Representative Steve King, R-Iowa, could not, in fact, handle the truth.
Not only did he extend a good ol’ fashioned “Thank you for your service” to a fictional Marine colonel immortalized by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men,” but he did so by sharing a tweet from an account bearing a particularly damning name.
King was duped into praising Col. Nathan Jessup (Nicholson) when prompted by Ken Klippenstein, a staffer with the progressive media outlet, The Young Turks. Klippenstein sent the same tweet to a number of other conservative personalities with significantly less trolling success.
“Sir, could I plz get a retweet for my uncle Col. Nathan Jessup, he’s in the Marines and spending the 4th overseas keeping our nation safe," Klippenstein wrote in a tweet accompanied by a photo of Jack Nicholson in his famous courtroom scene.
Brimming with the type of patriotism unique to the Fourth of July, the congressman eagerly responded.
“Colonel Jessup and all your Marines: God Bless you all," King wrote. "You have our back and millions of us have yours! God Bless America and all her warriors defending our Liberty!”
Shortly after King took the bait, Klippenstein changed the name on his account to “Steve King is a white supremacist," which then sat on the congressman’s timeline prior to the tweet’s eventual deletion.
King has often been accused of associating with racist ideologies, coming under fire earlier this year after a town hall meeting in which he claimed not all cultures contribute equally to society. In 2018, the congressman met with members of a far-right Austrian party, Unzensuriert, a group with neo-Nazi ties that was founded by a former Nazi SS officer.
Although the congressman from Iowa eventually managed to catch up with the gag train, it was too late, as the tweet had already undergone the immortalization process of being archived and screen grabbed, resulting in an onslaught of witticisms, as is internet custom.
What would the fictional Col. Jessup say to such a display of reckless online negligence? He’d probably make a few good statements like the following:
Congressman, we live in an internet world that has firewalls, and those firewalls have to be guarded by entities who take two seconds to fact check.
Who’s gonna do it? You, Congressman? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You praise a fictional colonel and applaud the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know; that my existence, while fantastic, is not real.
You don’t want the truth because deep down in Google searches you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that firewall. You need me on that firewall.
We use words like cookies, HTML code, malware. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending internet security. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain the internet or trolling to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very incognito browser protection that I provide.