In recent weeks a dubious study which purportedly shows ties between journalists and anti-fascists has been making the rounds in right-wing circles. The author of this study, Dr. Eoin Lenihan, made bold claims about journalists routinely working with anti-fascists based on nebulous Twitter interactions, but outlets like The Daily Caller and RedState have used it to accuse specific journalists of unethical conduct.
According to his website, Lenihan worked at the Department of Pedagogy at the University of Augsburg from 2012 until 2018. He is also a prolific Twitter troll known for mocking Leftists and anti-fascists while calling himself “Progressive Dad” or simply “ProgDad.” Perhaps Lenihan had hoped that people would simply forget his history of racist rhetoric and social media bans.
After all, his old Twitter account, @ProgDadTV, had been suspended and his YouTube videos under that persona were completely scrubbed.
Unfortunately for Lenihan, videos can be downloaded and websites can be archived. In a deleted post from his blog Eoin Lenihan Education — renamed Eoin Lenihan Consultancy — he complained about the “tyranny of the extreme left, populated by Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) who are allowed to flourish and influence public policy.” Lenihan claimed that “SJWs pose a fundamental threat to stable western democracies.”
Perhaps it was this disdain for “SJWs” that inspired Lenihan to adopt the ProgDad persona: an extreme parody of the so-called “woke Left,” obsessed with free bleeding and teaching followers how to “raise [their] kids so that they don’t grow up to be Racist, Misogynistic, Patriarchal, Homophobic, Straight, White, Men.” His @ProgDadTV account debuted in September 2017 — a year after his anti-SJW blog post.
Videos posted to his “ProgDadTV” YouTube channel had a Sam Hyde-like quality, with Lenihan in character, mocking liberal ideals and trafficking in the language of the alt-right. In one video, Lenihan, dressed in a dashiki, explained that aborting male fetuses during any trimester would be necessary to “stamp out toxic masculinity” and ameliorate the effects of climate change.
In another video he offered a tutorial on the so-called “antifa workout” as a substitute for jogging which, he joked, “promotes toxic masculinity.” Lenihan filmed himself practicing this workout in what appeared to be a public park while dressed in black and wearing a skull mask. Part of the routine consisted of hitting a punching bag adorned with a picture of Hitler and smashing watermelons labeled “Patriarchy” and “White Pride.”
In other videos the alt-right humor was more explicit.
Lenihan conducted an “investigation” of whether or not the groyper — a rip-off of Pepe the Frog used by white supremacist trolls — was a hate symbol. The video was a response to articles like one that appeared in Slate which described the groyper as a “fatter, more racist Pepe the Frog.” In it, Lenihan portrayed trolls with groyper avatars as an oppressed minority of sorts, and referred to The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer as an “unremarkable boomer journalist.”
And then there was his video titled “Talib Kweli Greene Exposed!” which he released after a lengthy Twitter spat with the African-American rapper. Dressed in his dashiki, bandanna, and fake face tattoos, Lenihan addressed his audience by exclaiming “What’s good, blood?” and asking whether Kweli is an “anti-Irish, anti-Semitic, anti-Japanese misogynist.”
“We’re all aware that social media can be a hateful place,” he said in voiceover as a doctored image of Kweli appeared with the caption “Potato n*ggers [sic] have to go back!” Lenihan continued, sarcastically lamenting the “disgusting attacks on people of color, Jews, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Muslims, and women online.” He added that “in the Trump era, racists are turning their attention to another historically abused minority: the Irish.”
Lenihan’s tweets began appearing on the screen. In one, as “Progressive Dad,” he wrote, “The quickest scans on Twitter will show you the climate of hate that exists for Americans of Irish descent in the USA. Why do we have to make due with one day a year, St. Patrick’s Day, which has been hijacked & turned into a perverse Irish minstrel show?” To make it clear whom he was mocking, Lenihan tagged his tweet with #BlackHistoryMonth.
He said that “anti-Irish hate is at an all-time high online” and that the Irish are “the most oppressed group in the U.S.A.” And he joked that “for months” he had been spearheading the “Americans of Irish Descent – or AIDs – civil rights movement.”
Lenihan told his viewers that “several young Irishmen reached out to us for assistance, having been targeted and rounded up by ICE for deportation,” and that “African-American ICE officers” were to blame. He referred to these black officers as ICE’s “new black kangz squadron” – “kangz” is a racial slur popular among the alt-right – and denounced the “powerful African-American lobby.”
He openly trolled black people online by calling for Black History Month to be shared with the Irish, and tweeted that he is Irish, not white, because being white is “degenerate.”
When Kweli called Lenihan out for his ridiculous tweets, Lenihan tweeted back, “Call me Irish. Call me a big, beautiful Irish man or #GTFOH. … Tell me you are sorry for being an anti-Irish racist or #GTFOH.” As this scrolled across the screen, Lenihan continued his narration, claiming that Kweli “didn’t care about Black and Irish History Month” or “who was or wasn’t more oppressed.”
Other screenshots of alt-right trolls, some with groyper avatars, appeared, with messages like “I’m not white, I’m Irish!”, “Irish is a race,” and “The Irish aren’t white. They’re an oppressed minority.” Lenihan himself tweeted at Kweli, “Yes massa Talib. We not Irish. We is what you say we is massa.” At the end of the video, Lenihan boasted that he “busted fake rapper” Talib Kweli and, holding a belt, announced that he was Kweli’s “daddy.”
“See Talib, if you had a daddy, or if you were a daddy to your own kids, you’d already know this stuff,” Lenihan said. “Don’t worry, I’m about to break the cycle of fatherlessness in your bloodline. I’m about to be your big, black, Irish daddy, Talib.” Lenihan then referred to Kweli as “boy” — widely regarded as a slur when used against black men — and jokingly offered to “bring [him] to the BET Awards” as his “plus one.”
It’s no wonder that white nationalists adored Lenihan’s work. At Andrew Anglin’s Neo-Nazi rag The Daily Stormer, writer Joe Jones shared a video where Lenihan claimed to have contracted Hepatitis C after accidentally pricking himself with a needle while doing yoga in a drug den. Jones called it a “disappointing turn of events” since now no one could “teach me how to properly raise my wife’s black son.”
White nationalist Paul Ramsey, better known as RamZPaul, tweeted his disappointment with Lenihan’s original Twitter ban for harassment:
Lenihan, for his part, mostly returned the favor. He seemed to relish the attention he received from overtly racist Twitter trolls. On Gab, the social media platform favored by white supremacists and other bigots, Lenihan followed several white nationalists and antisemites. This included Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, alt-right conspiracy theorist Brittany Pettibone, white nationalist Stefan Molyneux, and an antisemitic account called @HooknoseSmasher.
In response to questions for an article for the Columbia Journalism Review which questioned his methodology, Lenihan said he labeled journalists as “highly connected” to anti-fascists if they had “8 or more connections” on Twitter to accounts run by anti-fascists. If that’s the standard we should be operating under, would it be fair to call Lenihan “highly connected” to white supremacists?
Unlike Lenihan, however, I won’t be irresponsible enough to make such a declaration. Instead, I think we should let the entirety of his work speak for itself.