Cancer faker Belle Gibson trumpets the miracle workings of a new herbal-fasting diet

Originally posted by Yahoo7 News

Sham miracle healer Belle Gibson is touting the remarkable diet regime similar to the one she said cured her of a brain tumour but also landed her a $1 million consumer misconduct fine.

VIDEO Judge urged to throw the book at the disgraced ‘wellness blogger’. Source: TMS

The Melbourne blogger has attached herself to the Master Fast System, which claims to help the body “heal itself” of its ills using a combination of fasting techniques and herbal remedies.

The notorious 25-year-old became rich and famous from selling her Whole Food app and a diet she said rid her body of cancer before her fraud was exposed in 2015.

Disgraced wellness blogger Belle Gibson has found a new miracle diet. Source: Instagram
Gibson faces a $1.1 million fine for her conduct, to be decided Wednesday. Source: Supplied

Gibson pocketed $578,005 selling her snake oil before being called out for being a “pathological liar” who never even had cancer.

She is now facing a $1.1 million fine for her “unconscionable conduct” in a lawsuit brought by , with judgement to be decided in Melbourne’s Federal Court on Wednesday.

But the looming court case has not stopped Gibson claiming the new diet had helped her to lose four kilos, heal two tooth cavities and improve intestinal function, according to the posts on the closed group MFS Facebook page.

Gibson’s Whole Pantry cookbook was pulped after five months on sale. Source: Penguin Publishing

None of it is true: Wellness guru comes clean

Under the name “Harry Gibson”, she also proclaimed she saw a change in her eye colour, and all within the first 11 days of embarking on the diet, the Daily Mail reports.

“I felt incredible all day. I hadn’t felt like this in my entire life,” one post stated.

“I’m not getting carried away with the ‘hype’ or lost in the moment, it truly was a day like none I have ever experienced.”

“Then in the same release of water was a HUGE ROPE WORM. I’m talking enormous. It ruined my day almost not to be able to get this on video. Baha.”

VIDEO Belle Gibson’s secret interview released

“It was coiled around itself like a spiral about 5 or more times and it took up with width of the tube, so based on this math, I’m guessing it was at least 60cm (at minimum!!).

“I felt such a HUGE relief and was floating all day afterwards,” the post read.

In another post she proclaimed the diet helped her teeth to heal cavities and would never need to visit a dentist for a filling again.

The Master Fast System was developed by Canadian entrepreneur Luigi Di Serio. Source: Facebook

“This is all progress in just 11 days. Saved myself $400? More?”

Gibson also claimed her tonsils had shrunk by 30 per cent, she lost four kilograms and her “hazel eyes are starting to change to more green with what seems to be blue underneath. Woah!”

MFS was started by Canadian alternative health salesman Luigi Di Serio with the sales pitch that it can give hope to those given a “death sentence”.

“If you have been given a death sentence and without hope, let us teach you that EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE and your situation CAN be turned around no matter what ‘they’ named your dis-ease,” the company website states.

The MFS Key which helped Gibson with her miracle changes in only 11 days. Source: MFS

 

The system sells guides and special herbal teas and “specialist protocol support” with a price tag from $238 to $595 and “herbal tincture” packages that start at $333 to more than $1100.

While Gibson appears to be a true believer of the diet’s power, she does not appear to have any business or commercial links to MFS or Di Serio.

Gibson claimed to have healed terminal brain cancer by eating wholefoods, but later admitted in an interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly the diagnosis was a hoax.

Asked if she had ever had cancer, Ms Gibson told the magazine: “No. None of it’s true.”

Gibson will learn her fate at court on Wednesday. Source: Facebook

Gibson peddled her miracle cure through the Whole Foods app, which cost $2.99 to download, and secured a book deal with Penguin Publishing for $263,947.

But the book was pulled from shelves after five months when Gibson’s lie unravelled and Penguin was accused of going to print despite the strong suspicion their high-profile author was charlatan.

Gibson was also accused of failing to make a promised $300,000 donation to charities.

Justice Debby Mortimer will hand down her verdict in the consumer affairs case brought against Gibson on Wednesday, with a CAV calling for a $1.1 million fine and a public apology to be printed in newspapers.

Alternative Reality #5: Friends Indeed: Hoteps and Neo-Nazis Unite.

This is the fifth entry in a series archiving the conspiracist worldview in their own words from interviews, from found documents, but predominantly from online publishing and blog posts from people with a conspirative worldview. Hyperlinked, and printed, just in case the original article is deleted.

After the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, neo-Nazis and the alt-Right movement that they are associated with has been in the news frequently. In this climate of increasing anti-Semitic bomb threats and anti-immigrant violence comes an unlikely alliance.

In case you need a brief primer before reading this alternative reality, here you go …

Hotep (adj.) is an African American subculture designation typified by hyper-Masculinity, pan-African mysticism, racial separatism, and the belief in an Illuminati Shadow Government.

 

What is this Hotep and Neo-Nazi alliance?

Written by Ali Shakur (Posted at HotepNation)

Over the past few months on Twitter people have noticed that a few Hoteps and I have become quite friendly with white nationalists / Neo-Nazi. People don’t understand it so allow me to take this time to explain.

Firstly, both sides represent the alpha traits of their respective races. Hoteps represent that for blacks and Neo-Nazi for whites. The Left is quite feminine in their approach whereas they like to cry, complain, and protest but never actually want to do anything for themselves. Hotep and Neo-Nazi want to do for self. They want independence.

Foreign Interest

Hotep/Neo-Nazi are sick and tired of American people being pushed to the back in favor of foreign interests.

The Left is a hypocritical bunch. On one hand, they want to complain about Trump’s so-called “Muslim-ban” but on the other hand, they were quiet as a mouse when America was bombing and killing innocent people in these same Muslim countries.

The Left is complaining about a wall and not wanting to use taxpayer dollars to build it but where was the left when America was using taxpayer dollars for our exuberant defense budget? Nowhere! That’s where.

In a nutshell, the Left wants more government involvement and the Right wants less. See the book “Animal Farm & 1984” or “Brave New World” to discover the many reasons why we should NOT be looking for more government involvement. More government means more restrictions and less rights. Why don’t people understand this? It’s common sense.

Why is Hotep and Neo-Nazi championing Trump’s PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES and his build the wall campaign? Because it puts Americans first.

The job market and healthcare system is stressed past its limit so why would we want to stress it even more? Black unemployment is double the nation average but blacks are fighting for these Mexican and Muslim foreigners, who will come to America and compete with them for jobs. Foreigners will put blacks on soup kitchen lines if they don’t wake up soon.

In Muslim countries, blacks are forced into slavery, especially the women. There is even proof of ethnic cleansing performed by Arabs to remove the African from the territories they hold. How come we never hear/see the far left blacks protest this? Because the media didn’t tell them to.

The Hispanics don’t like blacks but that’s one of those untold truths people don’t like to discuss. But of course, blacks have to play world hero and defend Mexicans against this wall. George Lopez just told us that Hispanics do not like blacks. I’ve seen it first hand. Just ask your Dominican friends – if they’ll tell the truth.

Hoteps want blacks to put blacks FIRST. How can you help others when you cannot even help yourself?

Neo-Nazi sees this threat of borders being erased and American deterioration and they are sick of it too. This is also where they align with Hotep.

Nationalism

Hoteps want blacks to work towards having their own independent system where blacks do for blacks and don’t ask for handouts. The white nationalists and Neo-Nazi want pretty much the same.

In this aspect, both sides see eye-to-eye.

The far-left blacks want to cry for white acceptance from so-called white supremacy. They want white awards at white award shows and white pity. Hotep wants nothing to do with these moral victories as you cannot build a nation upon a foundation of emotions. [tweet this quote]

Hoteps are sick of blacks complaining about white supremacy. Blacks talk about how their melanin is so magical but if this is true, then surely no melanin-recessive person should be able to stop you, right? Do you see how contradicting blacks are now?

Neo-Nazi is tired of hearing blacks cry about racial oppression, so naturally, they will support the Hoteps that push back on this type of behavior.

Hoteps believe that because of the internet, the many resources available to blacks, and the privilege of being an American, we no longer need to look to the so-called white man for help. We can do for our own. Is that so bad?

Besides, if America is so bad, why is everyone fighting to come here?

“I believe that racism only exists in the media and the minds of the foolish.” [tweet this quote]

The media is controlled by “them” and “their” strategy is divide and conquer. As long as “they” can keep us fighting “they” can always present themselves as the solution and PROFIT. Hotep and Neo-Nazi are NOT fighting. Guess who’s hip to the game?

A great man builds wealth by making decisions based upon potential gains – NOT race. A poor businessman makes decisions based upon race. So the system, which is FOR PROFIT, cannot be inherently racist. It will only mask itself in it, for the sake of PROFIT.

The blacks love to spend on movies? Fine! They’ll make them some black movies to be proud of while they take the lion’s share. All blacks want are the emotions anyway. It’s a fair deal. Blacks get the emotions and “they” get the profit.

The blacks want awards? Fine! But “they” get the profit. Blacks are the enablers of white supremacy. Power is the child of strong economics. White power is sustained by black economics. Until blacks reverse the economics back in their favor, they will be oblivious to their enslavement.

DeVos Education Reform

Currently, blacks are upset about the DeVos education decision but why? It’s absolutely ridiculous in the eyes of a Hotep because why would you complain about white supremacy then ask that same enemy to properly educate your kids? It makes no sense.

Currently, the teacher’s union has fought to limit the number of charter schools in a particular region because they want their fair share of federal funding. They’re money hungry basically.

Blacks, due to democratic brainwashing fear the charter schools because “segregation”. I’d argue that segregation is EXACTLY what’s needed. Blacks need to teach other blacks. How can a white woman teach a black child how to operate in America? They cannot relate AT ALL. The only time they relate is when a white teacher does the “dab”.

It would behoove blacks to support school choice so that blacks can build their own schools. Because of government regulations and restrictions, pushed by the democrats, wealthy blacks cannot even build the schools we desperately need.

Blacks need to teach blacks and whites need to teach whites. Not to say either cannot be taught by the other but a black child needs to be able to relate to the teacher. How many times has a black boy been sent to the principal’s office because some white woman can’t get through to him due to CULTURAL differences?

Blacks want white supremacy to teach their kids whereas Hotep says “Educate your own kids”. This is dependency versus independence. Get the book “Black America Inc.” to see how blacks were much more educated and wealthy under segregation – and how integration destroyed black economics.

Hoteps would argue that Integration was infiltration and ever since integration, the white man’s ice has been colder than the blacks’. We lost our sense of community which is why our communities are in shambles RIGHT NOW.

Red Pill

Another thing Hoteps and Neo-Nazi have in common is being “red-pilled”. They see past the facade presented to us in the mainstream media. We see the lies and deception and we’re sick of it. We’re sick of the mainstream media lying to us.

The Left loves to follow behind and be controlled by the MSM. The Left never cares about any one issue until the MSM says its an issue. The Left is essentially controlled by media – and Soros of course.

The Left, which is majority women, is being controlled emotionally. The media and entertainment succeed by playing on their emotions. We see it, but the Left does not. The Left lacks discernment and most of them just follow the herd. There is no deviation from the norm.

Do a Twitter search on Shaun King (white man pretending to be black), Deray, and whatever white person represents the far left in conjunction with the following terms: GMO, Monsanto, Federal Reserve Banking, IMF, or central banking. You’ll discover NOTHING. It will return ZERO results because these people don’t/won’t/can’t discuss these issues. It’s taboo on the Left. The Left still believes the official story on 9/11 – that’s how lost they are.

But these are the REAL issues affecting ALL of us today. And few on the Left want to discuss them. Well, Hotep and Neo-Nazi is NOT afraid and WILL discuss them

Conclusion

The far-left is nothing but a bunch of cry babies that want Uncle Sam and Big Brother to handle ALL of their problems while Hoteps and Neo-Nazi want government involvement ONLY where absolutely necessary.

We want the freedom to build our own schools and educate our own kids. We want U.S. jobs for U.S. people. We want America to come first.

If people don’t want to mix with another race, they reserve that right. Isn’t that the meaning of freedom? The Muslims won’t mix with your kind but you’re so sympathetic to their faux issues but hate white people who do the same. Think about the idiocy in that.

Are there racist whites on the far right? Yes – just like far left blacks are racist towards whites. Do I care? Hell no, I don’t. Other people’s emotions do not stop me from reaching my goals. They NEVER have. And the minute they do, it’s my fault.

I’d rather align with a white racist nationalist than a black person that begs white people for awards and handouts from a different kind of racist – the far left Democrat. A black that begs from whites is still a slave and I want nothing to do with slavery.

A black that begs from whites upholds the system of white supremacy more than a white nationalist, so essentially these types of blacks are white supremacists. Supremacy is a dual system. One above and one below. If you do not forfeit to being below then the other cannot be above – or supreme.

You know it’s bad when I’d rather align with a racist white than a cry baby black. Why? Because a white nationalist will agree that blacks have to do for blacks and stop complaining about what whitey did/does to them. When you act like prey, don’t be surprised when a predator emerges. [Tweet this quote]

When you blame others for your condition it only leaves room for excuses to be made and where there are excuses there is no progress. Blacks MUST take responsibility for their own condition and DO FOR SELF. Until they take responsibility, whites will ALWAYS have blacks eating out of their hands. FEED YOURSELF!

P.S.
I find it ironic that the “fringe” groups of each respective race have found harmony before their counterparts. The Far left blacks still can’t get along with whites but Hotep has found a way. This is the power of independence, understanding, and accountability.

How can Neo-Nazi and Hotep be the crazy ones if we’re not fighting but you people on the Left feel the need to always fight. Who’s REALLY crazy? Who’s really the mature ones? Who can really lead change?

Listen to Doe’s podcast on the matter, PLEASE! I GUARANTEE you’ll enjoy it.

Also, listen to the author of this post, me, discuss the issue.

SELECTED COMMENTS FROM THIS PAGE:

February 8, 2017 at 11:51 am

New Right is a better explanation of alignment IMO. Neo-Nazi was co-opted by identity politics and wacko extremists. New Right represents a more color-blind movement towards exactly the things you speak of. (Taking care of ourselves and our country first, family building, rejection of feminized outrage culture, etc.

    • February 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      New Right,or NuRight as we in the Neo-Nazi call them,are exactly the same thing as Republicans pre-Trump.They are trying to claw their way back into popularity on our coattails by pretending White Nationalists co-opted the Neo-Nazi when in fact we created it in order to do for Whites what they wouldn’t.They are now copying our memes without understanding them and are similar except in one respect.They will not name the jew.They will not name the one who owned the majority of slave ships.75% of jews owned one or more slaves whereas only 2% of Whites did.They will not tell you this.They will not name the people who enslaved the Africans for 200 years in America and have enslaved the Whites for 100.They are the servants of the jews and will do everything in their power to pretend the problems Hotels and Neo-Nazi are not caused by jews,when in each and every case you can dig and find the jew or jews responsible.They don’t want us to solve the problems.

      • March 3, 2017 at 11:27 pm

        This is complete and total bullshit. The difference between the New Right and Neo-Nazi is the Neo-Nazi is delusional and unrealistic, while the New Right works to further a very similar agenda while recognizing the multiracial realty we actually live in. I was a simple libertarian with no political party to represent my views that big government was getting in the way of my freedom before Trump. When many (idiotic) Republicans and libertarians were turned off by Trump’s protectionist rhetoric, I remembered a quote by Ronald Reagan, who I’ve always mistrusted (and still do):

        “I believe the best social program is a job”

        Problem is, Reagan didn’t specify what country he wanted those social programs to be in, so they ended up in Mexico and China, etc. Unlike Reagan, Trump can’t specify any more clearly where he wants those jobs to be. Ironically, the more protectionist America becomes, the less we citizens will need the government. The whole paradigm has shifted. The New Right are not Republicans or (supposedly?) union-loving Democrats, they’re simply patriotic American nationalists.

        Lastly, unlike the white supremacists of the Neo-Nazi, I know how to hide my power level and this is critical to the nationalist movement. My contribution to the meme war was (and still is) far more effective than an Neo-Nazi TRS shill from 8pol, because I’m fighting tough engagements on message boards and comment sections across the internet without resorting to exclusionary and discriminative rhetoric. Anyone who leaves their mother’s basement for more than a ten minute trip to buy milk, that mentioning race turns normies away from hearing logical and reasonable arguments (especially guilt-ridden whites). You can work towards a healthier and happier racial group through improving the nation as a whole. Instead of lamenting your concern for the future of the white race, you can be an example of the success obtained through moral convictions and avoiding the degeneracy destroying our society. This is common sense to most people including Hoteps, but apparently not the Neo-Nazi.

         

        February 11, 2017 at 12:58 am

        Why would Hotep or Neo-Nazi want to be color blind? Isn’t the diminishing the importance of each race, and really completely goes against everything Ali is writing about.

        We don’t need a “New Right”, it’s NEVER racist to look out for your own peoples interest. The New Right is just a new name for the same system we’ve had for far too long. Most likely created by the same (((people))) responsible for this mess we are all in now. “Oy Vey, goyim. Shut the Neo-Nazi down…Shut Hotep down. Join our new color blind club.”

        Yeah…no thanks.

        Fantastic work, Ali! Keep spreading the truth. Keep waking your people up, and I’ll keep waking mine.

        February 11, 2017 at 1:58 am

        • Because Neo-Nazi is a dying movement. It was co-opted by racists and idiots doing “roman salutes” to the mainstream media. All major players have distanced themselves and the race “warriors” are left holding the bag.

          If Hotep wants to grow the way the New Right has, it doesn’t need shitty optics, swastikas and frog emojis. (Does that ever get old?) It needs to appeal to those who want to band together for a bigger cause than focusing on skin color, shoe size or dick size. His country has real issues and if you look at what’s happening in Europe right now… you’ll see our future if we don’t stop bickering over bullshit.

          Point is – there’s a place for everyone in fighting globalism, big government etc. but you’ll kill this thing in a minute if you start waving swastikas and old Dixie around.

          But, that’s just me. I don’t expect to change the minds of folks who have been obsessed with their skin color for most of their life.

          • February 13, 2017 at 1:25 pm

            Hah, trying to frame the wheat being separated from the chaff as “the major players distancing themselves”?

            No, kike. We left those weak spined faggots in the dustbin of irrelevance.

 END OF TRANSMISSION.

 

How Much Did Trolling Really Lead to Trump?

The following is an archived story from Medium. As people try to understand the narrative of how Donald Trump was elected President, a few conspiracy theories are becoming commonplace (and some, including the Russian interference narrative, due to a slow trickle of corroborating evidence). Remember, while reading this and thinking about conspiracy theories in general, it is possible to look at evidence and determine a finding different from that of the evidence’s original proponent. It is also possible to ignore evidence, it just happens to be pretty intellectually dishonest. What is nearly impossible to prove is that a specific set of factors caused an event to occur.

4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump

Trump’s younger supporters know he’s an incompetent joke; in fact, that’s why they support him.

Written by Dale Beran (Medium) Originally Published February 14, 2017

1. Born from Something Awful
Around 2005 or so a strange link started showing up in my old webcomic’s referral logs. This new site I didn’t understand. It was a bulletin board, but its system of navigation was opaque. Counter intuitively, you had to hit “reply” to read a thread. Moreover, the content was bizarre nonsense.
The site, if you hadn’t guessed, was 4chan.org. It was an offshoot of a different message board which I also knew from my referral logs, “Something Awful”, at the time, an online community of a few hundred nerds who liked comics, video games, and well, nerds things. But unlike boards with similar content, Something Awful skewed toward dark jokes. I had an account at Something Awful, which I used sometimes to post in threads about my comic.
4chan had been created by a 15 year old Something Awful user named Christopher Poole (whose 4chan mod name was “m00t”). Poole had adapted a type of Japanese bulletin board software which was difficult to understand at first, but once learned, was far more fun to post in than the traditional American format used by S.A., as a result the site became popular very quickly.
These days, 4chan appears in the news almost weekly. This past week, there were riots at Berkeley in the wake of the scheduled lecture by their most prominent supporter, Milo Yiannopoulos. The week before that neo-Nazi Richard Spencer pointed to his 4chan inspired Pepe the Frog pin, about to explain the significance when an anti-fascist protester punched him in the face. The week before that, 4chan claimed (falsely) it had fabricated the so called Trump “Kompromat”. And the week before that, in the wake of the fire at Ghost Ship, 4chan decided to make war on “liberal safe spaces” and DIY venues across the country.
How did we get here? What is 4chan exactly? And how did a website about anime become the avant garde of the far right? Mixed up with fascist movements, international intrigue, and Trump iconography? How do we interpret it all?
At the very beginning, 4chan met once a year in only one place in the world: Baltimore, Maryland at the anime convention, Otakon. As a nerdy teen growing up in Baltimore in the 90s, I had wandered into Otakon much like I had later wandered into 4chan, just when it was starting. I also attended Otakon in the mid-aughts when 4chan met there, likewise to promote my webcomic.
As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain.
This essay is an attempt to untangle the threads of 4chan and the far right.

2. Anon Steps Out to Fight Lord Xenu
In the beginning I didn’t pay all that much attention 4chan. I knew they were a group of teen anime fans who met to party awkwardly like so many other teens at nerd-themed conventions. But around 2008 I realized I wanted to do a story on them. Their user base had grown exponentially and it was obvious they were about to explode into the mainstream. (Much to the dismay of its millions of users, who tried in vain desperation to keep it a secret.)
The key to 4chan’s popularity (and what distinguished it from its progenitor Something Awful) was the Japanese bulletin board Poole had adapted for English use. People had so much fun using it, threads became ephemeral, growing wildly within seconds, then disappearing minutes later, pushed out of the way and into oblivion by new threads and so forth ad infinitum 24/7. Perhaps the most appealing part for users was that you didn’t have to make an account. The software displayed a default name for posters who didn’t sign up — which was everyone. On all those millions upon millions of posts the author’s name was simply, “Anonymous”. Users began referring to each other by that name. “Hi Anon here,” posts would begin. And so Anonymous was born.
Now 4chan is often explained as being responsible for some early popular memes like “rickrolling”. But this is an understatement. 4chan invented the meme as we use it today. At the time, one of the few places you saw memes was there. The white Impact font with the black outlines, that was them (via S.A.). Terms like “win” and “epic” and “fail” were all created or popularized on 4chan, used there for years before they became a ubiquitous part of the culture. The very method of how gifs and images are interspersed with dialogue in Slack or now iMessage or wherever is deeply 4chanian. In other words, the site left a profound impression on how we as a culture behave and interact.
In 2008, I wrote the site’s teenage founder, Poole, whose contact was at the top of the site, asking for an interview. He never wrote back. Then I saw 4chan was meeting, not in Baltimore, but a few blocks from my apartment in New York, in fact, in many cities around the world. They had planned to protest the church of Scientology.
Why this group of nerdy boys had pivoted from meeting at my local anime convention and goofing off to protesting Scientology is an interesting question.
To answer it, we must look a little closer at 4chan’s system of values. To those with a passing knowledge of 4chan it’s strange to think of it having a value system. And indeed it did try its mightiest to be nihilistic, to hate, to deny, to shrug, to laugh off everything as a joke like all teenage boys do (the board was mostly young men). This effort was of course impossible. The attempts to be “random”, like a Rorschach test, painted a portrait of exactly who they were, the voids filled in with their identity, their interests, their tastes. The result was that 4chan had a culture as complex as any other society of millions of people, anonymous or no. There were things it loved, things it hated, ways of being and acting that met with approval and disapproval in the group.
In fact, it codified its value system in a series of “rules”. Like everything it did, these were constructed piecemeal from pop culture. Rule #1 was taken from Fight Club’s Rule # 1, “Don’t talk about 4chan”. All the rules had a Lord of the Flies vibe to them, that is to say, they were very obviously created by a bullying and anarchic society of adolescent boys — or at least, men with the mindset of boys — particularly lonely, sex starved man-boys, who according to their own frequent jokes about the subject, lived in their parents’ basement. (Poole himself lived in his parents’ basement well after the initial success of the the site.) They were obsessed with Japanese culture and, naturally enough, there was already a term for people like them in Japan, hikikomori — — meaning “pulling inward, or being confined” — teens and adults who withdrew from society into fantasy worlds constructed by anime, video games, and now the internet. And of course, it’s relevant to note here the themes of Fight Club itself, a film about a male collective who regains their masculinity through extreme acts after it has been debased by modern corporate culture.
Also like adolescent boys, 4chan users were deeply sensitive and guarded. They disguised their own sensitivity (namely, their fear that they would be, “forever alone”) by extreme insensitivity. The rules, like everything else, were always half in jest. Everything had to be a done with at least a twinkle of winking irony. This was an escape route, a way of never having to admit to your peers that you were in fact expressing something from your heart, in other words — that you were indeed vulnerable. No matter what a user did or said, he could always say it was “for the lulz” (lols). Like (by comparison the tame and sophisticated precursor) “Something Awful” board that spawned it, 4chan defined itself by being insensitive to suffering in that way only people who have never really suffered can — that is to say, young people, mostly young men, protected by a cloak of anonymity. The accepted standard was a sort of libertarian “free speech” banner, in which isolated man-boys asserted their right to do or say anything no matter someone else’s feelings. This meant generally posting pornography, swastikas, racial slurs, and content that reveled in harm to other people.
Before 4chan’s dispute with Scientology it had banded together for practical jokes they had called “raids”. The board would flood particular chat rooms or online networks. Thousands of 4chan users would appear in the virtual child’s world Habbo Hotel to cause chaos, for no other reason than that it was an amusing way to pass their near limitless idle time (or as they would phrase it, “for the lulz”).
During the raids, they would enforce “Rule 1”, and conceal the very fact of 4chan. An ongoing joke was to claim they were from a rival site, newgrounds.com. The Scientology “protest” was also in large part a “raid”. Videos were made directed at Scientology pretending “Anonymous” was a shadowy and powerful cabal, something akin to Hydra from Marvel comic books. Since no one knew who Anonymous was at the time, they could pretend they were anything. This meant that there was another more serious component in the protest. The part that wasn’t a joke was an experiment in political power. What could they do with their numbers? Could they actually destroy Scientology? If not, how far could they get? There wasn’t a consensus of course. Many on 4chan expressed indignation and rage at the protests. They were afraid that “Rule #1” would be broken; 4chan would be outed — and as a consequence — the only community in which they had found acceptance would disappear.
The morning of the protest was a brutally cold Saturday. My roommate and I, bleary-eyed, boarded the subway and took it two stops to Times Square. We had a vague feeling we were being trolled.
“No way these nerds are leaving their parents’ basements…” my roommate grumbled as we ascended up the NQR steps. Times Square was abandoned. Not even the tourists were out. All you could see was the trash billowing about on the streets. Then we turned the corner on to 46th street and to our astonishment several hundred people were screaming and shouting, cordoned off in front of the Scientology building. Anonymous. Every one. They all wore masks, mostly Guy Fawkes masks, inspired by the Wachowski sisters’ adaptation of a comic book. This was, in comic book parlance, the mask’s “first appearance” (IRL). I interviewed the perplexed Scientologist standing between the columns of his temple. He was wearing a gleaming silver suit, the threads iridescent. He looked horrified and perplexed.
“These are terrorists,” he insisted, of course having no idea who they were, which was message board users. “This is a terrorist organization. And we are religion protected by the First Amendment.” Then he handed me a packet, surprisingly thick, full of glossy pamphlets about Scientology, like something you might get from a college admissions office.
I interviewed a pimply faced boy, his Guy Fawkes mask pulled up over long, curly, orange locks.
“How was this protest organized?” I asked.
“It was organized on a site called newgrounds.com” he answered.
“Is the protest a joke or serious?”
“It’s serious business.” he replied. Serious business was a meme, a joke on 4chan. And so it went down the line, “anonymous” protestors, all 4chan users, following Rule #1, trying to conceal 4chan from me, and obscure the source of the joke, just like a real life “raid” into a chatroom, hiding their motivations behind a mirrored chamber of repeated memes. Habbo Hotel by way of Lord Xenu. Xenu was Scientology’s ultimate revelatory secret, the intergalactic space ruler who seeded earth in the primeval past. So Anon chanted his name as a meme. It was their only real political statement: all information was free now that we had the internet. Scientology acolytes the same age, handing out copies of Dianetics, stopped up their ears.
When the protest broke up (it was scheduled to end at noon), a nerd dressed like Neo from The Matrix in a long black duster shouted, “Now back to our parents’ basements!” and the whole crowd laughed.
4chan’s first day out. The Scientology protests of 2008 off Broadway.

3. New Horizons
The peculiar thing about the Scientology protest was how little 4chan cared about Scientology. The original cause of the dispute had to do with 4chan’s access to “lulz” on the internet. Scientology had removed a funny video featuring Tom Cruise rambling incoherently about Scientology. 4chan believed this had interfered with their unlimited right to post anything (and keep it) on the internet. There was a moral component to their protest, but it was tangential at best.
When, several years later, Occupy Wall Street came to Zuccotti Park, it too only tangentially touched upon 4chan’s political interests and complaints. 4chan was libertarian. During the 2008 presidential election, it supported Ron Paul (replacing its traditional greeting “sup /b/” with “ron paul /b/”). 4chan wanted the right to do as it pleased and not much else. Where large organized systems like corporations, the government, or Scientology, interfered with that “right”, they opposed them. Anonymous attacked corporations like Paypal and American Express, not because of their corporateness, but because they had frozen the assets of Julian Assange who had similar beliefs about the freedom to distribute information on the internet.
At Occupy Wall Street, 4channers were a distinct minority. Now and again someone in a Guy Fawkes mask would voice libertarian ideas among a group of radical leftists discussing socialism.
However, despite not being on the left, Anonymous is often conflated or confused with the leftist Occupy movement. For example, in the T.V. series Mr. Robot, a group of clandestine anonymous hackers (“F Society”) releases a video that is clearly derived from 4chan’s/Anonymous’ video for the Scientology protests. The hackers in Mr. Robot, who wear masks similar to those of 4chan’s Guy Fawkes mask, want to destroy the corporate hegemony and free everyone from their debt, student or otherwise. That is to say, they have the agenda of Occupy Wall Street.
The absurdity here shouldn’t go without note. Emulating fiction from T.V. and comic books, 4chan forum go-ers pretended to be an international cabal of powerful hackers. Then almost a decade later, a T.V. show about a fictional cabal of powerful hackers copies their video, closing the loop.
An image saved off 4chan in February of 2011 by me, the lurking author.
By the end of 2011, 4chan had finally been outed. Subsequently, the group splintered in a sense; anyone could and did pick up the banner of Anonymous. Hackers labeling themselves as such pursued different agendas, some anti-corporate, some truly noble — like helping convict the Steubenville rapists. But philanthropic and anti-corporate hacking was not at the heart of what 4chan was about. It had started and always was in some way about the “lulz”, using the computer for entertainment, for passing the time. Perhaps there was a moment when it could have been something else, a shining possibility that emerged on the horizon in one of those magical revolutionary moments in which all things are possible, like Occupy Wall Street itself. But, it was not to be. At least, not yet.
4chan was now spread along a network of websites and IRC channels of which 4chan.org was one. The press often lamented how, like Occupy Wall Street, they could not define Anonymous. No one person represented it. But this same reasoning could also be used to make the opposite point. If no definition existed for Anonymous, why were millions of people identifying as one of the group? Just because the borders were as amorphous as a cloud, didn’t mean it wasn’t as large or real as one. It was still united by a common culture and set of values, fuzzy around the edges, but solid at the core. And what was this solid core that defined it? The same thing it had always been.
It was still a group of hikikomori — a group of primarily young males who spent a lot of the time at the computer, so much so they had retreated into virtual worlds of games, T.V., and now the networks of the internet. This was where most or all of their interaction, social or otherwise took place. The real world, by contrast, above their mother’s basements, was a place they did not succeed, perhaps a place they did not fundamentally understand.
An early 4chan meme made from a screenshot of 4chan.
This, of course, did not describe everyone, but it was the bulk of the bell curve. Sometimes, while meeting virtually to commiserate about the problem, 4chan sought to fix it. For example, 4chan created a /fit/ board, teaching “Anons” how to exercise and groom themselves. The advice was so basic, it was endearing. (“You have to shower once a day” etc.) There were professionals and successful people on the board who used it only for amusement. And there were hackers who did indeed use their knowledge of virtual worlds to effect substantive change in the real one. But the core of the culture remained more or less unchanged. It was a culture that celebrated failure — that from the very beginning encouraged anyone who posted to “become an hero” (their term for killing themselves, and sometimes others in the bargain). And 4chan’s next big effort reflected that. In fact, it was such a big deal for them because, after all their groping for a prank that might become a cause 4chan cared about, they finally hit on one that expressed their strange, unique complaints.

4. Gamergate: Anon Defends his Safe Spaces
It’s difficult to recall what started Gamergate because, like much of 4chan-style content, it never made sense on the surface. The mind tends to discard such things as nonsense. Nonetheless, there was a beginning. In 2014, a jilted lover claimed his ex-girlfriend had been unfaithful to him. He tried to prove to the internet that he was wronged in an embarrassing and incoherent blog post. The target of his post, his ex, happened to be a female game developer.
Soon 4chan and other like minded men who felt wronged by women, took up the rallying cry. The effort somehow moved from lurid interest in a particular woman’s sex life to a critique of video games. Gamergaters believed that “SJWs” (Social Justice Warriors) were adding unwanted elements into their video games, namely things which promoted gender equality.
Strangely enough, they believed this was happening not because video game creators and the video game press were interested in making and reviewing games that dealt with these issues, but because there was a grand conspiracy perpetrated by a few activists to change video games.
While this whirling connective tissue of nonsense doesn’t seem to make much sense at first glance (and indeed, much of the game-making community and the press in general struggled to understand it). It makes perfect sense if we look at this New York Times story about how more than 16% percent of men in the nation are unemployed.
Again, here we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and videos games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter. By consequence of their defeat, the distant, abstract concept of women in the flesh makes them feel humiliated and rejected. Yet, in the one space they feel they can escape the realities of this, the world of the video game, here (to them, it seems) women want to assert their presence and power.
If this sounds hard to believe, take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the “Technology Editor” at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a “technology” editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. Rather the “tech” here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue — the thing that unites them — their failure and powerlessness literally embodied (to them) by women.
Yiannopoulos is depicted as the last on the right in an Instagram image posted by Donald Trump in September of 2016.
Yiannopoulos’ rambling “arguments” against feminism, are not arguments at all, as much as pep talks, ways of making these dis-empowered men feel empowered by discarding the symbol of their failure — women. As an openly gay man, he argues that men no longer need be interested in women, that they can and should walk away from the female sex en masse. For example in a long incoherent set of bullet points on feminism he states:
The rise of feminism has fatally coincided with the rise of video games, internet porn, and, sometime in the near future, sex robots. With all these options available, and the growing perils of real-world relationships, men are simply walking away.
Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.
Gamergate at last (unlike Habbo Hotel, Scientology, Paypal, or Occupy Wall Street) was a “raid” that mattered, that wasn’t just a fun lark to pass the time or a winking joke. Here was another issue (besides “let me do what I want on the internet all the time”) that spoke to the bulk of 4chan users.
Anon was going to get “SJW”s (ie. empowered women) out of their safe spaces — video games — the place from which they retreated from women by indulging in fantasies in which they were in control (that is to say, ones which demeaned women).
However, their efforts failed, not so much for lack of trying (though there’s that, too) but because the campaign itself was a fantasy. Gamergate was, quite poetically, defined by the campaigners poor-reality testing. The people carrying it out did not interact with real life all that much, only the virtual escapist worlds of video games, message boards, and anime.
And thus the campaign proceeded like the video game it wasn’t. Menus of “target lists” were drawn up, their enemies (mostly women they wanted to harrass) labelled “warriors”. 4chan users pretended a furious amount of mouse clicking and virtual action would somehow translate into a concrete reward appearing in their computer screens, like it does, say, in World of Warcraft.
Namely, gamergaters believed that online sleuthing would uncover a tangible conspiracy about how game creators colluded to further a “Social Justice Warrior” agenda. Among many others, they hacked the Skype account of the indie game developer I was working for at the time, presumably reading our conversations about the game we were making looking for the moment when we uttered “now to further the secret SJW agenda”. What they found instead was my boss patiently explaining to me the best ways to make a video game. One of the cardinal rules was that every action the user takes must have a carefully calibrated system of escalating rewards. Complete a level, get a cut scene. Video games in this sense, are meticulously constructed to make sure the user is entertained at every moment through a challenge-reward system.
All that work cracking Skype accounts with wordlists did not yield the tangible reward of evidence of a cabal. The real world behaves differently than a video game. There were shades of grey. It disappointed. What you did and what you got for your efforts were muddled. It was more challenging than the safe spaces of a video game, carefully crafted to accommodate gamers and make them feel — well, the exact opposite of how they felt interacting in the real world — effective. In the fantasy world of the game, actions achieved ends.
It was almost as if all these disaffected young men were waiting for a figure to come along who, having achieved nothing in his life, pretended as though he had achieved everything, who by using the tools of fantasy, could transmute their loserdom (in 4chan parlance, their “fail”), into “win”.

5. Trump: the Loser who Won
Another vintage 4chan meme from the author’s personal collection.
In Bukowski’s novel Factotum, the main character, Hank Chinaski, drifts through various demeaning blue-collar jobs until he ends up working the stockroom of an autoparts store. The job is no better than any of the others, except for one important difference: It ends early enough for Chinaski and another worker, Manny, to race to the track for the last bet of the day. Soon the other workers in the warehouse hear of the scheme and ask Hank to put down their bets, too.
At first Hank objects. He doesn’t have time to make their petty bets before the track closes. But Manny has a different idea.
“We don’t bet their money, we keep their money.” he tells Hank.
“Suppose they win?” Hank asks.
“They won’t win. They always pick the wrong horse. They have a way of always picking the wrong horse.”
“Suppose they bet our horse?”
“Then we know we’ve got the wrong horse.”
Soon Chinaski and Manny are flush with money, not from working for the $1.25 an hour at the warehouse or even making smart bets themselves, but for taking the money of the other workers and not betting it. That is after all, why those same men handing over their bets work in the factory; they are defined by their bad decisions, by the capacity for always getting a bad deal. Their wages and their bets are both examples of the same thing.
Trump, of course, has made his fortune in a similar manner, with casinos, correspondence courses, and pageants, swindling money out of aspiring-millionaire blue collar workers, selling them not a bill of goods, but the hope of a bill of goods, the glitz and glamour of success, to people who don’t win, or in Trump’s parlance, “don’t win anymore.” As if once, in the mythic past he invented, they did once and soon will again, since at the heart of what he promised was, “you’ll win so much you’ll get sick of winning”. In other words, if we are to understand Trump supporters, we can view them at the core as losers — people who never ever bet on the right horse — Trump, of course, being the signal example, the man obsessed with “losers” who, seemingly was going to be remembered as one of the biggest losers in history — until he won.
The older generation of Trump supporters the press often focuses on, the so called “forgotten white working class”, are in this sense easier to explain since they fit into the schema of a 1950s-style electorate. Like the factory workers in Factotum, the baby boomers were promised pensions and prosperity, but received instead simply the promises. Here the narrative is simple. The workers were promised something and someone (the politicians? the economy? the system itself?) never delivered. Their horse never came in.
This telling of the story ignores the fact that, as Trump often points out, “it was a bad deal”. The real story is not that the promise was never fulfilled. Manny and Hank’s deal with the workers was the same as the factory’s deal with them: the empty promise was the bargain. The real story is not that the horse didn’t come in, it’s that the bet was never placed.
In the third presidential debate, Hillary evoked her conservative father as a way of appealing to the electorate, “My father was a small-businessman.” she said. “He worked really hard… And so what I believe is the more we can do the middle class, the more we can invest in you…”
No one noted how wildly outdated Clinton’s picture of the average voter was (her father, a suburban business man in the 50s) because we are used to every politician holding up the same faded 65 year old snapshot anytime he or she regards the American electorate. Just like how images of Christmas on Coke bottles and catalogs are forever stuck in the 30s and 40s, so we expect politics to be eternally frozen in the 1950s. That is to say, as a nation still (somehow!) defined by its baby boomers, we understand this era as the baseline for understanding ourselves, considering it, “where we are from”.
But what does the American electorate look like if we put down the snapshot? Peel away how we perceive ourselves from what we actually are? How has that image of a 1950s business man who owns his own home in the suburbs changed after decades of declines in wages, middle classdom, and home ownership?
To younger generations who never had such jobs, who had only the mythology of such jobs (rather a whimsical snapshot of the 1950s frozen in time by America’s ideology) this part of the narrative is clear. America, and perhaps existence itself is a cascade of empty promises and advertisements — that is to say, fantasy worlds, expectations that will never be realized “IRL”, but perhaps consumed briefly in small snatches of commodified pleasure.
Thus these Trump supporters hold a different sort of ideology, not one of “when will my horse come in”, but a trolling self-effacing, “I know my horse will never come in”. That is to say, younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets — only his own — because, after all, it’s plain as day there was never any other option.
In this sense, Trump’s incompetent, variable, and ridiculous behavior is the central pillar upon which his younger support rests.
Such an idea — one of utter contemptuous despair — is embodied in one image more than any other, one storied personage who has become a(n) hero to millions, the voice of a generation.
I am speaking, of course, of Pepe the Frog.

6. Trump the Frog
When Hillary’s campaign “explained” that Trump’s use of silly cartoon frog Pepe was a symbol of hate, it seemed to be yet another freakish oddity in a parade of horribles that was campaign 2016. Much of the attention at the time was focused on the question of: well, was he? Efforts to save Pepe got underway. Journalists, still falling for the same tricks of 2006, cited “anonymous” (that is to say, from 4chan) sources claiming they had invented the idea as a prank.
But there was little talk of why Pepe of all things? Was Pepe indeed meaningless? Another flotsam of senseless meme nonsense flung out of the “dumpster fire” of team Trump?
Pepe, like so many memes, was born on the “random” boards of 4chan’s /b/ (“b” for random) circa 2007, picked out of a webcomic by Matt Furie to become a macro. But why was he picked? We know now that 4chan’s actions are neither meaningless, “random”, or empty because they are labelled a “prank”.
Viewed through the lens of the people first posting him, Pepe makes nothing but sense. The original comic panels from which Pepe is excerpted feature him getting caught peeing with his pants pulled all the way down, his ass hanging out. Surprisingly, he is unashamed of this, “feels good man” he tells his roommate.
The grotesque, frowning, sleepy eyed, out of shape, swamp dweller, peeing with his pants pulled down because-it-feels-good-man frog is an ideology, one which steers into the skid of its own patheticness. Pepe symbolizes embracing your loserdom, owning it. That is to say, it is what all the millions of forum-goers of 4chan met to commune about. It is, in other words, a value system, one reveling in deplorableness and being pridefully dispossessed. It is a culture of hopelessness, of knowing “the system is rigged”. But instead of fight the response is flight, knowing you’re trapped in your circumstances is cause to celebrate. For these young men, voting Trump is not a solution, but a new spiteful prank.
We know, by this point, that Trump is funny. Even to us leftists, horrified by his every move, he is hilarious. Someone who is all brash confidence and then outrageously incompetent at everything he does is — from an objective standpoint — comedy gold. Someone who accuses his enemies of the faults he at that very moment is portraying is comedy gold. But, strangely, as the left realized after the election, pointing out Trump was a joke was not helpful. In fact, Trump’s farcical nature didn’t seem to be a liability, rather, to his supporters, it was an asset.
All the left’s mockery of Trump served to reinforce his message as not only an outsider, but as an expression of rage, despair, and ultimate pathetic Pepe-style hopelessness.
4chan value system, like Trump’s ideology, is obsessed with masculine competition (and the subsequent humiliation when the competition is lost). Note the terms 4chan invented, now so popular among grade schoolers everywhere: “fail” and “win”, “alpha” males and “beta cucks”. This system is defined by its childlike innocence, that is to say, the inventor’s inexperience with any sort of “IRL” romantic interaction. And like Trump, since these men wear their insecurities on their sleeve, they fling these insults in wild rabid bursts at everyone else.
Trump the loser, the outsider, the hot mess, the pathetic joke, embodies this duality. Trump represents both the alpha and the beta. He is a successful person who, as the left often notes, is also the exact opposite — a grotesque loser, sensitive and prideful about his outsider status, ready at the drop of a hat to go on the attack, self-obsessed, selfish, abrogating, unquestioning of his own mansplaining and spreading, so insecure he must assault women. In other words, to paraphrase Truman Capote, he is someone with his nose pressed so hard up against the glass he looks ridiculous. And for this reason, (because he knows he is substanceless) he must constantly re-affirm his own ego. Or as Errol Morris put it, quoting Borges, he is a “labyrinth with no center”.
But, what the left doesn’t realize is, this is not a problem for Trump’s supporters, rather, the reason why they support him.
Trump supporters voted for the con-man, the labyrinth with no center, because the labyrinth with no center is how they feel, how they feel the world works around them. A labyrinth with no center is a perfect description of their mother’s basement with a terminal to an endless array of escapist fantasy worlds.
Trump’s bizarre, inconstant, incompetent, embarrassing, ridiculous behavior — what the left (naturally) perceives as his weaknesses — are to his supporters his strengths.
In other words, Trump is 4chan.
Trump is steering into the skid embodied.
Trump is Pepe.
Trump is loserdom embraced.
Trump is the loser who has won, the pathetic little frog on the big strong body.
Trump’s ventures of course, represent this fantasy: this hope that the working man, against the odds dictated by his knowledge, experience, or hard work will one day strike it rich — Trump University, late night real estate schemes, the casinos. Trump himself, who inherited his wealth, represents the classic lucky sap.
But Trump also equally represents the knowledge that all of that is a lie, a scam that’s much older than you are, a fantasy that we can dwell in though it will never become true, like a video game.
Trump, in other words, is a way of owning and celebrating being taken advantage of.
Trump embodies buying the losing bet that will never be placed.
He is both despair and cruel arrogant dismissal, the fantasy of winning and the pain of losing mingled into one potion.
For this reason, the left should stop expecting Trump’s supporters to be upset when he doesn’t fulfill his promises.
Support for Trump is an acknowledgement that the promise is empty.
He is both the “promise” (the labyrinth”, the “alpha”) and the empty center (“the promise betrayed”, the “beta”), in a sublime, hilarious, combination that perfectly reflects the worldview of his supporters.
In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:
1) Generally older people who naively believe Trump will “make America great again”, that is to say, return it to its 1950s ideal evoked by both Trump and Clinton.
2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.
3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.

7. The Un-rarest Pepes of Them All
As I said when I began this essay, because I work in comics, video games, and animation, I’ve watched 4chan grow from a group of people who could fit inside a single room to a worldwide collective.
But I should also note there’s another reason I was there from the beginning. It’s because, like so many young writers, journalists, and artists that are now despised by 4chan, I’m an inch away from their demographic.
When my father died after I left college in 2004, the last of my family’s wealth evaporated. And ever since then, I have lived well below the poverty line. (Even now, though I work as a Professor, this is true). But I had the benefit of an education.
It was not too difficult for me to imagine an alternate version of myself that didn’t happen to have that. Like the men in those studies, I drifted unemployed and unemployable for many years in my 20s. Often when I did have a job, I quit, realizing that, in fact, laboring behind the counter in the service economy for minimum wage paid less than sitting at home idle in front of my PC, waiting for a gig in the gig economy, posting and selling comics, or trading virtual items in online games.
And I knew, I was on balance, luckier than most. My private school and private college education was the deviation from the norm. My chances were better than the majority of people my age. Yet here I was stone broke. All I owned (and still own) is my college debt. So it wasn’t a surprise there were a teeming mass of people out there who knew with fatalistic certainty that there was no way out. Why not then retreat into your parents’ basements? And instead of despairing over trying and failing, celebrate not-trying? Celebrate retreating into the fantasy worlds of the computer. Steer into the skid — Pepe style. Own it. And why wouldn’t they retreat to a place like 4chan? To let their resentment and failures curdle into something solid?

8. 4chan vs. Gender
In a previous essay about contemporary counter-culture, I mentioned Barbara Ehrenreich’s The Hearts of Men, a feminist critique that discusses how gender roles bind and control men. Ehrenreich writes about how, in post-war hyper-capitalist 1950s America (the baseline America to which both Trump and Hillary harken back) a new role was invented for men. A man’s wage and his Playboy “bachelor pad” linked his earning potential to his role as a ladies man. This replaced a previous, more conservative ideology in which your earning potential meant you were able to support a wife and children. These two schemes, Ehrenreich maintained, are still the dominant ideas that control men’s behavior in the U.S.
As she pointed out, only “hipsters” managed to break and destroy this schema — the first and most famous ones being the wife-leaving beats, whose sexual adventures both gay and straight were totally disconnected from their earning potential and all societal expectations. They were dead broke (“Dharma”) bums, who much to the frustration of the pro-capitalist Hefner-style playboys, got laid all the time despite being stone broke and sometimes gay to boot. In other words, their enjoyment of life and sex was decoupled from the ideological demands of capitalism.
Recall the central themes of Gamergate: women represent Anon’s “beta” failure in capitalism. Anons have achieved neither of these ideological ideals; they are not playboys with bachelor pads or wage earners with families. If the U.S. were in fact what it pretended to be, that is to say, the best way to become either the playboy or the family man, Anon would not exist. But it is this gap between ideological expectation and cruel reality which created him. Instead, Anon resides in the very opposite of bachelor pads: his mother’s basement. We learned from the New Yorker profile of the alt-right leader Mike Cernovich, that he broadcasts from his girlfriend’s parent’s house, letting his male viewers believe the pool in the background of his webcasts is his, not theirs.
Video games were Anons’ way to retreat from this painful reminder of his failure, a failure which was literally embodied by women — whose physical attainment is the end goal of both ideologies. Gamergate was a pained cry, that here too, even unto their escapist fantasies, empowered women, like the mythological furies, were hounding them.
We can see now why several weeks ago 4chan went to “war” with artists and their “safe spaces”, trying to shut down music and arts venues across the country. What’s striking is how close the populations of 4chan and those who wanted to shut down the “safe spaces” are. The artists themselves are young people on the fringes of the economy who are also immersed in romantic fantasy. The main difference is that the artists have learned different ways to cope with the same problem. Instead of residing in their mother’s basements, they created ways to live together cheaply in warehouse spaces.
By contrasting 4chan with their self-proclaimed enemy, their counter-culture counterparts, we can see that, though demographically they are so similar, the real difference is introduced here — at the thorny of issue of the girlfriend. 4chan’s self-described “beta” males are trapped in this ideology, hating their counterparts whose key difference is a willingness, like the beatniks of old, to slough off the “gender binary” and live how they please.
But rather than take this as reason to be ever more contemptuous of Anons and their misogyny, the left should regard Anon/the deplorables as a failure on its part, a terrific mangling of the left’s own arguments that has resulted in alienating the very group of people who could be the most helped by their ideas, if not the most convinced.
To the deplorables, whose central complaint is one of masculine frailty, pride, and failure — to deny their identities as men is to deny their complaint. They are a group who define themselves by their powerlessness, by being trapped into defeat. But if they are to accept the left’s viewpoint, they must accept that the problem at core of their being is all in their heads. That is to say, the left’s viewpoint of sexual-difference-as-illusion is exactly what they don’t want to hear — that they have cornered themselves into their mother’s basements.
The left does more than simply declare their opposing viewpoint wrong, the radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion denies their viewpoint an existence. To the left, a complaint stemming from being a man is null space, lying outside the realm of what it will acknowledge as true.
The irony here, of course, is the radical idea of sexual-difference-as-illusion is meant to solve the deplorables’ problem. It was created to liberate those who are oppressed by the concept of sexual difference by dispelling it as a cloud of pure ideas. But to these powerless men, it’s as if the left were addressing their issue by saying in an Orwellian manner, “There’s no such thing as your problem! Problem solved!”
Here the notion of sexual-difference-as-illusion is not performing the work it was built to do, rather the opposite. Ironically, it works to convince alienated men that sex/gender has marked them as unique sort of outsider/failures, who cannot be accepted even into the multicultural coalitions that define themselves by their capacity for acceptance. In this way, 4chan’s virulent hatred of gender-bending “safe spaces”, though not justified, makes at least a perverse sort of sense, one tangled in wounded masculine pride.

9. Can Pepe be un Nazi-fied?
In Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, she notes that the inevitable result of a society built around the endless accumulation of middle class wealth is a man “degraded into a cog in the power-accumulating machine, free to console himself with sublime thoughts about the ultimate destiny of the machine, which itself is constructed in such a way that it can devour the globe simply by following its own inherent law.”
Such a picture of man, as a helpless cog in the vast juggernaut of society that grinds on to mangle everyone in its path, is not particularly new to us. In fact, it exists as a sort of folkloric way of understanding our modern condition, popping up again and again in our myths about escaping such a fate. Hollywood’s new hero is often one who must dramatically capitulate with an evil, hegemonic regime to stand against it. In the latest re-telling of the anti-fascist fable Star Wars, a hero must invent and build the fascist Death Star in order to destroy it. In the children’s story, The Hunger Games, the would be revolutionary Katniss must do everything the regime tells her so that she may ultimately effect its annihilation. And indeed, in the previously mentioned Anonymous-inspired T.V series Mr. Robot, the main character, a revolutionary hacker, works in a cubicle job in service of the an evil corporation (so tired is this cliche it must be playfully named “Evil Corp”) that dominates almost all aspects of life.
As both Sanders and the philosopher Slavoj Zizek noted after Sanders lost the primaries, left and right are in some sense outdated ideas. The new division in politics is those who favor the current global hegemony and those who are against it. Like the Hollywood heroes, right and left have been competing to become this new radical anti-status quo party. And so far, in both Europe and America, the right has won, implying that, as Arendt predicted, the powerlessness created by bourgeoisie systems of capitalist exploitation might once again implode into far right totalitarianism.
However, as we have seen, the right’s anti-feminist message is one that only provides a momentary sense of relief (“you are acting powerful by retreating into video games and the internet!”) but like scratching a mosquito bite, it ultimately causes more dissatisfaction. That is to say, the only solution they can offer is, “keep retreating!” Likewise, Trump and the mocking cruel anguish he represents is not a genuine solution to the electorate’s powerlessness, but rather, simply the one closest at hand.
An adult does not freeze in mute horror when a child throws a tantrum. Nor do we generally regard such emotional outbursts as meaningless. Likewise, the left should not be paralyzed with horror by the deplorables, but rather view them of as a symptom of a larger problem, one which only the left can truly solve.

Don’t Dismiss President Trump’s Attacks on the Media as Mere Stupidity

Written by Bret Stephens (Time)

Bret Stephens delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture this week at the University of California, Los Angeles. Read the full text of his remarks below:

I’m profoundly honored to have this opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Danny Pearl, my colleague at The Wall Street Journal.

My topic this evening is intellectual integrity in the age of Donald Trump. I suspect this is a theme that would have resonated with Danny.

When you work at The Wall Street Journal, the coins of the realm are truth and trust — the latter flowing exclusively from the former. When you read a story in the Journal, you do so with the assurance that immense reportorial and editorial effort has been expended to ensure that what you read is factual.

Not probably factual. Not partially factual. Not alternatively factual. I mean fundamentally, comprehensively and exclusively factual. And therefore trustworthy.

This is how we operate. This is how Danny operated. This is how he died, losing his life inan effort to nail down a story.

In the 15 years since Danny’s death, the list of murdered journalists has grown long.

Paul Klebnikov and Anna Politkovskaya in Russia.

Zahra Kazemi and Sattar Behesti in Iran.

Jim Foley and Steve Sotloff in Syria.

Five journalists in Turkey. Twenty-six in Mexico. More than 100 in Iraq.

When we honor Danny, we honor them, too.

We do more than that.

We honor the central idea of journalism — the conviction, as my old boss Peter Kann once said, “that facts are facts; that they are ascertainable through honest, open-minded and diligent reporting; that truth is attainable by laying fact upon fact, much like the construction of a cathedral; and that truth is not merely in the eye of the beholder.”

And we honor the responsibility to separate truth from falsehood, which is never more important than when powerful people insist that falsehoods are truths, or that there is no such thing as truth to begin with.

So that’s the business we’re in: the business of journalism. Or, as the 45th president of the United States likes to call us, the “disgusting and corrupt media.”

Some of you may have noticed that we’re living through a period in which the executive branch of government is engaged in a systematic effort to create a climate of opinion against the news business.

The President routinely describes reporting he dislikes as FAKE NEWS. The Administration calls the press “the opposition party,” ridicules news organizations it doesn’t like as business failures, and calls for journalists to be fired. Mr. Trump has called for rewriting libel laws in order to more easily sue the press.

This isn’t unprecedented in U.S. history, though you might have to go back to the Administration of John Adams to see something quite like it. And so far the rhetorical salvos haven’t been matched by legal or regulatory action. Maybe they never will be.

But the question of what Mr. Trump might yet do by political methods against the media matters a great deal less than what he is attempting to do by ideological and philosophical methods.

Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News and the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism.

His objection to, say, the New York Times, isn’t that there’s a liberal bias in the paper that gets in the way of its objectivity, which I think would be a fair criticism. His objection is to objectivity itself. He’s perfectly happy for the media to be disgusting and corrupt — so long as it’s on his side.

But again, that’s not all the president is doing.

Consider this recent exchange he had with Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly asks:
Is there any validity to the criticism of you that you say things that you can’t back up factually, and as the President you say there are three million illegal aliens who voted and you don’t have the data to back that up, some people are going to say that it’s irresponsible for the President to say that.

To which the president replies:
Many people have come out and said I’m right.

Now many people also say Jim Morrison faked his own death. Many people say Barack Obama was born in Kenya. “Many people say” is what’s known as an argumentum ad populum. If we were a nation of logicians, we would dismiss the argument as dumb.

We are not a nation of logicians.

I think it’s important not to dismiss the president’s reply simply as dumb. We ought to assume that it’s darkly brilliant — if not in intention than certainly in effect. The president is responding to a claim of fact not by denying the fact, but by denying the claim that facts are supposed to have on an argument.

He isn’t telling O’Reilly that he’s got his facts wrong. He’s saying that, as far as he is concerned, facts, as most people understand the term, don’t matter: That they are indistinguishable from, and interchangeable with, opinion; and that statements of fact needn’t have any purchase against a man who is either sufficiently powerful to ignore them or sufficiently shameless to deny them — or, in his case, both.

If some of you in this room are students of political philosophy, you know where this argument originates. This is a version of Thrasymachus’s argument in Plato’s Republic that justice is the advantage of the stronger and that injustice “if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice.”

Substitute the words “truth” and “falsehood” for “justice” and “injustice,” and there you have the Trumpian view of the world. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, it would be this: Truth is what you can get away with.

If you can sell condos by claiming your building is 90% occupied when it’s only 20% occupied, well, then—it’s 90% occupied. If you can convince a sufficient number of people that you really did win the popular vote, or that your inauguration crowds were the biggest—well then, what do the statistical data and aerial photographs matter?

Now, we could have some interesting conversations about why this is happening—and why it seems to be happening all of a sudden.

Today we have “dis-intermediating” technologies such as Twitter, which have cut out the media as the middleman between politicians and the public. Today, just 17% of adults aged 18-24 read a newspaper daily, down from 42% at the turn of the century. Today there are fewer than 33,000 full-time newsroom employees, a drop from 55,000 just 20 years ago.
When Trump attacks the news media, he’s kicking a wounded animal.

But the most interesting conversation is not about why Donald Trump lies. Many public figures lie, and he’s only a severe example of a common type.

The interesting conversation concerns how we come to accept those lies.

Nearly 25 years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great scholar and Democratic Senator from New York, coined the phrase, “defining deviancy down.” His topic at the time was crime, and how American society had come to accept ever-increasing rates of violent crime as normal.

“We have been re-defining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard,” Moynihan wrote.

You can point to all sorts of ways in which this redefinition of deviancy has also been the story of our politics over the past 30 years, a story with a fully bipartisan set of villains.

I personally think we crossed a rubicon in the Clinton years, when three things happened: we decided that some types of presidential lies didn’t matter; we concluded that “character” was an over-rated consideration when it came to judging a president; and we allowed the lines between political culture and celebrity culture to become hopelessly blurred.

But whatever else one might say about President Clinton, what we have now is the crack-cocaine version of that.

If a public figure tells a whopping lie once in his life, it’ll haunt him into his grave. If he lies morning, noon and night, it will become almost impossible to remember any one particular lie. Outrage will fall victim to its own ubiquity. It’s the same truth contained in Stalin’s famous remark that the death of one man is a tragedy but the death of a million is a statistic.

One of the most interesting phenomena during the presidential campaign was waiting for Trump to say that one thing that would surely break the back of his candidacy.

Would it be his slander against Mexican immigrants? Or his slur about John McCain’s record as a POW? Or his lie about New Jersey Muslims celebrating 9/11? Or his attacks on Megyn Kelly, on a disabled New York Times reporter, on a Mexican-American judge?

Would it be him tweeting quotations from Benito Mussolini, or his sly overtures to David Duke and the alt-right? Would it be his unwavering praise of Vladimir Putin? Would it be his refusal to release his tax returns, or the sham that seems to been perpetrated on the saps who signed up for his Trump U courses? Would it be the tape of him with Billy Bush?
None of this made the slightest difference. On the contrary, it helped him. Some people became desensitized by the never-ending assaults on what was once quaintly known as “human decency.” Others seemed to positively admire the comments as refreshing examples of personal authenticity and political incorrectness.

Shameless rhetoric will always find a receptive audience with shameless people. Donald Trump’s was the greatest political strip-tease act in U.S. political history: the dirtier he got, the more skin he showed, the more his core supporters liked it.

Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, called on Americans to summon “the better angels of our nature.” Donald Trump’s candidacy, and so far his presidency, has been Lincoln’s exhortation in reverse.

Here’s a simple truth about a politics of dishonesty, insult and scandal: It’s entertaining. Politics as we’ve had it for most of my life has, with just a few exceptions, been distant and dull.

Now it’s all we can talk about. If you like Trump, his presence in the White House is a daily extravaganza of sticking it to pompous elites and querulous reporters. If you hate Trump, you wake up every day with some fresh outrage to turn over in your head and text your friends about.

Whichever way, it’s exhilarating. Haven’t all of us noticed that everything feels speeded up, more vivid, more intense and consequential? One of the benefits of an alternative-facts administration is that fiction can take you anywhere.

Earlier today, at his press conference, the president claimed his administration is running like a “fine-tuned machine.” In actual fact, he just lost his Labor Secretary nominee, his National Security Adviser was forced out in disgrace, and the Intelligence Community is refusing to fully brief the president for fear he might compromise sources and methods.
But who cares? Since when in Washington has there been a presidential press conference like that? Since when has the denial of reality been taken to such a bald-faced extreme?

At some point, it becomes increasingly easy for people to mistake the reality of the performance for reality itself. If Trump can get through a press conference like that without showing a hint of embarrassment, remorse or misgiving—well, then, that becomes a new basis on which the president can now be judged.

To tell a lie is wrong. But to tell a lie with brass takes skill. Ultimately, Trump’s press conference will be judged not on some kind of Olympic point system, but on whether he “won”—which is to say, whether he brazened his way through it. And the answer to that is almost certainly yes.

So far, I’ve offered you three ideas about how it is that we have come to accept the president’s behavior.

The first is that we normalize it, simply by becoming inured to constant repetition of the same bad behavior.

The second is that at some level it excites and entertains us. By putting aside our usual moral filters—the ones that tell us that truth matters, that upright conduct matters, that things ought to be done in a certain way—we have been given tickets to a spectacle, in which all you want to do is watch.

And the third is that we adopt new metrics of judgment, in which politics becomes more about perceptions than performance—of how a given action is perceived as being perceived. If a reporter for the New York Times says that Trump’s press conference probably plays well in Peoria, then that increases the chances that it will play well in Peoria.

Let me add a fourth point here: our tendency to rationalize.

One of the more fascinating aspects of last year’s presidential campaign was the rise of a class of pundits I call the “TrumpXplainers.” For instance, Trump would give a speech or offer an answer in a debate that amounted to little more than a word jumble.

But rather than quote Trump, or point out that what he had said was grammatically and logically nonsensical, the TrumpXplainers would tell us what he had allegedly meant to say. They became our political semioticians, ascribing pattern and meaning to the rune-stones of Trump’s mind.

If Trump said he’d get Mexico to pay for his wall, you could count on someone to provide a complex tariff scheme to make good on the promise. If Trump said that we should not have gone into Iraq but that, once there, we should have “taken the oil,” we’d have a similarly high-flown explanation as to how we could engineer this theft.
A year ago, when he was trying to explain his idea of a foreign policy to the New York Times’s David Sanger, the reporter asked him whether it didn’t amount to a kind of “America First policy”—a reference to the isolationist and anti-Semitic America First Committee that tried to prevent U.S. entry into World War II. Trump clearly had never heard of the group, but he liked the phrase and made it his own. And that’s how we got the return of America First.

More recently, I came across this headline in the conservative Washington Times: “How Trump’s ‘disarray’ may be merely a strategy,” by Wesley Pruden, the paper’s former editor-in-chief. In his view, the president’s first disastrous month in office is, in fact, evidence of a refreshing openness to dissent, reminiscent of Washington and Lincoln’s cabinet of rivals. Sure.

Overall, the process is one in which explanation becomes rationalization, which in turn becomes justification. Trump says X. What he really means is Y. And while you might not like it, he’s giving voice to the angers and anxieties of Z. Who, by the way, you’re not allowed to question or criticize, because anxiety and anger are their own justifications these days.

Watching this process unfold has been particularly painful for me as a conservative columnist. I find myself in the awkward position of having recently become popular among some of my liberal peers—precisely because I haven’t changed my opinions about anything.

By contrast, I’ve become suddenly unpopular among some of my former fans on the right—again, because I’ve stuck to my views. It is almost amusing to be accused of suffering from something called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” simply because I feel an obligation to raise my voice against, say, the president suggesting a moral equivalency between the U.S. and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The most painful aspect of this has been to watch people I previously considered thoughtful and principled conservatives give themselves over to a species of illiberal politics from which I once thought they were immune.

In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet and dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological and intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.

They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness and pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance and oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries. They convinced themselves that, brutal and capricious as Stalinism might be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the exploitative capitalism of the West.

I fear we are witnessing a similar process unfold among many conservative intellectuals on the right. It has been stunning to watch a movement that once believed in the benefits of free trade and free enterprise merrily give itself over to a champion of protectionism whose economic instincts recall the corporatism of 1930s Italy or 1950s Argentina. It is no less stunning to watch people once mocked Obama for being too soft on Russia suddenly discover the virtues of Trump’s “pragmatism” on the subject.

And it is nothing short of amazing to watch the party of onetime moral majoritarians, who spent a decade fulminating about Bill Clinton’s sexual habits, suddenly find complete comfort with the idea that character and temperament are irrelevant qualifications for high office.

The mental pathways by which the new Trumpian conservatives have made their peace with their new political master aren’t so different from Milosz’s former colleagues.

There’s the same desperate desire for political influence; the same belief that Trump represents a historical force to which they ought to belong; the same willingness to bend or discard principles they once considered sacred; the same fear of seeming out-of-touch with the mood of the public; the same tendency to look the other way at comments or actions that they cannot possibly justify; the same belief that you do more good by joining than by opposing; the same Manichean belief that, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, the United States would have all-but ended as a country.

This is supposed to be the road of pragmatism, of turning lemons into lemonade. I would counter that it’s the road of ignominy, of hitching a ride with a drunk driver.
So, then, to the subject that bring me here today: Maintaining intellectual integrity in the age of Trump.

When Judea wrote me last summer to ask if I’d be this year’s speaker, I got my copy of Danny’s collected writings, “At Home in the World,” and began to read him all over again. It brought back to me the fact that, the reason we honor Danny’s memory isn’t that he’s a martyred journalist. It’s that he was a great journalist.

Let me show you what I mean. Here’s something Danny wrote in February 2001, almost exactly a year before his death, from the site of an earthquake disaster in the Indian town of Anjar.

What is India’s earthquake zone really like? It smells. It reeks. You can’t imagine the odor of several hundred bodies decaying for five days as search teams pick away at slabs of crumbled buildings in this town. Even if you’ve never smelled it before, the brain knows what it is, and orders you to get away. After a day, the nose gets stuffed up in self-defense. But the brain has registered the scent, and picks it up in innocent places: lip balm, sweet candy, stale breath, an airplane seat.

What stands out for me in this passage is that it shows that Danny was a writer who observed with all his senses. He saw. He listened. He smelled. He bore down. He reflected.

He understood that what the reader had to know about Anjar wasn’t a collection of statistics; it was the visceral reality of a massive human tragedy. And he was able to express all this in language that was compact, unadorned, compelling and deeply true.

George Orwell wrote, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” Danny saw what was in front of his nose.

We each have our obligations to see what’s in front of one’s nose, whether we’re reporters, columnists, or anything else. This is the essence of intellectual integrity.

Not to look around, or beyond, or away from the facts, but to look straight at them, to recognize and call them for what they are, nothing more or less. To see things as they are before we re-interpret them into what we’d like them to be. To believe in an epistemology that can distinguish between truth and falsity, facts and opinions, evidence and wishes. To defend habits of mind and institutions of society, above all a free press, which preserve that epistemology. To hold fast to a set of intellectual standards and moral convictions that won’t waver amid changes of political fashion or tides of unfavorable opinion. To speak the truth irrespective of what it means for our popularity or influence.

The legacy of Danny Pearl is that he died for this. We are being asked to do much less. We have no excuse not to do it.

Thank you.

 

NBA Superstar Kyrie Irving: “This Is Not Even a Conspiracy Theory… The Earth Is Flat”

Written by Hemant Mehta (Patheos)

In case you’re wondering what NBA star Kyrie Irving thinks about the shape of the planet, you’re in luck! He talked about it on the podcast Road Trippin’ with RJ and Channing around the 17:55 mark:
KyrieIrving

“This is not even a conspiracy theory,” Irving said. “The Earth is flat.”
When pressed on a response that, for the record, is flat out wrong, Irving went off the rails and blamed “particular groups” that he did not name which he thinks want to convince us the Earth is, in fact, round.
Said Irving: “It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.
“What I’ve been taught is that the earth is round. But if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move and the fact that, can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these planets?”
He said “planets” using large quotation marks (in person).
The whole explanation is odd, since science has perfectly reasonable explanations for how all of this works. And it’s not like Irving doesn’t have access to spheres… he plays basketball. Just make the ball bigger, Kyrie, and you’ll see how this works!
(Hey, kids: This is why college basketball players shouldn’t take the one-and-done route.)
Irving’s position is no different from what rapper B.o.B. said last year when he claimed through a series of tweets that the world had to be flat. When Neil deGrasse Tyson has to step in to correct your ignorance, you know you screwed up badly.
There’s a positive side to this story, though: While the rest of us are mocking him, the Creation Museum may have found its new spokesperson!

Why More Democrats Are Now Embracing Conspiracy Theories

Written by Brendan Nyhan (NY Times)

Even as Democrats decry the false claims streaming regularly from the White House, they appear to have become more vulnerable to unsupported claims and conspiracy theories that flatter their own political prejudices. The reason isn’t just that a Republican now occupies the White House. Political psychology research suggests that losing political control can make people more vulnerable to misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Before the election, supporters of Donald J. Trump were the main audience for fake news stories. Mr. Trump shattered previous norms against making easily disprovable falsehoods in his public statements (including that he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning and that President Obama was not born in this country), and he paid little political price among his supporters.

Plots Afoot?

A survey administered just after the election in November showed that Democrats were more likely to agree with conspiracy-minded statements than they had been a few months earlier. For Republicans, the change went the opposite way.

But since the election, there has been a noticeable increase in the flow of dubious and unsupported claims among liberals. One widely circulated post on Medium portrayed the Trump administration’s fumbling rollout of a travel ban in late January as an elaborate “trial balloon for a coup d’état.” Brooke Binkowski, managing editor at the rumor-tracking site Snopes, recently told The Atlantic that she has been seeing more false reports aimed at liberals or from liberal sources — “a lot of dubious news, a lot of wishful-thinking-type stuff.”

Even some prominent liberals like Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, seem open to conspiracy theories of the sort typically espoused by figures like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. (After the recent violent demonstration at the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Reich raised the possibility that the far right “was in cahoots” with the agitators, writing a blog post titled “A Yiannopoulos, Bannon, Trump Plot to Control American Universities?”)

A simple explanation for this shift is that misperceptions often focus on the president and are most commonly held by members of the other party. Just as Republicans disproportionately endorsed prominent misperceptions during the Obama years (like the birther and death panel myths), Democrats are now the opposition partisans especially likely to fall victim to dubious claims about the Trump administration.

But the shift in vulnerability to conspiracy theories may have deeper psychological roots. Research suggests that people embrace conspiracy beliefs as a way to cope with perceived threats to control. In particular, Joseph E. Uscinski and Joseph M. Parent at the University of Miami have argued that conspiracy theory beliefs increase in response to group threats, including among losers of elections. These beliefs can help rally groups and coordinate action in response to a decline in status or power.

To evaluate this conjecture, the political scientists Christina Farhart, Joanne Miller and Kyle Saunders, who study conspiracy theory belief, compared how Democrats and Republicans changed in their responses to a conspiracy predispositions scale created by Mr. Uscinski and his co-authors.

The scale asks respondents to evaluate a series of statements:

Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places.

Even though we live in a democracy, a few people will always run things anyway.

The people who really “run” the country are not known to the voters.

Big events like wars, economic recessions and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people who are working in secret against the rest of us.

Ms. Farhart and her co-authors found in this unpublished study that even partisans’ conspiratorial predispositions can vary depending on which party holds political power. In a survey administered by Survey Sampling International immediately after the election (Nov. 7-10), Democrats’ conspiracy scores increased significantly compared with a previous survey in July, especially on the “people who really ‘run’ the country” item.

In total, the percentage of Democrats who agreed on average with the conspiracy claims in the scale increased from 27 percent before the election to 32 percent afterward. By contrast, Republicans’ willingness to endorse conspiratorial claims declined after the election over all and for three of the four statements, pushing down the percentage of Republicans who agreed on average with the statements from 28 percent to 19 percent.

In other words, losing the presidential election made Democrats more likely to blame secret conspiracies for the state of the world, while making Republicans less willing to indulge these sorts of claims. If you don’t believe me, just compare your social media news feeds with what you saw during the campaign — or ask yourself who you think is behind the news you are seeing.

Moby Claims To Know Donald Trump Is Being ‘Blackmailed’ By Russian Government

Written by Julia Brucculieri (MSM and Huffington Post)

Electronic music artist Moby claims to have accurate information regarding Donald Trump and his alleged ties to Russia.

On Monday, the musician wrote a post on Facebook outlining the information, which he says he learned after “spending the weekend talking to friends who work in DC.”

“The russian dossier on trump is real. 100% real. he’s being blackmailed by the russian government, not just for being peed on by russian hookers, but for much more nefarious things,” the artist wrote, adding, “the trump administration is in collusion with the russian government, and has been since day one.”

In his post, Moby also claims that Trump’s administration “needs a war, most likely with iran.” According to Moby, members of the right also have plans to get Trump out of the White House because “he’s a drain on their fundraising and their approval ratings.”

“Intelligence agencies around the world, and here in the u.s, [sic] are horrified by the incompetence of the trump administration, and are working to present information that will lead to high level firings and, ultimately, impeachment,” he wrote.

HQ

The “We Are All Made of Stars” singer says he shared this information for the sake of public record, noting, “these are truly baffling and horrifying times, as we have an incompetent president who is essentially owned by a foreign power.”The response to his writing was largely critical in the post’s comment section, with some Facebook users warning the musician against posting “unverified rumors with no sources or backup,” and others urging him to simply “make music and stay out of politics.”

Representatives for the musician didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

You can read his entire post below:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmobymusic%2Fposts%2F10155085110276108&width=500

Moby has been openly critical of Trump and the oft-misogynistic language he used throughout his campaign. In a blog post published on HuffPost, the DJ wrote, called the former “Apprentice” host “a man who is sanguine justifying sexual assault because ‘I’m a star, women will let me do anything.’” 

Moby also openly laughed when recounting how he was asked to DJ at one of Trump’s inauguration events.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPDQ8nWjBMp/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7