Via the Right Scoop, fireworks between Will Cain and the enjoyably snotty Don Lemon, who’s less concerned with Cain’s actual criticism than with the “dog whistle” he perceives about the First Lady. Watch all the way to the end to see just how hostile things get. In fairness, and contrary to popular belief, hashtag activism isn’t always pointless. Time magazine has a nice write-up of how the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on Twitter began in Nigeria as a way of pressuring the government into going after Boko Haram. Then, as it got picked up internationally, it put pressure on leaders abroad to aid in the search. Obama’s already sent a team of military and law enforcement hostage negotiators to Nigeria to help find the girls. If your hashtag initiative has reached the point where it’s forcing western media to ask the president of the United States about it, I’d say you’re doing okay.
Beyond that point, though, after the White House has already acted and there’s really nothing more to be done, all you’re really doing is moral positioning, the Twitter equivalent of “Message: I care.” And that’s how you end up with this.
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) May 7, 2014
As Leon Wolf said, FLOTUS probably could have just … told Obama her opinion rather than tweeting it out, huh? But at least she’s signing onto a movement that’s achieved some results. At its most impotent and moronic, hashtag activism is a substitute for action, not a spur to it. Believe it or not, this person is the honest-to-goodness spokesman for the U.S. State Department, which used to be taken seriously in the world:
— John Kirby (@statedeptspox) March 26, 2014
That’s Jen Psaki, who’s tweeted effusively before about the “promise of hashtag” and recently scolded Vladimir Putin’s Russia because “They have not been following their hashtag with actions.” That’s going to merit some nifty footnotes in future histories of the decline and fall of American empire.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a new hashtag for you.
— Leon Wolf (@LeonHWolf) May 8, 2014