University of Montana President Denounces Antisemitic Email Sent to Faculty, Staff
The president of the University of Montana condemned a “hateful email” that was sent to some faculty and staff ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day which promulgated antisemitic conspiracies about Jews and the transatlantic slave trade.
The offending email, whose sender has not been identified, was received late Saturday by at least 380 email accounts, UM’s chief information officer, Renae Scott, said in comments to the Missoulian on Tuesday.
The message reportedly prompted recipients to print and distribute “a few hundred or thousand” copies of attached flyers, which included a link to the Nation of Islam’s book Jews Selling Blacks.
The book falsely claims that Jews dominated the transatlantic slave trade — an assertion that has been widely rejected as an antisemitic canard, with the American Historical Association denouncing “any statement alleging that Jews played a disproportionate role in the exploitation of slave labor or in the Atlantic slave trade.”
The email also allegedly directed recipients to watch speeches by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has accused “Satanic Jews” of controlling the world and shared views that have been denounced as misogynistic and homophobic.
In a campus-wide message on Sunday, UM President Seth Bodnar denounced the “hateful email” for expressing “ideas that are against everything Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for and that are counter to our shared UM belief in the dignity of every person.”
“To all who received the email, we are saddened and diminished by this act of hatred, and we support you,” he wrote. “We are investigating its origin and will take appropriate action.”
“Sadly, this is not the first time an email like this has been received on our campus and it will not be the last,” Bodnar added. “We will continue to receive them and each time, we will respond appropriately and in a timely manner.”
The email was reported by the university to the Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN), a nonprofit that aims to promote “pluralism, equality and justice.” The group said in a statement that it “has documented a rise in anti-Semitic material distributed in communities across the state over the past few years.”
“In this instance, the material references the Nation of Islam, which has a record of anti-Semitism, but only represents a small and specific subgroup and is not representative of all Muslim people,” MHRN said. “It’s important to note that normally the sources of anti-Semitic incidents in Montana are hardcore white nationalists, who also target black and brown people, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ folks.”
“Bigoted ideas are dangerous to our communities, and the work to build coalitions that cross issues and identities is key to having a strong response to hate incidents,” the group added.
Representatives for UM did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Less than a year ago, antisemitic flyers accusing Jews of attacking the First Amendment of the US Constitution were discovered under the windshield wipers of cars parked outside student housing buildings on the UM campus.