Bret Stephens Keeps Scratching His ‘Bedbugs’ Tweet Debacle Sore

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August 31, 2019 10:50 a.m.
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It’s an itch he can’t stop scratching.

In a New York Times op-ed Friday evening titled “World War II and the Elements of Slaughter,” conservative columnist Bret Stephens referenced the bedbugs that a media professor jokingly compared him to in a tweet Tuesday, which ultimately drove Stephens to deactivate his Twitter account later that day.

In the op-ed, Stephens seemed to draw parallels between the bedbug tweet and Nazi-era anti-Semitism, writing that “today the rhetoric of infestation is back.”

“The political mind-set that turned human beings into categories, classes and races also turned them into rodents, insects and garbage,” Stephens wrote. “‘Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing,’ Heinrich Himmler would claim in 1943 … Watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn that year, a Polish anti-Semite was overheard saying: “‘The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.’”

Twitter users pointed out that a link embedded in the op-ed connected to his own Google search for the phrase “Jews as bedbugs.NYT Opinion responded to the observation a few hours later by saying it was “added by editors before publication” and has since been updated.

Dave Karpf, the George Washington University professor who first tweeted the Stephens-bedbug comparison, tweeted Friday evening that the debacle “just stopped being funny” and that he’ll have “more to say.”

Read Stephen’s op-ed in the New York Times here.

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