In the end, which is where we live now, it turns out that America was brought low not by war or economic collapse or environmental catastrophe (though none of those are off the table) but by plausible deniability.
This month, BuzzFeed News published a truly astonishing exposé on the so-called alt-right, the youth-driven, arch-conservative online movement that is at least partly responsible for Donald Trump’s rise to power and has been an indispensable siege engine in his war on truth. An unnamed entity sent BuzzFeed a cache of emails from the former Breitbart editor and alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos — Steve Bannon’s protégé — revealing that Yiannopoulos has been working intimately with white nationalist leaders to normalize radical far-right ideology, particularly among disaffected white youth.
In a bizarre personal twist, one of the leaked emails exposed a connection between Yiannopoulos and an ostensibly feminist writer named Mitchell Sunderland, then employed at Broadly, Vice Media’s women’s section. “Please mock this fat feminist,” Sunderland wrote to Yiannopoulos, with a link to one of my articles. That email corroborated two things that feminist writers have been insisting, fruitlessly, for years: One, that the abuse we endure daily on social media isn’t just a byproduct of the internet but a politically motivated silencing campaign. And two, that even left-wing media failed to take us seriously when we insisted that Yiannopoulos was more than just a clown.