Painting: José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior via Wikimedia Commons
Note: I am not encouraging attacking, boycotting, or harassing anyone I talk about in this post. I know what this can do to one's mental health, and I do not wish it on anyone. If you have been the target of an online attack and are suffering mentally, please know you are not alone, and seek professional help if you are considering physically harming yourself. Feel free to contact me if you just need someone to talk to.
I recently received an email from someone asking if there was anything that could be done to help those who have been the target of an online attack. This was specific to the knitting community, but I think it could apply to anyone in any community. Here was my reply:
I have been thinking about this a lot during the last few months. Really, what I wish more people would do is just stop being so damn scared to voice their opinions. Only those on the far left have a voice. And the rest of us have collaborated with, befriended, and listened to them for years without argument. I have enjoyed being friends with many of them. I even had dinner with a group of some of the most vocal ones last year at Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and even though I was quite ill at the time and not feeling myself, I still had a wonderful time and was so grateful I had a chance to meet them in person and listen to their stories. These same people have now publicly called me a racist, white supremacist, neo-nazi, far-right sympathizer -- the full gamut of pop-insults that are invading the online world and trying to silence anyone with a different opinion. I would never attack them in the way they have attacked me. We who have thoughtfully disagreed with the popular post-modern ideologies are the tolerant ones, and I'd argue, the truly liberal ones. I see very little liberalism coming from the left. I wish more people would just use their brains and their own voices when something doesn't seem right. At the beginning, I received messages from so many people who thought things had gotten out of hand and the "conversation" was just stirring up hate and causing division, but they were too scared of the supposed "tolerant" ones to say anything about it. And eventually many were taken over to their side, put in the corner, given their complementary copy of Me and White Supremacy, and left to soak in a bath of white guilt.
People are cowards. I know they have families, jobs, businesses, reputations. But I'm sick of their cowardice. My parents took risks and spoke their minds. They left jobs, social circles etc, for stating the truth when they saw an issue. They taught us not to be afraid of anyone, and that you can always pull yourself back up and start over. They taught us to stand up for what we believed to be be true. They taught us to uncover falsehoods, so that they would stop happening. Corruption is practically inevitable. And we can't just stand by and let it continue to feed off the people. The knitting community is corrupted. These “social-justice” warriors and "guilty" whites are trying to profit off of hatred. Buy a coffee for their emotional labor. It's hard work to be so full of hate day in and day out.
If only a fraction of my supporters would use their own platforms to stand up to these people in a civilized manner, they wouldn't have so much power. Their wouldn't be so much fear to disagree. Your business or reputation wouldn't be destroyed simply because you believe there might be another answer. The "community" might see that we're not a bunch of racists or white supremacists (but, according to their bible, all whites are white supremacists, so what does it matter?).
I would also love to see more blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other individuals stand up to this. I know they don't all walk in lock-step with the leftists. I am not going to refer to them as BIPoC because I find this racist. How is saying "PoC" not racist, but saying "colored person" is? Let's stop labeling everyone based on the levels of melanin in their skin. And, let's stop putting them into homogeneous groups and assuming they agree with each other. Everyone is an individual, and has their own unique ancestry. We are all people of color.
I do hope that more people from different ethnic groups join in knitting. But I'd sure hate to be one right now and have people following me and getting their picture with me at yarn festivals just to get more virtue points for their online profiles. I've never even paid attention to what the color of another's knitter's skin is. Of course I see color, but it's just a color and a nuance of being human. I also notice if someone has flaming red hair, a big bushy beard, a hearty laugh, a wide smile, a bright sweater, or any other interesting trait.
Anyway, I just wish more people would publicly stand up to this in their own ways, and not just in comment sections. I've heard from so many wonderful, well-educated, and diverse (
) people. But most of it is under the radar. My sympathy is starting to run out. But I would never do what the far leftists have done and force people to speak up. I would never tell anyone that their silence is a crime. I would never say such trollish things as "I SEE YOU". I do understand, personally, what it's like to have your reputation dragged through the mud. I wish this on no one. So, I'm left with no real solution except to tell people this:
Examine yourself and do what you believe to be good and right. Do it whether your peers agree with you or not. Don't sacrifice your current safety or comfort for a future of death and lies. Don't let your neighbors be hauled off to camps and stand by silently, believing they won't eventually come to get you as well. And you think this couldn't happen again? You think humans have reached such wonderful heights of enlightenment that we could never have another holocaust? Look at social media. Look at the suicide rates in teens. Look at how person after person is being de-platformed for having a different opinion. Look at how the knitting community has joined together in hate towards a single person trying to do what she believes is right. Look at how very few cared about that person's safety or mental health. People who were her friends, neighbors, colleagues. The only supporters showing it in private. And if you did comment or support that person... oh, they were after you! Even calling your bosses and telling them you should be fired for being such a racist (yes, this happened to some people who supported me). If I had committed suicide, what then? Would they all have been rejoicing? Thank god I'm mentally stable and have a loving boyfriend. Thank god, I have an inbox full of supportive emails. Every single one meant so much to me and kept me from sinking into despair. I'm not a victim.
Heaven forbid you're on their side and you disagree with a single thing they say. They're searching for their next target. You better not step out of line or be the first to stop applauding them. You better clap until your hands bleed.
Find a creative way to fight back and fight for goodness and truth. The truth will reveal itself... and it will win in the end.