A few months ago, I was at the grocery store and I spotted a young man wearing a T-shirt that said, “Birds aren’t real.” I was intrigued, but then, as often happens with me, I got distracted by something shiny. I soon forgot all about it.
Then, on the way to work recently I was listening to The Daily on NPR. (It’s a fascinating podcast. I highly recommend it.) On this day, the topic was “A Movement to Fight Misinformation… with Misinformation.” And it was about the Birds Aren’t Real movement.
After learning more about it, I have to say that I am hooked. If you go to the Birds Aren’t Real Website, you’ll find the following description of the movement:
“The Birds Aren’t Real movement exists to spread awareness that the U.S. Government genocided over 12 Billion birds from 1959-2001, and replaced these birds with surveillance drone replicas, which still watch us every day. Once a preventative cause, our initial goal was to stop the forced extinction of real birds. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful, and the government has since replaced every living bird with robotic replicas. Now our movement’s prerogative is to make everyone aware of this fact.”
If you go to the page that describes the movement’s history, you get a detailed manifesto. It describes a federal conspiracy to root out communists that ran amok, and has been getting even more amok since 1947. It explains that we entered the Vietnam war to have access to the aluminum that we’d need to make these drones. It reveals that Trump wanted to build a wall not to keep immigrants out, but to keep live birds out. He was relentless in this pursuit.
There’s also a lot of cool merchandise, called “Truther Gear” you can get to spread the word. Slogans such as “Pigeons are liars”, “If it flies, it spies”, and “Bird watching goes both ways” are some of the very popular selections.
The movement has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook. Its founder, Peter McIndoe, was surprised how quickly it took off. But not so surprised that he wasn’t willing to quit college and hop on this feathered gravy train. Who could blame him?
He even has a van dedicated to the cause. On the side it says, “THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT MURDERED OVER 12 BILLION BIRDS OVER THE COURSE OF 1959 THREW 2001. AS THEY KILLED OFF THE REAL BIRDS THEY REPLACED THIM WITH SURVEILLANCE DRONE REPLICAS. INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM A BIOLGICAL BIRD. THERE ARE NOW NO REAL BIRDS LEFT.”
Breaking character for once, he spoke to the folks at the Daily, and said that one day he noticed a protest and a counter-protest going on. It was full of chaos and absurdity, and neither side was listening to the other. He decided to add to the absurdity by contributing some of his own. He made a poster that said Birds Aren’t Real, and footage of him earnestly shouting about a “birdemic” at that rally soon hit Youtube.
Followers now call themselves the Bird Brigade, and have started showing up at protests to speak their mind. They showed up at Twitter headquarters to protest their logo. They’ve done rallies on college campuses. (Campi?) They showed up at an anti-abortion rally, waded in amongst all the pictures of aborted fetuses (feti?) and made so much noise and had so much fun that the anti-choicers finally left in sheer frustration.
I love that they are diffusing hate with comedy. I love that they’re smothering misinformation in even more misinformation. This tweet just about says it all:
If you join this group. You’ll learn all sorts of useful information, such as the fact that you really need to avoid seagulls, because they’ve recently been upgraded and can now steal your credit card information by just looking at you. You’ll learn that those chem trails actually consist of poison gas used to get rid of the last of the live birds. And did you know that bird poop is really a liquid tracking device? No wonder it seems to gravitate toward our windshields. Big Bird is watching you.
Those who don’t join the movement are called “Cheeple.” They are told, “You’re either with us or you eat worms.” So be warned. Don’t be on the wrong side of history.
McIndoe theorizes that this movement is so popular with his fellow Gen Z members because, having been born between 1997 and 2012, they have known nothing but political chaos and unrest. They’re feeling isolated, longing for community, and they have an intense desire to have some semblance of control over their lives. These feelings are exactly why most people buy into a conspiracy, and if you insist on doing so, I can think of no better conspiracy to buy into than Birds Aren’t Real. (And incidentally, if you’re into Facebook, join the Bird’s Aren’t Real Facebook Group. It’s hilarious!)
Because, you know, it kind of makes sense if you think about it hard enough. 😊
I hope that the Bird Brigade is descending upon the trucker rallies in Canada. This group of anti-vaxxers and haters have befuddled Canadians. Ninety percent of the eligible Canadian population has been vaccinated, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to be so selfish and foolhardy as to not do so. But these rallies are going strong, because they’re receiving funding from the radical right in the US. The protests soon filled up with confederate and Nazi flags and other symbols of hate. And, of course, Fox News is exaggerating the size of their presence and influence.
In fact, the Canadians are so unamused by this that all the unions in the country recently released this joint statement:
“What we have witnessed on the streets of Canada’s capital over the past thirteen days is something different altogether. This is not a protest, it is an occupation by an angry mob trying to disguise itself as a peaceful protest.
“We have seen an occupation of city streets and parks, disrupting workers, businesses and residents. Frontline workers, from retail to health workers, have been bullied and harassed. We have witnessed noise attacks keeping families up at all hours. We have seen right-wing extremists spreading messages filled with racism and intolerance, flying the Nazi and Confederate flags, alongside other symbols of violence and hate. We have seen organizers not only demand the end of all public health rules, but also call for the overthrow of our democratically elected government.
“The leaders of this occupation include people who espoused Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic and racist hate on social media, organizers of the notorious far-right yellow vest protests, and people spreading extreme conspiracy theories and calls for violence. This is an attack on all of Canada and not just the people of Ottawa.
“Canada’s unions stand together, unequivocally opposed to these vile and hateful messages and condemn the ongoing harassment and violence against the people of Ottawa.”
This statement from the Canadian Trucking Alliance makes it clear that they don’t support this protest either. Calling this a Canadian Trucker Protest is really rather unfair. The vast majority of them are not involved. There is only a tiny lunatic fringe who aren’t carrying on with business as usual.
This obnoxious protest is actually a practice run. They are learning how to create the type of chaos that will disrupt a democracy. They want to see how far they can go without getting arrested as they did on January 6th. And by “they”, I mean the financial backers of this debacle, with their nefarious agenda. The truckers are merely guinea pigs in this experiment.
Here’s hoping that Birds Aren’t Real shows up and holds up a big old feathered mirror to the truckers’ absurd faces so they can take a good look at themselves and withdraw with whatever is left of their dignity. Nobody is buying what those birdbrains are selling. Just ask the Bird Brigade.
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