Donald Trump is horrible and disgusting, and the menagerie of melting, gelatinous creatures surrounding him are also horrible and disgusting, but they’re not really new. The behavior they’ve exhibited over the last three years came into focus, in Facebook and before long silences at family dinners, during the years before that. Trump and his acolytes are a specific type of old white person—one whose face is seemingly held together solely by their dentures, one whose brain has been warped by years of staring too long into the void of Steve Doocy’s grin. What has been more shocking, to the extent that it’s still possible to be shocked by anything in 2018, is the number of people who are ostensibly in my twenty-something age cohort, or even younger, who have somehow remade themselves in that image.
If you’ve spent even just a small amount of time online, you have seen at least one version of this person. They are young and almost always white, and they have found a home in the conservative movement by turning their entire existence—their every waking moment and public act—in to an effort to own the libs by any means necessary.
Kaitlin Bennett is among the most prolific of these. The protest at Kent State in which students from the Koch-funded conservative student group Turning Point USA sat around in diapers on the quad was Bennett’s defective brainchild, but she gained her greatest fame for tweeting a photo of herself carrying an assault rifle to her graduation at Kent State, where there have never been any issues with students and guns, and then parlayed that into a Fox News appearance where she accused those who criticized her of being racist. She has continued to be photographed with guns as needed ever since, but also recently released a video in which she dressed up in a disguise and asked strangers what they thought about Kaitlin Bennett, The Kent State Gun Girl. In effect, she was daring them to say mean things about her to her face. Those strangers responded by saying mean things about her, to her face.
There’s Nicholas Fuentes, a conservative YouTuber who dropped out of Boston University after being spotted at the Charlottesville rally. He dresses in suits and has taken on the vocal affect of his hero, a man who talks like he’s having a series of micro-strokes. Fuentes was born in 1998.
Also in this category are meme-loving TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, the out white nationalist Lauren Southern, who chartered a boat with the goal of blocking refugees from entering Europe’s shores but then needed to be rescued by a pro-refugee boat after her boat broke down, and the tragicomic far-right nervous breakdown Laura Loomer, who, after someone killed eight people by driving a truck down a New York City sidewalk, tweeted whatever the hell this is supposed to be a photo of:
The most recent example of this species to wriggle into the national consciousness is Trump Twitter Reply Guy Jacob Wohl. Ordinarily, Wohl spends his days authoring multiple threaded sycophantic replies to Trump’s tweets and not trading securities, because he was banned from doing so due to repeated instances of fraud while still in his teens.
This gets complicated, but here’s what Wohl has been doing this week. On Monday night, he tweeted that “a scandalous story about Mueller is breaking tomorrow.” He was, in short order, outed as having a personal connection to a false sexual misconduct allegation against Robert Mueller through a company called Surefire Intelligence, a “private intel agency” which claimed to be looking into those allegations. Wohl’s connection to the certainly-not-real company was later cemented after NBC News found “a company phone that redirects to a number registered to Wohl’s mother.” NBC News also found that LinkedIn profiles of many Surefire Intelligence “employees” had stolen photos of celebrities, including one of the Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli:
The collective actions of the people mentioned above are not the actions of someone with a healthy social life or, quite frankly, friends. They are not quite to be pitied—these are pretty gross people for the most part—but, for the good of society and also these sociopaths, something must be done. We have to get these people some friends.
Having friends has many perks, one of which is having a group of people (or even just one person!) who loves you and cares about you enough to call you out on your shit; to say “hey, please stop doing what you’re doing as it makes you look like a giant fucking asshole.” For those of us who aren’t naturally inclined toward cheap stunts or dipshit political opinions or reply-guy theatrics, this can be just be someone whose opinion you trust telling you that you’re not pulling off those leather pants as well as you think you are. For others, some more extreme tough love might be necessary.
All of that is a longwinded way of saying this: anyone under the age of let’s say 35 who thinks that acting like this in society, even our currently decaying one, most likely has no friends, at least none who care enough about them to encourage them to step away from the edge. So here is my plea: will you, will someone, anyone, please befriend these people? Granted, in their current state, they’re all pretty loathsome; I fully understand why no one wants to be friends with the diaper guy, or I guess also the diaper girl. And because the current state of the conservative movement is such that everyone involved, from the president on down, is engaged in a protracted con, most young conservative activists aren’t hip enough to the grift to realize that what they believe to be their community is really more of a bog full of hungry leeches. Beneath the cheap laughs to be had at the latest conservative twenty-something self-owning themselves in public is something deeply sad—a lost and furious person angrily thrashing around in search of a place where they belong.
And maybe this current crop of future hoarders and Republican judicial candidates is unsalvageable. But the next group—the impressionable teens and pre-teens who may be a little lonelier than most, who are watching this behavior and thinking that it’s an acceptable way to act in public—may not be. I don’t think I’m being too naive in thinking there’s still hope for them, and for the future of this country.
So, will you do this, will you tap the next budding Jacob Wohl on the shoulder and just say, “hey man, you’re being an asshole and you don’t need to do this,” for me, for us, for what’s left of our culture? Because I sure as hell am tired of knowing who the fuck any of these people are, and I don’t really want to learn any new ones.