With friends like these ...
Republicans are falling all over themselves to defend @LibsofTikTok
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
Even if you’re not the sort of unfortunate soul who spends their time gleaning the news of the world from the toxic eddies of Twitter’s dark, lugubrious depths, odds are fairly decent that you’ve heard — or at least heard of — the furor surrounding Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz’s recent investigation into the owner of the very influential right-wing hate account @LibsofTikTok.
If you’re not familiar with this latest online-to-offline tempest in a teapot, the TL;DR is essentially as follows: @LibsofTikTok is a wildly popular right-wing aggregation account on Twitter that typically mines social media platforms for cherry picked, contextless clips of so-called “libs,” which it then distorts and frames as being somehow part of a broader trend of left-wing degeneracy and — in the latest Republican parlance — “grooming.” It is both a reaction to, and in part, responsible for the recent spate of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies sweeping communities across the country. As Lorenz discovered, using basic journalistic techniques like “looking things up” and “making phone calls,” the account is run by a Brooklyn-based real estate agent named Chaya Raichik who, while having given interviews and quotes to a smattering of right-wing media outlets, has been largely anonymous until this week.
Raichik’s work has made her account one of the most influential right-wing agenda-setting voices online today, and as such, her identity is eminently fair game for an enterprising journalist like Lorenz — particularly given the fact that much of Raichik’s information was in the public domain to begin with. Nevertheless, despite having done absolutely nothing wrong in terms of both the law and basic journalistic ethics, Lorenz has the unfortunate ability to rile up the very worst, most bad-faith actors in American conservatism, seemingly by simply existing as a 1) woman who 2) does journalism 3) online. And so shortly after her investigation into Raichik’s identity was published, those same bad-faith actors have spent the past few days absolutely frothing at the mouth.
But before we get into who has chosen to publicly align themselves with @LibsofTikTok, let’s take just a few moments to show who and what these people are choosing to support. This is an account that calls for all openly LGBTQ+ educators to be fired and directs targeted harassment, including sharing identifying information about LGBTQ+ teachers, or simply teachers who support LGBTQ+ students. It has smeared a suicide prevention hotline for queer kids as a “groomer” organization and called schools that host Pride events “government indoctrination camps.” All the while, the account has been boosted by the likes of Joe Rogan, Fox News, and other right-wing figures.
Yet despite the fact that Lorenz’s investigation relied on public information to identify Raichik, an army of opportunistic conservative hatemongers have claimed the report somehow constitutes criminal doxxing in the service of these so-called “groomers,” a.k.a. people who think the LGBTQ+ commnuity should exist. The irony, of course, is that @LibsofTikTok’s entire output is also based on publicly available information, but apparently the kind Raichik’s defenders have no problem with so long as it suits their agenda.
So here’s just a smattering of the ghouls who have come to @LibsofTikTok’s defense, amplifying and whitewashing the account’s hateful content:
As you can see, it’s a who’s-who of hard-right lawmakers, influencers, and abetters, all of whom have lined up to defend someone whose campaigns of targeted harassment are as good an example of what’s known as “Stochastic Terrorism” — creating an atmosphere in which the groundwork is laid for someone else to commit an act of violence, while still maintaining a shred of plausible deniability as a defense — as exists today.
At the end of the day, a massive account that exists solely to shame and demonize a marginalized community is unambiguously bad, and knowing who is behind such an enterprise is unambiguously good. And the people who have supported, amplified, and laundered @LibsofTikTok’s hate campaign should do themselves, and everyone else, a favor and log immediately off, before one of Rachik’s audience takes the inevitable next step and hurts someone for real.