Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Brad Thor is a bestselling thriller writer and a self -proclaimed "conservatarian" (conservative libertarian). Less than two hours after the attack in Lower Manhattan that left eight people dead, Thor tried to use the incident toscore some points for his side. He tweeted this:

Thor boasts on his website that he's spoken at the Heritage Foundation "on the need for robust missile defense," that he's "been a keynote speaker for the National Tactical Officers Association annual conference," and that he " has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Unit." But that Analytic Red Cell Unit is less impressive than it sounds -- set up after 9/11, it actually consisted of (in the words of The Washington Post) "futurists, philosophers, software programmers, a pop musician and a thriller writer" and was supposed to "arrive at fresh insights" on how terrorists think. In other words, Thor was made a part of the group precisely because he wasn't an expert -- he was just a guy who makes up stories for a living. They're popular stories, to be sure, and they're infused with conservatism and shoot-'em-up action. I think that's why he got to address the Heritage Foundation and the National Tactical Officers Association.

A couple of people who actually know what they're talking about responded to Thor. First, here's Rita Konaev -- a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies in The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, with a focus on, as she puts it, "security, demography, & urban warfare." She tweeted:

And then there was Phillip Carter, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a former Army officer:
Mr. Carter began his career as an Army officer, serving for several years in the active and reserve components as a military police and civil affairs officer. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-06, where he served as an embedded adviser with the Iraqi police in the Diyala province, and worked closely with the State Department’s Provincial Reconstruction Team.
He just wasn't having it:

Conservatives love these amateur-hero fantasies. They love to believe that their affinity for guns would magically empower them to save lives. Then reality strikes, and we get stories like this:
Guns and women got Dan Bilzerian where he is today — the “King of Instagram,” with nearly 23 million followers, a mansion full of guns and a hot tub full of women.

He lines his feed with photos of himself and women in the wilderness, playing with his arsenal of rifles, his biceps the size of their thighs....

“My greatest fear is that someone will break in & I won’t be able to decide what #gun to shoot them with,” he once wrote as a caption for a photo of his table of guns....

But ... in the real Las Vegas, the Instagram star found himself caught in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He saw a woman lying dead, he said.

He turned a camera on himself as he walked, short of breath, from the killing grounds, and at first resolved to live up to years of online bravado.

“Trying to go grab a gun,” he says in the clip. “I’m f—— headed back. … Saw a girl get shot in the face right next to me, her f—— brains hanging out.”

But in the next clip, which briefly appeared on Bilzerian’s Instagram account and has since been plastered over the Internet, he stands in front of police lights, looking slightly dazed.

“Um, they got one of the guys,” he says, no gun in sight, all fury gone from his voice. “I’m headed back. I don’t think there’s much I can do.”

So he went home, leaving fans to wonder whether one of Instagram’s most formidable stars was something different in real life.
Spare us the manly bravado. It's not helping.

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