses. “Which, by the way, is not a bad idea,” Sternberg said. “It’s what the clothing industry has over the food industry: In the food industry, the aged inventory rots.” The fascinating part is that in order to do that — to give that aged inventory value again — requires literally killing fashion, that nebulous deity that says something is “in” this year and not the next.

In May, two separate groups of designers banded together to put forth proposals on how to change the industry. Each essentially pushed for the same thing: later deliveries, delayed markdowns, fewer collections. “I think a lot of us are aligned on this idea that seasons have to go back to what they were,” Joseph Altuzarra, who signed both proposals, told me. The only person who didn’t think fashion had been moving too fast was the designer Virgil Abloh, even though he had to skip his own fashion show in Paris last September, reportedly because of exhaustion. (Abloh juggles his streetwear label, Off-White, with Louis Vuitton men’s wear, as well as collaborations with Nike, Ikea, Evian, Jimmy Choo and others.) “I work at the pace of my ideas, and those come often,” he told me. “The consumer today is a hyper being. I’m not one to say, Let’s go back to the old days when we had rotary phones or something.” He called revising the delivery schedule an “obvious fix, more so than a profound idea or anything.”

What does all of this mean for the shows?

“There will definitely be something, but nothing resembling fashion week as we knew it,” Wintour told me.

Abloh announced that he will no longer show on a seasonal schedule, or base his shows in one place. The Belgian designer Dries Van Noten will not show until 2021. Chanel premiered a virtual resort show the week that the George Floyd protests began and came off as mostly tone-deaf. Alessandro Michele, the Gucci designer, has reduced the number of shows from five to two, doing away with seasons and gender altogether. There has also been talk of virtual reality and films accompanied by fabric samples. In New York, the C.F.D.A. will still be the official scheduler of New York Fashion Week in September, though it’s unclear why mostly digital shows would have to be scheduled.

“I think fashion week is over,” Hay said. “I’m pretty sure it’s over forever.” If not the shows, then certainly the collective circus that travels from New York to London to Milan to Paris twice a year.

The more important question is whether people will buy clothes that aren’t sweatpants in the near future. Some are already designing with that uncertainty in mind. Altuzarra, who makes the opposite of homebody clothes, told me he was adding softer fabrics and more relaxed silhouettes to his spring ’21 collection. “Not necessarily like loungewear or athleisure,” he said. “But I think after spending months in sweatpants, people are going to want to feel comfortable.” Hay, meanwhile, was pivoting from party dresses to housedresses. “I’m just like, OK, we’re home more, but why does that have to be sweatpants?” she said. “Can it be a dress? A housedress is completely easy. You can throw it on, zip it off, whatever. Maybe I’m going too far imagining a future where we’re constantly in and out of quarantine, but businesswise, I’m sort of preparing for that.”

And if that’s the case, what happens to designers like Jacobs? When asked about online shopping, Jacobs told Business of Fashion: “I love to go to a shop. I like to see everything. I like to touch it. I like to try it on. I like to have a coffee. I like to have a bottle of water. I like to get dressed up.” He raised his eyebrows for emphasis. “But ordering online, in a pair of grubby sweats, is not my idea of living life.”

Incidentally, Jacobs’s fall 2020 show, in February, was among his very best. The clothes referenced a pre-internet New York while modern dancers charged at unsuspecting audience members seated at cafe tables in a way that now feels prescient. In 2008, Sternberg used to sneak into Jacobs’s shows at the Lexington Avenue Armory, as everyone did then. (“I’m a huge Marc Jacobs fan,” he told me.) That was the year that Santigold and M.I.A. played on every runway, and there was a magic to the way that the music, the stomping models and the fabric in motion gave fashion its heartbeat. The incredible talent of someone like Jacobs is that his clothes didn’t even have to be produced or worn to have influence. He’s all about starting a conversation that then threads its way through the system, eventually landing in a consumer’s hands via a perfume or an accessory, if at all. “So what happens to Marc?” Sternberg asked. “Where does he end up?”

He answered his own question. “I guess in the Mercer Hotel wearing pearls.”

In June, I stopped by Sternberg’s garage, where he keeps a personal archive of Band of Outsiders designs. There are crates labeled “turbs,” for the turbans he sent down the runway for fall 2013 — a collection inspired by Billie Holiday and Atari video games — and “SS12” for spring/summer 2012, which referenced Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” There are also polos from his “This is not a polo shirt” line fur jackets (before he got off fur) from the show that opened with mountain climbers rappelling from the ceiling and bandage skirts stitched out of suspenders. “I made that, yay me,” Sternberg said flatly. “This is some ugly print that Rashida Jones wore on ‘Good Morning America,’” he said. (Sternberg loves Jones it’s his own work he’s ambivalent about.) “What do you do with all this [expletive]? You don’t want to throw it out. Give it away? Should someone be wearing it? It’s not art, for God’s sake.”

Going through this stuff, Sternberg was a bit like a musician revisiting the hits he made before he got sober. He loves them, he really does, but the excess of it weighs on him — all those ideas that never became anything, all those materials, all that waste. Like the shoes: lace-up Manolo Blahniks and golf-cleat Oxfords and platforms with watch bands as straps, all developed just for the shows, at 30 pairs per show, and never even produced. “And it’s season after season,” he said. “It’s not like you’re making an iPhone, where you’re going to mass-produce it and then iterate on it.”

Last year, Sternberg let his C.F.D.A. membership lapse. He saw it as a largely New York Fashion Week-centric institution. “They don’t offer anything for what I’m doing,” he said. “They should be trying to figure out what all this is and how they could support it.” The C.F.D.A. subsequently reached out to Sternberg. “They were sort of like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I just said: ‘This is what I’m doing. What are you doing? When you’re in my zone, let’s talk.’” When I asked Kolb if the C.F.D.A. could do more to support D.T.C. companies, he said: “I think that’s a big question. That’s not an answer I have.” It was ultimately up to the board, he added. “But I know we have those conversations all the time.”

Whatever tensions there may be, everyone I spoke to praised Sternberg’s reinvention, in the way that fashion people praise things, which is to say with a tiny bit of shade. “Love Scott,” Anna Wintour said. “It seems very honest to me and very realistic. I understand not everyone can afford Marc Jacobs or Chanel.”

Kolb told me, “I think Scott is a brilliant marketer,” adding, “It works really well with a basics brand.” But he also credited him with anticipating this moment. “Whatever happened between him and the investors and however he got out of that maybe at the time was painful, but it enabled him to start over. I think brands that are in it now, it’s much harder to make that change.”

Even Virgil Abloh, the designer of Vuitton men’s wear, was excited when I brought up Sternberg’s name. “Oh, I loved Band of Outsiders!” he said. “My question is, where did he go?”

By June, U.S. clothing sales rebounded, but they were still down overall from the year before. Market analysts predicted that with infections soaring again and stimulus money running out, that uptick might be temporary. The anomalies have been mostly athleisure companies, like Lululemon, the purveyor of bougie leggings, whose shares have surged in recent months.

Entireworld is still tiny. But in its second year, Sternberg says its revenue is already eight times that of Band of Outsiders by the same point, and that’s while selling much more product ($15 underwear and socks, $32 tees, $88 sweatshirts). Despite the recent good sales, Sternberg has still had to scale back. In February, he expected to get a round of financing from investors in Korea, but then the virus hit there first, and that evaporated. The same week that the sweatsuits were selling out, he laid off three of his nine employees and cut styles he planned to add in the fall. Even before the pandemic, persuading investors to bet on clothing brands had become a drag. “This is the shmatte business,” he told me. “It’s no longer sexy. Investors want something disruptive. When they’re with their investor friends they want to say they invested in, like, flavored water or an operating system that changes the way we walk.”

Investors that do pump money into D.T.C. brands are after swift returns, pushing companies to grow big and fast in a way that’s unsustainable. One such casualty was Outdoor Voices, the athletic-apparel company that reportedly took in $60 million of venture-capital money and faltered in February, with its C.E.O. ousted and its valuation plummeting. After what happened to Band, the last thing Sternberg wants is to grow too fast for his own good. “Investors are only interested in, like: ‘Billion-dollar company! Unicorns!’” Sternberg said. Sternberg doesn’t want to be a unicorn. He just wants to be profitable by next year. “The second Band tried to grow, that’s when we stopped being profitable,” he said.

Sternberg wouldn’t remember this, but we met briefly a long time ago, when I covered his spring show in September 2008, mere weeks before the financial crash. He seemed different now — sort of softer around the edges, which also happens to be how he describes his new line. “I’m much lighter as a person,” he said. “I know that whatever I’m doing for work is not the end-all, be-all of my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t emotionally invest in all this and want it to thrive. But my identity and sense of self-worth isn’t tied to its success or failure. Would I like this to work? Sure. But is it going to ruin me? No.”

‘Is there a place for a $30 million brand that can self-sustain and be around year after year?’

The last week, Sternberg admitted, had been rough. Though Schiff, his managing director, had recovered from Covid-19, a billionaire seed investor informed Sternberg that he would not be investing any more money. “And it’s not like we haven’t hit our numbers,” Sternberg said. In a way, if it weren’t for the pandemic, this might have been the end of Entireworld. When the pandemic hit, he had maybe six weeks of runway left. The sales boom has extended that to at least the end of the summer. Still, he had to get more product up on the website, and for that, he had to pay his factories.

He found the whole thing depressing. Here he was, perhaps the only one in fashion who couldn’t sell merchandise fast enough in a pandemic, and no one was interested in investing. “It’s a slog,” Sternberg said. “It’s a constant series of disappointing conversations.”

He thought it was indicative of where the industry was now. Someone like Marc Jacobs would probably be OK, because he was backed by LVMH. But what would happen to the upstarts? If the wholesale model could no longer be relied on to fund young designers, and private equity and venture capitalists pushed them to expand so quickly that they inevitably imploded, was there any hope for brands to grow slowly and thoughtfully over time? If not, fashion might go the way of other industries, like film, in which there are the blockbusters and the tiny indies and nothing in between. “Band didn’t need to be a $100 million brand,” Sternberg said. “But is there a place for a $30 million brand that can self-sustain and be around year after year? Certainly not with big backers, because that’s not interesting to them. Wholesale used to be able to support that, but it also ultimately killed it.”

Fashion is, by definition, unpredictable. People buy clothes for illogical, emotional reasons. The challenge, as Sternberg saw it, was to build a brand that could be immune to trends and novelty and whatever dystopian disaster was coming next. “The trick with fashion is that we’re not selling toilet paper,” he said, “which of course during Covid, toilet-paper sales go up. But ultimately it will level out, because there’s only so many butts in the world. That hasn’t changed — people are just hoarding. Fashion is really different. You have to assume the cycle will change even if you’re doing commodity. And how will you keep up with that? How do you build a business that can sustain those fluctuations over time?”

That was his pitch, anyway. But so far, no one seemed to be listening. One investor suggested that maybe Sternberg should turn Entireworld into a TV show that would advertise the clothes. (Sternberg: “Sounds easy!”) Another told him, “Wow, it’s great that you’re doing well, but I’m actually looking into distressed assets now.” Instead of investing into a young business that was actually making money, the investor was looking to swoop in and pick off bigger brands that were now on the brink of bankruptcy. Reviving a corpse was easier than tending to a newborn. As this investor saw it, that, in the end, held the promise of a bigger payoff.

Irina Aleksander is a contributing writer for the magazine. Her last cover story was about Oliver Stone’s quest to make a biopic about Edward Snowden. Stephanie Gonot is a Los Angeles-based photographer and director known for her use of vivid colors and playful style.

Prop Styling: Machen Machen Studio

Margin photographs in order of appearance: Polaroids: Band of Outsiders Obama: Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press, via Shutterstock Furstenberg: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times Teletubbies: Handout, Stiller: RGR Collection/Alamy Charney: Ann Johansson for The New York Times Socks: Entireworld Marc Jacobs broadcast: Screen grab from YouTube Women's Wear Daily Runway, from left to right: Karl Prouse/Catwalking, via Getty Images, Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times, Erin Baiano for The New York Times Rodartes: Brinson+Banks for The New York Times Runway, from left to right: Firstview (2), Stefano Rellandini/Reuters Browne: Donna Ward/Getty Images Rihanna and Hathaway: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Galliano: Screen grab from YouTube Beckham boots: Raymond Hall/GC Images, via Getty Images Hay: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images Model in pink dress: Alexei Hay Rosen: Andy Lyons/Getty Images, for The New York Times Runway: JP Yim/Getty Images, Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Wintour: Screen grab from Zoom Panichgul: JP Yim/Getty Images Mellon: Andrew Toth/FilmMagic, via Getty Images Abloh: Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images Michele: Karwai Tang/Getty Images Altuzarra: Lars Niki/Getty Images Kolb: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images Jacobs waving: Raymond Hall/GC Images, via Getty Images.

Living with A Dysmorphic Disorder – What’s Going On and How to Cope?

I want to discuss image dysmorphia.

My distorted image makes it hard for others to give me proper advice. No matter how many times someone tells me that I am not the way I see myself, I still see a different person in the mirror.

My “friend” in the mirror sees all of my flaws. She also hides my clear image. I literally can’t see my real self unless I give myself a side-eye. Then, my “friend” will quickly distort the picture before I can fully process what I just saw. It’s frustrating to know you can’t see yourself, but your own mind will not let you change your distortion.

Sometimes, I wonder if I can see any bit of the reality that others see. Sometimes, I wonder if they are wrong, and my truth is right. Sometimes, I just know I am right. Sometimes, I know I am wrong.

When I take photos of myself, I look at them in disgust. I see flaws in every part of my body and mind. This leads to thoughts of self-deprecation. When I question myself, my “friend” hisses to shut-up because I am the one that knows nothing. I am stupid. I sometimes ignore her, other times, I fight her, but most of the time, I cower away too afraid to lose another battle.

I can look in the mirror, and I can see many things that I hate about myself. My “friend” makes me believe that everyone can see what I see and hate me as much as I hate myself. I can unconsciously (thanks to my “friend”) seek out specific people who with 100% certainty will validate what she has been telling me. She can’t be wrong if other people believe it too. It is a cycle that is tricky to break.

No matter how much I protest or try to protect myself from her evil thoughts. She is there, waiting for me to be weak. She comes in like a savior but leaves me as a sinner. I hate her, but she is me, so I love her too. My self-image is split and shattered. I live with this for most of my life.

So, there are so many ways my story could have gone. My path is twisted and hilly. I still rely on her to tell me, “like it is” when I don’t know the answers. She always comforts me with her evil banter.

However, it has gotten better. I can stand my ground and have won a few battles. The war still rages, and my reality will forever be distorted, but I go on. With every battle won, I hope to be closer to my truth.

Here are some ways that help me win my battles.

Get Help / Seek Out Positive People

When you see yourself as an awful person, you attract people who think the same about you. Try to find a couple of good people in your life and be honest with them. Tell them that you are trying to conquer a demon and need a supportive friend. This can be difficult at the beginning because your judgment in others may be off. If you can afford it or have the resources, seek professional help. They will help you learn the tools and guide you into accurately finding the right type of people that you need to surround yourself to maintain a healthy environment.

Say at least 3 things you love about yourself.

Many people struggle with this and only focus on the negatives. Sometimes, you have to stand for 30 minutes before you can come up with something. However, this is what you need to do.

Look at yourself in a mirror.

I avoid mirrors as often as I can whenever I look in the mirror I just think negative thoughts. Now, I try to focus on other things apart from what my “friend” thinks. It helps me to stop thinking so negatively about myself.

Look at yourself as though you are someone else.

I’m the type of person who often sees the good in everyone. I can look at someone and instantly see good qualities about them. I realized that I had to see the good in me. I had to see the positives about myself even if that means looking at myself as though I am another person.

I can look at others and think how great they are as a person. It helps me to realize that people look and act differently. We are all beautiful and unique.

So, why can I be the same too?

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Comparing yourself to others, you first have to learn to love yourself. You have to see how you look genuinely. Sometimes, it is tough to do. Especially when I feel that person has everything, and I have nothing to show. I start to turn on the negative faucet and pour it all over myself.

When I catch myself doing this, I turn it off. I stop looking. I stop trying to understand why they are so “great.” I try to focus on myself and what makes me “great” or what “in” nature is beautiful at that moment. One of these two mental exercises does pull me out of my head.

So, these are some exercises to help me to learn to love myself. You will be able to say good things about yourself. That initial haze of feeling stupid and vain will start to fade out. This is just your “friend” trying to stop you from seeing your truth. You will begin to pick up the habit of counteracting some of your thoughts and distortions.

If you spend most of your time, your thoughts and your energy on your body shape and flawed mind, you won’t indeed be happy. It takes so much energy and time out of your life. You need to let go of the obsessive thoughts and learn to love yourself and to live life.

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