Twitter has finally woken up to the fact that giving racist wingnuts and conspiracy theorists blue ticks merely reinforces the currency of these bigots, while not enhancing the value of the social media site.
Overnight those magical little hallmarks of authenticity faded away from some big name right wing accounts on both sides of the Atlantic and more will probably follow. American white supremacist Jason Kessler, alt-right punch-bag Richard Spencer, our own Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) and Laura Loomer all watched in despair as their badges vanished. I’m guessing Katie Hopkins is checking her phone even more than usual.
A monumental moan-fest of outrage followed – which nobody came out of with their dignity intact. Displaying all the backbone of a 3 year old in a shopping mall, deprived of his dummy, Kessler weepily sent tweet after tweet insisting he wasn’t a racist and was just standing up for white people. Not to be outdone, “Tommy Robinson” embarked on an epic snivelling tirade of tweets dotted with inspiring examples of ambitious whataboutery.
Odd isn’t it that these “rebels” – these “outsiders” – these self-styled warriors against the establishment and the “mainstream media” and the globalists – should be so bothered about a blue tick on their twitter accounts. I’m fairly certain Che Guevara never lobbied the Chinese Theater for a handprint on Hollywood boulevard.
Truth is, Stephen and his friends were very proud of those twitter verifications because they conferred status and respectability upon them. The rise of the alt-right might be a political phenomenon but it is personality driven. These ‘outsiders’ see themselves and are in turn viewed by their acolytes as ‘celebrities’ and because they lack imagination, they seek the same gongs, baubles and acceptance dished out to other well-known luminaries.
For the most part they don’t aspire to upset the establishment applecart – they want to be part of it. Yaxley-Lennon desperately wants to be on the This Morning Sofa. Richard Spencer undoubtedly drifts off to sleep, fondly imagining that one day there will be a documentary about him on the History Channel. There is no finer example of this peculiar need to be venerated than the ‘anti-establishment’ Nigel Farage, who spent many undignified years trying to get a peerage – that he might sit in the unelected and unaccountable House of Lords. Nigel may have been sent to a very expensive public school but he failed to get any A levels or entry to university. While old school chums went on to illustrious careers he ended up as a spiv MEP in a parliament he doesn’t respect. Deep down in the man – there is a little schoolboy longing to be a prefect.
I don’t know much about “Tommy Robinson” or “Laura Loomer’s” early lives because mine is too short to bother investigating them – but I would bet a hefty sum on both having failed at school and having failed badly. Their politics is as authentic as a Cartier watch in a back street Bangkok market. This is less about the “Muslams” much more about personal failure being writ in political form and a deep-rooted need to be given a ‘well done’ sticker on their homework.
These dangerous idiots are seeking recognition, esteem and notoriety – by removing the trappings of respectability from them Twitter has finally acknowledged that they are not worthy of it.