It’s 2015 and information is the weapon of choice. Donald Trump, the billionaire blowhard and front runner for the Republican presidential nomination, demands the media’s constant attention. He has been best described as an internet comment section come to life and his unending ability to provoke a response is testament to that.
Trump, like many internet commenters, has a tendency to take any opinion that doesn’t match his worldview as a deep personal insult. He expresses casual bigotry with great conviction and is impervious in the face of factual evidence that contradicts his position. Behold @realDonaldTrump, and weep.
Wow, my poll numbers have just been announced and have gone through the roof!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015
They don't debate, they doxThere is another constituency inhabiting the commentariat on the web, embodied in the persona of Anonymous. The people responsible for this video prefer not to show their true faces, but like Trump, attention is their oxygen. They earn it not with outrageous statements, but with cold hard data, pried from unsuspecting servers and hapless customer service representatives. They don’t debate, they dox.
This morning, Anonymous issued a warning to Trump over his stance on Muslims. At issue is his latest inflammatory rhetoric, proposing that all Muslims should be barred from entering the US. At first glance he seems like a strange choice for the cyber vigilantes. But why should Trump be a stranger target than ISIS or the Steubenville police? Anonymous acts where it perceives a dangerous injustice going unchecked. The jingoistic fascism preached by Trump has reached that level for the creators of this video.
Tellingly, in their message, the people behind this video argue Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States is misguided because it will only enhance the recruiting message of ISIS. Racism and the US Constitution are less relevant than who is shaping the global media dialogue, and to what end.
As he grasps for the presidency, there is no filter left for Trump, nothing too impolitic for his Twitter feed. ISIS meanwhile, traffics in memes and emoji on Instagram, juxtaposing internet ephemera alongside beheadings. It’s tempting to root for Anonymous as the vigilantes standing up to a bully like Trump, but any action they take will only increase his media presence.
"Close up the internet."
It would be wonderful if we could turn off the whole thing, shut it down like a comment section which has degraded into a toxic stew. Maybe that’s not such a far fetched idea. If Trump becomes president, he’s got a plan in place for cracking down on extremists thought across the web: "close up the internet."
In the end, there is a certain comic irony to the idea of Anonymous threatening Trump. Sure they could shut down a website or two, maybe hijack his Twitter account for an hour, but their greatest weapon is unearthing information that has been kept in secret and dragging it into the light of day. And honestly, at this point, could they discover something about Trump more damaging to his reputation than what he already says in public?