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Thomas Zimmer on His Disturbing Encounter with a “Fully Politicized,” Unhinged, Angry, Trump-Supporting “Elderly White Person” on a Beach While “chasing seagulls with my two little boys”

"People like me would love it to be a competition of who has the better arguments:..But it’s not the kind of conflict in which we find ourselves."

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See below for a Twitter thread by Georgetown U. Visiting Professor Thomas Zimmer that is, at once, disturbing, amazing, and all-too-familiar, about how “these [right-wing] dangerous conspiracies are weaponized and shared well beyond what we tend to think of as the far-right.” Zimmer relates his encounter with “an elderly white person, with an academic background, widely traveled, had lived overseas, and, it can be assumed, reasonably wealthy” while “chasing seagulls with my two little boys on the beach of an expensive sea resort on the NJ coast.” This “elderly white person” was “fully politicized,” and within seconds, was spewing out unhinged talking points from the “rightwing information / propaganda machine” on the FBI “raid” of Trump’s compound in Mar-a-Lago earlier this week. Thus, of course, she spewed out “Hunter Biden,” “the Clintons,” “the Epstein judge,” and – perhaps most insanely, although it’s hard to rank these in order of lunacy – “They are arming IRS agents as we speak – they are coming to our houses, they are going to raid our homes, taking away everything!” And perhaps the most important points by Zimmer are that:

  • “...the idea of ‘keeping politics out of it,’ of deliberately preserving non-political realms in which we can all still come together harmoniously, is simply not plausible – and becoming less plausible every day”
  • “Similarly, there just is no ‘meeting in the middle,’ no ‘finding common ground’ with such people. For her, I was the enemy – even though it was the least threatening setting imaginable: I was the dad of that five-year-old who was chasing sea gulls on the beach!”
  • “This person wasn’t interested in debate, or a different perspective, or building bridges, or compromise. She wasn’t even interested in just ignoring politics. The only thing she would have accepted from me was compliance, submission. There is no truce to be had.”
  • “Probably the most concerning aspect of all: The depth and extent of the Right’s radicalization.”
  • “No matter where, exactly, such extremist theories originate: They are immediately picked up by the rightwing propaganda machine and transported by leading conservatives and Republican elected officials. “
  • “Once you have convinced yourself and/or your supporters that the other side is scheming to deprive you of what is rightfully yours, any measure you take, regardless of how radical, is justified as an inevitable act of (preemptive) self-defense. “
  • “People like me would love it to be a competition of who has the better arguments: That’s the kind of struggle with which we are comfortable, that we believe we can win. But it’s not the kind of conflict in which we find ourselves. Better to accept and grapple with that.”

Ugh.




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