In spring 2014, barely weeks before GamerGate, 4chan trolls began masquerading as feminist women of color online. The targets were not fooled, obviously, and Shafiqah Hudson and others launched an education campaign against it. But conservative pundits were eager to play along, out of stupidity or malice, laundering the lies into their version of reality and engaging a supply chain of far-right bullshit that would soon be exploited at scale.
Shafiqah Hudson remembers the moment she realized something was off. She saw a tweet from an account she had never seen before: "#EndFathersDay because I'm tired of all these white women stealing our good black mens." Something about the grammar—not to mention the idea that black women wanted to abolish Father's Day because of interracial dating—just felt too cartoonish to be real…. Hudson found herself horrified by how easily people on social media could be lured into believing a stereotype of black women. While she watched a credulous rage build online, not just against these fake Twitter accounts but against the black feminists she called friends, her own anger grew as well: "No one is going to come into my house and start breaking shit," she said.
The mockery #EndFathersDay made of an increasingly influential online feminist movement became predictable catnip to conservatives. Tucker Carlson devoted a segment to it. Ashe Schow in the Washington Examiner called it the latest "drivel" "from the feminist outrage machine." Dan McLaughlin tweeted that the hashtag was "a neat illustration of the cultural trajectory of progressivism." "#EndFathersDay Because it's really just Second Caregiver of Unspecified Gender Identity Day, you cisnormative a**holes," mocked Ben Shapiro.
Something about all this reminded me of the following sentence from conservative writer Kevin Williamson (admired among his peers for the quality of his prose), posted about the time of #EndFathersDay, quoting a "three-fifths" "primate", which is to say a black child:
'Hey, hey craaaaaacka! Cracka! White devil! F*** you, white devil!"
If you're wondering why conservatives were so easily led by 4chan, consider that on the issue of what black people sound like, this is their best material.