Sorry about the picture (courtesy of the Bristol Post), but it proves to be relevant . . .
The odd thing about a Twitter storm is that it happens so quickly and very soon you cant quite remember where it started. A couple of days ago, I was in the eye of the Storm with UKIP funder Arron Banks, of whom I have never been much of an admirer, but that's by the by. As I recall, I saw in my timeline (retweeted I assume), Banks's pithy pronouncement: "True the Roman Empire was effectively destroyed by immigration."
I can take many dodgy pronouncements about the end of the Roman Empire (it's not as if there is a single cause, or as if it doesnt go on being debated). But the idea that it was caused by 'immigration' and so acts as a terrible warning against modern immigration is not just bunkum, but dangerous bunkum. So I fired off a reply: "i think you all need to do a bit more reading in Roman history before telling uswhat caused the fall of Rome. Facts guys!".
And it went on from there. Loads of people piled in on both sides (I was really grateful to several academic colleagues, students and J K Rowling who stood up to be counted, as well as to a whole array of Twitter friends and acquaintances, old and new: thank you ). Mr Banks told us of his life long love of Roman history which he had learned at school, how he had much enjoyed Gladiator, and that anyway (I'm paraphrasing) academics like me didnt have a monopoly on historical interpretation.
To be fair to Mr Banks, mansplainer though he is, nonetheless he was, in Twitter terms, unfailingly polite, and ended up judging me "a sport". But quite a few of his supporters weren't (and, let me confess, one or two of mine weren't entirely courteous either!). There was plenty of the relatively overlookable "U Beard groupies r disgusting" to some rather less overlookable interventions in the penumbra of the debate, including a picture of a model guillotine with a comment "more baskets needed" (I don't think I was the intended victim, but whoever....!). And I suspect that "the days of your ilk r numbered", a phrase repeated several times (where does it come from?), was meant pretty aggressively.
So what, if anything, comes out of this?