If we're going to mock people for being too sensitive, we need to hold people accountable when it's time.
Editor’s note: Obviously, two monumental Supreme Court decisions have broken in the last 24 hours — one regarding affirmative action and one regarding gay and religious rights. We’ll be addressing both when we are back from a short vacation next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on our YouTube channel for a video on the affirmative action ruling that should be out in the next few days.
Today's read: 6 minutes.
Over the years of writing Tangle, I've published a lot of writing about the over-sensitivity of Americans.
In pieces like "You're not a victim" and "Seeing ghosts," I explored the ways in which people on both sides of the political aisle are constantly portraying themselves as victims or seeing horrible things where there are none.
Throughout our daily editions of Tangle, I've also made a habit of calling out the left for its obsession with racism, anti-semitism and all the other "isms" out there. My experience in media has taught me that people with progressive and leftist politics tend to assume the absolute worst of anyone who doesn't share their views in ways that I find insidious and that often prevent more productive conversations from happening.
The result is that some genuinely good people who make a point in an inartful or dated way are smeared as bigots. Vaguely offensive offhanded comments you spout when you're a teenager can become career-enders. Sometimes, people who simply have genuine policy disagreements about how to handle college admissions or border control or poverty get told they don't care about black people or hate migrants or want the poor to suffer.
Given all the words I've spent on what I view as overreactions, bad-faith attacks, or unjust fear, I think it is also critical to call out when wolf criers spot an actual wolf. Because sometimes, your instinct about an out-of-pocket joke or edgy tweet being the tip of something much, much darker turns out to be true.
And we just got a reminder of that this week.
Pedro Gonzalez is a rising star in conservative politics. He previously worked at the Claremont Institute, a think tank with a legendary past in the conservative movement (and whose writers have been cited in Tangle). He currently works as the politics editor of Chronicles Magazine, a bastion of conservative thought once read by Ronald Reagan and, today, a place where balls and strikes are called in some of the country's most controversial culture wars. Gonzalez is also prolific on Twitter, where he has close to 150,000 followers. He is a former die-hard Trumper who is now making a name for himself by stumping for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to be the next Republican nominee.
And he is also abhorrently racist and anti-semitic.
This wasn't exactly surprising. Gonzalez is what the very online would call an "edgelord," which Oxford defines as "a person who affects a provocative or extreme persona, especially online (typically used of a man)."
For instance, in 2022, the conservative columnist Douglas Murray published a piece in The Free Press warning that Gonzalez was playing footsies with anti-semitism. Murray cited tweets where Gonzalez shared a picture of the liberal economist David Rothschild alongside a caption about how the "Rothschild physiognomy" was "pure nightmare fuel." In other words: This Jew looks very Jewy and I find it repulsive.
Murray then found another tweet from Gonzalez in which he responded to another tweet coincidentally about a lawyer named Ari Cohn and said, "Oh look another cursed goblin physiognomy."
There were others: In January of 2022, Gonzalez once blasted off a tweet expressing concern about the treatment of white nationalist and notorious anti-semite Nick Fuentes, saying the U.S. was coming "closer and closer to criminalizing certain political views by inventing nonexistent threats." Of course, Fuentes is best known for posting videos where he liberally uses the N-word and warns of what the Jews are up to or, occasionally, appearing alongside congressional Republicans. Gonzalez also tried to claim Fuentes was getting banned by Twitter for something other than clear and obvious violations against its policy of being an unrepentant, outspoken racist who targets and harasses people by name.
Naturally, for writing a very good and honest piece about how obvious it was that Gonzalez was kind of a scumbag, Murray got accused of having "gone woke."
But on Tuesday, we got confirmation that Murray was not "woke," or at least not in the pejorative sense.
Breitbart News published an exclusive report sharing dozens and dozens of damning text messages that Gonzalez had sent. The messages came from a group chat where Gonzalez was a frequent participant and from individual texts they had gathered from sources (more on this in a little).
Here's a sampling of some screenshots Breitbart published: