You should have taken alt-right trolling seriously

For those who are “very online,” this has been a long time coming. Let’s take the slur “cuckservative” for example, which emerged online about seven years ago. The term had been weaponized by racists and right-wing “identitarians” to attack pro-immigration conservatives, while simultaneously normalizing ideas and rhetoric that were racist and vulgar.

But—like the more recent term “groomer” (or “pedo grifter”)—the person lodging the slur could always plausibly say, “Lulz, I don’t mean it literally. I’m just trolling!”

Why am I bringing this up? Because this same sort of “owning the libs” trope that can be casually confused as internet humor often serves as a pathway to radicalization. That appears to be what happened with the alleged Buffalo shooter.

Troll culture should not be used as an excuse to forgive or forget the political rhetoric now occurring in more mainstream places, such as cable TV, podcasts, or tweets from some Republican politicians.

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