Recently the President re-tweeted a doctored video of him knocking down Hilary Clinton with a golf ball. I don’t follow him on social media but it doesn’t save me from seeing his posts which are inevitably re-tweeted by people I do follow. The golfing tweet went viral immediately because, depending on your perspective, it’s either really funny or really inappropriate for the President of the United States to promote violence against women. For days, there was nowhere to go on Twitter without seeing a golf ball hitting Hilary Clinton over and over again. Many people protested. Many people questioned whether it was time for Twitter to step in and sideline the vacuous vicious dimwit. Then an analyst pointed out that he is worth a couple billion to Twitter and I finally understood that he will never be held accountable for his actions so long as they make wealthy people wealthier. I shut down my account. I’m worth 0 dollars to Twitter. I’m not expecting them to miss me. Perhaps if a couple hundred million people also shut down their accounts, however, or at least ignore everything he tweets, we can sideline him without Twitter’s help. Who’s with me? A Chicken can dream.
So this all happened last week, I believe, and without Twitter to compulsively check every 10 minutes I found myself with free time, some of which I spent tuned in to public radio where I listened to this bizarre interview with David Perry about an article he wrote for the Pacific Standard Magazine. What do Taylor Swift and Medieval History have in common? Nazis love them! I told you it was bizarre! Taylor, tall, thin, blonde and blue-eyed, is their Aryan goddess and they believe that an all white, all Christian European race defended itself against infiltration by non-white, non-Christian outsiders in the middle ages. This is incorrect. Perry grabs your attention with the Taylor Swift analogy-she has a nazi issue, not of her making, and her response so far has been to say nothing. She didn’t publicly support a candidate in the presidential election and she hasn’t denounced racism. The alt-right believes this is because she is secretly one of them. Medieval Studies has a similar problem and while Perry won’t attempt to speak for Taylor, he believes his profession has a duty to address inaccuracies, diversify the mostly white, male field, and bring racism into the conversation. If they don’t counter widely spread false information with accurate information, he asserts, they will create a space where an inaccurate version of history may be generally acknowledged as truth.
What do you think? Should Taylor choose a side? Do experts have a moral duty to correct harmful inaccuracies when they see them? Does the general public have a duty to speak out when they perceive false information being spread through social media? Do you speak out when you see false information posted? I have to admit, I never do. It’s worth thinking about. Or I could stick my head in the sand, shut down my twitter, delete my facebook account and just shake it off.