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Levi Meir Clancy
Between Erbil, Jerusalem, and America.

The antisemitic worldview of Travis Ikeguchi, the alleged Laura Carleton killer

Black and white picture of pedestrians in hard lighting. Photo by the author, Levi Meir Clancy.
Black and white picture of pedestrians in hard lighting. Photo by the author, Levi Meir Clancy.

Across the United States this week, there have been headlines about the deadly shooting of Laura Ann Carleton in California, over her display of an LGBTQ pride flag.

After an initial waiting period, law enforcement has named the alleged shooter, Travis Ikeguchi. His Twitter account provides an important case study on radicalization, especially Christian extremism in the United States.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

He espoused standard talking points of anti-LGBTQ hate. He invoked tropes about “grooming” and “pedophiles” when talking about LGBTQ issues.

Also, he was an antisemite.

His primary ideology was Christian extremism. Aside from homophobia and transphobia, he also expressed deeply rooted antisemitism and other racist aspects, including a deep hatred of Black Lives Matter. Analyzing his posts helps to shed light on patterns of overlap between Christian extremism and White extremism, in the United States.

Also, he was Japanese American, highlighting how people can personalize hateful ideologies that would oftentimes exclude them. In such cases, the resulting worldviews are in many ways broadly typical, but at the same offer insights into the self-deceptions that people maintain.

Searching his Twitter account turned up several results about Jewish people, Zionism, and the State of Israel, all of them invoking antisemitism. For comparison, he made no mentions of Muslims, Arabs, or Hindus. Regarding related terms, he made no mention of Palestine, Palestinians, or the Holocaust.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

His posts about Jewish people seemed to be distortions of actual personal experiences. He claimed that Jewish people he personally met were predisposed to characteristics that caused interpersonal and societal friction.

At the same time, an old post of his endorsed the so-called Jerusalem Covenant from Israel365, a site focused on evangelical Christians.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

His post about the so-called Jerusalem Covenant highlights two prevalent characteristics of Christian extremism.

Firstly, there is supposed support for Jewish people, but only as a faraway, abstract collective that remains in dire need of Christian salvation. Secondly, this is coupled with intolerance against actual Jewish individuals and their communities.

These simultaneous attitudes do not cancel each other out. They are both antisemitic in their own ways.

Let’s keep reading his tweets on Jewish people.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

Wait, let’s back up.

In the post above, he didn’t say “Jew” — he said “Zionist” instead.

A common feature of antisemitism and other forms of hate is the use of code language.

Zionism is the belief that Jewish people have a right to self-determination in Eretz Yisrael, the Jewish homeland where Jewishness originated. Although events like the Holocaust in Christian Europe and the elimination of Jewish life in Islamic societies added an existential urgency to Jewish self-determination, Zionism formally developed some decades earlier.

The word “Zionist” has been appropriated by leading hate figures as a code word to attack Jewish people, and Travis Ikeguchi gives clear examples of this.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

The post thread above culminates with the literal demonization of Zionists. Claiming that Zionism is satanic leans into centuries of antisemitic tropes that have demonized Jewish people as satanic.

Hate is hate.

However, people who perpetuate hate speech all believe they’re justified and will present themselves as on a righteous cause.

Unfortunately, some people’s blind spots, preexisting prejudices, and devotion to overlapping political agendas can lead them to minimize the significance of hate speech, including antisemitism.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

The two posts above invoke dual antisemitic canards: the belief that Jewishness will be fixed through embracing Christianity, and that in the meantime, Jewish people are responsible for evilness in the world.

Travis Ikeguchi’s belief that Jewish people are a source of dystopia bears striking similarity to historic and present-day Christian doctrines.

According to the the Catholic Church’s official doctrine on Jewish people, the return of Jesus himself is being held up every day by Jewish people.

The Catholic Catechism, which was published in 1992 by the Vatican, clearly states: “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by ‘all Israel’, for ‘a hardening has come upon part of Israel’ in their ‘unbelief’ toward Jesus.” This type of belief is influential in Christian extremism outside of just Catholic circles.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

When Travis Ikeguchi posted about Jewish people directly, he mostly expressed a personal hostility to specific individuals, rooted in negative but fairly blunt generalizations.

However, when speaking about Jewish people by another name, by referencing Zionism, he unleashed sharp, harmful conspiracy theories that have had sinister roles in violent antisemitism.

He was no less of an antisemite for making a distinction without a difference.

The two posts below show clearly how he contextualized Jewishness and Zionism, and the connection between them, in one antisemitic worldview.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter

At several points in his Twitter feed, Travis Ikeguchi went on tirades.

One of these tirades included a fixation on Barbie dolls. Ironically, Barbie’s story was — and is — a deeply Jewish narrative, cultivated by Jewish people such as Ruth and Elliot Handler, Ynon Kreiz, and Greta Gerwig.

Screenshot of alleged shooter Travis Ikeguchi’s account on Twitter.

It goes to show the stubborn persistence of a theme as old as the water dispute against Yitzhak.

In the Torah, it is said that Avraham left some wells to his son Yitzhak. Eventually, though, Yitzhak’s rivals became jealous and destroyed the wells. Yitzhak had them repaired and, upon finding an additional water source, had a new one built, too. His rivals confronted him with a demand: they did not claim direct ownership over the new well, but over the water itself.

The lesson is eternal: antisemites may hate us, but they always covet what we bring forth.

About the Author
Levi Meir Clancy lives in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq, and is the founder of Foundation of Ours, which supports Jewish expression in the Kurdistan Region, and provides platforms for reconciliation and coexistence between all communities. He was born in Venice, California and moved to the KRI in 2014, after which he became involved in cultural, social, and religious affairs in addition to his work as a software developer, photographer, and videographer.
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