Twitter’s been particularly weird of late, what with the sudden arrival of ex-con O.J. Simpson (two days before the anniversary of his legendary highway chase, no less) and Bill Cosby sending Father’s Day thoughts from jail. So here’s some more Mad Libs social media news: John Cusack re-tweeted an anti-Semitic meme, deleted it, then said it was a mistake.
The meme in question finds a giant hand, tattooed with a Star of David, squishing a group of smaller people. Attached is a quote from Voltaire: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Cusack added his own brief commentary, writing the words, “Follow the money.” The actor also tagged a Bernie Sanders supporter with the handle @GottaBernNow. Sanders, of course, is Jewish.
Cusack quickly deleted it, then offered a vague, convoluted explanation.
“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,” the actor wrote.
Perhaps it was a simple mistake; Cusack is famously sloppy with grammar, spelling, and basic style issues, as one can plainly see. And yet maybe that’s not true either. Journalist Yasher Ali offered screengrabs that showed him repeatedly re-tweeting the meme and making pro-Palestine comments.
Ali wasn’t the only one not buying his explanation.
Others were baffled and/or disappointed.
And others are just exhausted.
Cusack later tried to clarify it more with a thread that begins here (although you’ll have to jump into his actual thread to read the rest since, as he put it, “I will don’t know how to make threads”), in which he said he retweeted the meme “in reaction to Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation.” He apologized, saying that the image “depicted a blue Star of David, which I associated with Israel as their flag uses the same color & shape.” He also said, “The use of the star, even if it depicts the state of Israel- committing human rights violations – when combined with anti Jewish tropes about power- is antisemitic & antisemitism has no place in any rational political dialoge [all sic].”
Cusack added that he’d “been digging in deeply to the complexities of the history of antisemitism and fascism for years,” then recommended people watch the 2002 film Max, in which he plays a Jewish friend of a young painter by the name of Adolf Hitler. He ended by trying to make lemons out of lemonade, saying that it could be “good to use my mistake to spread awareness” of fascism. Perhaps, but this definitely isn’t good for his publicist.