Focus below the line: Profile of ‘anti-Zionist’ Guardian commenter Eileen Kuch

We first noticed commenter ‘Eileen Kuch’ on a ‘Comment is Free’ thread about the Ukrainian-Russian crisis in April, where she vehemently supported Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

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This comment, putting aside the “Zio-controlled” trope (that can be explained off as some kind of anti-Zionism – she didn’t write “Jewish controlled”; did she?), reminded us of a crazy conspiracy theory – on some completely off the mental spectrum website – alleging that Barack Obama’s stepfather Lolo Soetoro must have been Jewish because “soetoro” is a Hebrew word used in the Hebrew Bible.

We were mildly surprised that the Guardian allowed such a bizarre claim on their site, and, wishing to understand the very generous flexibility of the moderators, searched for her other comments.

Reading her writings taken from her public profile on CIF is a beautiful example of the level of racist hate speech that the World’s Leading Liberal Voice is evidently ready to tolerate, completely disregarding their own ‘community standards’. Here are a limited number of examples of her comments, along with the ‘source’ of her knowledge.

Israel and its puppet the USA are the instigators of all ongoing unrest and upheaval in the world:

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Another comment puts some light on her ‘sources’.

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Her suggested useful reference on the mass murder of “Christians” by the hands of Lenin and Trotsky is a book of a certain Estonian author – Juri Lina – titled ‘Under the Sign of the Scorpion‘. To illustrate what she considers ‘an important source’, we will only quote the well-known neo-Nazi and conspiracy theorist Henry Makow: 

Estonian journalist Juri Lina has examined the recently opened Soviet archives and documented the connection between the Bolshevik Revolution and Jewish Illuminism in his book “Under the Sign of the Scorpion.” (1994)

I will probably devote a separate column to this book. Suffice to say here that Communism was the outcome of the plan outlined in Protocols. No wonder this book was banned in the USSR on pain of death! Its informal ban in America is a measure of our condition.

Karl Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, were all Jewish Freemasons, dysfunctional losers who were employed by the Illuminist bankers to hoodwink the masses. Lenin for example had been an unsuccessful lawyer who had only six cases in which he defended shoplifters. He lost all six cases. A week later he gave up the law to become a highly paid revolutionary.

Ms Kuch can’t be fooled; she knows the real name of the players in Ukraine:

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Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews (June 30)

This post is part of a series which re-focuses on the problem of biased moderation at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF) – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by their team of professional moderators. All of the following comments have been posted under ‘CiF’ op-eds which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

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And what terrible post of Bonbonniera has been deleted? This one…

19 Jun 2014 12:45pm

nakba denialism? very funny. You will have to indict the Guardian as being evil and fascist and the British officials of 1948 in the Mandate as evil and fascist too.

By early 1948 British officials were reporting that “the Arabs have suffered a series of overwhelming defeats.” They added: “Jewish victories … have reduced Arab morale to zero and, following the cowardly example of their inept leaders, they are fleeing from the mixed areas in their thousands. It is now obvious that the only hope of regaining their position lies in the regular armies of the Arab states.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/26/british-secret-documents-palestine-partition

There was no nakba, the Arabs fled from Israel because their leaders were inept.

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None of these comments have been deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

 

Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews (June 25)

This post is part of a series which re-focuses on the problem of biased moderation at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF) – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by their professional moderators. All of the following comments have been posted under ‘CiF’ op-eds which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

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Here’s phindrup’s answer to the question “where will their [ISIS] killing stop?”

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None of these reader comments have been deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews (June 20)

This post is part of a series which re-focuses on the problem of biased moderation at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF) – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by their team of professional moderators. All of the following comments have been posted under ‘CiF’ op-eds which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Guardian commenter with the moniker, ‘NormBlunt‘.

10 June, 3:26pm

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Guardian commenter with the moniker, ferdous87

12 June, 2:20am

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13 June, 7:58am

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Guardian commenter with the moniker, ‘monkie‘.

11 June, 7:18pm

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Guardian commenter with the moniker ‘Chomskyfan.

12 June, 6:51am

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Again, these comments have NOT been deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews (June 18)

This post is part of a series which will re-focus on the problem of biased moderation at the Guardian’s blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF) – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by their team of professional moderators.

All of the following reader comments have been posted under ‘CiF’ op-eds which have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

It starts here with a commenter with the moniker ‘StephenStafford‘:

09 June, 6:43pm

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The thread continues with a commenter named Morgenrot.

 10 June, 6:18pm

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Again, none of these comments have been deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

 

Focus below the line: Guardian readers ‘reflect’ on Israel and the Jews

cifThough the large volume of articles and op-eds at the Guardian and its blog ‘Comment is Free’ (CiF), and elsewhere in the UK media, containing distortions or false claims naturally keep us pretty busy, we have also – since our founding in 2009 – regularly monitored reader comments below the line at ‘CiF’ to see if the moderation process is fair and consistent with their ‘community standards‘.  

This post is part of a series which will re-focus on the problem of biased moderation at CiF – particularly, reader comments which are off-topic, ad hominem or antisemitic, and yet not deleted by moderators.

Today we focus on a ‘CiF’ contributor with the moniker MikePilgrim, who left quite a few comments over the last few days.

(The following comments were not deleted by CiF moderators at the time this post was published.)

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Why was this deleted by ‘Comment is Free’ moderators?

The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.” – CP Scott (The Guardian’s former editor and owner)

‘Comment is Free’ published an open thread on February 10th (What ‘Comment is Free’ means to you: in celebration of its late founding editor Georgina Henry) that asked readers to share their thoughts on “the Guardian’s home of online comment and debate.”

While most of the reader comments predictably praised ‘Comment is Free’, there were a few dissenting voices – those who evidently take the words of CP Scott seriously  – including this:

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A bit later, the comment was deleted by CiF editors because it evidently violated their “community standards”:

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While the topic of comment moderation has been addressed at this blog on numerous occasions, we still are often baffled why many pro-Israel (or otherwise heterodox) comments are deemed inconsistent with their “community standards”.  So, here are the ten commenting rules at ‘Comment is Free’, listed under the heading ‘Community standards and participation guidelines‘:

There are 10 simple guidelines which we expect all participants in the community areas of the Guardian website to abide by, all of which directly inform our approach to community moderation (detailed below). These apply across the site, while moderation decisions are also informed by the context in which comments are made.

1. We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the Guardian website as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.

2. We acknowledge criticism of the articles we publish, but will not allow persistent misrepresentation of the Guardian and our journalists to be published on our website. For the sake of robust debate, we will distinguish between constructive, focused argument and smear tactics.

3. We understand that people often feel strongly about issues debated on the site, but we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening. Please respect other people’s views and beliefs and consider your impact on others when making your contribution.

4. We reserve the right to redirect or curtail conversations which descend into flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisations. We don’t want to stop people discussing topics they are enthusiastic about, but we do ask users to find ways of sharing their views that do not feel divisive, threatening or toxic to others.

5. We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such. We recognise the difference between criticising a particular government, organisation, community or belief and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.

6. We will remove any content that may put us in legal jeopardy, such as potentially libellous or defamatory postings, or material posted in potential breach of copyright.

7. We will remove any posts that are obviously commercial or otherwise spam-like. Our aim is that this site should provide a space for people to interact with our content and each other, and we actively discourage commercial entities passing themselves off as individuals, in order to post advertising material or links. This may also apply to people or organisations who frequently post propaganda or external links without adding substantively to the quality of the discussion on the Guardian website.

8. Keep it relevant. We know that some conversations can be wide-ranging, but if you post something which is unrelated to the original topic (“off-topic”) then it may be removed, in order to keep the thread on track. This also applies to queries or comments about moderation, which should not be posted as comments.

9. Be aware that you may be misunderstood, so try to be clear about what you are saying, and expect that people may understand your contribution differently than you intended. Remember that text isn’t always a great medium for conversation: tone of voice (sarcasm, humour and so on) doesn’t always come across when using words on a screen. You can help to keep the Guardian community areas open to all viewpoints by maintaining a reasonable tone, even in unreasonable circumstances.

10. The platform is ours, but the conversation belongs to everybody.We want this to be a welcoming space for intelligent discussion, and we expect participants to help us achieve this by notifying us of potential problems and helping each other to keep conversations inviting and appropriate. If you spot something problematic in community interaction areas, please report it. When we all take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate and constructive environment, the debate itself is improved and everyone benefits.

If someone wants to let us know why the comment was deleted, we’re all ears.

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Guardian readers commemorate the Holocaust in their own special way

h/t to the ‘global network’ of CiF Watchers

A commendable essay by Hila Shachar was published at ‘Comment is Free’ yesterday (Jan. 27) titled ‘The Holocaust is not your metaphor to use in modern political debates – one in a series of appropriate articles which appeared in the Guardian on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated annually on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

In thinking about what it actually means to honour the victims, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the best ways to do this is to continue reminding ourselves that those victims were individual human beings. This should seem obvious, right? And yet, the victims of the Holocaust continue to be appropriated as political metaphors and dehumanised in the process.

Specific examples can be both well-meaning or purposefully disrespectful. Take the animal rights group PETA, which is known for its insensitive shock tactics when it comes to its marketing. In 2004, the group created the Holocaust on your plate campaign, using images of emaciated victims of Nazi concentration camps and comparing meat-eaters and those working in the meat-production industry to Nazis. I hope I don’t need to explain why this is wrong. But as I’ve been watching Facebook and Twitter conversations about the Tony Abbott government’s treatment of refugees degenerate into comparisons with the Nazis, I have to wonder if perhaps I do.

Recently, I came across this Facebook post that uses an image of a child who was killed in Auschwitz next to an image of a baby who was born in Christmas Island detention centre. It’s highly emotive and also, in my view, highly unethical. Using images of those who were killed by the Nazis to make a point about the Australian government’s policies is demeaning to those who died. It is essentially saying that their deaths are not to be remembered for their own sake, but rather because they are useful tools as points of reference and comparison in contemporary political debate. It turns Holocaust victims and survivors into concepts, decontexualised imagery and generalisations, and erases their individuality as human beings – even when the intentions behind it are sincere and well-meaning.

As part of our mission, we often monitor reader comments below the line of ‘CiF’ essays to see if moderators promptly remove antisemitic commentary (consistent with their own stated ‘community standards) and, more generally, to get a barometer of the hate often elicited by any Guardian or ‘CiF’ entry which focuses on Jews or Israel.  Here are just a few samples of the less than enlightened reader responses to Shachar’s essay:

Israel-Nazi comparison: 36 ‘Recommends’ and NOT deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators:

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Jewish conspiracy/general antisemitism

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Guardian staff endorsed comment on ‘Zionist evil’ is deleted by…another staffer?

On Aug. 19th we posted about the following conspiratorial and quite bizarre reader comment beneath a Guardian story (unrelated to Israel), which received the prestigious ‘G pick’ label (orange ribbon icon), indicating that a Guardian staffer viewed it as an especially interesting ‘reflection’. 

At some point following our post the Guardian did a 180, not only removing the official Guardian endorsement, but deleting the comment altogether.

deletedSo, just to recap: the commenter’s warning about the threat faced by the “Evil Trinity” of “the neocon-military-corporate complex in alliance with Saudi Wahhabism and Israeli Zionism” went – in the span of 24 hours or so – from officially endorsed to a violation of ‘Comment is Free’ “community standards”. 

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see the internal Guardian email exchange between the two “professionals” which prompted this reversal. 

The ‘Guardian Spring': Is ‘Comment is Free’ easing its ban on CiF Watch?

As we’ve noted previously, despite the relative improvement of the moderation of comments beneath the line at ‘Comment is Free’ over the years, moderators seem to have an at least unofficial policy of immediately deleting any mention of, and links to, this blog.  Indeed, as we recounted in a post, though I was for some time allowed to comment using my real name, with a bio noting that I spent my days guarding the Guardian, at some point I fell out of favor with the politburo and was banned – and my comments airbrushed from ‘CiF’ history.

Now, being the official nemesis of a paper cheekily yet accurately described by one prominent commentator as “the English-language newspaper least friendly to Israel on earth” is a badge we wear proudly, and, happy warriors that we are, we take their hostility in the face of our dogged efforts to chip away at their dwindling journalistic legitimacy as a sign of our effectiveness.  Though they may fancy the notion that they’re indifferent to our presence, the fact that even furtive attempts to allude to our presence are immediately flagged by their “professional” moderators would suggest otherwise.

However, yesterday, something quite curious occurred.

In the comment thread beneath the Guardian editorial praising the East London Mosque (fisked by Harry’s Place in a post cross-posted here), there was this, by a commenter responding to a comment (which, as you see, was deleted) that had dared to mention these blogging critiques of their apologia for radical Islam.

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And, then there was this:

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A few observations:

  • Yes, as the first commenter above argued, CiF Watch has indeed published a number of posts, which would disturb genuine progressives, about the Guardian’s licensing of illiberal, decidedly Judeophobic commentators at ‘Comment is Free’.
  • Yes, one would certainly expect the Editor to establish a transparent dialogue with these critics and take a closer look at the ideological extremism they are implicitly endorsing.
  • The two comments posted above have garnered nearly 200 recommends and, remarkably, have NOT been deleted by CiF moderators.

Will 2013 be remembered as the year in which the spirit of openness, tolerance and liberalization (what may be known as Glasnost and Perestroika to the Cold War brats among us) finally penetrated the anachronistic and suffocating radical chic political environment which has long dominated the Guardian’s London salon?

Have the liberal journalistic upheavals of the ‘Guardian Spring’ arrived? 

Why wasn’t this comment deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators? ‘Nuke Israel’ edition (Updated)

A guest post by AKUS

The reader comment below (beneath the line of a Guardian editorial on the Syrian crisis), which suggests that Israel should be destroyed by arming its enemies with nuclear weapons, has remained up so far for almost 12 hours.

nukeAt least one commenter has complained to the Guardian with no results – almost 12 hours later.

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Those familiar with CiF Watch would of course understand that this one example is indicative of a broader problem at ‘Comment is Free’.  As we’ve shown in countless posts, CiF moderators often demonstrate egregious double standards when determining which comments get deleted – decisions purportedly based on whether such comments violate their ‘Community Standards‘.

UPDATE: Shortly after our post, the comment was deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators.

Glenn Greenwald’s column at ‘CiF': A safe space for antisemitic commenters?

A guest post by AKUS

Antisemitic commenters at the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ have discovered that Glenn Greenwald’s columns provide a useful forum in which to post racist commentary below the line – many of which have not been deleted by CiF moderators. 

In a post by Greenwald on April 7, Bradley Manning is off-limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced, which didn’t mention Jews or Israel, this comment popped up in response to another commenter who mentioned the widely used term “Pallywood” to describe the faked and discredited film clips and photographs which Palestinians have sometimes distributed:

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This opened the doors to a bit of antisemitic jollity by “bilejones” and others based on the well-known antisemitic meme that Jews control Hollywood.

On most ‘CiF’ threads the following comments would have been deleted by moderators, but thanks to Greenwald’s unique policy regarding comment moderation, they remain in all their smart-alecky racism. Notice that the pretense that “Israelis” or “Zionists” are the people opposed to Palestinians immediately gives way to the underlying animosity towards Jews usually hidden by those terms in the following pejorative exchanges:

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Now the Pavlovian dogs had been let loose, and even MonaHol may have realized they had gone too far – or, perhaps, was just being a little coy:

newThe approval of such comments make you wonder how long a comment that proposed characterizing movies which are made by African–Americans by using a variation of the ‘n-word’ would be allowed to stay up.  Would the commenter engaging in such shamefully racist “wordplay” still be permitted to post at the Guardian? 

Lest the gentle reader think these are isolated examples, here is another recent set.

In another column by Greenwald, ‘The same motive for anti-US ‘terrorism’ is cited over and over, he mentioned the excuse given by some recent high profile Muslim terrorists – such as the Fort Hood shooter and the ‘Underwear Bomber’ - that they were attacking America due, in part, to its support of Israel.  A commenter then drags in Judaism as a counterbalance to criticism of Islam, and MonaHol offers to post selections from the Talmud in defense of Islam:

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The  comment by “westeastnorth” was in response to several well-known invented citations purporting to come from the Talmud provided on antisemitic websites that MonaHol repeats here:

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Given that someone like MonaHol likely cannot read Hebrew, Aramaic, or Rashi script, and it takes a lifetime of study in the original languages to learn and understand the Talmud, the question must be asked: “From where does she get her information”?

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The answer is that that she gleans the citations from the numerous antisemitic websites that have trolled selectively through an English version and then circulate the very citations MonaHol presents, without the context of rabbinic disputation. Only an obsessive anti-Semite would in turn troll through such sites to find them, and only an ignoramus would present them as representing the full range of Jewish thought on those subjects. Googling “Talmud” and any of the so-called Talmudic references MonaHol quoted will give you dozens if not hundreds of such sites.

It is the equivalent of presenting a list of straw man legal arguments that have been given to students at law school to argue over as representing exact examples of a country’s laws

Refutations can be found at this site, which painstakingly fisks the many fabrications about the Talmud that circulate on the internet, listing them one antisemitic “Claim” at a time, including the ones that MonaHol uses. The antisemitic websites provided as sources have mostly been taken down since this website was set up, but Stormfront (one of the purveyors of such gross distortions of Judaism) is still active.

I have edited the lengthy list of refutations down to the claims that MonaHol made, and further reduced the number of responses to each claim for the sake of (relative) brevity:

CLAIM (23) Jews May Steal from Non-Jews Baba Mezia 24a. If a Jew finds an object lost by a Gentile (“heathen”) it does not have to be returned. (Affirmed also in Baba Kamma 113b).

RESPONSE (1)
Found objects do not have to be returned when they are lost under circumstances that make the owner impossible to identify. This also applies to objects lost by Jews in crowded areas — as you would know had you actually read the passage in question instead of pasting it in from a National Socialist website.

CLAIM (25) Jews May Rob and Kill Non-Jews Sanhedrin 57a. When a Jew murders a Gentile (“Cuthean”), there will be no death penalty. What a Jew steals from a Gentile he may keep.

RESPONSE (2)
Misquote. That’s a theoretical point that is being raised and subsequently rejected. Naturally, [the quote] “forgets” to mention the latter part.

CLAIM (27) Jews May Lie to Non-Jews Baba Kamma 113a. Jews may use lies (“subterfuges”) to circumvent a Gentile.

RESPONSE (1)
This is one of the most obvious pieces of out-of-context blather it has ever been my pleasure to refute. The context is evading a thief. Yes, you are permitted to lie to a robber — in particular a crooked tax collector.

Further down the same page, it not only says that robbing gentiles is prohibited, it even discusses the derivation of the prohibition.

Here, we have gone beyond going out of context and have entered the realm of deliberate falsification.

RESPONSE (2)
Refers to whether a Jew may deceive a Roman tax collector, IIRC (note that Romans were the occupying force at that time, literally playing the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham).
From Usenet message

RESPONSE (3)
The passage discusses robbers (such as tax collectors who acted beyond their legal authority) who have stolen property. The question that arises is whether it is permitted to use subterfuge to circumvent their thievery. In a long legal discussion, the entire thrust of which is that any form of stealing from heathens is forbidden, the following statement is brought forward for consideration: “we use subterfuges to circumvent him [a heathen; this is one opinion] … but Rabbi Akiva said that we should not attempt to circumvent him on account of the sanctification of the Name”. The Talmud continues and notes that Rabbi Akiva forbids subterfuges not only on account of desecration of G-d’s name, but also because theft from a non-Jew is absolutely forbidden by biblical law. The Talmud continues to explain that even the opinion which is rejected does not condone outright theft which is absolutely forbidden according to all opinions.

The Talmudic passage here is a well-known one which makes the point that the “law of the land is the law”, that is, the civil and commercial law of the nations in which Jews reside is binding on them. 

Obsessive anti-Semites like “bilejones”, “MonaHol”, “axenicely” and others congregate under Greenwald’s columns – and are left there to create an environment which extremist sites might envy.

The Guardian has banned supporters of Israel for far less, and one would think that such name-calling by “bilejones” and “axenicely” would elicit corrective action by their team of professional moderators – which begs serious questions about the Guardian and the extent of their commitment to maintaining high ‘community standards‘. 

Silence by ‘CiF’ moderators in the face of such hate speaks volumes.