“The Nazis used red triangles to identify their political victims in concentration camps. Using it to attack political opponents is highly offensive.”
Facebook on Thursday removed a series of ads run by President Trump’s re-election campaign over their use of Nazi symbols.
The ads, which described protesters as “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups,” featured an upside-down red triangle, a symbol virtually identical to one first used by Nazis in the 1930s to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.
“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” a Facebook spokesman said.
The Trump campaign launched 88 versions of the triangle ad on the Facebook pages for Trump, Pence, and Team Trump on Wednesday, according to watchdog Media Matters.
The backlash was immediate and the ads were blasted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other advocacy groups. “The Nazis used red triangles to identify their political victims in concentration camps. Using it to attack political opponents is highly offensive,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in a tweet.
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, a progressive advocacy group, also criticized the use of the symbol. “Trump & the RNC are using it to smear millions of protestors,” the group wrote in a tweet. “Their masks are off.”
Historian Jacob S. Eder, an expert on the subject, criticized the ad as well, calling it “a highly problematic use of a symbol that the Nazis used to identify their political enemies.”
“It’s hard to imagine it’s done on purpose, because I’m not sure if the vast majority of Americans know or understand the sign, but it’s very, very careless to say the least,” he told the Washington Post.
The campaign defended the image, arguing it was “an emoji” and “a symbol widely used by Antifa” run in an ad about Antifa. Reporters pointed out, however, that this explanation was inaccurate.
Antifa is a loose, deentralized group of anti-fascist activists whom the Trump administration has tried to blame for occasional acts of violence during the recent protests against police brutality. But the FBI and other federal law enforcement officials have found no evidence of their involvement.
Even though the ads were taken down, they were still seen far and wide, gaining as many as 950,000 impressions on Trump’s page and as many as 500,000 additional impressions on Pence’s page, the Washington Post reported.
This isn’t the first time the Trump team has found itself accused of anti-Semitism. In 2016, Trump tweeted and then deleted an image showing Hillary Clinton alongside $100 bills and a six-pointed Star of David—the type of star that the Nazis forced Jews to wear on their clothing during the Holocaust. The Trump campaign also ran a deeply anti-Semitic ad in the final days of the 2016 election, tying Jewish leaders such as former Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Bankfein to the “levers of power in Washington” and “global special interests.”
Most infamously, in 2017 Trump referred to avoid white supremacists as “very fine people.” Those comments came after a neo-Nazi intentionally drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.
On Thursday, Jewish groups celebrated Facebook’s removal of the ads, but made sure to note that the fight wasn’t over.
“The Trump campaign must be held accountable for its bigotry — and so must Facebook for enabling it,” Bend the Arc: Jewish Action wrote in a tweet, adding: “Organized hate is what the Trump campaign is built on. If you remove these ads, you have to remove them all.”