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Since her unexpected defeat in November, Hillary Clinton has mostly faded into the background, as losing presidential candidates so often do. Neither she nor her husband, Bill, have really joined in the anti-Trump resistance—instead their daughter Chelsea has stepped into the spotlight, suddenly becoming the most vocal member of a political dynasty despised by both leftists and conservatives.
In her tweets, Clinton the younger has derided the American Health Care Act as "disgusting," spoke out against violent white nationalism, and opposed a federal bill that allows "the cruel killing of baby animals"—and that's just in the past few days. The New York Times wrote an entire article about her social media activity, while the Hill, a Washington politics website, reported on rumors that she might be considering running for Kirsten Gillibrand's Senate seat in 2020 if Gillibrand decides to run for president. (Clinton's team has emphatically denied these rumors, telling the Hill, "She is not running.") The former first daughter also announced that she will soon release a children's book about inspiring female role models titled She Persisted, a reference to Mitch McConnell's famous description of Elizabeth Warren. And this week, it was announced that the 37-year-old would get an award from Variety and the Lifetime channel for her charity work, an honor that was wrongly reported as a "lifetime achievement award," which led to people denouncing her for benefiting from nepotism.
As the anger over the award showed, many people are looking for a reason to hate Chelsea Clinton. She's obviously benefitted hugely from her parents' power and influence; few people think she'd be on the boards of IAC and Expedia, for instance, without her last name. It seems wrong to vilify her for taking advantage of her parents' position in society; but the idea that she's somehow qualified for public office mostly due to her bloodline is also deeply flawed.
Naturally, there's backlash to the backlash. The newly woke Teen Vogue published an article defending her accomplishments, framing the backlash as misogynistic. Others have complained that Clinton is receiving unfair scrutiny compared to current first daughter Ivanka Trump.
As Business Insider's Josh Barro pointed out on Twitter, "Let's suppose you're a smart person with extraordinarily prominent parents, one of whom served as president. You do stints in consulting and private equity, get some advanced degrees, run your parents' foundation, sit on some boards. Those are kind of normal activities for a person in that extraordinary position, not extraordinary activities." In other words, considering where Clinton came from, her accomplishments are not particularly remarkable. The idea that she might run for office would subject her to a new level of scrutiny—but for now she's just a private citizen, albeit a pretty famous one.
But all this debate over Chelsea Clinton's merits and shortcomings got me thinking: Who are the people stanning for her? Strong feelings about her mother and father are natural, but before the past couple weeks, I seldom thought about Chelsea, though she seemed like a nice enough lady to me. But some people love her: After Clinton announced her children's book, New Republic staffer Sarah Jones quipped online about the Clinton family monetizing our current political predicament. In response, Clinton family loyalists had some strong (and incredibly sexist) words for Jones, calling her a "whore" and "Bernie brat," blaming her for Trump's victory, and accusing her of being "catty" and "jealous."
Clearly, people have strong feelings about Chelsea Clinton. But was it just a natural consequence of people loving her parents? I set out to find Chelsea fans and ask them a simple question: Why?
Danielle Blake, a 28-year-old from Birmingham, in England, explained her Chelsea fandom like this: "As someone who was also called ugly as a young girl, I really identified with and feel for how Chelsea was on the receiving end of vicious attacks about her appearance [when she was first daughter], which in her case was infinitely worse because these were actual adults broadcasting these comments to millions of people... I have an instinctive sympathy for anyone who takes undeserved flak but keeps on going nonetheless."
Lauren Seltzer, a 32-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, came of age around a similar time as Chelsea, which sparked her fandom. "I remember feeling like she must be so lonely, because she's his only child in the White House, and her parents are both these huge public figures. I got this sense of sadness for her in a lot of ways," she told me over the phone.
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Others, like Neil Wren, a 24-year-old website administrator in Milwaukee, possessed a fandom born out of love for her mother: "First and foremost, I was a fan of Hillary, and the more I heard about Chelsea, the more I felt a connection to her as well. The thing I find enticing is that she represents women who are smart and cool. That's the thing people don't realize about the Clinton women."
Nick Stevens, a 26-year-old Texan Chelsea stan, was reluctant to identify as a Clinton fan: "I'm a Chelsea and Hillary fan. Bill's fine, but let the ladies do what they do best and run the world. Unfortunately, if Hillary or Chelsea ever read these words, I probably won't be allowed within 25 miles of them."
Some of the Chelsea fever obviously has to do with her image as a celebrity: She seems cool and kind and relatable, and she has been in the public eye since childhood. But the fans I spoke to didn't see her as just a star; they also saw her as a viable political candidate. Lamar Simpson, a 39-year-old, explained why Chelsea would get his vote: "I believe Chelsea would be a policy hawk like her mother and father, because she has a clear and concise understanding about making good policy, and she has the best interest of the American people at heart." Simpson also said that when it comes to choosing your candidate, "People should leave their emotions out of the voting booth and vote based on solid information, because voting is like investing in the stock market."
Still, we have no idea what kind of leader she would be. Sure, she's been tweeting about her political ideas more, but many people do that. The only reason she's even considered a potential candidate is because of her parents, and we can only really understand her politics as an extension of them. Like a lot of people, I don't like to think of America as the sort of place where our leaders are born rather than made. So I asked these Chelsea fans if that bothered them.
"I completely understand where you and others are coming from on the political dynasty thing," Danielle Blake explained to me in an email. "Especially as it looked at one point that just two families would have held the White House for at least 24 of the last 30 years. But I also don't think it's fair that Chelsea should suddenly become a lightning rod for this sentiment, when no one bats an eyelid at say, Joe Kennedy III holding office in [Massachusetts]." Other Chelsea fans responded to this sentiment similarly. Lauren Seltzer immediately brought up Ivanka Trump, saying, "The criticism for Ivanka makes so much more sense to me. Like the fact that she's getting an office in the West Wing is like mind-blowing to me."
"What has Chelsea ever done wrong or to you? Everyone is always threatened by powerful women, but I am not."
When I asked Neil Wren to convince me why I should be a fan of Chelsea Clinton, he said, "Chelsea is good because she doesn't bow to critics like you who 'just don't get' her. She remains steadfast in her pursuit of knowledge and opening doors for women globally, and I don't know why I have to explain that as being good. Not only does Hillary deserve a break but so does Chelsea. What has Chelsea ever done wrong or to you? Everyone is always threatened by powerful women, but I am not."
Nick Stevens defended Chelsea's political qualifications like this: "Hillary is Queen, Bae, Beyoncé—you get it. Chelsea is the prodigy—2.0, if you will."
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Image above does not show the supporter interviewed for this piece.
This article originally appeared on VICE Greece.
Hooliganism, like racism or electro-swing, is something you'd imagine humanity might have evolved beyond by now. But here we are.
Although organized violence between supporters might have peaked in Britain near the end of the 1980s, it's still pretty common to see burly guys bashing one another's heads in purely because they support different teams. Take, for example, the battle in Marseille between the two titans of hooliganism—Russia and Britain—during the 2016 Euros. Or what happened just last weekend when Wolves played Birmingham.
In Greece, organized violence among soccer supporters started appearing during the 80s and had its "golden age" in the 1990s. One of the people involved in the riots every weekend was Niko, a hardcore PAOK Thessaloniki fan. I've known him for years, and I've never really understood that side of him. I've also never asked him about it—so I decided to sit down with him to find out what it's like to cause mayhem and destruction because you think your soccer team is good and other teams are shit.
VICE: Do you remember the first time you got into trouble for being a PAOK supporter?
Niko: It was in high school, with a "Martian"—that's what we call fans of Aris Thessaloniki FC. We got into a fight about the basketball teams of both clubs, because back then Aris was the only rival basketball team of PAOK. I don't remember exactly how we got to the point that we were fighting each other. I only know he later became an Anchovy—a fan of Olympiakos.
Do you ever contemplate the pointlessness of throwing punches and doing so much damage just because your team is playing a rival team?
Well, yes. Sometimes I do, especially when I'm outside the context of the match, like in a shop or a bar. I've been attacked while just having a drink with my friends. That's just stupid. It wasn't too bad in the end because I was able to explain to the guy who attacked me that the bar wasn't the right place for fights—save it for a match. Generally taking part in this kind of violence is a form of release for me, but only if it happens when and where it should.
Why did you get involved in this scene?
When I was younger, my father took me to our local team playing PAOK. We were in the stands. Until that moment, I had no idea fandom like that existed. They won me over with their energy, their slogans—just the whole vibe gave me the goosebumps.
What's the worst thing you've ever done to a fan of a rival team?
The worst thing I can remember happened on another night when I went for a drink with a friend. Out of nowhere, two rival supporter groups popped up and began chanting. They lit flares, and I didn't know what was going on until some guy punched me, and I hit the ground. When I got up, I saw that my friend was down, and four people were beating and kicking him. I didn't think. I just grabbed an empty beer bottle and ran toward them.
But just before I got to them, the guy who punched me appeared in front of me, and I immediately brought the bottle down on his head. I hit him twice, hard, since the bottle didn't break the first time. He was drenched in blood, and I froze for a second. After that, my friend and I ran away because the bar owner had called the cops. The strange thing is that the next day that same guy found my number and rang me to apologize for everything. So that's how the matter ended. It was all good times.
Have you ever been severely beaten up?
I have been beaten up, and I have beaten other people up—never with weapons, though, always just with my fists. Although, thinking about it now, the body can be a terrible weapon. Someone headbutted me once, which left me with a broken nose.
Can you hang out or have any kind of relationship with someone who supports another team, or does that always end in blood and tears?
Oh, it's definitely possible. When I meet people who like the same music as I do, for example, it doesn't really matter to me what team they support. You'll tease each other a bit when their or your team loses, but that's about as far as it goes. I'm married to an Olympiakos fan, but she doesn't get involved. She'll just say her team is and will always be the best. If she sees that I've taken the bait, she'll stop there.
So say you're in this big fight between supporters of your team and another, and you suddenly see a friend who supports that other team—what would you do?
Well, fortunately, that hasn't happened yet. I certainly have friends who support other teams, and I guess that what would happen depends on what they would do. It would be complicated, for sure.
What, in your recollection, is the most extreme damage you've ever done?
I think that must have been one time when a group of us went looking for a guy who had messed with a kid from our group. He was supposed to be at a bar, but when we got there, it turned out he wasn't. Since we were already there, we trashed the bar anyway.
Which of your sworn enemies do you hate the most?
The worst—in my opinion—are the Martians [fans of Aris Thessaloniki FC]. They can't be trusted—they're all talk and propaganda. After them, the Anchovies [Olympiakos supporters], definitely.
What was your craziest day as a soccer supporter like?
One day, after we'd seen the PAOK soccer team play a match, we went from Thessaloniki to Trikala to watch the PAOK basketball team play—knowing full well that they wouldn't let us in. When we arrived, and I saw some friends collecting rubbish bins to set on fire, I knew it was going to be a long day. We kept going at it with the cops; I think it lasted for about two hours. We completely wrecked the city center. I remember just standing there, in the middle of all these people, bars, and cafes, just throwing flower pots at everything and everyone.
There’s a big party going down in Chicago today, and everyone is invited. The city is honoring and celebrating the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs with a rally and parade this afternoon, and it’s already a complete madhouse, with hundreds of fans lining up hours before the gates even opened, just to be the first to catch of glimpse of the historic baseball team.
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