If everyone is a victim, is anyone a victim?
There is no greater motivator than asking supporters to come to your defense when you’ve been attacked - even if you brought it on yourself.
In 2019, this is the modus operandi of an entire set of grifters who create a problem and then fundraise off of it.
The list is long:
- Rep. Adam Schiff uses his role on the House Intelligence Committee to investigate President Donald Trump and his associates. When Attorney General Bill Barr released four pages with a few partial quotes from almost 400 pages of a Mueller Report, the president claimed vindication. The report is still an unknown asset. Schiff continued his push to see the document. The president says Schiff should be forced to resign from Congress. Hopefully, we’ll see the Mueller Report soon and help us decide for ourselves which side has the scales of justice tilting their way. But now, the president is selling “pencil neck Schiff” T-shirts to support his 2020 campaign and Schiff is using those attacks to fundraise from the other side. No matter who wins the political tug of war, both sides win by filling campaign coffers.
- Consider Liz Mair and Devin Nunues’ Cow. Before the Blue Wave flushed him out of a committee chairmanship, Nunes was the head of the House Intelligence Committee. After he was reelected, Nunes has filed a lawsuit against Twitter as a company, Liz Mair - a Republican activist who hates Trump and Nunes - and two parody Twitter accounts, Devin Nunes Cow and Devin Nunes Mom. Nunes attack took the cow’s Twitter feed from 2,000 followers to more than a 600,000 - that’s probably a record for an animal with no thumbs. Mair is using Nunes’ lawsuit to fundraise for her legal defense. Mair has thumbs but that’s probably the nicest thing I could say about her. Nunes is piling up campaign cash and praise is lavished on him by Trump because of his fight against people who campaigned against him. For a bunch of victims, they all seem to be doing all right.
- And finally, consider the case of Denise McAllister. She went from becoming a Twitter meme for a vapid attack column one week to being fired by the husband of one of the women she attacked in that column because of her homophobic attacks after a response to a silly tweet Saturday afternoon. She will probably be hired by the Trump 2020 campaign staff soon. After all, there are no real victims anymore. There are plenty of rubes out there looking to give money to those who have the celebrity to get noticed and a moral compass that allows them to give voice to unpopular opinions.
McAllister wrote a piece recently blasting “The View” television show. The editors of The Federalist chose a photo of the one conservative on the panel, Meghan McCain, to use with the story. The weird thing about that is that McCain recently married the founder of the Federalist. After the piece was pushed on social media, McCain responded with a tweet that quickly became a meme. “You were at my wedding, Denise.”
That started a Twitter feud that resulted in yet another set of T-shirts being printed to make money for McAllister. The best business practice right now appears to be, 1) Say something rude and hateful on Twitter, 2) get attacked for being rude and hateful, and 3) Sell T-shirts to people who want to show support for rude hatefulness.
Welcome to 2019. Progress isn’t always great.
Fast forward a week and McAllister was tweeting again. This time she lightheartedly talked about interrupting her husband while he watched his favorite basketball team. He apparently told her, “Woman, you know better than this.” In the same tweet she agrees with her husband and says, “I slipped.”
Many on the site shot back because her comments weren’t the most female equality oriented phrases ever spoken. The comments were very “on brand” for McAllister. But one of the responses came from self described gay, Iranian, Catholic journalist Yashar Ali - who has a knack for becoming and staying Twitter famous.
After he shot back at McAllister, she turned her sights on him. First she said, “A gay man commenting on a heterosexual relationship is just. Sad. Pathetic really.” I’m not sure why. Straight people comment on gay relationships all the time. Then McAllister said she thought Yashar had a crush on her and she was making him doubt that he was truly gay. (I cleaned up the comment a lot. It was biology-oriented and beyond rude and homophobic.)
She kept the attack up by saying he didn’t know his purpose as a man and then she described him by using a crass comment about certain gay sex acts and the damage was done. McAllister either quit or was fired later that night. She kept tweeting but her tone changed.
“I was fired when I criticized a gay man who mocked my heterosexual relationship,” McAllister said. “Yet no one defended me when I stood for masculinity and God’s design for sexuality despite outlets saying they represent Judeo-Christian values about sexuality, identity and purpose. What is truth?”
She wasn’t fired for being critical. And if you read the vulgarity of her Twitter feed, Judeo-Christian values are the furthest thing from your mind.
Echo chambers can be damaging. They are loud and both praise and criticism are amplified beyond reality. Don’t forget that the vast majority of the people you know never read a Twitter feed and probably don’t have an account. Having thousands of followers or a viral tweet makes people believe the good and the bad is better or worse than it is in real life.
I often joke that Twitter is the most caustic environment in which people can live. McAllister went from selling shirts for support to being unemployed in about a week because she became overly involved in a Twitter feud and allowed her basic instincts take over.
Her hateful ideas and failure to filter them in a public forum should be a lesson to everyone.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.