Right-Wing Site Falls For Fake 'Marxist-Leninist-Alinskyite Construction Worker' Op-Ed
On Thursday, noted right-wing phrenology site Quillette published an op-ed (archived link) from a fella calling himself Archie Carter. Carter was a self-described Marxist-Leninist union construction worker, a devotee of Saul Alinsky, and a Mets fan — and boy, was he ever unsatisfied with his experience going to meetings of the Democratic Socialists of America. "The DSA Is Doomed," the tantalizing headline read.
It was the reddest of red meat for Quillette. A real working class Marxist-Leninist-Alinskyist union guy talking about how he tried to go to some meetings of the Brooklyn chapter of the DSA because he was sick of the two-party system and was looking for an "alternative." He attended their meetings, and all their sit-ins and protests, only to discover just how out of touch all those latte-sipping liberals at the DSA really were with the actual working class.
On another occasion, I invited four male colleagues, one of whom is black, to attend a DSA meeting with me. All were perturbed by the ramblings of the activists there. Surely, a group dedicated to the empowerment of the working class must recruit from the working class. And if the environment is hostile to the sensibilities of the working class, how likely is it that recruitment drives will succeed? My fellow union workers and I realized that these people don't care about the plight of America's blue collar workforce at all—DSA meetings are simply stages for the radical posturing of white middle class college kids, plagued with guilt about their own privilege.
And how they just went "too far" with all their "inclusion" and their green hair. Surely, if they wanted to include people, they would have instituted a dress code!
There's a point at which an environment becomes so "inclusive" that it's just completely alienating for average people. On a couple of occasions, I convinced a fellow worker to come along to a meeting. Afterwards, I received a polite "thank you," followed by an apologetic admission that "this just isn't my crowd"—he didn't fit in with the college kids, professors, and green-haired activists, whose fashionable intersectionality dominates DSA meetings.
Finally! A "real" Leftist talking about how all these "fake" Leftists have gone so far that they have alienated the exact kind of working class people they are supposed to be helping. Oh! The hypocrisy of those people!
Clay Routlege is also a Quillette writer.
It was so perfect and so cathartic and so, so completely fake. So fake that anyone with even a passing familiarity with the DSA, the Left, or human beings in general could tell that it was fake. This was swiftly pointed out on Twitter by several DSA members.
I would actually go so far as to say that literally no one has ever said "What would Alinsky do?" Or talked about "the country Saul Alinsky envisioned," as Carter did in his final paragraph.
If DSA wants to help transform America into the country Saul Alinsky envisioned, then it needs to learn to listen to America's working-class. At the moment, its members are hardly aware it exists.
Then there was also the fact that, by sheer coincidence, the only DSA meetings Carter wrote about were those that had previously been reported on by other outlets.
Within a few hours of people dragging it online and pointing out how incredibly, obviously fake it was, Quillette pulled the article entirely. And not long after that, Aaron Freedman of Jacobin magazine published an article revealing that the whole thing had been a hoax by a 24-year-old guy from Illinois who wanted to see what garbage he could get Quillette to publish.
"I chose Quillette because they would have a lower standard of proof," said Carter, the self-described "left-populist" author of the piece, who chose to keep his real identity anonymous. (Jacobin has independently verified his identity.)
"Some of the conservative, reactionary critiques I included because I believed Quillette would publish it," Carter told me over the phone. And publish it they did — at least before taking it down later today when readers started to question the incongruence of a "Marxist-Leninist" who was a fan of Saul Alinsky.
Now, it would have been one thing if they had just published the article as Fake Archie Carter wrote it ... but some of the most precious bits of flair were added by Quilette editors themselves.
Comparing the original draft Carter had written (verified through a Google Doc link included in his email correspondence with Quillette), it's clear that the publication made an extra effort to add embellishing details to the story — separate from Carter's original fabrication — in order to advance a right-wing narrative of DSA as hopeless, dithering, anti-working class snowflakes.
For example, it was Quillette, not Carter, that included the line, "My union friends were horrified. While these people spend hours reproaching themselves and each other, real people in America are suffering."
Quillette also suggested that DSA meetings "would drag on forever in order to accommodate the neuroses of the participants and to ensure that the proceedings observed the norms of 'inclusivity.'"
It is truly shocking to see this level of editorial malfeasance from the same site that published another hoax article in which a right-wing troll posed as an online extremism researcher who claimed to link journalists covering online extremism to "Antifa" based on who they followed on Twitter. A hoax which resulted in those journalists being put on a Nazi kill list, and which the site is still standing by. Then again, they also once published an op-ed from a white guy who claimed that no one would publish his awful-sounding novel because he was a white guy, and not because he was a terrible writer. And a three part investigative series on how social justice warriors were ruining knitting. With diversity.
It is almost as if Quillette will publish literally any pile of garbage that scratches their "white guys are the real victims and anti-fascists are the real fascists!" or "feminists/socialists/green haired hipsters are ruining my favorite activity!" itch, whether it is true or not.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse