SAN ANTONIO – Jonathan Vick’s job at the Anti-Defamation League is to track and stop hate groups that spread their propaganda online, making it harder for those who peddle hate and easier for those who need help.
“In my mind, anyone who can justify victimizing or targeting any one group can turn that into an ability to target absolutely every group, and that's the kind of fight that we're fighting,” Vick said.
Vick and his team had been tracking online chatter and warned state officials of the violence to come before the torch march through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, which echoed anti-Jewish rallies in Nazi Germany.
“I wouldn't call it alarming. I'd call it incredibly disappointing and very sad,” Vick said. “What happened in Charlottesville pointed out that it could happen in relatively smaller communities, and that everybody at this point has experienced this sort of phenomenon in one way, shape or form.”
Founded in 1913 to stop discrimination against the Jewish people, the Anti-Defamation League’s stated goal is to secure justice and fair treatment for all people. The internet is its latest challenge, as it sometimes serves as a modern day megaphone for those spreading hate.
Vick and his team try to disrupt or even shut down hate groups, appealing to companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to take down hateful sites and posts.
“The reality is that most of them come to a real human civilized choice, and then that tends to be the issue that disrupts some of these groups rather significantly,” Vick said.
Vick said he has ways of dealing with hate on a daily basis.
“(I) spend time with family, engage in the community, talk to people, hear people, share my ideas and have a dialogue,” he said.
Vick jokes that fighting hate is kind of like a family business. His father-in-law was a Holocaust survivor and a Nazi hunter. He faced the world’s worst people toe to toe. However, Vick’s battles play out online, as the internet has become a place where many people spread hate.
“I feel we've made tremendous progress,” Vick said.
The Anti-Defamation League fights anti-Semitism groups, anti-Muslim groups, bigotry, racism, homophobia and other hate groups. It also helps people who are targets of hateful memes.