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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, July 03, 2017

Trigger Warning, How The Trolls Occupied Politics And What To Do About It

Antifa demonstrator holds up the remains of a tattered
and burned US flag in Denver, C0 on June 10, 2017.
(Photo credit JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images
via Forbes article linked below)
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author:   Trolls have long been a feature, rather than a bug, in various opinion-fraught pockets of the Internet. They are now, d/b/a the "Antifa," coming out from under the "bridge" and beginning, at least in hotbeds of "progressive" thought like Berkeley, to Occupy Politics. Or try.

This is a significant development. It invites thoughtful attention and appropriate countermeasures. First things first: the Antifa's progenitor: Per the WikipediaIn Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll's amusement. . . . Last month, Seth Abramson wrote a brilliant, definitive, field guide to the trolls for Medium.com: Listen Up, Progressives: Here’s How to Deal with a 4Chan (“Alt-Right”) Troll.

. . . It's fascinating. He offers up an extraordinary look at the trolls' governing narrative and dispels many myths:But if we absolutely must take a deep dive into alt-right trolls’ superficial, self-aggrandizing answer to this question — and we must — we can note that the central theorem of the alt-right troll is this: “political correctness” is the number-one problem in America. This is no exaggeration; alt-right trolls believe that the politically correct discourse often associated with the “New Left” is destroying everything fun, interesting, and (most of all) free about America.

...  Given the above, we can see that alt-right trolls are most threatened by the idea that far-left “Social Justice Warriors” will so police Americans’ thoughts, words, and behaviors — through the application of “political correctness” as a doctrine — that they will pose an existential threat to the fundamental character of the nation. (Many alt-right trolls believe we’re already at that point, actually.) And, because they believe that the Achilles’ heel of all SJWs is an over-sensitivity to thoughts, words, and behaviors that they cannot control and that displease them, they spend their days trying to “trigger” these persons by upsetting them publicly.

This, then, is the fulcrum of alt-right trolls’ pseudo-political agenda. They believe that if SJWs can, in large numbers, be publicly and repeatedly triggered, it will make those persons look so ridiculous in the eyes of the “average” (read as “centrist” or “center-right”) American voter that the “New Left” will collapse — politically, if not in social discourse. In short, alt-right trolls believe they can literally save America by making you angry in public.
Now for a word from me about the “alt-left” Troll caves such as DemocraticUnderground.com, which served as a base for hideously virulent attacks on TeamSarah.org, originating as a Sarah Palin-booster social network which I created, for a client, in 2008. Democratic Underground may, or may not, remain a staging ground for alt-left trolls. The caravan has moved on.

The “Antifa,” is taking a troll-like attitude up from the Web into the real world, (coupled with progressive-demonstration "Black Bloc" tactics) escalating, too often, from provocation to violence. And not for the "lulz" (Internet slang for amusement value).In Washington, D.C., Antifa spent the morning of Inauguration Day lighting trash cans on fire, throwing rocks and bottles at police officers, setting ablaze a limousine, and tossing chunks of pavement through the windows of several businesses. On February 1, Antifa set fires and stormed buildings at the University of California–Berkeley to prevent an appearance by Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. (They succeeded.) In April, they threatened violence if Ann Coulter spoke on the campus; when the university and local law enforcement refused to find a secure location for her to speak, she withdrew, saying the situation was too dangerous.There is a sick irony in applying Sturmabteilung -- Nazi Brownshirt -- tactics in “opposition” to fascism. Still, America is not Weimar Germany and as Marx astutely observed, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

The Brownshirts were tragedy.

Antifa is farce.

. . . Next, permit me to salute Abramson for shrewdly uncollapsing a crucial distinction.

The left reflexively considers the trolls as part of Trump’s base. That's only because most of the left is not paying attention to the facts (an endemic problem for leftists, yes).Alt-right trolls see Trump — and you’ll be very surprised to hear this — as a total and complete loser. To use their own deeply offensive terminology, alt-right trolls consider Trump a “weaponized autist” who is so clearly dysfunctional in every way that his election as president is hilarious. If you’re thinking that it takes a real lack of situational awareness to not see how Trump could endanger the very nation alt-right trolls claim to love, and a real lack of empathy to not see (just because you think Trump couldn’t or wouldn’t ruin your own life) how Trump could ruin real lives, you’re right. That’s why many alt-right trolls come from middle-class or upper-middle-class upbringings — they’re essentially twerpy bourgeois assholes who use a lame brand of political dissent as cover for the fact that in a Marxist revolution they might well be the first ones up against the wall. …

While most alt-right trolls are, in fact, moderate Republicans, this is almost entirely owing to their distaste for “political correctness.” In terms of economic policy, they’re mostly Leftist populists (think “Berniecrats”). In terms of social policy, a few of them grew up in traditionalist households that were pro-life, pro-gun, pro-school prayer, and pro-death penalty, but many more are libertarians who smoke a lot of weed and think everyone should be able to do privately whatever they like. Some of them are even anarchists, which means they think everyone should be able to do privately and publicly just about whatever they like. Mainstream Republican voters these are not.
So, the trolls of 4chan are most likely a hybrid between RINOS and Bernie Bros and Stoners. Know your customer!

Abramson herein provides the most astute advice I have ever encountered on the care and feeding of trolls.

But wait. There's more.

Let me add two observations of my own, one practical and one metaphorical.

Practically speaking, as I wrote in the Huffington Post:Dear progressives, don’t play into the hands of the virulent nativists. Around the year 2000 a community organizer named Ilana Dubester, then head of Hispanic Liaison of Siler City, North Carolina, destroyed David Duke ... by ignoring a rally he staged there. A city official later told me the story about how his mole in the Duke camp relayed how Duke, at the after-party, was fulminating against Ilana’s having called all civil rights and ethnic groups to ignore his rally — thereby taking the drama out of it.

Thereafter civil rights leaders basically ignored Duke and he collapsed. Duke’s money came from his notoriety and his notoriety came from media coverage and media coverage came from the dramatic visuals of the controversy that he stoked. Ignoring him took the wind out of his sails. Duke is slightly back but he was a goner for a long time and now is a much diminished force. Let’s keep it that way.

If you disapprove of the nativists don’t feed them with drama. Saul Alinsky’s first rule for radicals? Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. Imagining that your enemy has more power than he has gives your enemy more power than he has. Don’t do it.
And let it be noted that after that blog was published Duke’s brief Senate-run-based media “resurgence” ended when he drew only 3% of the vote… in Louisiana, not usually considered a hotbed of Black Lives Matters sentiment. Ignoring is bliss.

The trolls’ core tactic is to provoke, to trigger a reaction, and feed upon the drama. Refusal to take the bait subtracts most, maybe all, of their power. And ruins their lulz. This assuredly will make them feel bored and inclined to depart for greener pastures.

Speaking of greener pastures, here comes the metaphor: Three Billy Goats Gruff.

It is a canonical work on trolls (with appreciation for this translation to Prof. D.L. Ashliman). Follow along.. . . [J]ust then up came the big Billy Goat Gruff.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap! went the bridge, for the billy goat was so heavy that the bridge creaked and groaned under him.
"Who's that tramping over my bridge?" roared the troll.

"It's I! The big Billy Goat Gruff ," said the billy goat, who had an ugly hoarse voice of his own.

"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," roared the troll.

Well, come along! I've got two spears,
And I'll poke your eyeballs out at your ears;
I've got besides two curling-stones,
And I'll crush you to bits, body and bones.

That was what the big billy goat said. And then he flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade ....
I encounter a fair number of trolls under the bridges of my columns. I typically find them and their insults quaint and rather charming. My imaginary political ecosystem has room for trolls ... so long as they stay where they belong, under bridges and not rioting in the streets as the Antifa.

I sometimes point out to them, when they insult me, that I am just a little Billy Goat Gruff. Then they usually let me pass on unmolested. Trolls, if I may be forgiven what might be condemned as a trollophobic or misotrollist sentiment, are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier of our politics. They contain within themselves the seed of their own political demise.

To hasten the process of their self-deportation from the political sphere begin, as Abramson teaches us, by denying them their lulz. Don't let them trigger you.Snip snap snout.
This tale's told out.
Now you know how the trolls occupied politics.

Now you know what to do about it.

Also?

Enjoy the lulz :)
-----------------
Ralph Benko is an advisor to nonprofit and advocacy organizations, is a member of the Conservative Action Project, a contributor to the contributor to the ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. Read the full article in Forbes.

Tags: Ralph Benko, Trigger Warning, How The Trolls Occupied Politics, What To Do About It To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 3:00 PM - Post Link

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