This is one of the best trolls of 2016. I won’t put it at number 1 without much more thought, but I think it’s defintely in the Top 5. Master media manipulator Godfrey Elfwick just struck the British media once again, and this time the victim is the Guardian. Before I show you some of that, let me remind you that this guy also conned the BBC World Service (which, I admittedly enjoy) awhile back.
I think his latest stunt topped this one, though. He has a full-length article in the Guardian titled: ‘Alt-right’ online poison nearly turned me into a racist.
It gets even better from there, ladies and gentlemen…
I am a happily married, young white man. I grew up in a happy, Conservative household. I’ve spent my entire life – save the last four months – as a progressive liberal. All of my friends are very liberal or left-leaning centrists. I have always voted Liberal Democrat or Green. I voted remain in the referendum. The thought of racism in any form has always been abhorrent to me. When leave won, I was devastated.
I was curious as to the motives of leave voters. Surely they were not all racist, bigoted or hateful? I watched some debates on YouTube. Obvious points of concern about terrorism were brought up. A leaver cited Sam Harris as a source. I looked him up: this “intellectual, free-thinker” was very critical of Islam. Naturally my liberal kneejerk reaction was to be shocked, but I listened to his concerns and some of his debates.
This, I think, is where YouTube’s “suggested videos” can lead you down a rabbit hole. Moving on from Harris, I unlocked the Pandora’s box of “It’s not racist to criticise Islam!” content. Eventually I was introduced, by YouTube algorithms, to Milo Yiannopoulos and various “anti-SJW” videos (SJW, or social justice warrior, is a pejorative directed at progressives). They were shocking at first, but always presented as innocuous criticism from people claiming to be liberals themselves, or centrists, sometimes “just a regular conservative” – but never, ever identifying as the dreaded “alt-right”…
At the same time, the anti-SJW stuff also moved on to anti-feminism, men’s rights activists – all that stuff. I followed a lot of these people on Twitter, but never shared any of it. I just passively consumed it, because, deep down, I knew I was ashamed of what I was doing…
Top-notch, Godfrey. Top-notch.
On one occasion I even, I am ashamed to admit, very diplomatically expressed negative sentiments on Islam to my wife. Nothing “overtly racist”, just some of the “innocuous” type of things the YouTubers had presented: “Islam isn’t compatible with western civilisation.”
She was taken aback: “Isn’t that a bit … rightwing?”
I justified it: “Well, I’m more a left-leaning centrist. PC culture has gone too far, we should be able to discuss these things without shutting down the conversation by calling people racist, or bigots.”
The indoctrination was complete.
You and I can read it while obviously noting the trollish quality. But it sounds quite different to the “progressive” editors of the Guardian. They must have thought this was pure gold. So, of course, do I. But for a much different reason.
It’s fucking hilarious.
I unsubscribed and unfollowed from everything, and told myself outright: “You’re becoming a racist. What you’re doing is turning you into a terrible, hateful person.” Until that moment I hadn’t even realised that “alt-right” was what I was becoming; I just thought I was a more open-minded person for tolerating these views.
It would take every swearword under the sun to describe how I now feel about tolerating such content and gradually accepting it as truth. I’ve spent every day since feeling shameful for being so blind and so easily coerced.
US election day rolled around, and I was filled with dread. Trump’s win felt like EU referendum morning all over again – magnified by a hundred. Although I never shared any of this rubbish with anybody, I feel partly responsible. It’s clear this terrible ideology has now gone mainstream…
I haven’t yet told my wife that this happened, and I honestly don’t know how to. I need to apologise for what I said and tell her that I certainly don’t believe it. It is going to be a tough conversation and I’m not looking forward to it. I didn’t think this could happen to me. But it did and it will haunt me for a long time to come.
Oh, and just in case you think he’s falsely taking credit for this masterpiece…it’s pretty clear that he isn’t.
UPDATE: The loons over at GamerGhazi ate it up as well.
UPDATE II: They were far from the only ones to buy it. Glenn Greenwald tweeted it out THREE TIMES yesterday.
— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) November 30, 2016
I don't work at the Guardian, Sam. If they were careless or defrauded by your adherent, & say so, I'll note it. They haven't.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 30, 2016
Just take the hit, Glenn. You got owned, first by Godfrey, then by Sam Harris.