According to Wikipedia, cultural marxism is a conspiracy theory that says that the Frankfurt School wants to destroy western culture by controlling the media, academia, etc., using as its method the advancement of gay rights, feminism, racial equality, etc.

It names as prominent proponents of the theory "paleoconservatives" such as William Lind, who linked the theory to Jews, as well as the so called alt-right and white supremacists.

This New York Times opinion piece says that antisemitism and cultural Marxism are "inseparable".

This is also the only definition and context that I have come across the issue. The theory uses antisemitic canards, and is always explicitly or implicitly linked to Jews (see eg this post on a neo-Nazi site which seems representative).

However, in a recent question of mine, another user questioned if the conspiracy theory of cultural marxism is indeed inherently tied to antisemitism. Have political scientists analyzed the origin and contemporary usage of the term in this regard?


That is just a comprehension problem.

This line from the question brings about the confusion:

This New York Times opinion piece says that antisemitism and cultural Marxism are "inseparable".

What that claim in question means is not that "cultural marxism" is connected to antisemitism via "Cultural marxists" being also antisemites.

It's the opposite. Those claiming that there is a dominating "cultural marxism" are conspiracy theorists. And these conspiracy theorists are almost always anitsemites, sometimes without even knowing it, and almost always denying it. Partly as they do not understand or deny the concept of structural antisemitism.

Modern antisemitism doesn't need any real Jews to function. It sufficed historically that the Nazis equated Jews with Bolshvism, running the world – despite the inability to prove that Lenin or Stalin were anything "Jewish". It now suffices that these 'hidden agents' are now supposedly promoting a Marxist agenda in for example the media, despite nothing of that kind to be found in reality.

What is antisemitism?

However one defines antisemitism, two points must be kept in mind: first, antisemitism presupposes that the Jews are radically “other.” This simple central point is a universal, timeless characteristic of antisemitism. There is one other point to be made about antisemitism: Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem; it is a non-Jewish problem. There is nothing that Jews can do about antisemitism, other than monitor it and do some little counteraction. I will return to this matter later in the discussion. Leonard Dinnerstein: "My Assessment of American Antisemitism Today", in: Steven K. Baum (Eds): "Antisemitism in North America. New World, Old Hate", Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2016, p 53–60.

What is "cultural marxism"? Radically "others", infiltrating America, destroying it, planned since the 1930s, invented by Jews, yeah, we get that now.

Case in point, but really stereotypical classic antisemitism paired with Holocaust denial:

William Lind has long been a point man for cultural conservatism, a key player in the world of right-wing politicians, and, in recent years, the head of the Free Congress Foundation's Center for Cultural Conservatism.
He also seems to be cultivating friends in some remarkable places. This June 15, at a major Holocaust denial conference put on by veteran anti-Semite Willis Carto in Washington, D.C., Lind gave a well-received speech before some 120 "historical revisionists," conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites, in which he identified a small group of people who he said had poisoned American culture. On this point, Lind made a powerful connection with his listeners.

"These guys," he explained, "were all Jewish."

Meaning the first generation of theorists from the Frankfurt School. One of them was Karl August Wittfogel, German name, German ancestors, and yes, a Marxist. Early on. But when he came to America – to "spread his influence in the culture industry"? – he even turned fierce anti-communist. Claiming that he was a "Jewish" is not even wrong. It's pure paranoia.

And in a quite direct line, in America, that has a very nice explanation for everything, even Hitler:

But the agitator's preferred method of establishing the connection between capitalism and communism is by suggesting that "atheistic Communism" was "originally spawned in Jewish capitalism and Jewish intellectualism." The most striking formulation of this theory traces all modern -isms back to a common Jewish ancestor:

One must remove the causes to get rid of recurring effects … we are concerned with liquidating the causes which created the concept of Hitlerism in the minds of men. These causes run back from Stalin to Lenin; from Lenin to Marx; from Marx to the Rothschilds; from the Rothschilds to the Bank of England; from the Bank of England to the pack of usurers who transubstantiated a vice into a virtue in the sixteenth century…

Quote: Coughlin, Social Justice, Dec.2, 1941, p.4., quoted from: Leo Lowenthal & Norbert Guterman: "Prophets of Deceit. A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator", Harper: New York, 1970, p44.

What proponents of "cultural marxism" see is something like this:

enter image description here
A Flowchart History of "Cultural Marxism" according to 4chan's /pol/

And that looks pretty much like a duck. The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory can very well be criticised in many ways. Blaming everything on those theorists as planned, and successfully conducting an un-American campaign for over 80 years? Without understanding in the slightest what that Critical theory is critical about? That means "Cultural Marxism n. 1. A meaningless phrase used to signal that the writer or speaker has no idea what he or she is talking about."

This connection is analysed in quite a few books and articles about far right activists and haters. For example:

Jérôme Jamin: "Cultural Marxism and the Radical Right", in: Paul Jackson & Anton Shekhovtsov (Eds): "The Post-War Anglo-American Far Right: A Special Relationship of Hate", Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2014 p84–103 DOI:: 10.1057/9781137396211.0009

Illustrating how the pro-Israel conspiracy theorist Breivik got into believing in 'cultural marxism'.

Although anti-Semitic attitudes are much more heavily stigmatised in post-Nazi Germany than other forms of racism, it is by no means true that there is no longer any anti-Semitism. On the one hand, there are phenomena known to researchers as ‘secondary anti-Semitism’ and ‘structural anti-Semitism’. ‘Secondary anti-Semitism’ refers to the cultivation of resentments against Jews not just by reference to the traditional prejudices that continue to exist, but also by using new motifs. One example of this is the idea that Jews, allegedly, prevent Germany from ‘putting its past behind it’. This is an ‘updated’ form of traditional accusations, such as greed and lust for power. Jews are once again painted as disrupting German national identity - but this time through Vergangenheitsbewältigung (the process of coming to terms with the [Nazi] past).
‘Structural anti-Semitism’ refers to ideas that are not explicitly directed at Jews, but are similar to anti-Semitic ideas in their concepts and argument. One example of this is the differentiation between and personification of ‘money-grubbing’ financial capital and ‘working’ productive capital (this refers to Hitler’s terms ‘raffendes/schaffendes Kapital’). This personalising and abbreviation of Marxist social criticism is structurally anti-Semitic and can also promote hostility towards Jews.
Sabine Schiffer & Constantin Wagner: "Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia – new enemies, old patterns", Race & Class, Vol. 52(3): 77–84, 2011, DOI:10.1177/0306396810389927

The "Cultural marxism" theory is antisemitism:

Now that the real origins of political correctness in the cultural Marxism devised by a clever bunch of foreign-born Jews had been revealed, the full extent of the damage they had caused could be spelled out. Here is a list cited verbatim from many of the websites devoted to the question:

  1. The creation of racism offences
  2. Continual change to create confusion
  3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
  4. The undermining of schools' and teachers' authority
  5. Huge immigration to destroy identity
  6. The promotion of excessive drinking
  7. Emptying of churches
  8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime
  9. Dependency on the state or state benefits
  10. Control and dumbing down of media
  11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family

Martin Jay: "Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe", Salmagundi Magazine, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 2011. (archive.org)

Or quite drastic summarised in this analysis:

Currently, the meaning of cultural Marxism is embattled and articulated for different political and ideological projects by the alt-left and alt-right, progressive and reactionary, socialist and fascist. The alt-right has constructed the meaning of cultural Marxism in a struggle to organize trans-national consent to fascism, and the alt-right’s meaning of Marxism is making an impression upon the minds of many. It is incumbent upon actual Marxists to look in the mirror held to them by the alt-right, and begin to counter the image and fascist movement behind it. This cognitive mapping of the alt-right’s discourse on cultural Marxism is a small gesture to that end.
Tanner Mirrlees: "The Alt-Right’s Discourse of “Cultural Marxism”: A Political Instrument of Intersectional Hate", Atlantis Journal, Issue 39.1, p 49–69 2018. (URL)

From the angle of philosophy:

The story, repeated again and again, tells of how a bunch of Jewish intellectuals infiltrated America through the minds of its youth, culminating in the sixties counterculture, which is framed as a low point in the culture war for preserving traditional American values. (In its traditionalism, and preoccupation with contamination, the concept can be seen to have a certain structural similarity to the charge of “cultural Bolshevism” which Weimar-era conservatives directed towards aesthetic modernists of their day.) This conspiratorial and often anti-Semitic concept imagines the corrupting and feminizing influences of European decadence as having spread octopus-like throughout the American body politic in particular via its infiltration of the academy (Walsh 2015).

The Cultural Marxist narrative attributes incredible influence to the power of the ideas of the Frankfurt School to the extent that it may even be read as a kind of “perverse tribute” to the latter (Jay 2011). In one account, for example (Estulin 2005), Theodor Adorno is thought to have helped pioneer new and insidious techniques for mind control that are now used by the “mainstream media” to promote its “liberal agenda” – this as part of Adorno’s work, upon first emigrating to the United States, with Paul Lazarsfeld on the famous Princeton Radio Research Project, which helped popularize the contagion theory of media effects with its study of Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds. In an ironical sense this literature can perhaps be understood as popularizing simplified or otherwise distorted versions of certain concepts initially developed by the Frankfurt School, as well as those of Western Marxism more generally. One such example might be the concept of “the Cathedral” (Yarvin 2008), developed by figures in the so-called neo-reactionary movement on the far right as a kind of critique of the hegemonic, unconscious consensus between powerful figures within academia and the media who use the concept of “political correctness” as a tool of oppression developed by those who (falsely) imagine themselves as being oppressed. Although the narrative of Cultural Marxism’s ineluctable triumph, which one encounters in all of these texts, seems patently false, defenders argue that seemingly unbiased research supports the claim that academics have moved markedly to left of the rest of Americans in recent decades (Abrams 2016). The polarization of these contested findings have in turn helped to breathe new life into the Cultural Marxist conspiracy theory, turning university campuses into sites of far-right activism in recent years.

And though the analysis of Marxism proffered by this literature would certainly not stand up to scrutiny by any serious historian of the subject, we can nevertheless understand Cultural Marxism as a prime example of how the ideas of conservatism grow above all in reaction to those of the left (Robin 2011).

Marc Tuters: "Cultural Marxism", Krisis Journal for Contemporary Philosophy, Issue 2, 2018, p 32–34. (PDF)

The following uses drastic language and hyperbole to illustrate how the New York Times article has to be read, and is therefore in quotes. You may read the above as the opinion of the author of this post. Please do not do that with the following material:

Anyone insane enough to speak in earnest of 'Cultural Marxism' is per definition a right-leaning wing-nut. Right-leaning conservatives are increasingly and uninterruptedly fascistic since the 1920s. Those are then perversely and 'progressively* antisemites, by ignoring precisely what Marx analysed about capitalism and blame all the misgivings that are inherent to "the system" or the structures of it, onto a small group of outsiders – to them, or those who should follow their idiotic ideas. For ordinary Nazis, these were the Jews.

These "unwanted elements" need not even be so much "real Jews", as 'Antisemitism' might imply. Right-wing antisemites find the Jews where they want to see them. This is "Structural antisemitism" or the anticapitalism as antisemitism of the idiots, as Kronawitter coined what is often ascribed to August Bebel.

In other words: anyone claiming that in an increasingly fascistic world – that marches firmly to the right-wing abyss with names like Trump, Bolsanaro, Orban, Putin, Duterte –'cultural marxism' would be an increasingly influential position,

  • says that what s/he sees in the world, or in his/her media-bubble, is not authoritarian, not fascist, not right-wing not inhumane enough for her/his likings.

  • signals immediately that s/he is an extremist on the 'right' side, therefore a Nazi sympathiser and that means ultimately pro-genocidal

Within the hermetic minds of those believing in 'cultural marxism', all of this answer is of course an example just proving their point. A maze without exits.

Empirical case in point, from a now deleted comment:

TL:DR: "A bunch of people who have ideological reason to like things that constitute cultural Marxism wrote pseudo-scholarly wording that amounts to "Anyone who disagrees with us must be an anstisemite, even if they are Jewish, the proof being that we said so". The fact that there can be non-antisemitic proponents of the theory doesn't get disproved, merely rejected based on no theoretical or empirical evidence.

Well, brilliant. The theory is that "Cultural Marxism" is a "Jewish Invention" and "conspiracy to destroy". That is at the very core antisemitism.
Now, conservatives can very well say "homosexuals no likey" for example. That is one questionable opinion that's tolerable to a certain extant. That is not antisemitic, 'merely' homophobia. But to say that "homosexualism gets promoted – by a conspiracy – to destroy American families and values – since the 30s" is just plain insanity on the one side. On the other side is that person an antisemite that says and does antisemitic things. The whole theory of "Cultural marxism" is antisemitic and anyone adopting an antisemitic theory is therefore an antisemite.
It were those people who coined that theory that said "…and it was those Jews who did that, to the last man." If that is not recognised as plainly open antisemitism, we're lost here.

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    This clears up a lot of the confusion. It's not that people who believe cultural Marxism is hurting society necessarily have any animosity toward Jewish people.The idea of cultural Marxism as evil is what some academics have dubbed "structural antisemitism." Structural antisemitism is a broader category that encapsulates a lot of populist, anti-capitalism, and anti-globalist movements on the left and right. It's not necessarily racist in itself, but can lead people to a place where they might switch to racist views. Am I understanding that right? – lazarusL Dec 6 '18 at 14:02
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    @lazarusL Well, looks like it. You can find some of this kind of antisemitism on the left (in fact most of what's found there is of that Kronawitter kind), and you can have a lot of this genuine antisemitism in people that have real Jews as son-in-laws. The concept is quite complicated (brainy?) and is sometimes applied in ways 'too broad' or 'just wrongly' (IMO) in political struggles. Although for these wrong diagnoses I do not know a lot of examples. Although antisemitism doesn't need Jews, CMT recurs in its origin onto exactly that. – LangLangC Dec 6 '18 at 14:13
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    Thanks for your answer! I'm not sure how important the first part is though. Is anyone really confused by this? But I guess making sure can't hurt. I think structural antisemitism is an important concept here, but I didn't know that it was used in the US at all; and in the German Antisemitismusforschung - where I know this concept from -, analyzing the US concept of cultural marxism didn't seem common. – tim Dec 6 '18 at 16:01
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    @LangLangC "Although antisemitism doesn't need Jews" this perplexes me. To my understanding, the only way to associate Cultural Marxism to antisemitism is to redefine antisemitism to no longer be directly associated with Jews. That or antisemitism is being conflated with general fear of secret world control by shadowy organizations. – David S Dec 6 '18 at 19:57
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    @DavidS The main CM theory are classical antisemites, using "the Jews" as originator. When there are no real Jews, the structure of antisemtism survives in inventing them, seeing "them" "the others" when they are not there. In those countries where the Jews were gassed the antisemites still believe to be controlled by them. Antisemitism in its classical form of interpretation is directly tied to the people, newer forms just take the principle to new heights of hate and conspiratorial 'thinking' or belief. Now it's sth like "the Germans will never forgive that the Jews made Auschwitz happen." – LangLangC Dec 6 '18 at 20:06

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

Antisemitism is a category of hate. Essentially a sub-category of racism in general. That leads to this statement: All antisemitic people are racist, not all racist people are antisemitic.

Cultural Marxism is an ideological anti-conservative conspiracy theory. A conspiracy theory can be hateful in nature. The conspiracy theory is geared towards things conservatives hate, but it is based on the thought leaders exported from a school, not a group of people.

For the two to be inherently tied, the origination of the theory must directly link to Jews or Judaism first. The argument from the NYT piece is that it is an old, and clearly antisemitic conspiracy theory, was updated. While that can be true, the update is a clear departure from the antisemitic tones to a more generalized hateful tone. This is to say "Cultural Marxism" can be stated as inherently racist (or hateful), but not inherently antisemitic.

There are a great many antisemitic people in this world in just about every group of people. An unfortunate truth. But the school, people from the school, and thought leaders were not all Jewish. Even so, being of Jewish heritage doesn't necessarily mean the person can't be antisemitic. Likewise it is possible for a specific group of Jewish people to be hated independently from Jewish people in general.

Given that it is a conspiracy theory it is easy to tie to fringe groups or ideas. Which, when attempting to demonize it, would be easy to associate with antisemitism due to the time and location of many of the people at its origin.

However, many theories or groups can evolve over time. This can cause some concepts to become permanently associated. So it is possible for Cultural Marxism to evolve into an antisemitic form, if a branch of it isn't already there.

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    "Not at its inception or at this present time": Do you have a source for this? – tim Dec 5 '18 at 21:40
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    @tim There is no source. The NYT opinion piece is the opinion saying it is linked. My answer states it isn't inherently tied, but it can become associated. Ill edit a bit more. – David S Dec 5 '18 at 21:47

Offhand answer: yes, (if "the" theory is narrowly defined as only a racist conspiracy), and no, (since it needn't be so narrowly defined). There's a collection of various disparate things these different groups dislike, and the goal would be some sort of plausible mash-up that tries to abstract and unite those disliked things into some loathsome whole the better to terrify and unify those those various groups before one common mash-up enemy.

But the antisemitism that pleases the racists isn't necessary to the mash-up, it's just a useful ingredient whenever there happen to be a certain number of racists. Lacking sufficient racists, a pro-zionist conspiracy minded paranoid anti-communist could mash-up their pet hates into some overarching commie plot category, and still roll merrily along.

The underlying question isn't the name of the particular flavor of mash-up, it's how do various groups answer the question: "What is Western Culture"? Or what books (and people) go on the bookshelf, and which (if any) go in the fire? Since the books themselves are so seldom read, moderns prefer to choose by proxy, by reading capsules and summaries usually written by celebrated partisans.

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    This was a comment that got too long. It's sort of an answer tho... – agc Dec 5 '18 at 20:13
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    Thanks for your answer! I'm not so sure about this though. Generally, terms should mean something. I guess non-antisemites could come up with anti-communist conspiracy theories. But would these then still be related to the existing phenomenon of "cultural marxism" conspiracy theories? Even if you strip it of the idea that a small, shadowy group of people secretly controls the media to use equal rights to bring down "western culture"? – tim Dec 5 '18 at 20:27
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    It seems to me that would be a different theory, one that doesn't have enough in common with "cultural marxism" to use that term. If I am mistaken about the definition of cultural marxism, or if the original definition has changed and is widely used differently today, that would be interesting. But I would like to see some references for that if possible. – tim Dec 5 '18 at 20:27
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    Paranoia and bigotry are by nature sloppy and somewhat arbitrary, and will find targets where they can. Lacking one set of shadowy bad guys, they'd replace them with another set from some other religion or culture, who were really the power behind the old bad guys all along. See also Henry Beard's "“Americans United to Beat the Dutch”... – agc Dec 6 '18 at 4:06

It's not so much a conspiracy as it is a shared belief system by a large group of people. Cultural Marxism is real, stems from the Frankfurt School and if you watch the first 10 videos on YouTube, not one mentions "it's the Jooos!". It uses intersectionality and critical theory to stratify the population into distinct classes of oppressors and oppressees to pit them against each other to gain power over them by passing laws, rules, and regulations which diminishes individual freedom.


Marxist feminist critical theory W. E. B. Du Bois theorized that the intersectional paradigms of race, class, and nation might explain certain aspects of black political economy. Collins writes: "Du Bois saw race, class, and nation not primarily as personal identity categories but as social hierarchies that shaped African-American access to status, poverty, and power."[20]:44 Du Bois omitted gender from his theory and considered it more of a personal identity category.


Critical theory is a school of thought that stresses the reflective assessment and critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities. In sociology and political philosophy, the term "Critical Theory" describes the neo-Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, which was developed in Germany in the 1930s.

I've never heard anything about cultural Marxism being anti-Semitic. Also the New York Times is fake news, but I guess the opinion section is allowed to be fake.

If Nazis hate chocolate milk, and someone dislikes chocolate milk, does that make them an anti-Semite? Of course not. People could dislike cultural Marxism for many reasons without disliking Jews. The opinion piece suffers from the same fallacy of composition/division that Nazis suffer from.


You assumed that one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it; or that the whole must apply to its parts. Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, or vice versa, but the crucial difference is whether there exists good evidence to show that this is the case. Because we observe consistencies in things, our thinking can become biased so that we presume consistency to exist where it does not.

Nazis point to cultural Marxists, see a few Jews, then make the illogical leap that all Jews are evil cultural Marxists. The opinion pieces makes the same leap. It sees that a few Nazis dislike cultural Marxism, then makes the illogical leap that disliking cultural Marxism is "inseparable" to anti-Semitism.

Claiming that cultural Marxism is an anti-Semitic conspiracy is as silly as claiming that anarcho-capitalism is a anti-Semitic conspiracy to dismantle western democracies and replace them with private corporations because some of the main proponents are Jewish like David Friedman and Murray Rothbard.

Cultural Marxism isn't even restricted to western philosophers. China engages in cultural Marxism as well.


cultural marxism from china

So linking cultural Marxism with anti-Semitism couldn't be further from the truth.

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    -1 "Cultural Marxism is real": Do you have sources apart from youtube videos? I don't see how the rest of the answer relates to my question. I know that the Frankfurt School existed, and what critical theory is. Neither fits any definition of the "cultural marxism" conspiracy theory that I have ever read. If you use a different definition, please provide reliable sources. The NYT article is by a professor of law and history at Yale. It's an opinion piece, but the NYT is not fake news, and I would trust the article more than some random youtube videos. – tim Dec 6 '18 at 7:37
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    -1 for: discounting news outlet as fake news without any supporting arguments, using YouTube randoms as arguments, considering YouTube randoms a reputable source, using anecdotal evidence (YouTube randoms) while complaining about fallacies and finally, using fancy terms and explaining them (to pad length?) without actually linking them together as coherent argument. I'd give -5 (-1 for each) if I could. – M i ech Dec 6 '18 at 12:26
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    @Miech I use the search results of YouTube to demonstrate multiple sources explaining cultural Marxism while pointing out that not any of them are anti-Semitic. If cultural Marxism was anti-Semitic, wouldn't the most popular explanations complain about Jews? That just shows the idea that cultural Marxism is anti-Semitic is the paranoid delusions of a few people seeing Nazis in every dark corner - maybe to silence their critics through name calling another fallacy. – Chloe Dec 6 '18 at 19:31
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    @Miech It's called a proof by contradiction. The claim was cultural Marxism is anti-Semitic. I presented counter examples (popular ones, top of search results) showing it is not the case. Simple logic. Sorry I didn't it make it clear enough for you to follow. – Chloe Dec 13 '18 at 17:12
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    It seems most people here don't even comprehend what cultural Marxism is, possibly because they're part of this growing belief in Marxism. Funny how it's always the Marxists themselves, who use race baiting, anti-Semitism, etc to discredit that which they don't agree with. Taking directly from Allinsky tactics, which are just Hitler's tactics re-worded and then use them to claim anti-Semitism. – Aporter Jan 1 at 10:54

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