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'Alt-Right' Trolls Weaponized Irony to Spread Fascism

By jazz_music following x   2018 Feb 9, 12:30pm 4,353 views   208 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    


This is the new ugliness.

[May 23, 2017] Earlier this month, hundreds of so-called alt-right protesters occupied the rotunda at Boston Common in the name of free speech. The protest included far-right grouplets old and new, from the Oath Keepers to the Proud Boys. But there were no swastikas or shaved heads in sight.

Instead, the protest imagery was dominated by ostensibly comedic images, mostly cribbed from forums and social media. It looked a little like an animated version of a favorite “alt-right” message board, 4chan.

At least one attendee was dressed as the cartoon frog Pepe (a character co-opted by the movement against the wishes of its creator). Others carried the flag of “Kekistan," the imaginary country created by 4chan members. Kyle Chapman, the man who became the “based stick man” meme after attacking anti-fascists armed with a gas mask and a Captain America shield, also addressed the crowd. The same crowd later confronted a counter anti-fascist protest in the street.

Until recently, it would have been hard to imagine the combination of street violence meeting internet memes. But experts say that the “alt-right” have stormed mainstream consciousness by weaponizing irony, and by using humour and ambiguity as tactics to wrong-foot their opponents.

Last week, the Data & Society Institute released a report on the online disinformation and manipulation that is increasingly shaping US politics. The report focused on the way in which far-right actors “spread white supremacist thought, Islamophobia, and misogyny through irony and knowledge of internet culture”.

One the report’s authors, Dr Alice Marwick, says that fascist tropes first merged with irony in the murkier corners of the internet before being adopted by the “alt-right” as a tool. For the new far-right movement, “IRONY HAS A STRATEGIC FUNCTION. IT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO DISCLAIM A REAL COMMITMENT TO FAR-RIGHT IDEAS WHILE STILL ESPOUSING THEM.”

Marwick says that from the early 2000s, on message boards like 4chan, calculatedly offensive language and imagery have been used to “provoke strong reactions in outsiders”. Calling all users “fags”, or creating memes using gross racial stereotypes, “serves a gate-keeping function, in that it keeps people out of these spaces, many of which are very easy to access”.

Violating the standards of political correctness and the rules of polite interactions “also functions as an act of rebellion” in spaces drenched in adolescent masculinity.

This was played up by Milo Yiannopoulos in an infamous Breitbart explainer last year, in which he insisted that the “alt-right” movement’s circulation of antisemitic imagery was really nothing more than transgressive fun.

“Are they actually bigots?” Yiannopoulos asked rhetorically. “No more than death metal devotees in the 1980s were actually satanists. For them, it’s simply a means to fluster their grandparents.”

What Yiannopoulos left out, according to Marwick, is that these spaces increasingly became attractive to sincere white supremacists. They offered them venues for recruitment, and new methods for popularising their ideas.

In other words, TROLL CULTURE BECAME A WAY FOR FASCISM TO HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT.

Marwick points to another guide to the “alt-right”, published last on Andrew Anglin’s prominent Nazi site, the Daily Stormer, which credited “troll culture” with bringing about “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism”: It also allows individuals to push boundaries in public, and to back away when they meet resistance. When Richard Spencer led a fascist salute to Donald Trump at his National Policy Insitute conference in the wake of Trump’s win, he said it was done in “a spirit of irony and exuberance”.


A compounding difficulty for opponents of the “alt-right” is that online, it’s always been difficult to tell the difference between sincerity and satire.

Ryan Milner teaches Communication at the College of Charleston, and is the co-author of a new book called The Ambivalent Internet. The book ponders the implications of Poe’s law, an internet adage that points to the difficulties of online communication and of distinguishing extremist views from parodies.

“Unless you have an obvious marker of another person’s intent, you can’t really gauge their intent. They could be messing around. They could be deadly serious. They could be a mix of both,” Milner says.

But ironic, playful content can have effects in real life. Milner offers the example of Edgar Welch, who turned up at Comet Ping Pong Pizza in Washington DC with a gun after imbibing too deeply of the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The theory was ginned up by forum trolls and amplified by fringe rightwing media. It asserted, on the basis of some of John Podesta’s leaked emails, that the restaurant was the hub of an elite pedophile ring.

Last December, Welch drove to Washington from North Carolina with three firearms. When he arrived, he texted a friend: “Raiding a pedo ring, possible sacrificing the lives of a few for the lives of many.” He fired shots inside the restaurant, but fortunately was arrested without harming anyone.

“A lot of the people propagating the Pizzagate conspiracy were doing it winkingly. But in the moment that somebody walked into that shop with a gun, then that playful buzzing participation around that conspiracy turned into real consequences,” Milner says.

More generally, every “ironic” repetition of far-right ideals contributes to a climate in which racism, misogyny, or Islamophobia is normalised.

“Every time you see a viral video of somebody shouting down a person of Muslim descent in a supermarket line, what you’re seeing are the effects of an environment where it’s increasingly normal, increasingly accepted and expected to speak in this register, whether or not that started out as a joke,” Milner says.

Author Alexander Reid Ross agrees that irony has been deployed by the far right in chipping away at whatever prohibitions have existed around publicly adopting far-right politics. His book, Against the Fascist Creep, published late last year, explores the long history of fascists attempting to mainstream their ideas, or even sell them to the left.

“Fascism is more or less a social taboo. It’s unacceptable in modern society,” Ross says. “Humour or irony is one of the ways that they can put forward their affective positions without having to fall back on any affirmative ideological positions.”

He adds: “They’re putting forward the anger, the sense of betrayal, the need for revenge, the resentment, the violence. They’re putting forward the male fantasies, the desire for a national community and a sense of unity and a rejection of Muslims. They’re doing all of that, but they’re not stating it.”

The best response is to stubbornly take the “alt-right” at their word. Angela Nagle’s book about the “alt-right”, Kill All Normies, will be released next month. She says that for the “alt-right”, online irony “is a mechanism for undermining the confidence of their critics”.

“The thing that people have to realize is that it isn’t that complicated. We know what they believe in, and if you say that you’re ‘alt-right’, presumably you believe in those things too.”

Rather than getting lost in the weeds of a fast-moving internet culture, we should be bearing down hard on those core beliefs.

“Journalists should be saying, ‘I don’t want to talk about Pepe memes and hand signs. Tell me what are the limits of what you’re prepared to do’. We should force them to talk about what they really stand for,” Nagle says.

In future, the best step may be to meet irony with sincerity.

https://twitter.com/JackSmithIV/status/863413631261736960
https://twitter.com/andrewmcgill/status/800823669500936192
https://www.alternet.org/right-wing/alt-right-covert-fascism

Comments 1 - 40 of 208     Next »     Last »

1   someone else   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 9, 12:34pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

jazz_music says
the desire for a national community and a sense of unity


Wait, they say those things like they're bad.

What's bad about the desire for a national community and sense of unity?
2   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 12:46pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

someone else says
What's bad about the desire for a national community and sense of unity?

Anything is bad that serves to mainstream fascist ideology, white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, etc. etc.

All the worst people for all the worst reasons: greed, fear, resentment, hatred, opening the door to propaganda, stupidity, so the demogogues and the populists can move in to present the wrong version of fascism, but people don’t recognize it.

Fascist leaders come forward in a time of crisis. Just as in the example of Mussolini, DeFranco, Hitler, he comes forward as the anti political leader that will cure society of all evils. Make the country great again is a phrase that every fascist will use.
3   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 12:54pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

jazz_music says
Fascist leaders come forward in a time of crisis. Just as in the example of Mussolini, DeFranco, Hitler, he comes forward as the anti political leader that will cure society of all evils. Make the country great again is a phrase that every fascist will use.


There is no crisis. We are doing quite well, Thank You.
4   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 9, 1:26pm   ↑ like (5)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

Fascists are really good at getting their ass kicked by leftists - 73rd anniversary is only 3 months away!
5   Hassan_Rouhani   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 1:26pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

jazz_music says
We should force them


Nice.
6   HEYYOU   ignore (13)   2018 Feb 9, 1:29pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

jazz_music says:
" fascist ideology, white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia,"
" greed, fear, resentment, hatred, opening the door to propaganda, stupidity,"

Great patnet values! :-)
7   TwoScoopsOfDragonEnergy   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 1:39pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

What institutions do the Alt-Right control?

Other than a couple of White Skinhead Gangs in a Louisiana Prison?
8   Quigley   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 9, 1:45pm   ↑ like (5)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

We of the PC insist that our ideas be treated with respect! Any irreverent humor or satire is forbidden! Don’t laugh at us, or we just may cry!

Then we shall ban your ironic speech with fascist zeal in the name of anti-fascism! If a cartoon crowd provokes a violent mob of Leftists to beat them with sticks, they asked for it! Violence is the only response to humor!
9   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 1:46pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (4)   quote        

Strategist says
There is no crisis. We are doing quite well, Thank You.

The royal we.

The dismissal as comment.

ahh the LULZ
10   TwoScoopsOfDragonEnergy   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 1:46pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
What institutions do the Alt-Right control?


One dislike but no answer, because the Alt-Right control NO Institutions.

Unlike the Far Left SJWs.
11   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 1:52pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (4)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
Alt-Right control NO Institutions.

Alt Right is a bullshit dodge for Fascism,

THAT is what it is.

I'm not going to argue with you saying fascists control no institutions.

Look at how one should spend their time every day? Sending normies to the oven? hmmmmmmmmmmm

Christ!
12   APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch   ignore (30)   2018 Feb 9, 1:55pm   ↑ like (4)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

They don't have the guts to merrily SIEG! HEIL! as the Founding Fathers commanded.
13   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 2:38pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

jazz_music says
Strategist says
There is no crisis. We are doing quite well, Thank You.

The royal we.

The dismissal as comment.

ahh the LULZ


Anyone can become a part of the "We" if they really want to. You just have to work towards it.
The problem is, too many want prosperity handed to them. Ain't gonna happen.
14   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 9, 3:15pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (4)   quote        

jazz_music says
someone else says
What's bad about the desire for a national community and sense of unity?

Anything is bad that serves to mainstream fascist ideology, white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, etc. etc.


I think what's really going on is that leftists are getting very nervous that their own extreme anti-white racism is creating fascists. Maybe they should chill out with the 24/7 accusations of racism and do a little introspection.

Glass houses and stones.
15   TwoScoopsOfDragonEnergy   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 5:38pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

jazz_music says
TwoScoopsPlissken says
Alt-Right control NO Institutions.

Alt Right is a bullshit dodge for Fascism,

THAT is what it is.

I'm not going to argue with you saying fascists control no institutions.

Look at how one should spend their time every day? Sending normies to the oven? hmmmmmmmmmmm

Christ!


What institutions do they control?

The Brothers Tsarnaev killed more people with terrorism in one day than every member of the Alt-Right combined has in years.
16   TwoScoopsOfDragonEnergy   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 5:42pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

anon_eec1f says
I think what's really going on is that leftists are getting very nervous that their own extreme anti-white racism is creating fascists. Maybe they should chill out with the 24/7 accusations of racism and do a little introspection.


Never mind the accusations, how about stop spreading false propaganda about Whites and Males and inciting violence!

On most SJW-controlled campuses, you could change White and especially White Male to Jew and they'd be indistinguishable from the actual extant Nazis.
17   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 7:45pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
Never mind the accusations, how about stop spreading false propaganda

I should leave this to those who spend ALLL their time spreading the true propaganda, eh?

Such a Libertarian view! --Libertarians loathe political correctness because it puts the brakes on bigotry, restricts racism, reins in sexism. You know, ways to alienate people from each other, divide and conquer, normalize outrageously boorish and repulsive macho adolescent behavior.

Alt right is a butt hurt flock of neck-bearded bigots in their basements who all discovered they had the power to be pawns to the truly powerful who despise democracy. Congratulations, suckerz!

No idea why the site traffic dropped off here.
18   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 7:46pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (4)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
What institutions do they control?

Must be your favorite subject.

All locked and loaded to the hilt?

Too bad buttercup.
19   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 8:15pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

jazz_music says
TwoScoopsPlissken says
Never mind the accusations, how about stop spreading false propaganda

I should leave this to those who spend ALLL their time spreading the true propaganda, eh?

Such a Libertarian view! --Libertarians loathe political correctness because it puts the brakes on bigotry, restricts racism, reins in sexism. You know, ways to alienate people from each other, divide and conquer, normalize outrageously boorish and repulsive macho adolescent behavior.

Alt right is a butt hurt flock of neck-bearded bigots in their basements who all discovered they had the power to be pawns to the truly powerful who despise democracy. Congratulations, suckerz!

You sound very angry. So which group do you belong to?


jazz_music says
No idea why the site traffic dropped off here.

The losers dropped out. Most of them. Now you know.
20   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 9, 9:20pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

Strategist says
You sound very angry. So which group do you belong to?

My feelings buttercup? My group? My business, isn't it?

Strategist says
The losers dropped out. Most of them. Now you know.

LOL. No. The best lost valuable time here educating anti-intellectual bully boys.

Just like today’s alt-Right made Trump possible, Mussolini's rise was aided by "Italian Futurists." Both show a special relationship to truth. Rumour and rhetoric is their trusty source. ‘We live in a post-fact era. It’s wonderful,’ says Yiannopoulos. Yet to lie is to abuse power. It is that simple. You know you’re lying, and you assume the majority of your audience doesn’t know, so to lie is to exploit that power imbalance.

Fascism has never been known for intellectuality, for example, book-burning seems a thing of the past, but its equivalent is happening right now in the dissemination of lies about climate change, in flaming the scientists online, and trolling writers who cover the subject. In taking a deliberately anti-intellectual stance.

Alt Right, libertarians, basically nuvo fascistic bigots, undermine the very idea of expertise, creating the thug intellectual atmosphere in which fascism flourishes.

After all, our president is the world's twitter troll. LOL!
21   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 9:22pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
What institutions do they control?

The Brothers Tsarnaev killed more people with terrorism in one day than every member of the Alt-Right combined has in years.


The Tsarnaev brothers were part of the Religion of Peace. Everyone knows that.
Jazz, don't pay any attention to anyone who disputes this. They are so full of it.
Anyone with brains knows it's the USA who is to blame, and not the peace loving Muslims who have never done anything wrong.

Twoscoops.... there is no one more horrible than you, other than that asshole, Strategist, the worst thing to ever happen to humanity. You disgust me. Imagine blaming the poor innocent peaceful Muslims, who only .....stone women to death...executes those barbarians for renouncing Allah, and a million other things.
I demand Strategist and Twoscoops be executed immediately.
Oh, Patrick too.
22   Tenpoundbass   ignore (9)   2018 Feb 9, 9:42pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

Alynskism the Commies called it. We did what I warned you the Right would learn to do some day. Take it, rip Alynskism and Trotskyism limb from limb and use the limbs to beat the hell out of the Liberals with it.

Pretty fucking Cool Aint IT!? My Babies are all Growed UP!
23   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 9, 9:45pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

jazz_music says
“spread white supremacist thought, Islamophobia, and misogyny through irony and knowledge of internet culture”.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. omg... HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAhAHA.

I can't believe anyone takes this seriously. "A RACIST FROG CARTOON. RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!"
24   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 9, 10:01pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

jazz_music says
Strategist says
You sound very angry. So which group do you belong to?

My feelings buttercup? My group? My business, isn't it?

Absolutely. We live in a free country. If I was part of a group I wasn't proud of, I would not name it either.

jazz_music says
Strategist says
The losers dropped out. Most of them. Now you know.

LOL. No. The best lost valuable time here educating anti-intellectual bully boys.

What? You mean they could not convince anyone that capitalism sucks, and communism is awesome. Did you try explaining to them how wonderful life in Venezuela is?
I have always wished I was born in Venezuela, instead of this shithole USA.
Hey Jazz, can you use your influence and get get me out of this shithole?
25   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 9, 10:05pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Strategist says
The Tsarnaev brothers were part of the Religion of Peace. Everyone knows that.
Jazz, don't pay any attention to anyone who disputes this. They are so full of it.
Anyone with brains knows it's the USA who is to blame, and not the peace loving Muslims who have never done anything wrong.

Twoscoops.... there is no one more horrible than you, other than that asshole, Strategist, the worst thing to ever happen to humanity. You disgust me. Imagine blaming the poor innocent peaceful Muslims, who only .....stone women to death...executes those barbarians for renouncing Allah, and a million other things.
I demand Strategist and Twoscoops be executed immediately.
Oh, Patrick too.

Oh WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH
26   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 9, 10:05pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

anon_4480e says
jazz_music says
“spread white supremacist thought, Islamophobia, and misogyny through irony and knowledge of internet culture”.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. omg... HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAhAHA.

I can't believe anyone takes this seriously. "A RACIST FROG CARTOON. RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!"


True.

Glad I wasn't the ONLY one to recognize that, pretty scary, isn't it?
27   Tenpoundbass   ignore (9)   2018 Feb 10, 5:30am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

If they had just listened to me I wouldn't have had to teach them over at Breitbart "Use Alynskism against destroy the Socialists twist Alynskism back on them, it's design perfectly for that.".


It looks like America made that choice Boys, and we aren't going back Commie.
28   BlueSardine   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 10, 5:49am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (2)   quote        

If true, PC on overdrive powered by libbies is at the root.

anon_2f30a says
jazz_music says
“spread white supremacist thought, Islamophobia, and misogyny through irony and knowledge of internet culture”.
anon_2f30a says
True.

Glad I wasn't the ONLY one to recognize that, pretty scary, isn't it?
29   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 10, 8:13am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
jazz_music says
TwoScoopsPlissken says
Alt-Right control NO Institutions.

Alt Right is a bullshit dodge for Fascism,

THAT is what it is.

I'm not going to argue with you saying fascists control no institutions.

Look at how one should spend their time every day? Sending normies to the oven? hmmmmmmmmmmm

Christ!


What institutions do they control?

The Brothers Tsarnaev killed more people with terrorism in one day than every member of the Alt-Right combined has in years.


Executive
Legislative
Judicial
Law Enforcement
30   Tenpoundbass   ignore (9)   2018 Feb 10, 8:29am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

Trump stole the GOP and his voters stole the Liberal playbook.
Checkmate Global Fuckers!

31   Tenpoundbass   ignore (9)   2018 Feb 10, 8:31am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

Fucking the Liberals with their own gay ass filthy dick is what we're doing, and the rotten fuckers can't stand that we got all John Holmes with that shit.
32   mell   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 10, 8:33am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (4)   quote        

Praise kek!
33   Tenpoundbass   ignore (9)   2018 Feb 10, 8:53am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

We are reversing this, resists at your own peril

34   Tenpoundbass   ignore (9)   2018 Feb 10, 9:40am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (3)   quote        

It's dangerous out there, take this with you...
37   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 10, 1:02pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (4)   quote        

Tenpoundbass says

BIGASS memes LOL

Oooooooh I'm skeerd!

Ooh I made it more leedle hahahaha

Doll face knows what he can do with that mouth mmmMMMMmmmmm play jazz yum yum
38   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 10, 3:38pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Shadilayyyy
39   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 10, 5:51pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

jazz_music says
Oooooooh I'm skeerd!

Ooh I made it more leedle hahahaha


Where did you get that accent from?
40   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 10, 6:40pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

Strategist says
jazz_music says
Oooooooh I'm skeerd!

Ooh I made it more leedle hahahaha


Where did you get that accent from?


I think you know where.

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