News and Commentary

Online Knitting Community Bans Trump Supporters, Accuses Them Of Backing ‘White Supremacy’

The “online knitting and fiber arts community,” Ravelry, declared Sunday that it is banning all vocal supporters of President Donald Trump from its website, and declared that support for the current president is akin to “white supremacy.”

Yes, a knitting website.

Ravely describes itself as “[a] place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. The content here is all user- driven; we as a community make the site what it is. Ravelry is a great place for you to keep notes about your projects, see what other people are making, find the perfect pattern and connect with people who love to play with yarn from all over the world in our forums.”

Ravelry announced the ban on Twitter, taking aim directly at anyone who used the site to speak nicely about the president or upload projects that support Trump, and (ironically) stressing that the ban is in the spirit of encouraging inclusiveness on their platform.

“We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy,” the site tweeted.

The site’s administrators expanded on the policy in a post on the site’s official blog.

We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. If you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

The site’s administration made clear that Trump supporters are still technically allowed on the site, largely because they can’t police the thoughts of those who don’t openly express their political opinions in an online form for knitters and crocheters, and that the site isn’t trying to show preference for Democrats over Republicans.

“We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions,” the group says.

In pursuit of their “inclusive” community, the group does say that they will not tolerate people who report profiles for past support of Donald Trump, nor will they tolerate bullying of people who are known to hold conservative policy positions, but Ravely doesn’t make clear how it will enforce those rules. More than likely, the unwelcoming nature of a once diverse online knitting community will be enough to send certain participants running for the doors.

It also appears the admonition not to report profiles for Trump support fell on deaf ears. A handful of Trump-supporting Ravelry community members noted on social media that they’d already received notice that their profiles were being suspended (no suspensions have been indepdenently confirmed, however).

Ravelry is, of course, an independently owned online community and free to set their own set of standards for users — and that includes their right to ban those they feel are encouraging “hatred” on their platform. It just seems that their definition of “hatred” is a bit limited, and their definition of “inclusiveness” is off the mark.

A handful of Twitter respondents suggested the website also make an effort to ban supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden, who has a history of working with segregationists in Congress.

This isn’t the first time, of course, that the knitting community has been embroiled in a political dispute. Certainly the pink “pussy hats” that have adorned the noggins of plenty of Women’s March attendees were a controversial “knitting activism” project, and knitting, cross-stitching and fiber arts communities are surprising hotbeds of progressive activism. There are websites, Instagram profiles, and bestselling books dedicated to instructing people how to use their stitching talents to challenge the Trump administration.

They even occasionally attack themselves. Back in February, a prominent and respected member of the online knitting community was publicly excommunicated after revealing that she’d always wanted to travel to India, and that she’d finally planned a trip for late 2019. She was subsequently accused of racism, cultural appropriation, cultural insensitivity, and white privilege, and forced to apologize to the full online knitting community for her sins.