troublesome tweet

Rep. Mike Collins doubles down on post supporting antisemitic, racist social media account

The Georgia congressman continues to deny he was agreeing with an antisemitic social post, even after the original poster confirmed his antisemitic intent

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on a resolution "stating that President Donald Trump did not engage in insurrection," on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.

Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) has continued to defend his social media comment endorsing a post by an antisemitic, racist account that was attacking a reporter for being Jewish.

On Sunday, an account called “Garbage Human” retweeted a New York Post story about a Washington Post reporter, commenting, “In case you were wondering, yes she is.” Collins responded, “Never was a second thought.”

Garbage Human’s initial post was widely interpreted — by both critics and supporters — as referring to the fact that the reporter, Maura Judkis, is Jewish. The “Garbage Human” account later confirmed as much, posting “Take note. It’s antisemitic to point out somebody is Jewish when they actually are indeed Jewish.” 

The “Garbage Human” account almost exclusively posts blatantly antisemitic, racist and homophobic content. But Collins has spent days refusing calls to apologize. He has not responded to a request for comment.

Amid early criticism, he posted, “Some of y’all having a rough time wanting to see something that ain’t there,” accusing his critics of “grasping at straws.”

Responding to a Georgia state Senate speech by Democratic legislator Josh McLaurin, Collins again defended his post.

“I guess pointing out that a Washington Post journo excusing crime because she believes USA is on ‘stolen land’ makes her a garbage human is anti-Semitic?,” he said. “Y’all just see stuff that ain’t there.”

McLaurin, a Democrat, told Jewish Insider on Tuesday he delivered the speech to emphasize the need for his colleagues to confront antisemitism even when it comes from elected officials, noting that they had come together to condemn other antisemitic incidents and pass antisemitism legislation last year.

“If it’s antisemitism, and it’s overt, and it is dealing with the same type of extreme elements that we have been condemning all session, it doesn’t matter that the person doing it is a sitting congressman,” McLaurin said. “And in fact, that just makes it even more important for all of my colleagues to use their connections and their platform to draw a hard line and let him know that it’s unacceptable.”

In his speech, McLaurin appealed to his colleagues, including Republicans, to reach out publicly or privately to Collins to take down the post. Collins, instead, responded by doubling down.

McLaurin said that several Republicans, including members of GOP leadership, applauded his speech on the Senate floor on Monday, and some communicated privately their condemnation of Collins’ post. But he said it remains to be seen if they’ll “confront him in any meaningful way.”

McLaurin argued that Collins’ response to criticism has only compounded the original offense, accusing Collins of “spitting in the faces of people who are not confused about what they’re seeing.”

And, he added, even if Collins wasn’t aware of the meaning of the original post or if it was posted by a staffer, Collins has since been made aware, “and so by refusing to reject that meaning, I think he has adopted that meaning.”

State Rep. Esther Panitch, the only Jewish state representative in Georgia, urged Collins to delete his post on Sunday and condemned him once he doubled down.

“I try to give people the space to do the right thing without embarrassing them,” Panitch, who is also a Democrat, told JI. She explained that she had wanted Collins to “just take it down, because he enables antisemites by doing it.”

But she said her view of the situation changed when Collins dug in, adding that she found herself bombarded by antisemitic trolls for criticizing him. Collins responded dismissively to a social media post by Panitch, telling her she is “wast[ing] ammo.”

“It’s one thing to mistakenly do this, it’s another thing to double down on it,” Panitch said. “Now, I believe the Jewish community is owed an apology.”

She called Collins’ latest explanation of his comment “ridiculous.”

Collins, a first-term congressman, gained a wider profile on the internet when he began sharing memes during the drawn-out House speakership race last year. He has told reporters he writes his own tweets, with assistance from staffers.

This isn’t Collins’ first time engaging with far-right internet culture — in early February, he posted that a migrant accused of a crime should be put on “Pinochet Air for a free helicopter ride back.”

That was a reference to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s “death flights,” when enemies were executed by being thrown out of helicopters. The practice, and Pinochet’s regime in general, are valorized by some on the far right.

Even before the Oct. 7 attack on Israel caused antisemitism to skyrocket nationwide, Georgia faced a series of antisemitic incidents, including threats to synagogues and the distribution of antisemitic fliers.

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