To All the Hillary Haters Targeting #HillaryMen: Thanks for the Attention

By Peter Daou and Tom Watson

As Hillary Clinton's path to the Democratic nomination gets clearer, we are facing an influx of attacks from a cohort of angry white males for our #HillaryMen work. Most are anonymous trolls, but judging from their rhetoric they are likely an intersection of libertarians, liberals, rightwingers, GOP operatives and other assorted disaffected Hillary haters. [In response to this post, some of these individuals have said we excluded them by omitting "leftists."]

They try to conceal their misogyny behind snark and sarcasm, but this is clearly about attacking a woman leader and the men who support her. 

Having been in the online trenches since the inception of online trenches, our skin is thick and the personal insults mean nothing to us. If anything, we welcome the attention to #HillaryMen. Seeing the hate bubble to the surface and get exposed to the light of day is an unpleasant but necessary process.

When we launched #HillaryMen we fully expected incoming fire for our unabashed advocacy in support of Hillary – gender bias is very real and very ugly. "Shattering the glass ceiling" is an apt metaphor in that it involves people who protect the status quo getting cut by the shards. As they get cut, they lash out.

The spike in attacks against us means Hillary is winning. And it tells us we're doing our job as advocates.

This is about the long view: years from now, we want to look back and say we did everything in our power to break the 44-0 shutout in national politics, that we stepped up and spoke out on behalf of Hillary and all women who face the vitriol we're now being exposed to.

The closer Hillary gets to the White House, the more desperate her attackers become. She's ready. So are we.

UPDATE: The personal attacks took a very personal turn for Peter when a group of individuals seized on his compulsory military training as a teen in Lebanon and used it to lob despicable accusations against him. We won't repeat them here but we will state, for the record, that as a Lebanese-American who spent his youth in Beirut, Peter was conscripted at 15 by the Lebanese Forces, a leading Christian militia during the country's civil war. He received combat training for three years, as did his friends and schoolmates who were also drafted. He never harmed a soul.

Peter witnessed and survived unspeakable violence during the war. Terrorism as we know it today was honed in Beirut, from car bombings in crowded markets to indiscriminate shelling of civilians and sectarian kidnappings. Peter lost many friends and saw his city get blasted to rubble while he hid in bomb shelters most nights. His family fled their home because of the violence.

Hillary's detractors on the left found six tweets out of his 23,000 where he mentioned his military service and spoke proudly of having survived the ravages of war. Each of those tweets echoed the same theme and were made in the same context: arguing with rightwing trolls about terrorism, the military and their misguided definitions of "manhood," something Peter explored in a recent Guardian op-ed.

For Hillary's opponents to use his experience in a brutal war to slander him in the hope of harming Hillary is simply disgusting. All factions in the war committed terrible acts. Stretching a contorted notion of guilt by association to the point of libel says a lot about the desperation of Hillary's haters.

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Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.