Black People, Please Run Away From The Stupid, Fake #WalkAway Campaign


Russia has a compelling interest these days in helping Republicans win elections, and Republicans win elections when the Democratic vote is suppressed. Republicans focus on purging voter rolls and let Russian bots handle the fine art of propaganda. The most recent and shameless effort is the #WalkAway viral campaign, promoting the right-wing wet dream that minorities are abandoning the Democratic Party because when Jeff Sessions is our attorney general, the true offense is Maxine Waters's lack of "civility."

#WalkAway, the hashtag, went viral [in July] as something of a delayed reaction to a popular video renouncing liberalism by Brandon Straka, who described himself to the Epoch Times as a New York hairdresser and aspiring actor. The video, posted in late May, now has more than 1 million views on Facebook. In it, Straka says he was once a liberal, but now he is not.

"If you are a person of color, an LGBT person, a woman or an American immigrant, the Democratic Party wants you to know you are a victim," Straka says in the video. "This is perhaps the Democratic Party's greatest, and most insidious, lie."

Democrats also "insidiously" inform burning people that they are, in fact, on fire. So, yeah, the whole #WalkAway hashtag is a transparent scam.

Despite all the glee from the right over the possibility, there's no evidence -- not even anecdotal -- that minorities are defecting to the Republican Party. Not that the Republicans even care. They don't need black people to vote for them. They just want us to stay home, maybe go watch Black Panther again -- anything but actually voting. They also appreciate the plausible deniability that the GOP, in the Trump era, is racist. Such reality-based theories could turn off white moderates, who might work or socialize adjacent to a minority.

The #WalkAway campaign "founder" and new BFF of the right is Brandon Straka, a gay hairstylist and "former liberal." His Twitter bio states he wishes to "Red Pill humanity," because apparently Straka, along with men's rights activists, loves co-opting the intellectual property of two trans women more than he wishes to avoid irony.

Straka's crusade has attracted such noted black conservative luminaries as Candace Owens and the kid I won't name. I'm sure Diamond and Silk are involved as long as the checks clear. These folks have been walking away from the "Democratic plantation" for a long-ass while. Straka obviously needed some new faces to represent how effective his movement has been so far. Here's a recent personal testimonial.

Take the "red pill" and discover how fake this photo is Shutterstock

I can't account for every anti-Trump Twitter user, of course, but no actual elected Democrat has done any of these things. And where was this nice black lady during the Obama administration when our brother was being lynched in effigy? Probably selling dish soap or wireless Internet, I guess, because as James Kosur revealed Monday in the Hill Reporter, she isn't really a former Democrat but a professional (more or less, why is she posed this way?) model.

It turns out, the fake #WalkAway campaign, launched most likely by Russian operatives, has also been creating incredibly fake #WalkAway ads. In each ad, people of various races and backgrounds are featured with a simple message about why they've left the Democratic party.

The problem with these ads? The people telling their deeply personal stories are actually models who posed for Shutterstock-featured photos.

Yeah, still fakeShutterstock

Seriously, what's with all the "deep thought" poses? Does Shutterstock recruit graduates from the Rodin School of Modeling? This ad also makes no sense even in the context of dishonest propaganda. Democrats are the ones who implemented policies to help families send their kids to college without having to sell their kidneys. Obama tried to clean up student loans, and executed some scammy for-profit colleges, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is making dirty again and raising from the dead, respectively. What is my fake brother's deal?

There's also some standard "divide and conquer" tactics among minorities. You have a problem with the Trump administration's immigration policies? Hey, those kiddie jails are for your benefit, slightly different brown person! It is impressive how well Russians understand American racial dynamics. Maybe they have the ghost of Lee Atwater on their payroll.

The fakest of the three, but at least he's not touching his faceShutterstock

#WalkAway clearly violated Shutterstock's terms of service, which forbids using their photos "in a political context, such as the promotion, advertisement or endorsement of any party, candidate, or elected official, or in connection with any political policy or viewpoint." (I think they also swiped the name "WalkAway" from a cool book by Cory Doctorow.)

Fortunately, this whole #WalkAway "movement" doesn't appear to have fooled any reasonably intelligent person.

Ginni Thomas falls for her own party's propaganda

I said "reasonably intelligent."

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins is playing NOW at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo. All Wonketters welcome.

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Some of our favorite people to follow on Twitter are the wonderful folks who watch Fox News every night and tweet screenshots and videos, so that we never ever EVER have to watch it. (They all work for Media Matters, so presumably they are being forced to do this by David Brock.)

We had a feeling after Pete Buttigieg did that Fox News town hall, and after we watched the MENSA trust at "Fox & Friends" just lose it all morning about Buttigieg's open criticism of Fox News on Fox News, that the evening hosts would really deliver on Monday night, and boy was our feeling correct.

Let's go to the tape, provided by Media Matters deputy director of rapid response Andrew Lawrence.

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Today it was announced that Dress Barn would be closing all 650 of its stores and its business in general. This has been happening a lot lately, as people have begun to do most of their shopping online rather than in stores. Shopko, a department store chain, recently announced it would be closing all of its stores as well.

Then there's the mall store Charlotte Russe, which closed all of its stores in March. I actually worked there in high school, and at Contempo Casuals, which later became Wet Seal, and which closed all of its stores last January (though it's still online). Many other "mall stores" are also either closing entirely or closing a huge chunk of their stores.

Dress Barn was a terrible and oddly insulting-sounding name for a store. The fact that it survived for as long as it did with marketing that bad actually speaks very well for the store itself. If it were not doing an incredibly good job providing many women with what they wanted, clothing-wise, I do not think they would have survived this long. While I can't speak to that personally, since the last time I lived in an area that had one I was 14 years old (though I did get a very nice purple crushed velvet baby-doll dress there for my grandparent's anniversary when I was in 8th grade), a lot of people today are talking about how much they appreciated that they could get nice work clothes there for a reasonable price -- and also in a wide range of sizes. That's awesome. There should be more of that, not less.

But the real problem isn't just people losing a store they like. It's the fact that all of the people working at those 650 stores no longer have jobs–about 6,800 people in total. (And 18,000 employees are losing their jobs at Shopko, which often served towns of 3,000 to 5,000 people, too small for any other store where you could buy, say, socks and a toaster.) And the way things are going, it's going to be pretty hard for them to find jobs in the same line of work. The vast majority of these people, also, are women.

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