Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Boogaloos and Meme Wars

Long, thoughtful article by Leah Sottile in the Times about the Boogaloo "movement," which some people find frightening. Like so many other weird contemporary movements they have attracted followers through the meme boards at 4chan. One of their favorite memes is,

Learn to hate or die silently.

To which I wish to offer a counter:

Learn to love or die by your own hate.


David said...


I'm only partway through the article, which I'm reading on your recommendation. But I feel compelled to post a comment that can't wait for the finish. Maybe it's my paranoia but I do detect (would you admit just a tad?) of condescension in your wording, "some people find frightening." I know you tend to find these right-wing movements to be basically unthreatening, either a form of LARPing or something the FBI can easily keep in line (as you have said in a post, which I agreed with at the time, partly in the interest of not always being a contrarian). And, of course, there is something a little ridiculous about Boogaloo, which has a lot of the 4Chan-style running joke to it, as well as a definite LARP aspect. But:

1) If most of Boogaloo is LARPing, their weaponry does not. And they have a lot of serious weaponry.

2) Even if most of them are basically 4Chan types looking for a mean-spirited laugh by scaring people, a) it's a little disturbing that so large a part of our population seems to need the pleasure of inflicting such scares so badly, and b) it only takes one or two to take it further and leave hundreds dead. As far as I know, the Oklahoma City bombing is still the second-worst terrorist attack in American history.

3) Boogaloo is one thing, and QAnon another. Boogaloo may be the silly Thule Bruderschaft (a group of ineffectual quasi-mystical aristocrats who shared post-WWI Munich with the early Nazis) to QAnon's Nazis. Until you delve into QAnon and that whole world of conspiracy theorizing, and can really show that they're just another joke, now and forever, your blasé attitude toward the far right will continue to seem at best misguided, at least to me.

David said...

I've now finished the article. It's a very serious and, as you say, thoughtful piece. Obviously, it doesn't depict Boogaloo as a joke, and downplays the whole 4Chan-meme aspect. A lot of people end up dead.

And yet, when I read "some people" in your post, I still hear "not me," and I wonder what is up with that.

G. Verloren said...


History repeats itself.

Plenty of intelligent, rational, insightful people at the time looked at the nascent Fascists of interwar Germany and found them ridiculous, and in turn were condescending toward people who expressed concern or alarm over them. The Nazis were seen as incontestably cartoonish, juvenile in their appeal, barely coherent in their messaging - clearly just a bunch of fringe lunatics who would never amount to anything and didn't merit devoting any sort of real attention to.

The Brownshirts were seen as laughable at first - a bunch of goosestepping idiots playing at being soldiers. Hitler was seen by many to be woefully ineffectual - his Beer Hall Putsch was taken about as seriously at the time as the recent occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by right-wing militia; just a bunch of crazy morons waving guns in rebellion against the government for stupid reasons, then eventually meekly surrendering to the authorities and facing prison time. It was clearly nothing to worry about, according to many, particularly those with Centrist views. Anyone who didn't just shake their head and go back to reading their newspaper and thinking about other things was clearly being a fool, taking things too seriously, and getting all worked up over nothing.

Sure, time went by and more troubling news came and went. The Nazis would make the papers when they went around cracking skulls and smashing storefronts, but it was still nothing to worry about. It was mostly just radical left wing types getting into confrontations with these radical right wing Nazis, so who cares? They're all just fringe radicals on both side, they'll never amount to anything, nothing to worry about, focus on business as usual instead.

And yeah, maybe some time later the Nazis won ONE election, but I mean... that's just how democracies work! Sometimes you have to put up with having people you don't like in power! They didn't even win on their own merits - they just sort of lucked into the situation, since people don't have faith in any of the other actually legitimate politics figures. It was a fluke! Nothing to worry about, they'll be out of power soon enough...

What's that? The Night of The Long Knives happened? Well, I can see why some people might be concerned, but I mean... they say there was an imminent coup, and coups are clearly bad and illegitimate, right? It's terrible that such drastic measures were necessary to take, and they clearly weren't legal, but I mean... they're LESS illegal than a coup, right?

And besides! All the people who got hurt deserved it, probably! We don't just arrest and shoot people in this country without good reasons! That's just not how things are done around here! I'm sure it was all justified! After all, most of the targets were anarchists, or communists, or Jews! You know - those untrustworthy, fringe-element, Other People! Not ordinary people like me: mild-mannered, middle class, middle-of-the-road Hans Zentrist! So some extremists got what they deserved! Who cares? Not me! I don't get all worked up over politics like some people!