As of this Thursday morning, there were 112,096 members of “Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!!,” a Facebook group that functions as a forum for white grief and racially charged meme pics. You’d better hope they don’t ever find a reason to dislike you, because they will make your life very shitty very fast—which is exactly what happened to anti-Trump activists and college students Diana Chavira and Ben Bobo.
Last month, Chavira and Bobo used Facebook to organize a protest at a March 11th Trump rally in Chicago. It’s now a given that attending such an event with anything other than a mind that is pure for Donald and a face that is as white (or orange) as his puts you at risk of physical harm—rally violence is now the norm (Does Trump himself even enjoy it anymore?). But it’s less expected that the rancor will follow you out of the building.
Trump ultimately canceled his appearance at the Chicago rally that day, and although supporters and protesters still physically clashed, Chavira said their own visit “went smoothly.” But only in person. Before the rally had even ended, Chavira and Bobo’s photos and phone numbers, home addresses, and workplace information were posted in Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!! in an effort to punish them for their protest. On the page, mere pixels away, was a stated policy against harassment and the publication of personal information:
The Trump hate machine moves extremely fast. The goading post was visible to the roughly 100,000 Trump supporters who were in the group at the time, and it was shared around 700 times. Chavira says that thousands of voice and text messages hit their phones almost immediately—though they wouldn’t actually listen to and read them until they regained cell service outside of the rally, nearly eight hours later. Eventually, “I couldn’t receive any more Facebook messages,” Chavira told me. “I had reached a capacity.” In total, Chavira estimates she and Bobo received “maybe 700" phone calls, “around five to seven thousand” text messages, and “maybe 2,000 to 4,000" Facebook messages each.
“I hope they find your body with your neck slashed,” says one voicemail.
“You piece of shit, filthy scumbag asshole.” Other messages were more descriptive, bordering on erotic:
Good morning you bitch. Hey, it’s Trump 2016, motherfucker. And I tell you what. You bring your sorry ass to the state of Tennessee, and you try one of your little protest things, man—we’re gonna wipe your fucking ass clean, boy. And you bring all your little boys with you. I’d love to have a little chit-chat with you. I’m right here in Chattanooga if you want to hook up, motherfucker. And bring your little black lives black bitch matter to fucking uh...this part of the country, you get your fucking ass smacked down. Bring it, bitch. Bring all your little boys. And say to George Soros to suck a big fat cock for you, Okay? I bet he sucked your big fat dick, and he swallowed good, and he pulled it out of that fucking asshole and put it in your mouth, right? That’s how that goes? So you take your little black nigger fucking bullshit lives matter and stick it up your fucking ass... sideways!
(The above is only an excerpt of a longer message, as documented in a YouTube compilation of voicemails Chavira and Bobo uploaded. I posted in the Facebook group asking if anyone wished to comment on their experience with Chavira and Bobo, and was summarily banned)
Chavira told me they made the mistake of sharing their contact information with fellow protestors on a tiny, public Facebook event they’d created to coordinate on the ground, but it’s unclear whether that how Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!! members found it. She only learned that they’d landed on Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!! in particular because one Trump-supporting member was considerate in sharing a link over email.
“We did feel threatened,” said Chavira. “People threatened to come to my [college] graduation. I’m sure they got a kick out of knowing we had trouble sleeping at night.”
Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!! isn’t actually about Donald Trump. It’s not really about anything so much as it is a browser-based home for people with a similar set of phobias and prejudices. You can scroll continuously for a good long while without finding any discussion of (or even reference to) the opinions, words, or proposals of the group’s namesake. The closest thing to commentary comes in the form of easily shareable, pre-packaged, semi-literate meme pics with big-font slogans and poorly rendered graphics:
But a Facebook group like this one can provide an illuminating (if not comprehensive) display of quivering, white, downward mobility. This isn’t the 4chan-infused “alt-right,” which approaches white supremacy and xenophobia with some degree of irony. This is the Facebook heartland. They are only peripherally political in nature and lack the put-on gravitas of StormFront or Reddit, but your average crypto-white nationalist with time to kill could still have a lot of fun inside Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!!, even if they don’t care about the election. The group is full of content for those who dislike and/or fear the presence of a wide range of people.
But weirdly, not black people.
Just kidding. Anti-black racism is the main attraction in this circus of incoherence and vitriol:
A recurring theme is the opposition to Black Lives Matter, on the grounds that it acts as hate group, or spreads hate, which the members of Donald Trump For President 2016!!!!!! denounce in posts like these:
Positioning Black Lives Matter as a hate group enables Donald Trump for President 2016!!!!!! to engage in useful doublethink: it purports to end hate through hate, by ridding the United States of all the “black bitches” and “BLM trash” that’s the real source of racial rancor in America. This has become a common trope among internet white supremacists. The Trump social media sphere’s strategy for ending hate rests largely on ridding the United States of non-white racial groups, non-Christian ideologies, and any cultural sensibility that isn’t gratified by a blurry picture of Donald Trump’s face with “MAKE AMERICA EPIC WIN AGAIN” written across it in in Times New Roman.
These were the people spamming Diana and Ben by the thousands. By now, it has mostly tapered off, but the Facebook page of Phillips Exeter Academy, where Chavira held a teaching internship while under Trump fan siege, is still littered with angry “reviews”:
She added that “some guys were talking about driving up to Exeter.” When Chavira and Bobo went to the Chicago Police Department for help with the harassment, Chavira told me they were informed the messages were too numerous to even investigate. (The CPD did not immediately respond to my request for comment, but Chavira’s comments are in keeping with past police responses to online harassment.) When I asked if Trump’s social media doomsday machine would make the two more cautious about protesting in the future, Chavira said said it would not: “this is absolutely gonna promote our will to organize another protest.” She went on:
Trump supporters aren’t these evil people, they are just driven by someone who is in a position of power who is able to say, hey, this is why you have no job, pointing to Muslims, Mexican... it shows me these individuals are so blinded by their fear, blinded by their love of their country, that they are willing to blindly follow.
Chavira was disturbed more by the 112,000 (and counting) Facebook zealots’ vulnerability, she said, than their malice: “If anything, it breaks my heart.”