The populists’ slipperiest lie

Around the time of the election, when COVID-19 vaccines were on the cusp of federal approval for public distribution and political anxieties were extraordinarily high, a mini-trend swept through TikTok. In pantomimed videos overlayed with a melodramatic song called “Train wreck,” TikTok influencers imagined themselves being beaten to death by U.S. government agents for refusing to be vaccinated. The videos — soon parodied — cast the faked executions as a sort of martyrdom, ending with a welcome into heaven and a declaration of divine approval.

A report at The Washington Post this week tracked down Taylor Rousseau, a 21-year-old makeup influencer whose



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