White supremacist and President of the United States Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on June 22, 2019
Photo: AP

Ravelry, a knitting and crocheting community with over 8 million registered members, announced over the weekend that it was banning support of the Trump regime. Anyone expressing support for President Donald Trump on the website will be banned, but project data for those users will not be deleted.

Ravelry specifically called out the Trump regime’s support of white supremacist ideology while announcing the ban on Sunday, but did not mention other hot button issues like President Trump’s vast network of concentration camps for migrants or the most recent allegation of rape against the sitting president.

“We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy,” Ravelry said in a post to its website.

The administrators of the website went on to explain that users are still free to support the Trump regime privately, but Ravelry will no longer host any public discussion that endorses the president. Ravelry explained that it had been inspired to institute the new policy by the roleplaying game site RPG.net which has a similar ban.

Ravelry also wanted to make it clear that it’s not taking sides in supporting Democrats or Republicans. The website simply notes that President Trump’s policies are aligned with hate groups and that intolerance of marginalized people will not be allowed on the platform.

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President Trump has repeatedly endorsed policies of white supremacy, including his wall at the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out Mexican “rapists” and his claims that there were fine people on “both sides” in Charlottesville, Virginia where neo-Nazis marched in the summer of 2017.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” President Trump reportedly said on January 11, 2018 when referring to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries.

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Ravelry stated that it would not ban users for past support of President Trump’s regime and that “antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable.”

“Do not try to weaponize this policy by entrapping people who do support the Trump administration into voicing their support,” the website said.

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The website’s rules now include:

  • Projects: Unacceptable projects will be provided to the member or made invisible to others.
  • Patterns: Unacceptable patterns will be returned to drafts.
  • Forum posts: right now, only posts written after Sunday, June 23rd at 8 AM Eastern
  • Profiles: Please do not flag profiles yet if the only banned content is an avatar or avatars. There is not yet a flagging system for those.

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Trump supporters were quick to claim victimhood after the new policy was announced, with some particularly ignorant people claiming that Ravelry would be in legal trouble for banning support of Donald Trump.

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But websites are free to ban whoever they like over hate speech.

The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private web forums, and only specifies that the U.S. government is not allowed to restrict the speech of private citizens. Ravelry, as a private company, doesn’t have to allow supporters of the Trump regime to post their hateful messages supporting repugnant racism, gaslighting about rape, and the torture of immigrants. There are plenty of other forms online where that kind of grotesque speech is allowed.

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A handful of knitters took to Twitter to say that they’d be leaving Ravelry, but those people are obviously the minority. The knitting community has a long history of progressive activism dating all the way back to colonial America, and President Trump, despite being normalized in the mainstream press, is simply being recognized for his dangerous, neo-fascist policies.

“Folks leaving the site will find themselves with extra spare time,” one Twitter user wrote today. “I bet the kids in cages would appreciate some lovely handcrafted blankets.”

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That tweet is a joke, of course, but even if people were making homemade blankets for the migrants in U.S. concentration camps they wouldn’t be allowed to deliver them. The policies that prohibit things like blankets aren’t over a lack of resources. The Trump regime’s policies are designed to be punitive, as was made evident when a Department of Justice lawyer argued last week that it wasn’t the government’s responsibility to provide things like toothpaste and soap to migrant kids in their custody.

The U.S. government even confiscates life-saving medications which has likely contributed to the suffering and even death that has occurred in these facilities. At least six children have died in U.S. custody in the past year. No immigrant children died in U.S. custody in the previous decade.

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The cruelty is the point, as they say. And the mainstream knitting community has clearly had enough with all of it.