A creamy beverage has become a political statement against fascism
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On this week’s episode, I’ll be joined by reporter Judd Legum and Hope Not Hate senior researcher Joe Mulhall. Judd will walk us through the financial architecture supporting the digital cesspit that is 8Chan. Joe gives us a debrief on what’s happening over the pond (spoiler: milkshakes are happening).
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In Europe, right-wing bigots are being covered in milkshake. A creamy, sweet treat has become a de facto symbol of refusing bigotry for some odd reason because politics is dumb like that now. Here’s a run down of who’s been milkshaked:
- Tommy Robinson
- Tommy Robinson (again)
- Carl Benjamin (aka “Sargon of Akkad” on YouTube)
- Carl Benjamin (again)
- Carl Benjamin (yes, again)
- Carl Benjamin (a fourth time)
- Nigel Farage
It became enough of a regular occurrence that police asked a McDonalds not to sell any milkshakes ahead of a Nigel Farage rally. Jumping in on the milkshake economy, the British Burger King (and rightful heir to the post-Brexit kingdom) tweeted: “Dear people of Scotland. We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK.” They followed it up with clarification: “We’d never endorse violence - or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people.”
Burger King’s tweet caused right-wing reactionaries to howl. Did I already mention that our politics are incredibly dumb? These folks are so easy to mock for their ludicrous antics, but are unfortunately worth keeping an eye on because there are actually people who think they are cutting-edge voices in politics for some reason.
Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb not smart.
It is OK to laugh at people getting milkshakes dumped on their heads. It’s objectively cartoonish and funny. If you’re leading a reactionary far-right movement, you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re served a little bit of justice—and milkshakes are a fairly innocuous version of that.
Some of these folks have likened getting a milkshake dumped on their noggins to other acts of political violence, which is somberly contrasted by the fact that periodically one of their rank-and-file true believers will murder someone and we have to have the same circular conversation about radicalization online while the peanut gallery gawks.
But of course, in a perfect world we wouldn’t be doing politics with blended ice cream.
Alas, that is not the world God has given us.
Sunday morning, Ed and Brian Krassenstein deactivated their Twitter accounts out of the blue, which caused political reporters some mild confusion. Five hours later, the genetically bound duo returned, announcing that the stunt had been an attempt to raise awareness for victims of gun violence. They linked to a fundraiser.
It is hard to fault anyone for using their platform to raise attention and funds for issues plaguing society, and the Krassensteins have massive reach on Twitter. At the time of writing this newsletter, Brian boasted 665,000 Twitter followers; Ed had 791,000 followers.
No one seems to be sure how the Krassensteins got so popular. They’re staple figures in #Resistance Twitter for all the weirdest reasons. In 2016, the brothers were paid a visit by the feds, who seized “dozens of boxes” from their home. The Daily Beast reports:
[T]he Krassensteins have become more than a pair of local businessmen. They’re now prominent members of the online anti-Trump “resistance.”
According to the feds, the brothers also, until recently, ran websites that propped up fraudulent online financial scams. Law enforcement officials last year seized nearly half a million dollars from the brothers, money that prosecutors say was derived from wire fraud. The Krassensteins, who have not been charged with any crimes, maintain that they did nothing wrong or illegal.
But still, there is a weird soft spot in my heart for the seemingly grifty brothers. I’m not sure if I’ve just gaslit myself into thinking they are redeemable or whether I genuinely believe they come at their gig from an earnest place. I appreciate that they can laugh at themselves, their news blog has seemed to score at least half-way corroborated scoops on a couple occasions, and they direct the engagement on their digital presence toward noble causes.
Despite these positives, the whole setup can still feel kinda icky. Do I “stan” the Krassensteins? Certainly not. Am I curious to see what they wind up doing in 2020? Definitely.
Ken Klippenstein is the third brother. He only has 111,000 followers, but he sports a coveted Twitter blue check. He refuses to take a DNA test to prove that he is—in his words—”not actually related to the Krassensteins.” The clock is ticking, Ken.
BOOM! Share this newsletter if you agree.
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