For the Uninitiated: Godfrey Elfwick’s Glorious Guardian ‘Alt-right’ Hoax

Godfrey Elfwick’s Glorious Guardian ‘Alt-right’ Hoax: Refers to an unattributed opinion piece published by the Guardian which was purported to be written by a ‘life long liberal’ who experienced a process of radicalisation after viewing ‘alt-right’ content on social media.

The anonymous article has subsequently been claimed as the work of satirist Godfrey Elfwick.

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‘Alt-right’ online poison nearly turned me into a racist’ was published in late November 2016.  It was one of numerous articles published in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s US election victory offering perspectives on the (so called) ‘alt right’ political movement.

It started with Sam Harris, moved on to Milo Yiannopoulos and almost led to full-scale Islamophobia. If it can happen to a lifelong liberal, it could happen to anyone. Anonymous

The article describes the experience of a happily married progressive liberal white man who, in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, was curious about the motives of people who voted to leave the EU.

This led to the unlocking of a ‘pandora’s box’ of you tube algorithms and social media content critical of ‘Social Justice Warriors’, Islam, and feminism.

They were shocking at first, but always presented as innocuous criticism from people claiming to be liberals themselves, or centrists, sometimes “just a regular conservative” – but never, ever identifying as the dreaded ‘alt right’. Anonymous

At first the author believed that exposure to such content was actually helping him to become a more open minded person by considering and tolerating views that differed from his own.  However after a diplomatic exchange of views with his wife, he suddenly realised that he was actually stumbling further and further down a rabbit hole that was turning him into a ‘racist’ and a ‘terrible, hateful person’.

PC culture has gone too far, [I justified] we should be able to discuss these things without shutting down the conversation by calling people racist, or bigots.” 

The indoctrination was complete. Anonymous

The article was shared widely on social media.  Some protagonists observed that it read like a parody echoing some of the most ridiculous cliched and intolerant perspectives of the progressive left but many others, including award winning journalist Glen Greenwald, promoted it as further evidence to support the proposed radicalisation of young white men by internet lolz and memes narrative.

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Two days after publication, satirist and social media troll ‘Godfrey Elfwick’ posted a tweet claiming responsibility for the article.

Elfwick has become popular on social media for xir endless ‘trolling’ of ‘social justice warriors’ or those advocating extremes of liberal intolerance and contradictory PC culture. In 2015 xe reached a wider audience after successfully trolling the BBC World Service when xe participated in a discussion about Stars Wars and argued that it was rooted in homophobia and casual racist stereotypes because, amoungst other, things the main bad guy (Dark Raider) is black, has a deep voice and listens to rap music.

When approached for comment, The Guardian’s response stopped short of dismissing xir claim however some suspect that Elfwick’s claim may in fact be a double hoax.

Others point out that either way, the article is a classic example of ‘Poe’s Law’ which observes that it is impossible to create a parody of intolerant views so obviously exaggerated that it can’t be mistaken by some as sincere unless the content offers a clear indication that it is intended as parody.

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is uttrerly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article. Nathan Poe

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