Quite a bit has been written about the apparent correlation between Chaya Raichik's obsessive anti-LGBTQIA activism and threats of real life violence. I wrote about her promotion of a Pride event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which Patriot Front white supremacists later disrupted in June 2022. This has happened in many different parts of the country at this point, sometimes impacting the same school children that anti-LGBTQIA activists like Raichik claim to want to protect.
Here's one such recent case, which I wrote about for Hatewatch this week:
For those unfamiliar, Davis has earned a reputation as being extraordinarily progressive, even given its proximity to more conservative pockets of California. The city modeled its bike paths after Copenhagen, for example. (Copenhagen is that scenic, mostly socialist city that my editor Rachel and I recently visited, where people like to say fuck you to the "Nazier.") There's very weak Republican opposition to liberals in Davis and seeing Pride flags hung up is a common place occurrence there.
What happened in Davis is both tragic and illustrative of the mayhem anti-trans extremists have caused. A teenager came out as non-binary. Their mom, Beth Bourne, a UC Davis employee, did not receive this news particularly well. She became increasingly focused on anti-trans activism on her Facebook account. (Social media was a mistake.) She found support from the broader anti-trans activist network, which includes figures like Raichik, aka Libs of Tik Tok. Bourne has also bragged publicly on Facebook about being in touch with Raichik. As Libs of Tik Tok, Raichik began posting about LGBTQIA tolerance in Davis and then an unknown someone or an unknown group started sending bomb threats.
Raichik herself has not, to my knowledge, or anyone else's, sent a bomb threat to any schools or libraries in Davis, California. She is not connected with the antisemitic group Patriot Front, who traveled to Coeur d'Alene after she flagged that event on social media in 2022. (Raichik is herself Jewish and not someone they would tolerate beyond her usefulness in agitating against sexual and romantic freedom.) What she has done though is fear monger to an audience of bigots who have a history of tormenting LGBTQIA people and their allies. Surely, Raichik has become aware of this pattern. Still she continues in the same manner, without appearing to change course. My very real concern is that one of these days, someone interested in doing more than threaten people is going to target one of the places she flags with an act of horrific violence.
I wish this were not a real fear but it's the same thing that I warned my reporter friends about in 2017, when Gab emerged as this insane engine of antisemitism. I said, one of these days, one of these guys is going to attack a synagogue for real. Sure enough, they did. I hope we are lucky and avoid something like that happening around the community of people who hang onto Raichik's words. It would be nice to have some luck but let me use this space to again say that I don't have a good feeling about it. And if it does happen, the social media companies who profit off of Raichik's bigotry, like Elon Musk's "X," should be more to blame than even she is.
Raichik doesn't seem like a particularly impressive person to me. She doesn't appear to be smart. She doesn't appear to have any artistic talents. She is just the social media grifter who happened to be at the right place at the right time to cash in on a wave of anti-trans hate.
ICYMI: The ADL folded like a chair
Finally, let me also add that I was disappointed in ADL's decision to give into pressure and give Raichik a pass. I'm also grateful for the chance to publish this story in the wake of that decision by the ADL. I hope people took note of that juxtaposition. I hope for the sake of ADL's workers they unionize soon. I hope people are also taking note of Jonathan Greenblatt's worrying tactics around Arab-Americans.
Read Spencer Ackerman for more. Highly recommend this piece:
Some personal news, as they say
So, I just signed a contract for a book. You will learn more about it soon. The only thing I will say is that it is with one of the big five publishers, it is narrative non-fiction, and while it deals with the radical right, the style in which I write it will be vastly different from the type of material I produce for SPLC. I did not want to write a book called "Trump Town: Five Hot Days in Mar-a-Lago," even though stuff like that is easy money. I wanted to do something that at least aspires to be a little more timeless, a little more literary, and a little more personal than what you might expect. (I did start as a playwright, not a reporter, after all.) So, expect a book about people, not just a cash-in thing about extremism. I may fail, because books are tricky, but I promise to give everything I have in me, with passion.
I'm going to do a full on post about the subject matter as soon as the publisher drops a formal announcement. I will then likely proceed to promote it, so you can expect me to keep talking about it, hopefully to a point that is not annoying to you. I also want to apologize for not sending out a newsletter in awhile. I was focused on completing the book process (during that tiny little time I'm not parenting or contributing to SPLC), and my wife and I have been going through what I would describe as an amicable separation. One where we co-parent and so forth. It all feels very French, so far. I feel like there's some French narration following me around these days. I've actually gone on dates, if you can imagine that. You can understand why that might be distracting, I'm 44. In any case, I'm back on my proverbial bullshit, and I'll try to be more talkative here going forward, if time allows me to do so. It has been good talking to you again.