Extremists of various stripes expressed their joy on social media that the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, will probably soon own Twitter. Meanwhile, the historic trial of the Oath Keepers in the January 6 uprising continues and the culture wars continue to focus on LGBTQ events.
It is the week of extremism.
Extremists hope to return to Twitter under Musk
Far-right pundits, conspiracists, and everyday extremists have been on edge this week after news broke that Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is back on track. Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” first offered to buy the social media company in April. The deal was delayed by an ongoing lawsuit, but this week, Musk announced in a letter that he would agree to buy Twitter at its original offer price of $54.20 per share.
- Extremists welcomed the news on several of the far-right platforms that have sprung up since major social media companies moved to “de-platform” extremist accounts. On Gab, Gettr, Truth Social and Telegram, extremist groups from the Proud Boys to white supremacist groups welcomed the news.
- We’ve written extensively about the potential impact a Musk-controlled Twitter would have on the world of American extremism. In April, we looked at whether the deal would mean more hate speech on Twitter (it probably would) and in July we pointed out that the existing Twitter ban on the Proud Boys isn’t working and even more members of extremist street gangs could come back. on the platform under Musk.
- Musk has been largely silent on whether he will allow extremists who were banned from Twitter to return to the platform.
- Trump’s question: Twitter “permanently” banned then-President Donald Trump from the platform in January 2021. Trump, who has since founded his own social media company, would likely be keen to return to Twitter, where he has a long history of post misinformation, lies. and propaganda
Twitter, Musk and hate speech:Will free speech mean more hate speech on Twitter under Elon Musk?
Proud Boys on Twitter:Twitter banned the Proud Boys, but they’re still around. Under Elon Musk, there could be more
The trial of the Oath Keepers continues
The seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes, founder of the extremist paramilitary group Oath Keepers, and four alleged accomplices for their roles in the January 6, 2021 Capitol uprising continued this week in a federal courtroom in Washington, DC .
The trial is arguably the most high-profile indictment to come out of the insurgency.
- Catch up on: My colleague Ella Lee and I wrote a comprehensive analysis of the landmark trial and the new legal theory central to Rhodes’ defense.
- Lee has been in the Oath Keepers courtroom every day. This week he wrote about how federal prosecutors argue that the Oath Keepers were “leaders” on Jan. 6, in their opening statements, and also about prosecutors’ opening evidence: a discussion about rallying members for a possible fight in Washington.
- Prosecutors say Rhodes and the others began planning the insurrection just days after the 2020 election. On the day the election was called in President Joe Biden’s favor, “Rhodes called Biden an ‘illegitimate usurper.’ and made a call to action using the encrypted messaging app Signal,” reports Lee.
Other conspiracy convictions: The Oath Keepers are one of three extremist groups on trial for conspiracy related to January 6. The members of the band the Proud Boys go on trial in December. Another prosecution of alleged followers of the Three Percenters does not yet have a trial date.
Background to the Oath Keepers trial:Oath Keepers trial: 19th-century-inspired defense meets biggest prosecution yet on January 6
Opening statements: Prosecutors argue that the militia members were “leaders” on January 6
Baker teased for hosting LGBTQ events
Stories by Tess Owen at Vice News always worth a read, and his latest is no exception. Owen profiled an Illinois baker and business owner who has faced months of targeted harassment from far-right extremists for his support of LGBTQ events, including events of ‘familiar drag.
- Corrina Bendel-Sac has received threatening phone calls, harassment on the street and in front of her business and even vandalized her bakery, reports Owen.
- It hasn’t stopped him. The activist and business owner continues to host LGBTQ events. “We’re lovers, not fighters,” she told Owen. “We’re kind of mean.”
- Context: This is just one example of how family-friendly or all-ages drag shows have become a flashpoint in America’s culture wars. Threatened by far-right media personalities and conspiracy theorists, extremist groups, particularly the Proud Boys, who have turned up to disrupt events or pestered hosts to cancel them.
- Because? Far-right extremists believe they are justified in attacking the events because, in their worldview, drag shows are not about entertainment, but about “priming” children for pedophiles. This conspiracy theory is spread by far-right commentators without any justification or evidence.
Achieve::Oath Keepers on Trial, Extremists on Spotify: The Last Week in Extremism