Not being well versed in popular culture, I had never actually heard of Andrew Tate before his Twitter exchange with Greta Thunberg made news headlines last week. I was in a discussion group where the topic of the tweets came up and one of the participants enlightened me on who he was and the odious views he espoused, adding that he has become ‘the Jordan Peterson for the incels’.
Rebecca Solnit goes beneath the surface of the Twitter exchange.
There’s a direct association between machismo and the refusal to recognize and respond appropriately to the climate catastrophe. It’s a result of versions of masculinity in which selfishness and indifference – individualism taken to its extremes – are defining characteristics, and therefore caring and acting for the collective good is their antithesis.
“Men resist green behavior as unmanly” is the headline for a 2017 story on the phenomenon. Machismo and climate denial, as well as alliance with the fossil fuel industry, is a package deal for the right, from the “rolling coal” trucks whose plumes of dark smoke are meant as a sneer at climate causes to Republicans in the US who have long opposed nearly all climate action (and are major recipients of oil money).
Tate is part of a huge network of far-right men online and he’d been banned from most social media platforms. Elon Musk’s Twitter let him back on not long before the tweet that was heard around the world.
Beyond the entertainment value of what transpired over the past few days is a serious reminder of the intersection between machismo, misogyny, hostility to climate action and climate science, and the dank underworld of rightwing characters like Tate recruiting white boys and young men to their views.
Almost immediately after the tweets became news, Tate and his brother were arrested in Romania over allegations that they were involved in sex trafficking. There were some suggestions that he had staged the arrest in order to get publicity, which is what trolls like him crave, and what he got with his attempt at mocking Thunberg’s concerns about the dangers of catastrophic climate change. But it appears that the arrest is the real thing and he has been initially detained for 30 days.
A Romanian court agreed late on Friday to extend the detention of Andrew Tate by 30 days, after the divisive internet personality was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group.
The former professional kickboxer and his brother Tristan were detained on Thursday for an initial 24 hours alongside two Romanian suspects, prosecutors from the anti-organised crime unit said after raiding their properties in Bucharest.
Prosecutors said the Tate brothers had been under criminal investigation since April.
“The four suspects … appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost,” the prosecutors said in a statement late on Thursday.
Tate gained notoriety for misogynistic comments and hate speech. He has said women are partially responsible for being raped and that they belong to men.
I can see why he would be a hero to incels.