It’s been over a month since J.K. Rowling bravely dropped her truth bomb on the Maya Forstater case, calling out the dangerous extremism of trans activists who wish to scare women into silence.
In her absence, the tweet garnered over 200,000 likes, nearly 40,000 retweets, and a never-ending barrage of hate and think pieces calling her “transphobic” for saying that people should live “in peace and security”. Everyone expected J.K. was canceled. But by refusing to roll over, J.K. provided a template for those who face the #cancelculture mob, leading even The Washington Post to wonder if she had broken cancel culture:
“Rowling’s tweet earned her all the denunciations and anguished think pieces that a good mobbing entails. The usual script for what would follow: Rowling vanishes the tweet, apologizes and goes on a listening tour until she had been sufficiently reeducated to explain how wrong she’d been. But Rowling didn’t recite her lines.”
J.K. refused to be canceled, and now she is back. The author returned from her hiatus apparently to announce that she had finished her latest book, the fifth in her crime series under the pseudonym of “Robert Galbraith”.
Two hours after announcing she had finished her book, a post by the user @T_E_T_W_A_V_E appeared, alleging that she had made a homophobic tweet and then deleted it:
The post includes an image of a rainbow-colored Harry Potter tattoo reading "No one should live in a closet". In the screenshot, J.K. apparently commented, "Yes they should".
The user, who goes by “Tet”, appears to have fabricated the tweet, although it is unclear if this was the first instance of the screenshot. There is no record of J.K. having posted the tweet besides this screenshot. His post blew up and has caused multiple people to accuse J.K. of homophobia.
For the record, it is incredibly easy to fake a tweet using simple developer tools built into every modern browser. For example, here is an original tweet by Tet:
And here is a screenshot of the same tweet which I have edited by simply changing the HTML in Chrome:
J.K. responded in the classiest way possible, by calling out the pervasive problem of fake news propaganda and mob mentality that is plaguing the internet with a quote from Hannah Arendt’s 1951 The Origin of Totalitarianism:
The full quote (found on page 7 in this version), which could not fit into a tweet, is:
“The point for the historian is that the Jews, before becoming the main victims of modern terror, were the center of Nazi ideology. And an ideology which as to persuade and mobilize people cannot choose its victim arbitrarily. In other words, if a patent forgery like the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is believed by so many people that it can become the text of a whole political movement, the task of the historian is no longer to discover a forgery. Certainly it is not to invent explanations which dismiss the chief political and historical fact of the matter: that the forgery is believed. This fact is more important than the (historically speaking, secondary) circumstance that it is forgery.”
To provide some context, Arendt is arguing that simple explanations of the antisemitism of the Nazis that led to the “final solution” do not take historical context into account. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a fabricated document published in 1903 which purported to detail the Jewish plan for world domination. The text was faked, an antisemitic hoax, and despite being exposed as such in The Times in 1921, antisemites of the era, Nazis included, continued to use the document as antisemitic propaganda.
Arendt uses the success of this hoax to demonstrate that the Jews were not simply arbitrary scapegoats, in the sense that “it could have been any group”. The fact that The Protocols was believed demonstrates to historians that by the rise of National Socialism in Germany, there was already widespread antisemitism across the globe, and the Jews were not selected as an arbitrary target — the victim was not chosen arbitrarily at all.
Likewise, there is already underway (and has been since it’s inception), a campaign of propaganda against feminists who refuse to cater to male interests. Choosing to target J.K. with lies and propaganda is not arbitrary — she symbolizes a genuine threat to male supremacy which is being intentionally and purposefully targeted by men who do not wish to see their power eroded.
While there is a long history of falsely comparing feminists to Nazis, in this case, we find the shoe on the other foot.
Arendt's final section describes the mechanics of the rise of totalitarian governments. These elements include turning the “classes into masses”, the creation of propaganda, and the use of terror — all which we are seeing play out through online cancel culture and the harassment of feminists.
A feminist Oxford professor has even recently had to be issued bodyguards to attend her lectures after death threats against her were found by the university to be credible. The threats were made by trans activists after Professor Selena Todd, a historian focusing on working-class women, stated that some demands by trans activists harm the rights of women.
Todd is not the only one to receive death threats. In response to her latest tweet, multiple commenters posted pictures of guns, telling her to shut up. The “or else” is implied.
J.K.’s call out of the propaganda used against her (and, indeed, against all genuine feminists) should be taken seriously — not just because libel is illegal or because lying may be morally wrong, but because the very belief of the lie itself is a symptom of a very sick society, and a warning of greater evils to come.