The alt-right fell for a Twitter joke about “antifa supersoldiers” and now it’s total chaos

The alt-right fell for a Twitter joke about “antifa supersoldiers” and now it’s total chaos
Riots in Panchkula Steve Helber/AP
Riots in Panchkula Steve Helber/AP

Have you heard about the left’s evil plans on Nov. 4?

According to some online conservative circles, anti-fascist activists — or “antifa supersoldiers,” depending who you ask — have plans to “behead all white parents” and attack “small-business owners,” “kill every single Trump voter,” team up with violent gangs and go on a rampage, killing every conservative they can find.

The actions have been billed as “bigger than anything the likes of which we’ve ever seen,” with supporters of President Donald Trump urged to “prepare with bullets, food and water.” Conservative activists have been reporting alleged antifa accounts for making serious, violent threats to conservatives in the build-up to the day of action.

One account, @KrangTNelson, was mass-reported until he was finally suspended from Twitter. The only problem? Krang isn’t a violent antifa thug — he’s a left-leaning humorist. And the “threat” that got him kicked off Twitter was an obvious joke.

What’s more, the Nov. 4 conspiracy theory is — you guessed it — a baseless lie. There is no evidence for an attack. There is no evidence of planned violence. A cofounder of the group organizing the event said it is a peaceful call for nonviolent protest.

Still, this strange story has taken many turns in only a few short hours. It’s a little complicated, so we’ll break it down the best we can.

Where does this Nov. 4 conspiracy theory come from?

The Nov. 4 conspiracy centers on alleged antifa documents that call for violence aimed at fomenting a “civil war” between Trump supporters and antifa on Nov. 4. Much of this wild speculation seems derived from a deeply dubious and widely shared report on right-wing conspiracy hub InfoWars by YouTuber and blogger Paul Joseph Watson.

The InfoWars post links to a statement on the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which indeed calls for demonstrations against Trump in numerous U.S. cities on Nov. 4. At no point, though, does it call for “violence” or “riots,” let alone a “civil war,” as Watson reported.

Watson seems to parse the statement’s fleeting reference to a book published in 2005 by Communist Party Chairman Bob Avakian — The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era — as a sign that thousands of people are actually planning to start a civil war.

From there, things really flew off the rails. On Sept. 29, InfoWars’ Alex Jones told his viewers that “we have a flood of antifa saying that they’re preparing with weapons, knives and guns to kill conservatives, patriots and white people en masse.”

Posts like this one started to go viral, with far-right activists claiming law enforcement sources told them things like “Black Lives Matter” received “almost 25 million [dollars] for weapons and other tools to supply groups that plan to attack ‘white people,’” that Trump had deputized “over 4 million military people” to prepare for a coming civil war with antifa and that “800,000” antifa soldiers would likely team up with gang members from MS-13 for the fight.

There is no evidence for any of these claims.

Wait — so who is Krang T. Nelson, and what does this have to do with him?

Krang’s account has been on Twitter since December 2015. He’s well-known for lefty “shitposting” — satirical and often acerbic takes on current events.

He was riffing on the collective Nov. 4 conspiracy derangement when he posted this joke Sunday night, which Krang said prompted his suspension.

“Can’t wait for November 4th when millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents and small-business owners in the town square,” he wrote.

Source: @KrangTNelson/Twitter

I direct-messaged Krang’s new account to ask about the suspension on Monday. “It seems there were a good number of Fox News grandparents who cannot recognize satire when it’s slapping them about the face,” he said.

Krang said he also received screenshots from group DMs between some high-profile right-wing Twitter personalities that seemed to indicate they were coordinating a campaign to report his tweet en masse. Krang shared the screenshots with Mic but asked they not be published. We cannot independently confirm their veracity.

For whatever reason — Twitter responded to our requests for comment with “nothing specific to share” — Krang’s account was reactivated just after 9 p.m. Monday.

So why are people on Twitter posting Krang’s tweet now?

Lots of people are frustrated with what they feel is a nontransparent and arbitrary enforcement of Twitter’s rules, and Krang’s suspension only further stirred up that resentment.

In response, some users started posting Krang’s tweet, verbatim, in a show of solidarity and protest. One account below, @2dAmMuslim, has been suspended since posting the tweet, and the other, @21logician, was temporarily locked out of his account after posting it.

Source: @2dAmMuslim/Twitter
Source: @21logician/Twitter

Let me guess: Right-wing media started to take that seriously, too.

Oh, yes. Gateway Pundit’s D.C. Bureau Chief and White House Coordinate Lucian Wintrich responded to these satirical responses with this post: “Tom Bloke,” aka @21logician above, is “considered to be one of the leaders of the domestic terrorist group antifa,” the report reads. “[He] took to Twitter today to threaten violence against ‘white parents’ and ‘small-business owners.’”

Reached on his account, @21logician told Mic he has no affiliations with antifa. He said he published the tweet as a reference to Krang’s suspension and that “Tom Bloke” isn’t even his real name.

Source: Twitter

“It’s baffling to me that such an obvious joke — stolen from another guy, as a joke — turns into an article where I’m suddenly cited as an antifa leader,” he said in a DM. “The right-wing fake-news machine is on another level of stupid that is hard for me to understand.

“I don’t even like antifa that much,” he added.

Mic’s interview with @21logician was cut short when he was locked out of his account. The post in question has since disappeared.

When contacted via email for clarification, Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich defended his claim that “Tom Bloke” is an antifa leader.

“Antifa doesn’t have a ‘leader’ in the sense that you’re attempting to construct,” he said. “It does have ‘thought leaders,’ though — people on the left who push anti-white violence/rhetoric under the guise of ‘humor.’ … Seeing as Bloke has a far-left Twitter audience that includes many members of antifa, I stand by the report.”

The “thought leaders” Wintrich mentioned included a Teen Vogue writer and the admin of Occupy Democrats.

How are folks on the left responding to Wintrich’s post?

Lots of jokes about “antifa supersoldiers.” It’s basically become a full-fledged meme now.

What about on the right?

Many are taking the Gateway Pundit post as a serious threat and a literal call to violence. Other pundits, like conservative commentator Bill Mitchell, ran with it, too.

I feel like this isn’t the first time conservatives have fallen for left-wing Twitter jokes.

It’s not. One great example that comes to mind is when popular lefty humor account @randygdub made a number of conservative outlets — including Rush Limbaugh and Drudge Report — fall for this troll tweet:

It seems that some online conservatives are taking the Fox Mulder adage — “I want to believe” — a little too literally.