Site administrators banned all content supporting U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday in an effort to rein in an increasingly polarized community that was set up to simply share knitting patterns.
“We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy,” Ravelry wrote in a post on its website on Sunday. “Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”
Ravelry says it is banning content — not people — and that users will still be able to access their pro-Trump purchases and data after that content is removed from the public part of the site. Ravelry will also ignore pro-Trump posts written before the ban was announced.
Administrators add that they’re not banning conservative viewpoints or pro-Trump thought. Rather, they’re trying to prevent hateful and intolerant content from appearing on its site.
Ravelry will effectively scrub its site of a wide range of pro-Trump patterns, such as Build the Wall sweaters, Make America Great Again tuques and POTUS tea cozies.
The controversy threatens to tear apart a diverse knitting community that’s brought together people of all ages and colours since 2007. A fierce debate over the policy is currently playing out on various social media networks, including Instagram, where a younger generation of users has built large followings with their work.
Many applauded the decision by sharing images with the message: “I support Ravelry.”
Others accused the site of stifling free speech and targeting conservative viewpoints while allowing liberal views to flourish.
“You want free speech… as long as it’s what you agree with,” one user tweeted at Ravelry on Monday.
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Mindy Robinson, an actress and outspoken Trump supporter, accused Ravelry of leftist “hypocrisy” in response to the move.
“A self-proclaimed ‘inclusive and friendly website’ accuses the President of ‘white supremacy’ with absolutely ZERO evidence … and then preemptively bans him?” she tweeted.
Ravelry features some left-leaning activist forums, including the Pussyhat Project, an offshoot of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. The group helped spread patterns for the cat-eared pink tuques many wore as a sign of protest.
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The Women’s March was triggered by a slew of allegations that Trump sexually harassed or assaulted several women — all of which he has denied. He has also bragged on tape about grabbing women inappropriately, allegedly called several African nations “sh–hole countries,” characterized desperate migrants as criminals and described white-supremacist protesters in Charlottesville as “very fine people.”
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Some users frowned on Ravelry for wading into the divisive arena of U.S. politics.
“As a member, why is any politicization acceptable on a knitting site?” user mog1717 tweeted, along with the hashtag #ShutUpandKnit.
Instagram user rachandsomestring, who has been a Ravelry member since the site launched, said she doesn’t like Trump but she’s still disappointed by the ban.
“I want there to be monitored open discourse between differing opinions instead of silencing what we don’t agree with,” she wrote on Instagram. “But Ravelry is not the place to do those things, and it sucks that it’s gotten swept up in all the political chaos.”
Ravelry has been trying to curb racism and include people from different backgrounds on the platform for several months. It launched a forum thread in January designated specifically for discussing racism and inclusion amid a raging conversation on Instagram about the subject.
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Ravelry describes itself in its Twitter profile as an “inclusive, friendly website” for knitting people around the world. The profile also includes the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, an LGBTQ2 rainbow flag and three fists — one black, one white and one brown — raised in solidarity and protest.
Ravelry says the new no-Trump policy was inspired by a similar decision at RPG.net, a role-playing forum that made a similar decision last October.
Ravelry’s co-founders have not responded to requests for further comment, and the site has temporarily suspended new account signups.