In a world gone mad, the Twitterverse reveals itself as both a tool for positivity and asinine outrage. At the same time as K-pop stans mobilized to sabotage a Dallas Police Department snitching app, right-wing trolls spread false allegations of The National’s Aaron Dessner being an Antifa organizer. He has since clarified that, of course, he’s not.
Video circulated over the weekend of a bearded white man at a Columbus protest appearing to pay black protesters cash to, as the accusers claimed, start a riot. Twitter user @LilBlondie45, a woman whose name reads “Michelle 🇺🇸 PUT CUOMO IN A NURSING HOME” and whose account has since been suspended, thought she recognized the man as Dessner, and sicced people on the musician.
“Meet @aaron_dessner he’s an Antifa organizers paying people to riot!!” she wrote. “He needs to be arrested NOW!! RT.”
Many fellow right-wing Twitter trolls soon echoed those calls for Dessner’s and The National’s arrest and, worse, their heads. Amazingly, Trump just this morning tweeted the video (though he left out reference to Dessner).
Upon seeing his face spread across social media, Dessner responded, “I am not the person some are suggesting I am and I would never support violence of any kind.” He added, “Nor have I been in Ohio since June 2019.” In fact, Dessner has been quarantining for the past three months with his wife and kids on his farmland in Upstate New York.
— Aaron Dessner (@aaron_dessner) May 31, 2020
“However I do fully support peaceful protests and activisim against endemic racism and racially motivated violence in this country, which somehow continues generation after generation after generation. Like so many, I’m hoping for peaceful resolution and actual progress addressing these persistent issues in our society.”
What’s more, it turns out the man in the video likely wasn’t Antifa at all. First of all, Antifa isn’t an organization, it’s a loosely connected group of individuals with similar beliefs; trying to label it a terrorist group (as our POTUS has said he’s doing) is like trying to label marijuana smokers drug dealers. Secondly, the man’s attorney has reached out to Columbus police, who are looking into the matter, claiming his client wasn’t inciting riots. Instead, he was trying to gather supplies to aid those hurt by excessive force from police.
“The poster removed the portion of the video which clearly demonstrates a request for supplies. My client was not inciting violence, my client was seeking supplies to help people who had been injured by police officers,” attorney Taylor Waters told NBC4 News. “He did not pay anyone to cause property damage, break any law, or otherwise cause civil unrest.”
Find the initial erroneous post and relevant tweets below.
— Stargazer (@Stargaz40431123) May 31, 2020
Needs to be strung up. pic.twitter.com/vhjWfmrwmr
— Andrew Flannigan (@FlanniganAndrew) May 31, 2020
Make him famous he is from Ohio
— 🇺🇸👊🏻👊🏻🇺🇸 (@417JKO) May 31, 2020
Because they’re a fucking band you dumbass.
— Anthony Russo (@el3vatemelater) June 1, 2020
Warning!!! New political account created May 2020 pic.twitter.com/zVPuBDit45
— Rusty Colbert (@RustyColbert) June 1, 2020
It can’t be stressed enough how easily most conspiracy theories fall apart. Here are a bunch of right wingers claiming that Aaron Dessner, who plays guitar in The National, is also an antifa organizer. Because he has a beard. pic.twitter.com/XujAYVvl1R
— Mike “Wear a Mask” Rothschild (@rothschildmd) May 31, 2020