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17 Aug, 2018 22:42

McCain death tweet gets anti-imperialist Aussie journalist banned from Twitter

McCain death tweet gets anti-imperialist Aussie journalist banned from Twitter

Australian anti-war journalist Caitlin Johnstone was suspended from Twitter for several hours after a tweet blasting Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) as a warmonger and suggested that his death would make the world a better place.

Johnstone, a self-described“bogan socialist” and critic of imperialism, had over 33,000 followers on Twitter when she got banned – apparently over a post criticizing McCain earlier this week. Being both vocally anti-Russian and a critic of President Donald Trump, McCain is a figure popular with both the NeverTrump conservatives and #Resistance liberals. The hawkish Republican has battled brain cancer for over a year.

Johnstone’s tweet said that McCain “devoted his entire political career to slaughtering as many human beings as possible at every opportunity.” She then added that “the world will be improved when he finally dies.”

The suspension was lifted several hours later.

It is unclear what particular Twitter rule might have been violated in this case. Johnstone reportedly said that Twitter described her post as “abusive behavior.”  Twitter does not comment on individual account suspensions.

Over the past two years, Johnstone has made enemies on both the left and the right, for defending WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange and calling out propaganda about Syria and Russia. Some Twitterati decided that she’s gone too far with her McCain comments.

However, a number of journalists from both ends of the political spectrum stepped up in Johnstone’s defense.

The “anti-establishment, anti-war writer Caitlin Johnstone @caitoz has never advocated violence, infringed copyright, or used slurs. Rather she has been a consistent critic of imperial power,” wrote author Sean Kerrigan.

“Everyone okay with this political purge? And who’s next?” asked journalist Max Blumenthal.

“McCain is allowed to celebrate mass deaths. Why can’t people be free to celebrate his if they wish?” asked journalist Cassandra Fairbanks, referring to the senator's infamous rendition of "Bomb Iran."

“We warned, that after #Assange the rest of us would be next. I hate seeing that come to fruition so damn quickly,” said Elizabeth Lea Vos of Disobedient Media.

Vos also called out Shareblue, a pro-Democratic Party media operation run by David Brock, as being responsible for the suspension. Johnstone had posted on Thursday night that she was being harassed by Shareblue’s “bot army” on behalf of the “#McResistance hero @RVAwonk,” who took offense at her McCain remarks.

“One of the most aggressively protected narratives in Resistance Twitter is that John McCain is a hero. This man hasn't even died yet and they've made him the Democrats' Ronald Reagan, and he ran against Obama in '08,” Johnstone said, according to her archived twitter feed.

One Twitter user called Johnstone “a firebrand who speaks truth to power, especially the neocon armchair chickenhawks,” adding that the suspension of her account is a “sick joke.”

“Censorship is not conservative or liberal, it’s about whether you want more wars. Pro war conservatives never get censored and in fact get 10,000+ Retweets,” wrote Mike Cernovich, a Trump supporter who nonetheless led the criticism of the current administration’s bombing of Syria.

Johnstone has also been targeted by the Atlantic Council’s “troll hunters” over her support for journalists challenging the mainstream media narratives in Syria. A twitter user going by the name QuixotesHorse described her as a “key member of The White Helmets Conspiracy Network” who gets “Troll Whistled directly by The Russian Embassy Network.”

The controversial ban comes days after Twitter granted the blue verification checkmark to Sarah Jeong, the newest member of the New York Times editorial board, despite her long history of overtly racist, abusive and insulting tweets.

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