Plenty of people have made this point before, but I’ve been hung up on the fact that we probably should have seen this coming, at least those of us who were into the exact same shitty subcultures around like 2004-2008. At least as early as the Scientology protests and the guy fawkes masks and the sporadic destructive hacking – and certainly once LulzSec started fucking everything up – you could probably have predicted that the SA//4chan milieu would eventually burst out of the internet into something politically/culturally relevant and truly horrendous.
I spent plenty of time arguing with my adolescent friends about the more serious and nasty claims made on the websites we all liked, but I assumed they were just doing normal aggressive teenaged stuff. I guess I just never considered the importance of the fact that those groups weren’t just teenagers, that there really were plenty of adults laughing along about master chief not afraiding of anything and all the other less benign stuff. In retrospect, I suppose that was pretty good evidence that some people wouldn’t outgrow that subculture, that they would generalize the ideas in their subculture to the culture at large and the conclusions they would reach would be seriously warped, and that they would eventually gain major institutional and cultural power (money, gun licenses, drivers licenses, jobs and degrees which confer respectability …). I never thought about it, but this really feels like it was predictable.
At least the history nearly writes itself. The narrative should be quite straightforward, and in a few decades I think we’ll have a very reliable picture of where this surge in American hatred came from.