As I mentioned briefly in today’s Discontents newsletter speaking with Jared Holt and running an essay from Kelsey D. Atherton in Hell World the other day we covered most of my initial thoughts on the January 6... what have you. I’m still sort of at a loss on what to say about it all since then besides it sucks and is bad and makes me feel bad.
I guess more than anything I’m just glad we finally have an excuse to listen to Ted Cruz and his friends cry about not being able to post which has been the inevitable conclusion of every major news story for the past few years.
If I were required for some reason to present a coherent argument in court or in some academic or journalistic forum or whatever about t h e f r e e s p e e c h i m p l i c a t i o n s of all this I would probably have a more nuanced take about it but I'm not required to do that so I can just say lol get fucked Trump and all fash eat shit.
I’m sorry but I’m just not all that fired up about access to ~~the virtual public square~~ when people right now and all year and for years before that have been marching in our actual public squares pushing for justice and civil rights and getting their heads kicked in and their eyes shot out by police with the very vocal support of the right. How many Black Lives Matter activists out of Ferguson and elsewhere have been literally murdered in mysterious circumstances for their speech?
So no. Everyone being able to post whatever they want is somewhere on my long list of concerns but it’s not particularly high.
You do not under any circumstances have to come to the aid of your enemies. If our broader project whatever you want to call it has any hope of ever succeeding it requires destroying the fascists and the right entirely as it exists and there is no possible future in which aligning with them now out of noble rhetorical principle will have any positive boomerang benefit. Kick them in the face when they are down. They would not help you if the situation was reversed. I know from firsthand experience! Everyone on the right crying about free speech right now was calling for my head a couple years ago.
And besides who are the hypothetical refs of discourse we are offering up our fealty to fairness to in this situation? What good-will redemption credits are we banking right now that will be honored at a later date and by whom?
Do people honestly think if we never try to deplatform the far right they will be forced by logic and sportsmanship to acknowledge our good faith efforts and provide the left the same protections when its our turn later on? Obviously not. And it’s always already been our turn. The speech of the left is regularly constrained all the time.
Every time anything happens we gotta immediately shift to talking about what if the opposite thing happened. Hmm well you won’t like it when they take your posts down will you? No of course not. I’ll think well this sucks then whine about it like a huge fucking baby if they do and then I’ll go about my life. Start a…fuckin… zine or something. Or just shut the fuck up for while. Who cares! People aren’t having their speech constrained right now they’re having their ability to be unnaturally amplified constrained. People can say whatever they want still they just don’t have access temporarily to one or two specific massive recruitment platforms for organizing crimes and hate. Who cares!
Trump not being able to post lies to 100 million people every single day is a net good for the world. The entire network of worms who worship him not being able to organize and gas each other up as easily as they have been for years is a net good. These seem like easy distinctions to make to me in the same way that saying rallying and protesting and occupying government buildings for the cause of good is good and doing it for the cause of bad is bad.
That said break up and nationalize Facebook and punt Twitter’s servers into a bottomless pit. Who cares! We do not need any of this shit to live or thrive personally or as a society.
I liked this whole piece from Patrick Wyman today.
Pinning the blame for political violence on the lunatic fringe, rather than ordinary members of society, is a comforting lie folks tell themselves to avoid the reality of our political situation, how we’ve gotten to this point, and the possible futures leading forward from here.
It is absolutely essential that we understand it’s a lie. Perfectly normal people - business owners, farmers, factory workers, shopkeepers, and decorated military veterans - have been the willing and enthusiastic footsoldiers of every fascist, authoritarian, and genocidal regime in history. For every bearded miscreant wearing a sweatshirt celebrating the Holocaust in that crowd, there were a dozen firefighters, cops, masonry workers, and business owners. It’s an unfortunate fact that people who have done or who are willing to do even the worst things don’t wear signs around their necks advertising it.
All of the participants, from those on the ground in the Capitol to the representatives and senators who supported their violent takeover to the president himself, have to be held accountable for their actions. They have to be held accountable now. If we wait, if we try to “heal” and “move on” from this series of events, we’re in for much worse. Whatever taboos we have around the open application of force in the political process will be obliterated once and for all.
I found this rundown of the events and thinking that lead up to the siege or whatever to be pretty plausible and likely. More to the point I liked this observation from Kieran Healy who pointed out something that is obvious but also I don’t often see stated as explicitly:
“Trump loves his crowd, but he has no tolerance at all for the individuals who make it up. As soon as they got inside the building and resolved once more into identifiable individuals, Trump was reportedly and unsurprisingly grossed out by all the ‘low class’ stuff he was seeing.”
I liked this line from Dave Weigel as well:
“A career covering politics, much of it spent on the conservative movement, had conditioned me to revolutionary rhetoric that nobody acts on. Yet here they were, acting out the plan they'd screamed into reality, walking right past me.”
This from David Roth was typically great:
On Friday night, Twitter suspended Trump’s account; the platform finally banned him when, like a true poster, he evaded the suspension by posting his usual furious spuriousness from various other accounts. It did not really get quieter without him, because Twitter doesn’t really ever quiet down, but there was a strange realization under all the signifying and counter-signifying and multiply exhausted joking around. Trump’s sudden absence pointed towards a greater, older vacancy.
In a country where people expected or demanded anything more from their government than violence and theatrical pomp, Donald Trump would not have gotten very far. Those are the only things he ever promised or cared about delivering, and he rose as far and as fast as he did against opposition that was unwilling or unable to offer anything but its own softer versions. The stories that sprung up around if not quite about Trump were as brutal and lazy as the man himself; they teased themselves endlessly from one episode to the next, building toward a brutal grand finale in which America’s heroes would murder its villains, on TV, at some time to-be-determined. All the grifts rhymed, even if none of them actually made sense.
But, in the absence and abandonment of this long low moment, every idle sadism and dishonesty flourished like a particularly insistent invasive plant. Here is the fact of it: the country’s leaders cannot quite bring themselves to say that the lives of people living in this country matter at all, let alone act as if they do. The state fails daily; it has somehow forgotten how to do anything but hurt and cannot even agree that it would be good to try to help. It does not tell the truth as a matter of course, which gives license to everyone adrift in this to believe whatever story they find most compelling. In the ways that matter most, in the places where it is needed most, the state barely exists. Where there is supposed to be strength is only power and brute force; what is supposed to be held in common has been openly looted; the triumphal national image is gnawed to bits by a frantically denied shame and raw fear.
I don’t know about you but if I were on the right the group defined almost entirely by cop respecting I would be absolutely losing my mind over this.
I have been hearing one of my least favorite political cliches a lot lately about how poorly history will look back on all of this. From my new book:
I also liked this from Leila Brillson on the connection between the alt-right and hipsters.
VICE stopped working with [Proud Boys leader] Gavin McInnes in 2008—but he was still in demand. He continued his comedy/cinema career with people like David Cross, Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts, and more up to 2015 when his fancy friends disappeared and his politics took center stage. It is also no mistake that he went on to found his own advertising and branding agency because, uh, if dude knows one thing it is how to serve something that feels “cool” to those hungry for it, a la white nationalism.
Whether it be a clean-cut, Fred Perry-version of white supremacy, or his earlier iteration of tapping into the so-ironic-it-ticks-over-into-the-real versions of hipster racism, the one thing that McInnes does understand is how to package things to his intended audience and, with heavy-handed irony, make it feel like either you are either in on “the joke” or not. But there is no delineation between the gulf of you and casual racism because “everyone ought to know better,” and then insisting that this sort of “devil may care” offensiveness only angers anyone who is “intellectually lazy and knee-jerk”… and being, haphazardly (or, now, professionally) racist.
In other news thanks to “The Eve 6 Guy” for the shoutout in the Washington Post the other day.
Q: You mentioned you’ve been a big Twitter user for a while. Who do you like to follow? Who does it really well?
A: [Writer and journalist] Luke O’Neil. I’ve been following him for years. His newsletter “Welcome to hell World” is punctuation-free for the most part, and I really like that aesthetic and style and attitude. I’m sure I gleaned some of that from him.
About two-and-a-half years ago or so, I was touring with another band I sometimes do called Fitness, opening up for Big Data in Boston. I’m a lap swimmer, and I always try to find a pool that’s close to the venue.
I found a YMCA, and I was swimming. Had my own lane, which you’re always really psyched about. Then this huge dude lumbers in and gets in my lane. I keep thinking, “This guy looks really familiar.” I asked if he was Luke O’Neil, and he said, “Yeah.” I told him I was a huge fan. I didn’t tell him I was in Eve 6.
We DM’d a little bit over the years, and I eventually told him I was the “heart in a blender” guy. And he told me that was the first song he ever learned on guitar. Just a very strange little sequence.
This came out ten years ago today. A while back I put it at #1 in my list of the top Emo-ish songs of the 2010s.
THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY OK? LOOK AT THIS SHARK NOW. BYE.