Moments like yesterday are rare on social media. As news broke that the jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial reached a verdict, the internet collectively held its breath. And when the judge read Chauvin’s guilt on all three counts, people looking on erupted in celebration.
Shock and relief quickly spread on social media, too. Seeing a cop held accountable for a crime he clearly committed is so rare. The verdict made Chauvin just the 7th on-duty cop convicted of murder since 2005, during which time police have killed roughly 15,000 people. That kind of accountability just doesn’t happen. Many pointed out the verdict not true justice, since true justice would mean George Floyd would still be alive today. Finding Chauvin guilty was the absolute bare minimum—for one day, though, that was good enough.
Still, the bad stuff is elevated soon enough. And with a moment as capturing and significant as this, the garbage from right wing reactionaries flowed in swiftly and constantly.
Ben Shapiro and Tomi Lahren being completely ubable to hide their disdain for Black people for even 15 minutes after a cop is convicted of killing one of us is extremely on brand for the white supremacist movements they fuel and profit from. pic.twitter.com/3NcR20j8wv
— Rebecca Pierce (@aptly_engineerd) April 20, 2021
Both Ben Shapiro and Tomi Lahren engineer their social media posts for clicks. They’re trying to appeal to and/or rile up their audience while pissing off the other side. Sometimes they lose their logic during the exchange, though. Take Shapiro’s tweet: he’s griping that CNN’s Don Lemon would not have said “justice had been served” if the jury found Chauvin not guilty. Could that possibly be because … justice wouldn’t have been served? That a cop caught on film killing an unarmed man in broad daylight would’ve gone free? No—surely it’s because of some cop-hating, reverse-racist liberal media bias.
Lahren’s tweets are in the same ballpark but seated in a different section. Because people got the verdict they wanted, her precious businesses will be safe from riots. Predictably, though, there’s no question into why community uprisings occur in the first place. The connection to the justice system not holding criminal law enforcement officers accountable just never occurs to her here. She simply keeps it moving.
Right wing media types are one thing. We fully expect them to try inflaming their audiences for engagement. That’s their role in this big dumb online play. For every Shapiro and Lahren there are thousands of others making racist jokes and sarcastic remarks about rioting. But supportive tweets from brands are a different thing entirely. The last few years have provided a masterclass in how not to co-opt protests and movements for racial justice. Somehow, despite all that, the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders posted arguably the worst tweet of all-time.
The post was apparently team owner Mark Davis’ idea. He apologized for potentially hurting George Floyd’s family but says there is no plan to take it down. (We’ve screenshotted it here on the off-chance someone snaps him back to reality.) It’s as tone-deaf as tone-deaf gets—almost serving as a distillation of all the bad corporate tweets and initiatives from the past 12 months. You could argue it’s the social media version of thanking George Floyd for sacrificing his life for justice, something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually did out loud into a microphone on live television. Most people mean well in moments like these, but it pays to actually read the room—or in Davis’ case, pay someone to tell you this post is a fucking horrible idea.
Not tweeting is always an option, at least if you don’t make your living on it. Saying the right thing is usually more important than saying anything at all. Politicians and brands and teams want to get in on the posting solidarity because they need to show their constituents (or customers) they understand the moment. It’s amazing how often the opposite winds up happening.