John Cole at Balloon Juice says everything there is to say about it (though, if you’re not a Twitter denizen, his post requires some backstory).
If you’re not on Twitter…count yourself lucky. OK, not really. What I was going to say is: if you’re not on Twitter, what’s been happening for a while now is that a group of Twitter users who are interconnected both on and off Twitter have had the long knives out for Salon blogger/attorney Glenn Greenwald, as Cole describes in his post. The reasons for such a concerted backlash against Greenwald in particular are several, but I’m not going to get into them all here. The reason for that is (as Cole also hints at): it’s incredibly inside-baseball and almost unimaginably lengthy to recount the whole mess in detail; to do it justice. If you’re interested, you won’t have any trouble finding posts in various outlets about why Greenwald (and a few other bloggers/pundits) are considered by some to be just awful. For my purposes here (and without weighing in on the merits of either the various previous complaints or Greenwald’s actual words and responses), let me just leave it by noting that a coordinated campaign of disagreement against Greenwald does indeed exist, and has existed for some time among a remarkably uniform group of people on Twitter.
What happened recently (and what precipitated Cole’s post) was that someone was (as usual) taking Greenwald to task, this time over his critique of the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA which was signed into law by President Obama on December 31st (I’m not linking to Glenn because I didn’t link to the critiques, either). During a discussion involving Greenwald and some people who opposed him as well as some who agreed with him, one of the people who clearly agreed with Glenn’s view and thought those who were attacking him were justifying something under Obama that they’d have opposed under Bush said, hyperbolically, that Greenwald’s attackers (specifically a Twitter user named AngryBlackLady) would try to justify or support it if Obama “raped a nun live on TV.” Greenwald, a while later, said he agreed with that idea of some people’s reflexive defensiveness about Obama’s positions and actions. Aprés THAT, le deluge.
More than seventy-two hours straight of outrage and amplified Greenwald-attacking among this group resulted, with many of the attacks wrongly accusing Greenwald himself of having coined the nun-rape analogy. Although I think that, much like Nazi analogies, anything as extreme as nun-rape is often a questionable analogy to make regardless of the circumstances, I think John Cole is right when he says that Greenwald
…wasn’t minimizing rape, he was using rape as the ugliest example he could think of (and he later added child-killing and assassination), far from minimizing rape and far from making rape ‘jokes.’
That’s the backstory.
What makes Cole’s post much more relevant than (ahem) the fact that I agree with his general take on what will probably gruesomely be forever-after called “nun-rape gate” (or “NUN RAPE RAWR,” as Cole puts it), is Cole’s zeroing-in on a problem I’ve noticed for quite some time on Twitter (and in the larger blogosphere, but Twitter is in some ways sort of the crack to the blogosphere’s cocaine: concentrated and much quicker-acting): the tribalism and cliqueishness, which is concentrated in one particular area.