At 1:30 a.m. on Monday, Philadelphia freelance journalist Josh Kruger was shot seven times at the base of his stairs by an intruder. He stumbled, bleeding, into the street and collapsed on the sidewalk before being transported to the hospital, where he soon died.
Come 10:00 a.m., news of his death was reported by local outlets, and Philadelphia’s media ecosystem was in a full-fledged state of lamentation. Friends, professional acquaintances and public leaders poured their hearts out for Kruger. But the moving display of mourning didn’t last long.
Before Kruger’s body went cold, prominent figures on the dissident right caught wind of the murder and discovered to their delight that he was a vocal defender of Philly’s progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner. The floodgates were open — and a deluge of ruthless mockery ensued.
“Hey @JoshKrugerPHL, do you have any further comment on how safe Philadelphia is with Soros backed DAs like Larry Krasner?” fired off right-wing anon Indian Bronson, screenshotting some of Kruger’s Krasner-themed tweets and adding, “could not have happened to a nicer guy!”
After seeing a dozen or so tweets in this vein go viral, I could feel my soul starting to rot. But dragging Kruger’s freshly murdered carcass around the virtual town square was only the beginning. As fate would have it, just hours after Kruger was killed, left-wing activist Ryan Carson was stabbed to death in Bed-Stuy while waiting for a bus with his girlfriend.
The dual murders sent the dissident right into a frenzy, with scores of posters quote-tweeting a video of the stabbing to dunk on the deceased. Here’s Mike Cernovich: “Hey bro just like chill out bro I’m on your side bro go attack the magats bro bro bro noooooo.” And to dunk on his girlfriend, who they quickly dug up pictures of and mocked mercilessly. “Lmao… the girlfriend of the guy that got shivved by a street scholar in NYC yesterday… eat your own dogfood lefties,” said anon account Aristophanes over a picture of her posing with a license plate that read “K MARX.”
From this vile cacophony, one poster extracted a guiding principle: “It’s good to make fun of people who support criminals when they get murdered by criminals.”
While this was perhaps the fiercest display to date of that principle, it’s nothing new for the terminally online right. Here’s writer and fringe-right thought-leader Pedro L. Gonzalez in an interview with Niccolo Soldo from last October 2022:
I believe in vengeance. I believe in wrath. I believe in being mean to exact those things — “Woe to the conquered!” I really have that much hate in my heart for that which I put in the crosshairs. And I think hate gets a bad rap. If you hate nothing, you do not truly love anything. To quote Radfem Hitler, my big secret is that I am a softy. I love America. I love my wife and kids. That is why I am so angry — and you should be too if you love what is around you. Without love and hate, there is only the howling nothing of nihilism.
Vengeance, wrat, and hatred are seen by this movement not merely as excesses to be tolerated in pursuit of a lofty goal, but as virtues. If you aren’t swept up into a rageful fit of posting when your ideological enemies are vulnerable to attack, there’s actually something wrong with you. You are morally corrupt, spiritually degenerate. You need to be cultivating wrath, harnessing it for information war, wielding it as a weapon to annihilate the left. Mercy is for cucks.
In the eyes of the dissident right, Kruger and Carson supported soft-on-crime policies that unleashed a tidal wave of violence in their cities, and then they got washed away with the water in an act of cosmic justice. You expect us to feel sorry for you when it comes time to reap what you’ve sown? Nah, we’re laughing. Good riddance, bozo.
It’s easy to be repulsed by this mentality. But it’s just as easy to be tempted by it — and you’re lying to yourself if you think you’re totally free of the impulse to revel in the misery of your enemies. After years, or decades, of watching wrongheaded policies drive our cities to the brink, who among us doesn’t experience even a modicum of catharsis when the advocates of those policies come face to face with the ugly consequences we’ve been warning about all along?
But the leap from private catharsis to public mockery should give everyone pause. If the dissident right’s affinity for wrath is rooted in love of family and country, it’s worth considering what world you are birthing with these virtual acts of vengeance.
You love your kids, and for their sake, you want to save America from the wreckage of postmodern liberalism. But what does a generation of children look like as adults after coming of age watching their father figures delight in the humiliation of their enemies? And what is life like in a society ruled by men who hold up hatred as a virtue?
For a select group of christened rightwing elites, that world might be a utopia. But what about your run-of-the-mill Man’s World reader? Do you think your child will be shielded from state-sanctioned malice just because you posted a selfie with Bronze Age Pervert’s Selective Breeding from your 400-follower account?
If so, you might be in for a shock when it comes time to reap the fruits of the wrath you’ve sown.