Hate group fueled by viral videos, T-shirts

A Neo-Nazi rally was held outside a synagogue in Cobb County on Saturday June 24, 2023.

Credit: Stewart Levy

Credit: Stewart Levy

A Neo-Nazi rally was held outside a synagogue in Cobb County on Saturday June 24, 2023.

When a handful of neo-Nazis gathered in front of an East Cobb synagogue last weekend, spewing antisemitic messages and conspiracy theories before a horrified community, they were led by a man who proudly proclaims himself “the most famous antisemite in America.”

In just a few years, Jon Minadeo II, a high school dropout from Northern California, has emerged as “Handsome Truth,” an outrageous far-right personality and leader of the hate group the Goyim Defense League. Nightly, he livestreams his diatribes and hateful stunts on a sprawling website that seeks to be a one-stop shop for radical, racist content.

The Cobb County demonstration, for example, was livestreamed by a supporter with a hand-held cell phone camera as Minadeo and his small band mocked Jews and shouted at passing cars. And all of that content, including antics like the one staged in Cobb, are fueled by the sale of Nazi-themed merchandise and appeals for donations.

“They are still writing articles about what happened,” Minadeo bragged on a recent broadcast where he recounted his weekend in Georgia. “I view this weekend as a huge success. Some people argue about the optics and things like that, but I think a lot of these people don’t understand what we are trying to do.”

Throughout the show, viewers posted supportive comments in a scrolling window to the side of his news anchor-like set. Minadeo would occasionally stop his patter to acknowledge another small-dollar donation, calling out the donor by name and offering a “Heil Hitler” salute. By the end of his two-and-a-half hour show, a green bar that had been marking the progress of donations had filled up, showing he had exceeded his goal of nearly $400.

Jon Minadeo, 40 of Florida, celebrates reaching his fundraising goal with a Nazi salute on a recent livestream broadcast on his website. Minadeo led antisemitic demonstrations in front of Georgia synagogues earlier this month.

Credit: Chris Joyner

icon to expand image

Credit: Chris Joyner

The GDL’s YouTube-like site features blogs, music videos, and links to racist content and various conspiracy theories. But the stock and trade of the site is antisemitism.

Along with the videos, Minadeo’s website includes an online store with T-shirts, hats — even soap — with antisemitic and Nazi themes. Designs feature photos of Adolf Hitler and Nazi salutes alongside a few items attacking the COVID vaccine and a design with an anti-LGBTQ slur.

Despite Minadeo’s professions that his group is nonviolent, the merchandise for sale does make veiled threats against Jews, including numerous Holocaust-themed items and a T-shirt with the slogan “voting will not remove them.” The design for that shirt is called “No Political Solution,” a phase is used by extremists known as “accelerationists” who seek to tear down the current social and political system through violent revolution. For an extra $5, purchasers can get a shirt with that slogan and the emblem of a German division from World War II infamous for its war crimes.

“He is essentially making a living off of what he’s doing,” said Katie McCarthy, an investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “And that goes for several other core members of this network. They don’t have, you know, real jobs. They rely on the donations that they get from other followers, from their fans across the white supremacist ecosystem, to help pay their bills and to fund further activity.”

That success has made Minadeo a kind of role model for aspiring leaders on the extreme right, McCarthy said.

“They see him as a source of inspiration,” she said. “When GDL goes out there and we see them do something, usually within a couple of weeks or months, we’ll see other groups and individuals follow suit and start doing the same thing that they do.”

And the copycats get rewarded. Minadeo stresses in his broadcasts that supporters should take their antisemitism to the streets in real-world activism, and he praises those who follow his example.

Prior to his stop in Cobb County, Minadeo on Friday staged a demonstration at a synagogue in Macon targeting Jews and the LGBT community, with a handful of GDL supporters. Minadeo was arrested at that protest for reportedly shouting obscenities through a bullhorn after being told by police to leave.

Minadeo was charged with disorderly conduct and creating a public disturbance, both misdemeanors. Within a few hours, he had posted bond and continued his “tour” of the state.

“Right when I got out of jail, we dropped flyers,” he told his audience.

Over the past two years, the flyers have become GDL’s most recognizable calling card and play on antisemitic tropes that have been used to terrorize Jewish communities for centuries. The flyers, which he sells pre-folded and bagged, claim Jews conspire to control entire industries, pull the levers of government, and are behind the COVID-19 pandemic, gun control efforts, and feminism.

Minadeo’s supporters have tossed them in neighborhoods from coast to coast, including numerous instances in the metro Atlanta area, and watchdogs blame his group for the alarming spike in antisemitic incidents over the past year. One distribution in February in a neighborhood in Sandy Springs hit the driveway of the Georgia Legislature’s only Jewish member, Rep. Esther Panitch, who took her disgust to Twitter.

“Welcome to being a Jew in Georgia,” she tweeted.

Failed rapper to ideologue

Minadeo’s quick rise on the fringe right follows years of failed attempts in music and movies in his native California.

Before establishing GDL, Minadeo self-released two rap albums in 2013 and 2015 under the stage name Shoobie Da Wop. The albums, “American Man Whore” and “Whore Moans,” largely feature songs about drug use and casual sex. Notably, the songs do not deal with antisemitism or the numerous conspiracy theories Minadeo spouts in his livestreams.

The social media accounts linked to his Shoobie Da Wop persona have been deleted. But archived snapshots of his Twitter feed show that by 2016 Minadeo was deeply interested in Pizzagate, the outlandish conspiracy theory that Democrats, entertainers and other world leaders ran a pedophilia ring using secret tunnels beneath a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.

“We need to fight back(.) no more backing down to the demonic pedophiles running our country,” he tweeted on Dec. 9, 2016, adding the hashtag “pizzagate.”

In between conspiracy-laden tweets, Minadeo promoted his rap songs. “Releasing a new single soon ‘DOPE BOY’ I’ll keep everyone posted,” he tweeted on Dec. 30, 2016.

McCarthy said Minadeo began staging his real-world antisemitic stunts around 2019. The following year, Minadeo filed paperwork with the California secretary of state to start his streaming platform, Goyim TV.

“Over the past two years that the network has really taken off and sort of evolved into this massive, sprawling network of antisemites and white supremacist from across the United States and even internationally,” she said.

Minadeo moved to Florida in the last year. He filed paperwork with the California Secretary of State to terminate his business in June 2022, but there is no record of his establishing a new business in Florida under his name.

Aside from his financial motives, McCarthy said she believes Minadeo is a true believer in his hatred of Jews and that his rhetoric is “fundamentally dangerous.”

“When he says that he wants to have Jews expelled from the US, I don’t think he’s trying to troll there,” she said. “I think he does sincerely believe that, and he is trying to encourage others.”