Why Has Twitter Been So Blue Lately?

By Tristan Kasinger

[Originally published at Jesus was a Liberal on April 9, 2013]

UniteBlue
As quite literally anyone who is anyone in the progressive twitter-verse knows, #UniteBlue is kind of a big deal. Whether you are a champion for #UniteBlue or one of the quickly shrinking "Blue Birthers" who question the motives of UB's diabolical actions, everyone on the Left (and quite a few trolls on the Right) are talking about this movement.

As with everything I say here and on my my twitter, this is my opinion on what I honestly think is one of the stupidest and most childish conversations between liberals that I have ever witnessed. 

A bit of background for my two readers who don't know anything about #UniteBlue:  It is both a "Hashtag" (a kind of Twitter chat room) and a support website/Twitter app. It was created by the Father-Son team of Adam and Zach Green, respectively, as a vehicle for those of us on the left to connect with each other and chat, debate and just plain chill with people who are like-minded. To any well-adjusted adult, this sounds like a good thing, right?

Apparently, no.

Enter Politicol News. This deceptively named website is a personal blog of an unknown number of anonymous writers who claim to care about the progressive cause. Glancing at their homepage, they look like one of the many independent progressive news sources out there, but if you dig deep in there you will run across plenty of incredibly one-sided attack articles aimed directly at Adam and Zach. If you read those links, which I really don't expect you to do (honestly I had a hard time wading through them myself), you'll notice something strangely missing: any info from Adam or Zach themselves.

The thing that is especially mind boggling is that if you simply Google "Zach+Green+Interview+Unite+Blue," you'll find quite a few articles from real lefty news sites that have contacted the Greens themselves, regardless of the final judgment of the article writers, and gotten their side of the story. What is more, the sixth result on that page is a large Q&A put up by Zach himself all about the "controversy," answering all the questions that Politicol never actually asked him. There is also a Google+ Hangout that is an hour and a half long where Zach gets grilled about every thing you could ever want to know about his past activism.

The final nail in the coffin for the anti-Uniteblue crowd is this: if the worst-case scenario is true and the Greens are secret agents from the GOP, they are doing the worst job possible. If the GOP wants to influence the Left in any way (and I'm sure they do), I seriously doubt that even they are stupid enough to try and divide us by first bringing us all together

There are literally pages and pages of this
There are literally pages and pages of this
All of this back and forth has gone on for almost a month now. I've mostly stayed out of it because lately I've been trying the whole "Don't feed the trolls" tactic. I tweeted a couple of support tweets aimed at Zach, but aside from that I haven't engaged his detractors at all. However, rather than slowly dissipating as less and less people care about what Politicol has to say, the people who are left over have turned into a small group of very angry, very aggressive "truthers" who are convinced that Zach Green is a GOP puppet. @Politicolnews and their ilk spend almost the entire day tweeting #Uniteblue members and either calling them Sheeple and drug-addicts or sending them links to various articles (all on Politicolnews, of course) about all the evils of #UniteBlue. They insult the people they talk to and block their targets if any facts are brought to play. You can see a few of the tweets to the left, or if you are feeling particularly daring or masochistic, you can go to their Twitter Account and read their hate in real time. You can also catch them in action claiming Zach sent Peacock Panache, a progressive website that I contribute to, after their "news" site for just "asking them questions."

So all of this said, I have a question for anyone who is anti-Uniteblue: if what you are so worried about is the GOP breaking the Left up and causing us to fight amongst ourselves, why are you fighting with those of us in #UniteBlue with religious fervor? I don't understand why you can't say "You know what, I don't agree with the founders of #UniteBlue and I don't want to be a part of it. Have a good day," and then move on with your life. There are so many things we should all be focusing on (Hello, Monsanto Protection Act) rather than arguing with a bunch of angry children who refuse to see any facts except the ones that support their arguments. If I wanted to have that argument, I'd go talk to a Tea-Partier.

If you have any comments or thoughts, you can leave them below! You can also follow me on Twitter @JesusWasALefty and hear all my silliness in real time.


As a progressive Christian in America, Tristan became frustrated at how the christian political perspective had been completely monopolized by the Religious Right. He tries to be a counterweight to the Right's argument that liberalism and Christianity are not compatible, specifically on the subjects of LGBT rights, women's rights, gun rights and rights of the poor and disabled.

You can view Tristan's website at http://jesuswasalefty.blogspot.com/ and follow him on twitter @JesusWasALefty.

8 comments:

  1. My Two Cents: I was concerned enough when allegations against #UniteBlue first came to light to back off from it. I decided to re-join #UniteBlue because of the hysterical allegations you quote in this article, and because I love how #UniteBlue has brought many on the left together. WHat's happening with #UniteBlue is just too positive to turn away from.

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  2. First of all, the best way to MAKE SURE opposition to UB thrives and grows is to act dismissive and try to stuff all UB's critics into one pigeonhole. You will find that this action has the opposite effect from what you intend. Second, PoliticolNews hardly represents all opposition to UB, and should not be used as a straw man to pretend critics are all just crazy people who will go away.


    In fact, the criticism is growing because of Zach Green's inability to do proper vetting of his board members. As you know, a Mr. William Talley was able to insinuate himself onto the UB board in March despite having pleaded guilty to possession of kiddie porn in February. Does Mr. Green lack access to Google search, which turns up public records of Talley's arrest and appeals in the first page of results?


    There are other reasons for criticism, none of which are addressed here: the fact that UB uses sockpuppet accounts to artificially trend hashtags, which will make any associated movement's activism appear artificial; the way in which UB came to prominence through cybersquatting; the bogus sales points about UB "protecting" users from the terrible TGDN folks; lack of honesty and transparency about the Greens' history with Herman Cain and the Tea Party; questions about the privacy policy at UB, and so on. Deal with these real questions, and you may do some good for your community. Pretend they don't matter, and you will be in for a rude shock.


    Very, VERY few of UB's critics maintain that it's a sinister right wing operation. They just don't like being lied to and don't appreciate being trolled by defensive, often potty-mouthed Twitter accounts and attack blogs for the "crime" of asking legitimate questions. If you want to ensure the critics become even more active and gain more attention, please -- by all means, CONTINUE to be dismissive. I have lived through progressive infighting before and can say from experience that you have not helped matters with this post.

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  3. For what it's worth, I believe Tristan is speaking to people just like you: mainly, people who are still bitterly arguing about UniteBlue when plenty of other more worthy progressive issues exist to direct that animus toward. If you do not like UniteBlue, don't associate with it - it's as simple as that. For all the alleged evils several sites have claimed, each one usually neglects to present both sides of the issue (so they're more op-ed than journalism) in addition to leaving out the positives that have resulted from connecting progressives.

    Does UniteBlue have some problems? Of course - it's a relatively new organization that's still experiencing growing pains. Is that a reason to demonize the entire movement - including the thousands of people who use it to connect to other progressives? I'd argue no.

    At the end of the day everyone should be asking themselves: is it helping or hurting the progressive cause? At this point, the only ones I see hurting the cause are those that continue to perpetuate the infighting instead of moving on and allowing those that do participate in UniteBlue to go about their business.

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  4. As I mentioned in the other comment below, at the end of the day I think we all should be asking ourselves: on the whole, is UniteBlue helping or harming the progressive movement? I can't speak for everyone, but personally it's connected me to hundreds (at this point, probably thousands) of other progressives. Isn't that the point of it?

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  5. "Is it helping or hurting the progressive cause?" Let me answer that by noting that I have spent the entire last year vigorously defending my movement (#stoprush) from all manner of attacks. If association with UB causes my movement to get tarred as artificial, it definitely hurts MY cause. Why do you think I am so zealous about finding and reporting bad actors? I don't want them anywhere NEAR my activism, thank you. And in fact #stoprush is an example of how I have no choice whether to associate with UB -- because my movement has done so.


    And no, I am not about to stop vetting just because other people would rather it all went away. That's a recipe for absolute disaster when the other side finds what grassroots progressives failed to root out on their own. If we can't call out kiddie porn, what do you think a James O'Keefe will make of it? How much damage do you think the right can do with that sort of story? The answer is that you'll have Congress passing a new law so fast your head will spin. Ask the nearest ACORN office if you don't believe me.


    You haven't addressed "the other side" of those issues I just named, and until someone does they remain open issues that attract negative attention. Nor do I buy the argument that progressives cannot survive on Twitter without Unite Blue. We were doing just fine before UB came along, and if UB disappeared overnight we'd be doing just fine tomorrow. The only cause getting hurt right now is Zach and Adam Green's. Yes, they have built a community within Twitter based on a Team Followback scheme. Yes, that community is genuine and filled with genuine people. No one ever said it wasn't. So why can't the Greens answer these questions? What do they value more, the community they've created or the monetization potential of that community?

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  6. You seem to have a lot of anger and vitriol directed at an entire movement based on the actions of a handful of people that aren't even the primary players. Do mistakes happen and people slip through the cracks? Certainly. Does that mean the entire movement should be stopped? That's a little absurd.

    And by no means am I (or Tristan) saying you shouldn't vet; rather, you shouldn't attack random members of a movement who want nothing more than to connect with other progressives. If you have a problem with UB, use proper channels and work with the advisory board and the Greens; don't spam people on Twitter with baseless accusations (as Politicol News and its followers still do to this day - I can attest to that from personal experience).

    Tristan's post wasn't a "stop fact-finding" post; it was a "stop being a menace the way you go about it" article. If you aren't one of the people constantly spamming UB people on Twitter with non-sourced allegations, it doesn't apply to you.



    Attacking the members of UB rather than working with the Greens and the UB advisory board isn't doing you or your reputation any favors. If anything, attacking those who just want to connect to other progressives will hurt your chances of being honestly heard in addition to harming your own movement as people will associate that vitriolic attitude with #stoprush.


    Nutshell: Have evidence of malfeasance? Take it to those than organize and run the organization. Anything short of that isn't vetting - it's just trolling on Twitter for attention.

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  7. Please be specific about what anger and vitriol you're talking about. And I haven't attacked random members of a movement, rather I have been very specific about setting William Talley's Twitter career on fire.


    And until UB addresses these legitimate concerns I've outlined, posts like this ARE "stop fact-finding" posts. The author has attempted to put every critic of UB into one pigeon-hole with PoliticolNews, and that will NOT put out the fires. The message is indeed "stop fact-finding or be labeled a kook with Politicol," and it will have the opposite effect than what was intended.

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  8. The fact that you don't even realize your statements are vitriolic should be enough of a wake-up call.


    This article addressed those that spam UB members with unsolicited tweets and conspiracy theories. It covers those that do not bother to do their due diligence. By your own self-professed definition, this does not apply to you. Again, if you have a "beef" with UB and feel you have the actual evidence to back it up, feel free to take it up with those in charge; otherwise, trolling pro-UB stories and UB-members with this sort of anger will do nothing other than undermine your goal.

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