Image Attribution: Stearns Images

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Trump is a Racist. So is his 2020 Strategy.

By Melissa Ryan

Last week’s Netroots Nation, featured a keynote session with Representatives Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Deb Haaland. Moderator Aimee Allison, referencing the various “The Squad” news stories that have become an annoying trope in political media of late, referred to the speakers as “our squad” and encouraged the Netroots attendees to have their backs. Alison was speaking about the Democratic establishment, but less than 24 hours later the phrase took on a new meaning when Trump, after watching a Fox News segment about the Netroots Nation keynote, went on a racist Twitter tirade against “The Squad.”

Trump has doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on this strategy both on Twitter, during a presser on live television, and at one of his campaign rallies. It might be tempting to dismiss his rants as those of a racist befuddled old man, but Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford took pictures of Trump’s notes for the presser showing that his rhetoric was very much intentional. Members of his team also talked to a reporter at Axios not only confirming this, they also suggested that The Squad will remain his primary target for attack until a Democratic nominee is chosen

Trump is a racist. He’s also making the conscious decision to use racist rhetoric to appeal to his white supremacist base. (The ones who chanted “Send her back” at the campaign rally.) And let’s not lose sight of the misogyny here, note that all of Trump’s current targets are women. 

There’s a lot of media hoopla around this, and Trump is, of course, happy to ride the wave as long as it lasts. Here are three things I would urge you not to lose sight of during this news cycle:

Trump’s actions put Americans in danger. Trump’s attacks are targeted harassment and said harassment puts Reps Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Talib in physical danger. As well as their families and staff. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has already requested extra security for the Congresswomen. Spend any time on far-right spaces and you’ll see why that’s necessary. More broadly Trump’s strategy will fan the flames and potentially lead to more incidents of domestic terrorism we saw in the final weeks before the 2018 midterm election. Trump’s rhetoric makes Americans everywhere less safe.

The white nationalist takeover of the GOP is complete. Few Republicans bothered to condemn Trump’s racist remarks and several Republican elected officials have defended them. When the House voted to condemn Trump’s racist comments, only four members of the Republican Caucus voted yes. In Trump’s Republican party there’s no cost to defending racism or being a white nationalist yourself. It’s worth noting that GOP electeds are in alignment with the GOP base. New polling from USA Today/Ipsos suggests that Trump’s racist tweets have made him even more popular with Republican voters.

Twitter continues to give Trump a platform and won’t enforce its own weak policy. Despite recently announcing a policy change where tweets from world leaders that break Twitter’s terms of service would be labeled with a warning, Twitter has opted not to enforce this policy with Trump’s racist tweets which could arguably also be considered targeted harassment. As I wrote a few months ago when covering this policy for the newsletter Twitter’s world leaders policy is centered entirely around the powerful figures and doesn’t offer any protection to those harmed by these tweets. Whether we’re talking about President Trump, Iran’s Supreme Leader, or any two-bit dictator, they know exactly what they’re doing when they violate Twitter’s TOS. Their intention is to cause harm. Twitter has chosen the right of President Trump to cause harm over the right of Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Talib, as well as their staff and families to be protected.

In responding to Trump’s attacks these four Congresswomen have shown again and again why they’re emerging leaders in the Democratic party. I’ve been continually impressed as I watch them in press conferences and interviews. But no one should have to go through what these women are being put through. I hope we all heed Aimee Allison’s call to have Our Squad’s backs. They’re going to need all the support they can get.

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Neither Fringe nor Distant: The Utica Murder, Incels and The Breadth of Misogyny

By Simon Murdoch

This week began with emerging reports of the murder of a young woman, Bianca Devins, in Utica, New York. A suspect, believed to have been in a relationship with Devins, was officially charged with second-degree murder on Monday of this week and is due in court next week. Whilst horrifying enough, this event had a further chilling element to it. The man charged had posted graphic violent images of Devins to Instagram, 4chan, and Discord after the murder. A Utica Police spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that he was also posting photos to Instagram as officers held him at gunpoint, even after he had begun to harm himself with a knife as they appeared at the scene. The unnerving entwinement of the web in this tragedy has been noted by many, yet it should remind us that “fringe” online misogyny is not an isolated, distant phenomenon.

Read more here.

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  • Whitney Phillips, the author of the Oxygen of Amplification Report, has new research article, It Wasn’t Just the Trolls: Early Internet Culture, “Fun,” and the Fires of Exclusionary Laughter. Quote for thought from the piece: “Very quickly, I realized that many of the young reporters who initially helped amplify the white nationalist “alt right” by pointing and laughing at them, had all come up in and around internet culture-type circles. They may not have been trolls themselves, but their familiarity with trolling subculture, and experience with precisely the kind of discordant swirl featured in the aforementioned early-2000s image dump, perfectly prepped them for pro-Trump shitposting. They knew what this was. This was just trolls being trolls. This was just 4chan being 4chan. This was just the internet. Those Swastikas didn’t mean anything. They recognized the clothes the wolf was wearing, I argued, and so they didn’t recognize the wolf.”


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