Former Conservative party candidate apologizes for viral rainbow poppy tweet
In what caused a wave of outrage Wednesday evening, former Conservative Party candidate Cyara Bird tweeted that Natalie, her 17-year-old cousin, had been suspended from school for having “rejected the idea” of wearing a rainbow poppy instead of the traditional red-and-black one at their school’s Remembrance Day ceremony.
The Post Millennial reported on the initial claims, reaching out to the Interlake School Board and Stonewall Collegiate, Natalie’s school, for comment on the matter. While both declined to provide comment on the suspension, the Interlake School Board posted a poorly-received clarification to their Twitter account which stated that no students had been mandated to wear a rainbow poppy.
“A major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it’s sufficiently woke. Social justice ideology has infected our mainstream media,” Andrew Doyle explains in a new video lecture recorded at the National Liberal Club in London on 13th October 2019.
The 25-minute video is a brilliant explainer on how satire and hoaxing work in 2019. With major platforms and publications getting woker by the minute, it’s imperative that people who haven’t succumbed to the woke moral panic to call out the many hypocrisies and incoherencies of social justice. For the few who don’t know, Andrew Doyle is the genius behind the internet’s greatest troll, Titania McGrath.
In 2019, feelings outweigh facts at every turn. And when op-eds read like fabricated drivel, it’s no wonder that the public has a hard time discerning truth from fiction. It takes comedians and satirists to point out just how insane this whole thing is. Doyle points out that “the woke are the establishment” and he couldn’t be more right. Those who are in the powerful cultural positions, in academia, media, arts, entertainment, and most importantly, advertising, are the ones with the batons and horses to push these ideas onto the public.
This is the kind of influence that matters, not politicians and legislators, but those who control the media. And they are being fooled by their own unwillingness to address their woke bias. It is this bias that veers us into the realm of complete absurdity, where people hate themselves for their skin colour, language is colonialism, words are violence, and disagreement is fascism.
“The mainstreaming of social justice is also evident in the fact that even respected, national newspapers don’t seem to understand the basic definitions of phrases like fascist, alt-right, and even far-right,” Doyle remarks. “They no longer know what these words mean, and they are just bandying them about promiscuously, which is really damaging. Now if you claim the right to define the word Nazi as just anyone who disagrees with you politically, then, of course, you can also claim that there is an epidemic of Nazism. But in doing so you are also inadvertently, acting in the interests of the worst kinds of people.”
Doyle notes that the reframing of the conversation to mark those who disagree with the mainstream social justice movement as alt-right Nazi fascists, cedes the argument in favour of free speech to those very people you are trying to silence.
The last five minutes of the speech is where Doyle truly shines. He points to three specific pieces published by major platforms. “In August of last year, The New York Times ran an anonymous letter. It was called ‘How Can I Cure My White Guilt?’ It was just signed ‘Whitey,’ and it was a person who described themselves as being riddled with shame for being white. Now the whole thing was obviously ridiculous, and obviously a hoax. So, Titania claimed that she had written it. And she provided screenshots, of the letter, on her hard drive, with the date, just to prove that she was the author.”
Doyle claims that the authorship doesn’t really matter. Maybe he wrote it, invoking the spirit of Titania, maybe he didn’t. The point is that “a major publication is happy to publish any old nonsense so long as it is sufficiently woke. The social justice ideology has infected our mainstream media. And irreparably degraded its standards.”
Finally, Doyle mentions the crown jewel of hoax columns—a breathless op-ed published by The Independent. “In February of this year, Liam Evans wrote a piece for The Independent, and he cited a number of extremely talented comedians, people like Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, Finn Taylor, and he said that their jokes about sensitive topics amounted to hate speech. He said that these kind of jokes ‘should be subject to investigation. It simply isn’t good enough for comedians to cry free speech after every hateful joke, as if the laws that govern the rest of us don’t apply to them.’”
Who is Liam Evans? Well, he’s clearly an authoritarian, censorious monster. But he’s also clearly not real. Doyle asks why The Independent would run such clearly fabricated nonsense and points to the fact that a number of prominent comedians complained to the publication. Doyle asks, “What is happening to our media? Why is a respected national newspaper publishing drivel by a writer that no one has ever heard of just because it’s pushing a woke agenda? What does that tell us? And the other question they should have been asking is why is the left publishing these kinds of censorial articles that used to grace the pages of the right-wing tabloids? And if it takes a hoaxer to provoke a little self-reflection, then surely that’s a good thing.”
“Again, I do not want to speculate as to the authorship of that article,” Doyle says. “But I will point out one thing which I do find just a little bit curious… You might be interested to note that if you take every fourth letter of every sentence, it actually spells out the phrase, ‘Titania McGrath wrote this, you gullible hacks.’”
When asked if he was indeed behind the hoax article, Andrew Doyle remained playfully cagey, telling The Post Millennial: “So many of the opinion columns in the woke press read like satire already, so in a sense I shouldn’t be surprised that such an obvious hoax would be published.”
The truth is if it weren’t for geniuses like Doyle, Gervais, Chappelle, CK, and the handful of other comedians brave enough to stand up to the woke mob, the culture wars might be a lost cause. As Doyle has pointed out numerous times, hoaxing and satirizing the woke establishment is actually punching up. Every major platform and publication is woke in 2019. Those who issue social justice diktats have all of the power and influence. Doyle’s work is vital.
News hoaxes are as old as news itself, but what news outlets can get pranked about is very revealing. In this case, media wanted to believe that a young woman hated her whiteness, that Sam Harris is a gateway drug to the alt-right, free speech doesn’t matter, and off-colour jokes must be investigated by the authorities. The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Independent wanted to believe these things. In fact, they were desperate to believe these things. That’s why they published these hoax stories. And that’s why we need to keep making fun of them.
UPDATE: On December 6th, a Twitter user reported to The Post Millennial that two of Michaels’ tweets had violated the Twitter Terms of Service. Michaels then locked his account.
The Post Millennial reached out to Twitter to verify if disciplinary action had been taken against Michaels since his harassment of Andy Ngo was reported on, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
The Post Millennial has learned that a Twitter account that has been engaged in targeted harassment of TPM Editor-at-large Andy Ngo appears to belong to none other than a Twitter employee.
Max Michaels, who goes under the Twitter handle Manchild, is an Operations Infrastructure Analytics Engineer at the Twitter Command Center. According to his Linkedin, he has worked at Twitter for over 7 years.
Michaels’ abusive behaviour towards Ngo began in June of 2019 after Ngo was bloodied while reporting from an Antifa riot in Portland. Beneath a tweet calling for information which might lead to the arrest of those involved, Michaels wrote: “It’s almost like there are repercussions for being a piece of shit.”
Under another tweet by Ngo, Michaels replies “you should just get fat again and hangout on reddit acting sad. I liked fat, sad Andy better.”
Michaels also replied to journalist Peter Hasson, who was reporting on Ngo’s brain bleed as a result of his beating at the riot, calling the hemorrhage a “lifelong, pre-existing condition from garbage Andy.”
Michaels was featured in a 2016 Vice article describing the important functions of the Command Center. In the piece, Michaels is quoted as saying he and his team are responsible for “keeping the lights on at Twitter.”
A recent job posting for the Twitter Command Center suggests staff have a great deal of insight and control over the intricate details of Twitter’s technical infrastructure, calling into question what impact potential biases in the staff might have over users’ personal information and security on the platform.
Ngo was recently suspended from Twitter for tweeting a truthful claim that “The U.S. is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate of trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.” Ngo was forced to delete the verifiably truthful claim in order to regain access to his account.
The Post Millennial reached out to Michaels for comment but has not heard back by the time of publication. He did, however, confirm on Twitter that he still works in Operations for Twitter.
Targeted harassment is explicitly against Twitter’s Terms of Service. A Twitter spokesperson said, “Abuse and harassment have no place on Twitter. We take enforcement action against any content that is violative of our rules, regardless of the account involved.”
Daniel Koren is the director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, an organization that empowers student leaders to fight against anti-Israel and antisemitic discrimination on campus.
In an opinion piece titled “Free Speech, but not for Palestine” published in the Toronto Sun on Nov. 28, two anti-Israel activists (one of whom is known for his anti-Israel activism at York University) suggest there is nothing wrong with calling for an intifada on campus.
As the director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, which empowers student leaders to fight against anti-Israel and antisemitic discrimination on campus, I strongly disagree.
In their op-ed, Hammam Farah, a York alumnus and founder of the university’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) club, and Mona Dennaoui, a former member of SAIA, suggest they were bullied by members of the Jewish Defence League (JDL) and other Jewish counter-protestors at the now infamous York rally on Nov. 20.
This, despite the fact that, according to most accounts, Jewish protestors were outnumbered by anti-Israel demonstrators by at least six to one.
Astonishingly, referring to members of the JDL (known for their hawkish position on the Arab-Israeli conflict) as “snowflakes” isn’t the most ludicrous comment in Farrah and Dennaoui’s op-ed.
No, what’s most absurd is that they suggest there is no free speech for Palestine at a campus known for its hostility towards Jews and pro-Israel students, a campus notorious for a vulgar and violent mural that Jews have for years demanded be removed, a campus where even uttering the words “Israel” or “Zionism” can result in harassment and discrimination.
Farrah and Dennaoui are right about at least one thing, though: the importance of freedom of speech on Canadian college and university campuses. What they fail to articulate is that chanting “Viva, viva intifada!” is not free speech. In my view, it’s hate speech.
But please, don’t take my word for it.
Take the word of Adele Banita-Bennett, whose 22-year-old husband Aharon was stabbed to death in the name of intifada as Adele, their two-year-old daughter, and infant baby watched in horror.
Or, to illustrate why the Palestinian Roots mural promotes violence against Jews, take the word of Yosefa or Maya Levlovich, who were in the car with their father Alexander when Palestinians hurled rocks at their car, forcing it to crash. Alexander, now known as the first victim of the “Stabbing Intifada” of 2015-16, died in hospital the next day.
Or take the word of any of the relatives of the victims of the October, 2015 Jerusalem bus attack, where three Israelis were killed and 16 others were wounded in the name of intifada.
I can go on and on. This is the real face of intifada, and not just to the Jewish- and Arab-Israelis who have been mercilessly attacked in cold blood, but to anyone who has been paying attention.
When a small number of Jews are subject to chants of “Viva, Viva Intifada!” from a much larger group, that’s not just some innocuous saying to us. It’s a call for a violent uprising of knife stabbings, car rammings, and suicide attacks, not “peaceful resistance,” as many anti-Israel activists have suggested. It’s a horrific promotion of murder and genocide.
Palestinians, like all people, deserve the right to protest and freedom of speech. Palestinians, like all people, should not be held collectively responsible when their leaders promote bloodshed by calling for an intifada.
But to imply that this term can mean anything else but violence and murder is to assume it is subject to interpretation when it is not. These examples are indisputable facts concerning hundreds of innocent Israelis, Jewish and Muslim alike, murdered in the name of intifada.
It is the height of hypocrisy that Hammam Farah, who has personally attempted to silence oh so many Jewish- and Israeli-Canadians, claims to be interested in preserving freedom of speech. If he were, then that freedom would have to be awarded to all people, even those he disagrees with.
Following the rally at York, some of the IDF soldiers who spoke said it was unfortunate not a single anti-Israel protestor would give them the chance to start a dialogue that could lead to interfaith building. Instead, they were just trying to shut them down. As the founder of SAIA York, who organized the rally, this is Hammam Farah’s legacy.
Sadly, if anyone is guilty of denying freedom of speech and expression, it is the anti-Israel activists at York, U of T, McGill and other campuses around the world where Jews are being told what they can and cannot do or say. Or am I just being a snowflake?
Consent culture is touted as the antidote for rape culture. Only it’s not really the opposite or a salve, but a perpetuation of the infantilization of women. Articles abound on how rape culture is perpetuated, by parents to children, in entertainment, and by women’s fear of men. Consent culture posits that the asking of women for their permission prior to the commencement of sexual or romantic contact could remedy this. The preponderance of rhetoric around consent does not liberate women, or even give them the autonomy it seeks to, but turns romance into bureaucracy.
Consent culture seeks to redefine how we think about relationships, sex, and our own impulses. There’ve been hot takes about how it’s wrong to make little kids hug their grandparents and missives about how a yes can be retracted in medias res. On some college campuses, there’ve been directives on asking for consent during every step of a sexual encounter, while still having the conceit that if the sex is later regretted, it can be reclassed as rape, despite consent. Now we’re treated to a new kind of ask for consent, consent for sexting.
“Ask consent for all sexual encounters, yes, even sexting. I just came up with this script that you’re all welcome to borrow!”
The message is that this is how intimacy should be initiated, cordially, without nuance. Rather, a straight appeal to the logical mind is what’s required. If this is the kind of message you feel you must send to find out if a person wants to sext with you, perhaps that’s not the right person to sext with. Are we so closed with our feelings that we can’t express them except in the form of yes or no answers to direct questions? This seems like the type of question one should only ask if they’re sure of an affirmative response.
The reaction to the consent for sext script was swift and fierce. But as we try more and more to control what we say, how we say it, and the thoughts from which our expression derives, this is the direction in which we’re headed. Mediated communication, even in our most intimate moments, a script for how to talk to those we feel passionately about simply to ensure that no one is offended, are the ways we are being directed to initiate and stay in romantic relationships.
Does asking for consent in this way work? Does it achieve the goal of getting someone to read your illicit thoughts? The response to this request to sext could go one of two ways: yes, or no. If yes, the initiating sexter may imagine that this is a green light to off-screen romance, but what if the mere act of asking has an impact on the answer? Perhaps the respondent, in saying okay, is actually feeling coerced by the existence of the question into accepting the terms of this new form of contact. This script is intended for both the asker and the asked, after all.
If that’s the case, then gaining consent isn’t even a good enough measure of her willingness to sext with you. As this poster points out:
In this context, consent culture is an extension of rape culture. It’s not something that can stop women from getting into uncomfortable situations, but the first bit of pressure that leads them down the road to coercion, where every yes is more easily followed up by an additional yes. How do you tell a guy whose sexts you’ve accepted that you don’t want sex, is the question this post asks.
Both the initial script of how to ask someone to sext with you and the note about how the expression of consent is not evidence of consent assume that a woman does not know her own mind. Either she needs to be asked directly if she is interested, presumably because she has not given any indication of being intrigued by her potential suitor, or even when she affirms her intention, she is not telling the truth.
There’s this idea that we know what healthy relationships look like, and that we can engineer them, from the outset, to follow a prescribed course to attain that result. This new relationship model is in direct reaction to the old patriarchal one, where men led the family and women submitted to their husbands. That model still works for many families– are those couples doing their relationship wrong, even if those within the family are thriving?
Romance isn’t really an appeal to logic and reason. What works for one couple may not work for another. Individuals don’t come to relationships from a position of knowing what they want, how to get it, or even fully how they want to be treated. We’re all basically damaged, and the implementation of checklists into relationships makes things worse, not better. There is no script for how to communicate, despite the tweets or BuzzFeed quizzes. There is only, as always, open communication, respect, kindness, love, and honesty. Nothing else is even remotely relevant. Speak with an open and loving heart. Don’t let romance be carried off by paperwork and rules of wokeness.