Actor John Cusack has been raked over the coals on Twitter after he blamed “a bot” for retweeting an allegedly antisemitic meme featuring a fake Voltaire quote and a large hand emblazoned with the star of David.
After briefly attempting to defend the meme, apparently thinking the arm was sporting the Israeli flag, Cusack deleted the tweet, claiming he thought he was retweeting a post about Palestinian justice and blaming “a bot” for leading him astray.
A bot got me- I thought I was endorsing a pro Palestinian justice retweet – of an earlier post – it came I think from a different source –
Shouldn’t Have retweeted –
— John Cusack (@johncusack) June 17, 2019
The text of his original tweet – “Follow the money” – wasn’t part of the meme, a point his critics were quick to point out. Many wanted to know precisely what kind of very specific bot could dupe someone into making such a post; others simply told him to stop digging before he made it to the center of the earth. “‘A bot got me’ is just as weak as ‘I was hacked,’” one user pointed out.
Cusack further complicated things with a tweet redefining “bot” as “an alt right account – same thing- not a person but an organized agenda.”
Many on Twitter were quick to “cancel” Cusack, writing him off as an irredeemable antisemite based on a single tweet – or rather, a single tweet and a series of increasingly bizarre apologies. Other critics focused on the fact that the quote in the meme, while usually attributed to Voltaire, actually originated with an obscure white supremacist named Kevin Strom. According to Wikipedia, at least.
The tweet quickly became not just “a threat to Jews,” but “a threat to American Democracy.”
This is open, violent anti-semitism in mainstream American life. This a threat to Jews of course, but also to American Democracy. A simple apology and pivot to Israel is not enough. You owe us a real apology and action to make amends @johncusackhttps://t.co/IzAcLa19I8
— Carly Pildis (@CarlyPildis) June 17, 2019
…and Cusack was unceremoniously lumped in with Mel Gibson, whose infamous antisemitic rant after he was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in 2006 went viral.
I see John Cusack is trending….turns out he went full Mel Gibson on twitter and blamed it on a “bot”.
RIP John Cusack’s dead career pic.twitter.com/nBDmN6Untf
— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) June 18, 2019
Some even used it as a springboard to suggest an antisemitic conspiracy…conspiracy, bringing up Ilhan Omar and others who have expressed pro-Palestinian views in the past.
Ilhan Omar. The New York Times. John Cusack. When “pro Palestinian justice” figures repeatedly share anti-Semitic materials, it ceases to be a coincidence. https://t.co/LnRlY9DxF2
— Dor Cohen (@dorcohen94) June 18, 2019
Others tried to speak up for Cusack, pointing out that he’d apologized and that anti-Zionism had nothing to do with antisemitism.
Cusack even tried to bring the attention back to his initial reason for tweeting – calling out Elizabeth Warren for supporting Israel’s bombing of Gaza schools in 2014 – to no avail.
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