Terror, Trolls, and Trump

By William K. Black
January 30, 2017     Bloomington, MN

How far have Fox “News” and the self-described “Deplorables” fallen?  They rushed after a lethal terror attack on Muslims in Quebec City to declare that Muslims must have committed the attack.

“So, I retweeted the wrong pics, but I was right about the #QuebecShooters being freaking Muslims!!

Close, if the Deplorable meant by his phrase “I was right” “I was wrong.”

For purposes of what I am about to write, I am channeling my experience and expertise as a criminologist and a former leader of investigative teams.  Breaking news about a major crime, an emergency, or a battle is invariably incomplete and typically inaccurate in important ways.  Eyewitness accounts of a life-threatening situation are notoriously inaccurate.  The number of shooters is typically overestimated.  Initial reports of statements during the attack are often inaccurate.  The best way to screw up grandly is to jump to conclusions based on what is essentially rumors.

First responders such as SWAT and hostage rescue teams have to make initial deployment and tactical decisions based on what they know are incomplete and reliable initial reports, but television viewers and newspaper readers have no need to base anything on unreliable initial reports.  All they have to do is wait for the police to have time to investigate the facts.  In the case of the attack on the Muslims in the mosque in Quebec City it was known within a few hours that the police would likely be able to identify the perpetrator(s) within 24 hours.  All people had to do was wait and read the reports of what the police found.

That simple task – wait and get the facts – proved to be beyond the capacity of Fox News and a raft of trolls.  They knew that the attackers were Muslims.  They also knew that they had a duty to spread to the widest possible audience the trolls’ hate for Muslims – with anti-Muslim rumors treated (and retweeted) as revealed truths.  The trolls, bots, bigots, and Fox News reported that Arabs had committed the attack on the mosque.

In the small hours of Monday morning, false information presented as facts about the tragic mosque shooting in Quebec rapidly engulfed Twitter.

Fabricated details about the horrendous crime in Quebec City, which left six worshipers dead and more than a dozen others wounded, were promoted by an army of bots and high-profile right-wing commentators.

The shooter, they claimed, was a Muslim. First, a Syrian refugee; then, a man of “Moroccan origin,” as Fox News claimed in an article it quietly deleted around noon without correction. (A Moroccan man interviewed by police was actually a worshipper at the Cultural Islamic Center of Québec.)

The terrorist, in fact, was a single shooter.  He is an ultra-right wing Trump and le Pen supporter who hated Muslim immigrants to Canada.

We know that the trolls and bots revel in their hatred and lies.  The scandal is that the Trump administration cited a terrorist attack against unarmed Muslims praying in a place of worship committed by a Christian anti-immigrant bigot armed with an assault rifle as justifying the administration’s anti-Muslim refugee program.  Trump’s press flack, Sean Spicer, said that the terrorist attack in Canada was:

[A] terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security.

Lincoln urged us to heed the better angels of our nature.  Trump encourages his worst followers to heed the worst demons of their natures.  Trump’s trolls are doing exactly that in their modern caves – mom’s basement.

4 responses to “Terror, Trolls, and Trump

  1. Trump’s trolls are just hard working Americans, earning a living.

    The Facebook Near-Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine

    “Nimble America says it’s dedicated to proving that “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,” according to the company’s introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton’s face alongside the words “Too Big to Jail.”

    “We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it’s time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not,” a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit.”


  2. Until I read this I was still under the misconception it was a Muslim terrorist .

  3. A warning to all Canadians and concerned global citizens:

    When did the terms “criminal” or “murder” become replaced by “terrorism”? Since the “War on Terror” began with a rush to indict and invade in the absence of investigation or due process following the events of 9/11 , criminality has become obfuscated by the label, “terrorist” – demanding a reflexive extra-judicial retaliation rather than justice.

    The 2001 U.S. Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Terrorists endows the Executive with the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those determined to have participated in the September 11th attacks. The AUMF is greatly expanded upon through provisions within the National Defence Authorization Act, including the abridgement of habeas corpus and the human right to privacy.

    Terrible though these acts of violence may be, we must remember that we are a country at war. Those acts of terrorism committed by those regarded as the enemy should be viewed as an expected consequence of war – it takes two to tango. The criminality of these acts should be weighed against the universally accepted rules for killing each other; those acts that violate the terms of the Geneva Convention – the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts – should be charged as war crimes.

    The failure to indict crimes of murder in the rush to decry terrorism is proven to incur an end-run around justice by inviting those firefighters armed with the AUMF and NDAA to fight the fire, with fire – consuming all in fire.

    Thank you for your work Professor Black.

  4. Dr. Black,

    I have been reading your articles and I am enjoying them very much. You don’t dance around and you point out people’s immorality and bad behaviors.

    I read your article on Paul Heynes Theoclassical Economist earlier today and I’m very glad you bring morality to your article that is so lacking in America. It’s a breath of fresh air.