How ‘Holocough’ Went from Anti-Semitic Threat to COVID Truther Rallying Cry

How ‘Holocough’ Went from Anti-Semitic Threat to COVID Truther Rallying Cry

In May, conspiracy theory and hate speech monitoring groups started flagging the spread of a disturbing anti-Semitic meme: a stylized picture of the novel coronavirus on a tie-dye-like background framed with text reading, “COVID-19. If you have the bug, give a hug. Spread the flu to every Jew. Holocough.” 

A report by the Community Security Trust, a British group that works to stop the spread of anti-Semitism, cast the meme as the apex of far-right chatter “about getting infected, either deliberately or accidentally, and then going to synagogues and other Jewish buildings to try to infect as many Jewish people as possible.” 

The meme soon largely fell out of the public eye. But the term holocough spread, and not just among twisted circles advocating the anti-Semitic weaponization of the virus. 

According to several digital hate speech monitoring groups canvassed by The Daily Beast, the term has been used as a tagline for a slew of conspiracy theories in recent months. Among them are deluded ideas that deny the existence or extent of the horrific COVID-19 pandemic, accept the pandemic but believe it’s a Jewish invention created for profit or population control, or suggest pandemic control measures are a prelude to Holocaust-like mass internments by the “deep state.” 

The meme has also cropped up in shitposts with no clear ideology or goal beyond provocation.

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