louise mensch

Burn in Hell, Heat Street!

We created our own website to talk about how much we hate safe spaces.

Heat Street was not a good website. It was a very bad website, in fact, which you may be able to discern from its motto being “no safe spaces”. A failed experiment in creating a libertarian Huffington Post crafted by Louise Mensch, a former Tory who aimed for Arianna Huffington and instead briefly became a cult figure among the type of Twitter user who unironically follows Al Giordano.

Heat Street tried vainly to appeal to the young, Reddit-y conservatives of today by posting incessantly in favor of Gamergate, and defending noted racist frog meme Pepe (more on that later). But what did it in was, ironically, maybe the only decent thing the site ever did: Mensch’s opposition to Trump, which inspired backlash from such sources as Breitbart. But before you praise a conservative for doing the bare minimum possible to oppose Trump (ah, the McCain), know that Heat Street somehow fucked up attacking Donald Trump, basing their resistance on paranoid conspiracy theories about how Russians infected, not just the election, but every quadrant of society that doesn’t agree with them.

I’m sure this site is into GamerGate for pure motives & not as a vain grab for clicks.

Mensch’s ignominious farewell from the site she founded allowed for the ascent of Heat Street’s other luminary, Ian Miles Cheong, the saddest boy alive. Ian Miles Cheong used to be well-known as a woke, anti-GamerGate voice on Twitter. All that changed when a review of The Witcher 3 shook his ideals to the core by suggesting a game set in a fantasy world with dragons and magic might be able to accommodate a character who wasn’t white. Overnight, Cheong became a strident voice in favor of GamerGate and the alt-right, ready to defend Pepe’s innocence or retweet literal creationists if they attacked Bill Nye. Cheong was a brave maverick, who feared nothing except ants, seeing slightly less nudity in video games, and also everything.

Pictured: THE SADDEST BOY

Mensch’s era at Heat Street is known for causing the site to be at war with itself: one author would publish an article defending the racist meme frog, Mensch would leap in to counter them. One author would defend some creepy anime, Mensch would replace it with a piece about how it was creepy. This sounds like a bizarre, complicated way of going about the job of editor-in-chief, compared to the typical approach of just saying “hey, don’t publish that bad article you wrote”, but then again, I’m not the head of a failed libertarian off-shoot of Fox News. Luckily, under Cheong the site would flourish as a source that would drag up a few Tweets and use them to passionately defend video game breasts – truly journalism’s highest pursuit.

Heat Street was a directionless site that tried to appeal to the alt-right, and ended up appealing to no one. After alienating everyone, this failure of a site died on Friday, merged into Marketwatch. Mensch now runs her own blog to a dwindling audience, and Cheong’s pursuit of e-fame in an extraordinarily awful demographic looks like a road to nowhere.

Heat Street is in the Hell reserved for media outlets. As it arrived, it looked up into the shining sky, where on the clouds of Media Heaven, the sites we once loved frolic in peace. The Dissolve is up there, and Comics Alliance. You can almost hear the heavenly voice of The Toast regaling them with the tales of Narnia, as written by Ayn Rand, and with jokes about Sufjan Stevens song titles as described by medieval monks. Beneath is Media Purgatory, where Gawker sits under a banner reading “Yeah What Happened Was Fucked Up But So’s Leaking Sex Tapes”. Heat Street is not there. It is in Media Hell, unloved and unwanted, sitting for eternity as Grantland blathers about Boston sports and justifies outing trans people. It shall not be missed.

 

The Neo-McCarthyism of Louise Mensch

Louise Mensch is a former member of Parliament who gained attention in the United States by exposing Trump’s ties to Russia; her career since has been a conspiratorial clusterfuck, an unrelenting tide of unsupported accusations and conspiracy theories that would make any Redditor blush. In short, Mensch, a former Tory, is quickly becoming the Alex Jones of American centrists – but far more damaging.

That Russia interfered in the 2016 election, or at least covertly supported Trump, is a fact. What’s not is Mensch’s view that the Russians left their fingerprints all over, well, everything.

Andrew Breitbert, the bloated, clogged heart of the media empire of the same name, died of a heart attack. As someone who saw Breitbart speak live, this is by far the least surprising thing to ever happen. His speech consisted of screaming at the top of his voice that every last protestor (at a rally with a counter-protestor:protestor ratio of 10:1) should go to Hell. But if you ask Mensch, Breitbart was murdered by Russian agents. Shootings such as that in Istanbul become Russian false flags; so, too, are the sexts of Anthony Weiner. Believing foreign corruption is needed to make Anthony Weiner send a dick pic is truly the most unbelievable thing in American politics: I’d sooner accept that Area 51 is holding aliens than that Anthony Weiner needs any prompting at all to take a picture of his junk.

People aligned with Trump are part of the Russian plot. So are people opposed to Trump and Russia. Putin’s grand scheme includes both Trump and Bernie Sanders, liberal and conservative journalists, Putin’s critics and Putin’s supporters, statesmen and Twitter randos. You get the sense that the only people definitively not part of the conspiracy are…Mensch and her supporters.

None of Mensch’s accusations are supported with evidence, but that hasn’t stopped her from compiling a list of 200 plus people she accuses of being Russian agents. Secretive lists of Russians used to throw around accusations of treason is something that’s never gone disastrously, horribly wrong in American history.

But there are moments that go from “ridiculous fringe” to out-and-out offensive, and deeply troubling. Mensch also claimed the demonstrations in Ferguson were Russian operations, and so is voter suppression. And elsewhere a brewing xenophobia lurks: TIME Magazine representing Russian influence by showing the White House morphing into, not, say, the Kremlin, but a goddamn Orthodox cathedral; or Congressman Ted Lieu making up a story about his child asking if Trump is “part Russian”.

“The persistence of people making up stories about their children in the face of constant ridicule is truly inspiring,” said my nine-year old.

One of my favorite instances of this is this Tweet:

Cyrillic autocracy. The authoritarian regime of…a alphabet! A writing system that’s not even exclusive to the Russian language. Yes, truly Putin is trolling us all with his devious dictatorship of the weird-looking letters. First, our democracy – next, our very Latin letters!

Ivan the Terrible didn’t campaign in Wisconsin either.

Russia absolutely interfered in American politics. But so much of the Russian conspiracy theories propagated by Mensch and her comrades feel like dodges. If our election was controlled by a foreign power, then why bother looking at what went wrong? That a vile candidate won over too many of your fellow citizens is scary; it’s easier to place the blame on an outsider, a mastermind pulling the strings. It’s the same impulse behind all conspiracy theories: a kind of comforting terror, the idea that the world is not just chaos, but that there’s some reason behind it, because someone – even an evil someone – planning what happens is preferable to no one.

But whatever Russia did do to our election, Vladimir Putin didn’t make Hillary Clinton not campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan; he didn’t force the Democrats to embrace pragmatic centrism at the worst possible time; he didn’t make Americans hateful and paranoid. Nor did he ferment unrest in Ferguson, or make it difficult for African-Americans to vote: American racism did that. Every moment spent spinning outlandish conspiracy theories is a moment America’s left isn’t looking at their own mistakes – and it’s bringing us one moment closer to Trumpism’s reign continuing.

And you must always remember the difference between a government and its people. Criticizing a leader must never turn into a demonization of a culture; after all, there are far, far more Russian victims of Putin than American ones. Putin is Russian. So is Pussy Riot.

There’s more to dig into, but my borscht is getting cold…er, so dosvedanya, comrades.