Sunday, January 29, 2017

Crazy Like Foxes: We're Being Trolled

"So what the hell's going on here?" you may well be asking yourself.

I ran a huge online community for eight years, and helped manage earlier online communities since long before there was a Web. I was around and keyed in (Zelig-like) when computer viruses were titillating thought experiments for computer scientists, rather than real world scourges. And I've watched trolling develop as an art form from a front row seat. I've played chess with every escalating generation of scary mega trolls.

And I can confirm that we, ladies and gentlemen, appear to have been trolled.

Read two things: this piece from lefty Mother Jones, and this Twitter storm from John Schindler, a veteran Intelligence Services dude with a very shrewd mind, some far right wing sentiments (some of which may rub you the wrong way, as they do for me), and an earnest patriotic impulse to put country way ahead of party and stand staunchly anti-Trump.

(The anti-Trump movement will only succeed if we really listen to the right-wingers in our potential coalition, who have far deeper insight into the basis of Trump's appeal, so I recommend Schindler's Twitter feed as a daily read...and also click through to his great articles in the NY Observer. He also is keyed into the Russia connections, though if you want to delve into that - it gets way crazier than you'll want to let yourself believe - read Louise Mensch and, if you dare, the guy she cribs off of - who's working at either the hysterical fringe or else at the Very Core Of It All, we shall see: Adam Khan).

Back to those first two links. They're both a little right and a little wrong (though way more correct than any other voices you're hearing right now), but if you add them together, you'll understand how the trolling is working. Steve Bannon is a troll par excellence. It's easy to forget that he's smart.

This explains why anti-Trump centrists like me have had an instinct to plead with people to calm down and be smart and focused, rather than flailing around, pinning the outrage level at a constant "11". I've been sensing the trolling. Now, it's filled in a bit.

Nothing solidifies the Trump coalition like a freak out on the left. When the left freaks out, just like the right, it gets 1. stupid, and 2. reverts to its most divisive tropes, shoring up the other side. Trump was elected, in the first place, as a deliberate move to freak out the left. A cherry bomb, if you will. The tone (repeat: the tone) of the backlash cements his base of support. But people are way too outraged/reactive to see it....just as victims always take comically long to spot a troll's agenda once they've been emotionally triggered.

We've been (legitimately) concerned about Trump's easy manipulability, but, ironically, it's the rest of us who've been manipulated.

For the dim-witted (and smarties who've let outrage temporarily dull their wits): I'm not saying his stances, actions, words, policies, tweets, appointments, etc., are hunky dory. I'm not saying they don't require push-back. I'm not saying we should appease or enable. I'm not saying it's good.

Lefty Mother Jones Writer, Right-Wing Steely Intelligence Dude, and Centrist Blogger Me are all as opposed to Trump as you are, if not more. I'm sitting here puzzling this out, sleepless, at 5:30 am! I'm not saying Steve Bannon won't destroy the country. I'm saying we need to work, not kvetch. John Schindler's essential quote: "Trump will be stopped when a strong majority of Americans accept he's a nut who violates our laws. Not before."

He's talking about the right there, but it applies to the left as well. Acceptance is not agreement. Acceptance is not "normalization". Acceptance is not capitulation. Something about the liberal psyche (the same part of the brain which gives rise to the notion of, jesus christ, "safe spaces") predisposes them to standing there like chickens in the rain, repeating "No no no no no no no no....this is not happening." It's happening. The left's been stuck in this groove ever since he first ranted about Mexican rapists and glided down his golden escalator; the same sputtering "you've been trolled!" reaction again and again and again.

Let's belatedly get past the fact that he's him and he's here. Let's jar loose of our static posture of surprise and shock and outrage. Let's recognize that 100% of the country totally knows you're upset and fearful and hate him (and Trump supporters cares about that as much as you cared how they hated and feared Obama, which, I know, makes you want to plug your ears and shut your eyes and scream "FALSE EQUIVALENCY!!!!"). Ceaseless wailing will not bring about the gratification of your needs! Instead, let's use grown-up steely wits to deal with this. (Here are some suggestions, just for starters). Above all, let's remember that, unlike Tea Party vs Obama, we have coalition partners on the right. That's a huge difference. LISTEN TO THOSE GUYS! (Here's another to read, and one more)

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