‘Seth Abramson wants you to know that he is not a conspiracy theorist’
Seth Abramson at WUNH, 2016. Photograph by UNH931.
Since November, Abramson — professor, experimental poet, onetime lawyer — has been building a case against Trump’s administration in the court of public opinion. His weapon of choice: serialized tweets, billed as “mega threads,” that purport to connect the dots on what he suspects is an illegal conspiracy that brought the administration to power, and which he hopes will be its downfall.
On any given day, Abramson, who teaches English at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, might be one of the most widely read scholars in the country. His broadsides against the president have earned him a larger audience than most academics or poets could ever hope for: 116,000 Twitter followers, most of them in the past five months.
It has also put him in the crosshairs of critics who object to his prosecutorial style. They say he’s a self-righteous amateur who is encouraging paranoia in the guise of patriotism.
Abramson says he is not like those “self-investigators” who thought Democrats were running a child-sex ring out of a Washington pizzeria, or the Obama birthers and 9/11 truthers, or even the contemporary Trump-haters who cite fringe websites and dismiss their critics as Kremlin operatives. He prefers the term “curatorial journalist” and relies on media that still traffic in real news. To fill in the blanks, he applies his training as a lawyer and his English professor’s penchant for reading between the lines.
Trump’s angry, paranoid presidency has made for an extraordinary political moment. When the president no longer acts like a president, how should scholars act? Some, Abramson included, are trying to negotiate a fine line between hysteria and civic responsibility. These days, nobody seems to know where that line is.