Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and other celebrities allegedly were duped in November by an online white supremacy group into recording videos that used coded alt-right language and have been posted on YouTube to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Favre, actor Andy Dick and rapper Soulja Boy recorded messages at the request of the “GDL,” or “Goyim Defense League,” which employs the Yiddish word for non-Jews and mocks the Anti-Defamation League’s acronym, according to BuzzFeed News. The group used the app Cameo, which allows users to purchase a video of a celebrity reading a custom message.
YouTubers “Handsome Truth” and “Sway Guevara” paid $500 for the message, BuzzFeed reports. Favre in a statement posted on his Facebook account said he would donate the money to “charities supporting their fight against hate and bigotry.”
Favre said in the statement he assumed the message was intended to serve a veterans' group and that he had recorded more than 50 Cameo messages previously without incident.
“Like most Americans, I am sickened by what these groups stand for and concerned about their role in fueling today’s negative political climate,” he said. “The Cameo request from this organization is a prime example of how these groups are misusing social media to promote their agenda. I thought I was creating a message to support the brave men and women of our military forces. Had I understood the source of the request, I never would have fulfilled it. All of us — myself included — need to be vigilant to protect this country from these dangers.”
In Favre’s 23-second clip, he refers to the GDL as “patriots” and encourages the members to “keep waking them up and don’t let the small get you down.” (Note: “Waking them up” is a code for recruiting others to the alt-right and “the small” refers to “the small hats,” intended as a slur for Jewish people.)
He also refers to the attack on the USS Liberty, an American technical research ship, or “spy ship,” that was attacked by Israeli forces who mistook it for an Egyptian vessel during the 1967 Six Day War. Hate groups have come to use the incident that killed 34 crew members to spread anti-Semitic propaganda.
Cameo users enter specific instructions to celebrities for what to include in video messages. The celebrity can then accept or deny the request.
“Here’s the deal, guys, they can reject it if they don’t like it, right,” Handsome Truth said in a live-streamed video on Wednesday, according to BuzzFeed. “So we were trying to get it, like — we wanted to be cryptic enough to where they would say it.”
Representatives for Andy Dick and Soulja Boy both told BuzzFeed the actor and rapper originally thought the Cameo requests were benign and meant to support fans.
“This was a blatant misuse of the Cameo platform and a violation of Cameo’s terms of service,” the company said in a statement. “This is the first incident of its kind in more than 93,000 Cameos and a gross misrepresentation of the talent’s political beliefs. Cameo immediately removed the videos from the website, requested YouTube to remove the content and created new filters to prevent this from happening in the future. The user has been banned from purchasing Cameos.” According to BuzzFeed, several copies of the Favre video have been removed from YouTube, but others still are circulating on the website and elsewhere as of Saturday afternoon.
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