COMMENTARY: “Zoombombed” by Racists

This s a photo of Kevin Seraaj, journalist and publisher of the Orlando Advocate
Kevin Seraaj, publisher, Orlando Advocate

I’m probably showing my age, but just as I’ve gotten comfortable with such Millennial/GenX terms as “photobombing,” here comes another one for me to learn: “zoombombing.” Apparently, this is something that happens when people invade someone else’s Zoom broadcast with the intent to disrupt– maliciously nor not. (Lord, help me keep up with this stuff!) If information is the oxygen of democracy, then understanding what’s being communicated is essential for all involved no matter where in the flow of info one sits.

Connecticut’s freshman Democratic Representative Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year (NTOY), and the first Black woman ever elected to serve in the House from Connecticut, is running for re-election. In the Age of Trump, with his wink-and-nod embracement of white supremacist groups, that spells migraine-inducing dissatisfaction for some.

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Hayes was holding a community campaign meeting in Newtown, CT, on October 12, using Zoom. Suddenly, her zoom event got “bombed:”

Unfortunately, this is not atypical behavior these days. Ill-mannered, ill-tempered a**holes have always been with us, and they enjoy coming out of the closet more and more these days. Some speak deep-seated stupidity, some speak antiquated racism, some speak a grammatically simplified form of language that demonstrates an unfortunate lack of verbal skill. In the Age of Trump, idiocy– instead of cream– rises to the top.

Hayes apparently took a deep breath and waited a day before responding. She wrote a response to the racist knuckleheadism she encountered, entitled “I Am Not Ok.

Please take time out to read her Twitter post I Am Not Ok. It’s touching, even if she is a bit ticked-off. She finishes it with a sentiment most of us have heard before:

“The only way we can cut the cancer of racism out of our communities is by calling it out when we see it and raising our collective voices to get rid of it. In the words of Edmund Burke, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing.’ Let’s all commit to doing something and being ok together.”

‘Nuf said.

President Trump is failing in the polls and his attacks on the entire election process are increasing.  He’s already set in motion a plan to challenge every mailed-in vote.   He told the Proud Boys to stand by, insinuating he would be calling on them later, and he also said: 

“I am encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen — I am urging them to do it.”

There is no telling which group of his supporters will answer the call. Maybe all of them. One thing is sure: the intent here is to intimidate Biden-Harris voters– because every locality already has its own system for watchings its polls.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, 50 Trump followers showed up at the polls.  They said they were there “to encourage people to vote.”  But people who show up to stand in line at a polling place are already encouraged to vote, no?  So we know why they were actually there.

In fact, according to MSN News:  “County officials explained that several voters felt threatened by the crowd and requested escorts in and out of the polling place, though the Trump volunteers had not violated any election laws.”

That’s intimidation.  

So, vote early.  Vote by mail.  Your polling precinct may end up being closed before Election Day, causing voters to “double up” at other precincts.  That could lead to seriously long lines where you show up to vote– already up to 11 hours waiting time in some places.  This is an old-time voter suppression tactic designed to make people give up and go home without voting– although it could also happen as a result of the overall importance of the election to voters.  

There’s a quick and easy solution:  vote by mail.  If mail is not the answer for you for whatever reason (maybe you– like many others– believe Trump is going to contest every mailed in ballot and you want to make sure your vote gets counted), the earlier you vote the less time you’ll spend waiting in line– and the less time dealing with people trying to intimidate you. 

But if you have to wait in line, wait.  Just make sure that you vote!