As an example, here is a story that appeared recently in an article in a college newspaper, the Badger Herald, out of Madison, Wisconsin. Written by University of Wisconsin freshman Kort Driessen, it reveals just how a negative meme, this case planted repeatedly by Levine, propagates. Driessen writes:
“John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods and director of Conscious Capitalism, has recently proven exactly why this is true. Mackey released a statement last June pledging his loyalty to his friend Marc Gafni, an ex-rabbi accused of child molestation and using his position to extort children. Gafni said of one of his young accusers, ‘She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.’”
Reading this, an uninformed reader would naturally assume that as a mature adult — perhaps 30, 40, or 50 years old, Gafni has used his Rabbinical position to sexually ‘extort’ children. The writer seems unaware that this is a fabricated narrative. In fact, like many people who take their information solely from the Internet, he seems to have no problem making up the claim that Gafni ‘extorts’ (whatever that means!) children. He implies that Kabakov is just one of his ‘young accusers’.
It gets worse. The effect of this false news story is to lead a reader to believe that several little girls credibly accused a Rabbi of “using his position” to molest (“extort”) children. The only problem with this narrative is that it’s completely untrue. He literally made it up. This is a perfect example of how negative memes are easily propagated on the Internet without a semblance of fact checking or verification.
In the next line of his story, Kort Driessen writes:
“In response, more than 130 activists, students, and professors have recently signed an open letter to Whole Foods and Conscious Capitalism, imploring them and Mackey to open a dialogue concerning sexual violence and rape. As of yet, there has been no response”.
Again, reading this, you would think that a 50 year old Gafni recently dismissed a claim of child molestation and in response 130 people signed a petition against John Mackey for supporting Gafni. Mackey is presented as being callously insensitive to sexual abuse, even though that is the furthest thing from the truth. Mackey, like Gafni, obviously stands strongly against any form of sexual violence both in his personal life and his professional life.
Levine and others, however, cynically hijack the mantle of the victim advocate to falsely and manipulatively suggest that she is on the side of victims, while Mackey is not. The writer above talks about Levine’s petition “imploring Mackey” to open a dialogue concerning sexual violence and rape. The implication is that despite the desperate pleas of ‘victim advocates’ like Nancy Levine, Mackey is essentially supporting sexual abuse, by not denouncing Gafni.
But of course Mackey does nothing of the kind. Like all responsible people, he stands fully against all form of sexual violence and rape. He has said this many times. Moreover, Gafni has substantively refuted the false or distorted claims that have been circulated about him. Other writers carefully researched these claims against Gafni, and found them to be non-substantive.
These articles, replete with extensive information and research have been published on Medium as well as WhoIsMarcGafni.com. Gafni has repeatedly offered to meet directly to clarify facts and create authentic resolution time and again and been consistently ignored.
This petition against Mackey, like an earlier one against Gafni circulated by one of Gafni’s former students (a man whom Gafni dismissed from his circle in 2005) was organized as part of a deliberate and well organized smear campaign. Not a single signer of either petition made an attempt to contact Marc Gafni to check facts. The signers base their support for the petition on the assumption that the authors of the smear campaign are telling the truth.
How does this kind of travesty take place?
Here is a likely scenario. Levine calls or writes sexual abuse activists. They carelessly authorize her to use their name without any fact checking and Levine adds their name to her petition.
The fact that Nancy Levine’s petition is based on a false version of a story — a version that never happened — is completely buried. The reader assumes that someone claiming to be an activist would check facts carefully before signing their name to a petition. Levine then manipulatively uses the authority of her signatories as social proof of the truth of her narrative.