It all started when he started looking into the chemical company Monsanto, Menadio said. Or maybe that was when he started acting and discovered the religious affiliation of media moguls. Or in solidarity with the people of Palestine? His story was smooth.
This was how we spent most of our time, as Mindo cited vast amounts of “evidence” of a worldwide nefarious plot. But I had no desire to discuss it. I am not particularly interested in analyzing his points now. They are all completely exposed to anyone not in the smallest and most toxic of echo chambers.
Menadio called his examples “pattern recognition”. I call them fabrications, or at least cherry picking.
I will give one example here. It’s from one of the flyers that led me to this strange moment — the one that articulated “every single aspect of the Biden administration is Jewish” and provided, as evidence, footage of 12 notable people surrounding the president, along with their roles.
Set aside for a moment a clear response that Jews should rightly be proud of their individual success stories after centuries of persecution. Let’s just analyze what Mindo was assuming.
I believe all 12 men and women in the post are Jews. But if every single side of Biden’s team is Jewish, how appropriate would it be to exclude the 18 members of the government who are in fact non-Jewish? Or all the four great military leaders of the United States. Or President Joe Biden, who is Catholic of course.
If this argument falls apart so easily, why bother with such a bizarre assertion as “Jews control 96% of the American media?”
For the most part, my interview with Minadeo was a recurring game of cat and mouse. He has consistently worked to bring out his most popular views.
He said his main problem with the Jews was that they were overrepresented in leadership positions. He called for freedom of expression, noting that many countries had outlawed Holocaust denial. (Minadio believes that the number of Jews killed by Adolf Hitler’s regime was much lower than the accepted estimate of 6 million.) He denounced Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
I was trying to point out that the videos he hosts on his site go far beyond what he was telling me in the car. In the virtual scene, Minadeo gives a Nazi salute, talks about “these Jewish kings and their royal schemes,” tar not just ruthless CEOs, but every member of a religion, a cultural heritage, that may matter 20 million worldwide.
When I brought it up, Minadeo was focusing on another fringe theory or outdated metaphor.
Another topic I tried so hard to focus on was the potential for damage to Menadio’s words. He repeatedly replied that he preached nonviolence.
But antisemitic incidents are on the increase in America. The Anti-Defamation League, which has been counting since 1979, reported that 2019 and 2020 were among the three worst years it tracked. 2021 hasn’t counted yet.
The Jews are living in fear again – or they may never have stopped.
When Mendeo denied responsibility for encouraging violence, I thought of Jeff Renfro, owner of Yoga Hill studio in Petaluma. Renfrew told me he took his gun out of stock and carried it for the first time in a long time after he fired Minado’s girlfriend, because you never know who Minado’s followers are.
I thought of Michael Samson, Head of Congregation Sher Shalom in Sonoma, describing how she finds herself watching a dear old lady during worship services and wondering if she would have the strength to lift the woman out of the window if the synagogue was attacked.
I also thought about my family. My mother was Jewish, so I am Jewish. I do not practice religion, but I lost relatives in German death camps. My uncle Lewis, now deceased, begged his sons not to tattoo; For him, the tattoos were numbers inked on the arms at Auschwitz.
I was surprised that Menadio didn’t ask me about my religion. I might suppose. When he posted the video of our interview, he included a Star of David emoji in the description. Of course, this may have been his way of suggesting that the Jews control me in those frightening shadows of the mainstream media.
Anyway, I kept asking Menadio: Don’t you bear some responsibility for the terror that one of your followers, because of your theories and implications, might inflict on innocent Jews?
He would answer: “I do not want, and never support violence.”
Especially the violence against Menadio, perhaps. He said he was assaulted by a Jewish man during a stunt in Florida, and that his neighbor’s apartment was vandalized by “Antifa” during one of Menado’s trips to Texas. He claimed that he would most likely have to leave Petaluma because things had become uncomfortable for him.
“I’m afraid for my life, man,” Mindo said. You must understand, many people are deliberately ignorant. And these people can be dangerous.”
Afraid for his life? Willful ignorance? Dangerous people? He seemed oblivious to the obvious irony of his statements.
It is clear that Mindo wants to live in two worlds at once. In one, he goes about his business at Petaluma, running errands and drinking small drinks like any normal man. On the other hand, he is an online hate seller, enjoying the applause of racists and Nazis who rejoice at burning Jews in ovens.
The truth is, Minadeo can no longer be both of them, not in Petaluma. He has already made his choice.
You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org. on Twitter @Skinny_Post.