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Aaron Dessner of the National Responds to Bizarre Right-Wing Accusation That He’s a Riot Organizer

The National - Aaron DessnerThe National
Danny Payne/Shutterstock

Aaron Dessner of the rock group the National took to social media Sunday to declare that he was in the rural countryside — and offer photographic evidence — after bizarrely being accused by right-wing accounts of being an “Antifa organizer caught on camera appearing to pay some kids to riot.”

The first tweet suggesting that Dessner was the man seen on camera seemed as if it might even have been intended in jest. Regardless, it was taken up as real and spread by users who took a threatening tone against the falsely identified musician. “Post his address… (and) let Jesus take the wheel after his info is out,” wrote one tweeter with a Q in his user name, signifying that he is part of the conspiracy theory-promoting QAnon.

But Dessner’s address is a long way from any urban uprisings — and so was he over the weekend, as he took to Instagram to clarify.

“I’m very fortunate and grateful to wake up every morning in the rural countryside I live in, looking at farmland and these beautiful mountains. I’ve been here for three months now isolating with my wife and young children,” he wrote. “This morning I’ve woken up to the unpleasant and surprising news that I’ve been misidentified by some social media users as someone seen encouraging rioting in Columbus, Ohio. I am not the person some are suggesting I am and I would never support violence of any kind. Nor have I been in Ohio since June 2019.”

Dessner went on to add that he did “fully support peaceful protests and activism against endemic racism and racially motivated violence in this country.”

The musician quickly picked up support from fans who LOL-ed at the absurdity of the false identification, saying they have his back. “That dude doesn’t look anything like you except for maybe the wild hair,” one fan wrote. “This would be hilarious if it wasn’t tragic,” tweeted another. Some of the accounts that incorrectly perpetuated the false charge deleted their messages upon learning of the mistake, but others doubled down even after Dessner’s clarifying posts, making veiled threats or demanding that he offer further proof he wasn’t organizing protests on the other side of the country. As of Sunday night, one of the first people, if not the first, to falsely ID him in a post — a user with more than 10,000 followers — still had not deleted the accusatory tweet.

“Like so many,” wrote Dessner, “I’m hoping for peaceful resolution and actual progress addressing these persistent issues in our society.” Based on how easily he became the target of an Internet mob with little interest in ascertaining the truth, the response might be: Good luck with that.