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Extremism, social media, women's perspectives and the end of the Trump era

A new era is about to start in American history, yet the old guard is struggling to let go. Will the change perhaps pass through the actions of social media communities and women?

By Francesca Parravicini

If 2020 was like an immense collective hallucination, where all the most absurd and surreal scenarios came true (let's try to laugh at it at this point), it seems that in this dawn of 2021, history does not want to stop surprising us: on January 6, what was supposed to be a simple routine operation, the ratification of the victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (of which we have spoken here) in Capitol Hill, was transfigured in a Far West scenario, so grotesque and absurd, almost straight out of a movie.

A group of Trump supporters broke into the Congress to contest the veracity of the votes that led to Biden's victory: protests were expected but no one could have expected the violent wave of these subjects, who bypassed the wall of police, managed to break into Capitol Hill, sowing violence and incivility, with the death of four people, dozens of wounded and hours of dismay and terror. It was in effect a terrorist attack.

If we look at the profiles of these “protesters” we find an terriblr mix of far-right groups, white supremacists (let's talk about the scenes in which the Black Lives Matters have been denigrated, such as the fake staging of George Floyd's death), anti-Covid-19 conspiracy theorists and obviously, can we talk about the misogyny of those who invaded the office of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, considered a fervid opposer of Trump, putting their feet on her desk? Nothing about this is surprising.

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Un post condiviso da Kamala Harris (@kamalaharris)

Also, Trump's attitude towards them is not really surprising: he made a quite empty appeal to abandon violence, but at the same time we have a president who publicly exhorts his supporters to contest alleged electoral fraud, who pushes them to leave the Congress, but at the same time he addresses them with a “We love you. You're very special”?

Dangerous and contradictory messages, which amplified by social networks can only lead to disastrous results. So what happened: for the first time in history, Twitter deleted some tweets of the now ex-president, in which the alleged fraud were denounced, then blocked his account for 12 hours, threatening a permanent suspension, in case of a new violation of the platform's rules, while Facebook and Instagram have taken a decidedly more radical decision, banning Trump from his account indefinitely or as stated in a post by Mark Zuckerberg for at least two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete”.

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Un post condiviso da CNN Politics (@cnnpolitics)

These are unusual measures that testify to the power of social media in shaping public opinion. For better or for worse, it is now established that ideas circulate on the internet at a dizzying speed, whether they are true or false. Social media have a fundamentally democratic nature: they allowed marginalized groups, communities that have always struggled to make their voice heard in mainstream areas, such as racial minorities, feminist and LGBTQ groups to make themselves heard and create communities where they can take a leading role but at the same time, and we have seen this in particular in the last year, they gave space to groups that praise populism, conspiracy theories and hatred. In the past there has been quite some criticism, in particular against Facebook, for a lack of reactivity in banning comments and groups that incite hate. Could this extraordinary episode trigger a new virtuous circle? We'll see.

Another important point concerns the reaction of women on the political scene. First of all, we cannot fail to mention, among all the terrible photos of the various Trump followers, dressed for Carnival, the picture of the two employees of the Senate that, with great dignity, rescued the ballot boxes, along with many other colleagues, women and men.

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Un post condiviso da Angry Neighborhood Feminist (@angryneighborhoodfeminist)

There is the firm condemnation of Nancy Pelosi, the aforementioned speaker of the House, who hopes for an immediate removal of Trump, to prevent other disorders from occurring in the next and last 13 days of his mandate and then there are women close to the former president and their reactions.

Stephanie Grisham, the spokesperson for Melania Trump (whose position and thoughts have always been the subject of discussions, as we have already talked about here and who is considered close to divorce), who has resigned following the riots of Capitol Hill, as well as Sarah Waters, deputy press secretary of the White House. And then there is Ivanka, Donald's daughter and adviser, who in a now deleted tweet, invited protesters to stop all violence, but referred to them as “patriots”. In another tweet she tried to make her position clear, simply saying that those who protest peacefully are patriots. Now, isn't there a slight contradiction in this discourse?

It almost seems that Ivanka introjected the mentality of her father, who is often tangled in contradictory arguments, with only superficial pacification but a nucleus of ideas that are often questionable. A nucleus that can be summarized under the label of populism and that is only apparently in favor of the people and contains, just like the demonstrators who attacked the  Congress, a set of ideas fueled by ignorance and narrow-mindedness, to which perhaps Ivanka, a woman, a “category” that has not quite enjoyed the highest consideration under the Trump administration, should oppose. But obviously she doesn't, but, who knows, there is always room for change. And we hope to see this change soon, with the new Biden-Harris administration.