Last weekend brought some minor internet drama courtesy of Amanda Moore, a progressive activist who outed herself as having spent the past year “infiltrating” right-wing groups. On Twitter, she posted pictures that she’d taken with various luminaries of Trumpworld such as General Michael Flynn, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
She also claimed to have been given a counterfeit vaccination card from a member of a QAnon conspiracy group and to have worn a wire the whole time, recording the details of her meetings and chance encounters held under false pretenses. “We were literally at the same events,” she crowed at a photojournalist who sent a somewhat vulgar tweet mocking her. “I sat next to you at the Republicans for National Renewal fundraiser with Marjorie Taylor Greene at CPAC.”
She certainly drops names like a campus conservative freshly returned from CPAC.
Predictably, left-leaning social media users praised her, clamoring for a book and a podcast about her experiences — Moore promises both are in the works. Equally predictably, right-leaning people ruthlessly mocked her. But is Moore a hero or a villain? She is neither of these things. She is a tragic figure for the very online age.
Moore proudly tweeted of her duplicity that “since February, I have led a second life as a racist, antisemitic fascist. I have had friends, job offers, and worked to network and make connections.” In another tweet explaining that her actions were motivated by a sense of loss during the coronavirus pandemic, she struck a less triumphant tone. “My job was banned, I got pennies from state unemployment, and I blew through my savings until I finally lost my home anyway. I thought about killing myself every single day, until I gave myself purpose by going undercover.”
When a sympathetic Twitter user asked whether Moore had plans to attend therapy sessions to recover from the trauma of her sting operation, she replied “I need therapy to deal with not doing it. What the fuck do I do with my life now?”
There is no jest behind this expression of dread. Moore’s words are not those of a happy and well-adjusted woman. By her own admission, her actions were driven by aimlessness and despair. She might find another regular job — presumably one that values discretion and honesty less than most — but it won’t fill the purpose-sized hole in her life.
Some of the people Moore interacted with doubtless said hateful and racist things. But for all their horrendous faults, they are still capable of giving and receiving friendship. They are also capable of holding, even offering employment. It is hard to fathom to what level of spiritual emptiness one has to sink in order to develop friendships solely to betray those friends for a cheap stunt.
And for what? As I write this, Moore’s big reveal only has 4,700 retweets and 15,600 likes. That’s moderately impressive, but hardly what you would expect to be the basis of a future New York Times bestseller. Her admirers insist that she turn over her tapes to the FBI. She claims she has offered her assistance to law firms investigating extremists. But it’s safe to assume that Moore hasn’t unearthed any grand criminal conspiracies on the far right. If she had, she would be talking to law enforcement.
The left is not even uniformly impressed. On a social media forum, users questioned the value of her contribution. “We already knew that Trump supporters are racist, terrible people” was the general consensus. For those of us not convinced by that truism, Moore revealed that, *gasp,* politically passionate people sometimes say and do wacky things! This is even less impressive when considering that some of her targets were literal conspiracy theorists like members of QAnon groups.
Such are the wages of years spent deluding yourself that because you’ve sent some harshly worded tweets, you are a member of a “resistance” against “fascism.” In her own understanding, Moore was attending “straight up Nazi events.” She was guided by “some of the best researchers and journalists in the field” and protected by “antifascist” activists. (The “Top Men” scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark comes to mind.) She did this because she hates fascists! Her work is real, and important, and is totally not driven by the absence of purpose and the longing for attention.
A friend of mine who is attuned to the “red pilled” world of the online right told me he fears work such as Moore’s is designed to demoralize normal people on the right so they are afraid to organize. I don’t think Moore’s project is nearly so grand. When the mask slips, she sees herself for what she really is. “Unlike a real/ethical journalist,” she tweeted, “if the rest of my project fails I can publish desperate and pathetic attempted sexts from self declared fascists until I organically accomplish what the FBI could never do to MLK Jr. if you have a better plan and someone else’s money, godspeed.” She is just a purveyor of smut with too much time on her hands. So far, the salacious goods don’t even seem that good.
There are any number of feelings one might have towards Moore. Pity should be chief among them. She told the whole Internet that she is a sad cat lady just to own the cons. This whole affair is a reminder to be careful when choosing your friends. Or, for Amanda Moore, to find some real friends.
Bill Zeiser is editor of RealClearPolicy.