The world within the alt right battling anti Trump messaging. Very frightening.
Trump’s alt-right trolls have subjected me and my family to an unending torrent of abuse that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw a picture of my then-seven-year-old daughter’s face in a gas chamber. It was the evening of September 17, 2015. I had just posted a short item to the Corner calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. Within minutes, the tweets came flooding in. My youngest daughter is African American, adopted from Ethiopia, and in alt-right circles that’s an unforgivable sin. It’s called “race-cucking” or “raising the enemy.”
I saw images of my daughter’s face in gas chambers, with a smiling Trump in a Nazi uniform preparing to press a button and kill her. I saw her face photo-shopped into images of slaves. She was called a “niglet” and a “dindu.” The alt-right unleashed on my wife, Nancy, claiming that she had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with “black bucks.” People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching.
When we both publicized some of the racist attacks — I in National Review and Nancy in the Washington Post — things took a far more ominous turn. Late the next evening — while Nancy was, fortunately, offline attending a veterans’ charity event in D.C. — the darker quarters of the alt-right found her Patheos blog. Several different accounts began posting images and GIFs of extreme violence in her comments section.
Click on a post and scroll down and you’ll see pictures of black men shooting other black men, close-up images of suicides, GIFs of grisly executions — the kinds of psyche-scarring things that one can’t “unsee.” Had I not deployed to Iraq and witnessed death up close, the images would have shocked me. I quickly got on the phone with Nancy, told her not to look at her website, and got busy deleting comments and blocking IP addresses, but in the meantime a few friends and neighbors had seen the posts.
The next Sunday, friends from church approached, expressing concern not just for our safety but for theirs as well. We live in a community where most of the streets have similar names, and it’s common for UPS drivers, FedEx deliveries, and friends to end up at the wrong house. They interpreted the images as threats, and they didn’t want anyone to drive into our neighborhood, looking for the Frenches, intent on turning image into reality.
It took days — and hundreds of IP blocks and Twitter reports — but things finally calmed down. The racist images slowed from a flood to a trickle, I relaxed a bit at night, and life returned, I thought, to normal. I was wrong. Our “normal” had changed. This wasn’t the beginning of the end of our troubles, but rather the end of the beginning.
I share my family’s story not because we are unique or because our experience is all that extraordinary, but rather because it is depressingly, disturbingly ordinary this campaign season. The formula is simple: Criticize Trump — especially his connection to the alt-right — and the backlash will come.