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On the Pornography of Internet Comments: Don Cheadle and the “Butthurt” “Libtards”

So Don Cheadle, fresh off his mesmerizing performance as Miles Davis, goes on Twitter—and, in what People Magazine refers to as “a bizarre series of tweets,” when there was absolutely nothing “bizarre” about it—shares an utterly convincing anecdote about Donald Trump.  A few years back, he tells his followers, the father of a Cheadle friend was in a golfing foursome with Trump, when our President Pro (Very) Tem casually asked the other men, “have you ever fucked a nigger?”  Of course, any linguistic detective would immediately assume the truth of this anecdote, because it concentrates, in a tiny, six-word distillate, so many things we’ve come to know and love about America’s Pussygrabber-in-Chief: the utter, slobbering vulgarity; the obvious, he-doth-protest-way-the-hell-too-much racism (“I am the LEAST racist person you have ever MET, in the WORLD, ok?”); the stunning misjudgement of other people (in assuming that the other golfers would merrily join in with his vile, vulgar, woman-hating racism); and, surrounding it all, and suffusing it with a rich but disgusting eau du Trump, his absolutely subnormal ability to express himself in the English language.

I don’t avail myself of Twitter, or Facebook, but on two occasions I’ve written pieces for websites that elicited a tremendous amount of hate mail.  Oddly enough, one of them was a piece bemoaning—of all things–the way that Christina Aguilera sings; the other was about Caitlin Jenner’s political beliefs. These two ventures into the sizzling cauldron of red-hot internet hatred were enough to keep me off social media for the rest of my life.  But—I suppose like most people–I have an abiding fascination with the depths of loathing in the Comments sections underneath controversial posts.  And in the case of Don Cheadle’s Trump story these comments reached a pitch of such frenzy that it’s hard to imagine how it could get any uglier…although we know it will; we take it on faith.

The art of the internet comment is to condense the maximum amount of disgust into the minimum amount of words.  I’ve often been struck by the similarity between good hate-comments and hard-core pornography.  Both literary forms aim to evoke an intense physical response in the reader: sexual excitement or political hatred. There’s definitely an art to it. Right-wing maniacs have the edge in this field, and it’s futile to deny it.  Has any leftist come up with a combo-noun as delightful as “libtard?”  I think not–and don’t go lobbing “Repug” at me.  Get out of here with that weak “Repug” stuff.  I’m pretty sure that our fascist correspondents also pioneered “butthurt,” which has the literary virtue of being suggestively homophobic while seeming merely contemptuous.  In fact the only place in his dialogue with the haters where Cheadle falters is when he tries to one-up them by playing the weak “Drumpf” card that John Oliver popularized.  As the essayist Richard Eskow has pointed out, “Drumpf” is a dumb insult, because it suggests that Trump’s original, “foreign-sounding” name would make him suddenly worthy of insult; if so, what about all the Stewarts and Olivers who once were Smulevitzes and Mandlebaums?

No, it’s a harsh and bitter truth that must be tasted and swallowed: the left lags badly when it comes to hate speech.  I’m not sure why.  But let’s take a quick look at the first bunch of comments underneath the People Magazine version of the Cheadle anecdote, in search of clues.  Here are the very first comments posted when I read the story, with only the tedious duplications edited out:

— Another liberal liar, dug up by Obama and Soros to try and cause more trouble for Trump.  As was pointed out by others, “Why didn’t you bring this up during the campaign?”

–Who is this guy?

 You know who is the biggest racist here? Don Cheadle.

—  Why can’t you people just let Trump do his job?? He has so far done everything he said he would. I hear more racial slurs coming out of black peoples mouths then anyone. So shut up.

— American press is a greater threat to America than ISIS

–Some tired past his prime actor trying to review acting career.

–When ALL ESLE FAILS PULL OUT THE RACE CARD, I am so sick of this bull, Its almost a crime to be white now  and if thats not racist what is.

–As Cheadle moves to the “D” list….lol

–Guess what Cheadle, it doesn’t MATTER what You think. Trump 2020!!!

–Cheadle is among the most racist people alive today and he has the nerve to point fingers at Trump?

–Don King, Mike Tyson, Sheriff Clark, and Ben Carson disagree.

–I wish cry baby Americans would stop using their race as an excuse.

–Hey look everybody !! Let’s distract the MSM from obozo’s criminal wiretapping of Trump Tower.

–It would be so nice if these people who so desperately hunger for victimization status over each and everything ever said by someone could do us a favor by taking an extremely long break from life. I heard a rap song the other day that repeatedly used racial slurs so, why aren’t Cheadle and the rest of his ilk showing anger over that?

–I have lierally quit going to the movies unless i know without a doubt its a conservative actor.

Now, come on—when it comes to variety of attack, immediacy of response, and sheer adrenaline-pumping rush,  show me a series of left-wing taunts that comes anywhere near this potpourri-‘o’-putdowns.   Within just a few minutes of the story’s posting, these internet guerrillas, these Guevaristas of the keyboard had lobbed in every grenade in their arsenal: the “Who???” grenade, the failing-career grenade, the much-beloved “Obozo” grenade (apparently now preferred to “O-bummer”), plus the always-useful I-Know-You-Are-But-What-Am-I grenade (“no, YOU’RE the racist!”), and, my personal favorite, the innovative Ragtag Gang of House Negroes grenade, with its invocation of a kind of black “team of rivals”—what fun it would be to party with Ben Carson, Don King and Sheriff Clark at the same time!

Literally thousands of similar comments followed, of course, and for purposes of study I tried to keep forging ahead, but…the grenades had their desired effect.  Butthurt libtard that I am, I felt like my skin was being shredded and burned, my innards ripped open, my brain concussed.  But before I closed the screen, one thought pulsed through all the shock and nausea:

Not one of Cheadle’s attackers said that the story couldn’t be true.

What does that say about the President they love…

…and about the soul of America, circa 2017?

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John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He is a contributor to Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. He can be reached at: johneskow@yahoo.com

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