Every Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the last 10 years, I harken back to a classic NWN story about the time France's ultra-right political party, the Front National, attempted to set up an official headquarters in Second Life -- and was met with disastrous, explosive consequences, so that on MLK Day in 2007, it was left in ruins beneath a virtual sun embedded with the face of Dr. King.
This year, sad to say, I also have to note this passage from that story:
"This nationalist idea that Front National is advocating is something that has spread all over Europa like a virus," Ichi Jaehun tells me. "It's [as if] the history of the 20th century has already been forgotten. It is time to say enough!" Her concern is not alarmist. On a US spectrum, Front National is perhaps one or two notches to the right of Pat Buchanan, but unlike Buchanan (who garnered just half of one percent in the 2000 Presidential election), Le Pen's political base is far more substantial.
But that was a decade ago, and this is no longer true. The US spectrum now accommodates beliefs quite akin to Front National, because they are held and promoted by the figurehead of America's ruling political party. And variations of the online griefing and trolling we saw in Second Life then are now practiced on Twitter and beyond by his most dedicated followers. And while Trump may have won the US Presidency because he understands the digital is real, what was once only digital is now all too real:
In the morning, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen was spotted drinking coffee in the lobby of the [Trump] building. The leader of France’s right-wing extremist party was with three other men, including Guido (George) Lombardi. To the reporters on-site, Lombardi described himself as a friend and neighbor of Trump—and nothing more. This was not an official rendezvous, Lombardi assured them. Just a chit-chat between like-minded people. In a phone interview on Thursday night with The Daily Beast, however, Lombardi told a different story. He said he let incoming White House senior counselor Steve Bannon know about the visit before it happened.
That would be the Steve Bannon who once led a virtual world company and brought Gamergaters on as Trump allies. All of which is to say that honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on this day cannot simply be a matter of having vague and fleeting feelings of warmth for a heroic, historic figure -- but far more than that, dedicating ourselves to defending his dream.
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