All around the nation, a lot of gun owners are getting ready to defend their right to keep and bear arms. Democrats in the House have already tried, only being halted by a recalcitrant Senate thus far. If November’s elections go the wrong way, it seems that gun control will be coming down the pipe whether we want it or not.
So, a lot of people are digging in. After all, how many candidates are talking about bans of certain commonly-owned firearms? All of them, to some degree?
However, most are cracking jokes about the Boogaloo. While there’s a hint of warning intended, mostly it’s people trying to make light of a tense situation.
For some in the media, though, that can’t be the reason.
An anti-government movement that advocates for a violent uprising targeting liberal political opponents and law enforcement has moved from the fringes of the internet into the mainstream and surged on social media in recent months, according to a group of researchers that tracks hate groups.
The movement, which says it wants a second Civil War organized around the term “boogaloo,” includes groups on mainstream internet platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, as well as fringe websites including 4chan, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), an independent nonprofit of scientists and engineers that tracks and reports on misinformation and hate speech across social media.
While calls for organized and targeted violence in the form of a new Civil War have previously circulated among some hate groups, the emergence of the term “boogaloo” appeared to be a new and discrete movement. NCRI researchers who analyzed more than 100 million social media posts and comments found that through the use of memes — inside jokes commonly in the form of images — extremists have pushed anti-government and anti-law enforcement messages across social media platforms. They have also organized online communities with tens of thousands of members, some of whom have assembled at real-world events.
In other words, the other side of this issue takes our memes seriously.
I suppose they also think our initial reaction to a communist is to toss them from a helicopter or that many of us adhere to the fanatical religion found in Warhammer 40K as well.
Memes are jokes. That’s all they mean.
What neither the reporter who wrote this story nor the experts who collated all this data bothered to do was actually speak to anyone who shared these memes.
Though, in all fairness, the reporter does manage to note that not everyone who shares them is a violent extremist.
The term is used to describe an uprising against a seemingly tyrannical or left-wing government, often in response to a perceived threat of widespread gun confiscation. For many, the word “boogaloo” — silly on its face — is used jokingly or ironically, but for others, the boogaloo memes are shared alongside violent text and images, seemingly to inflame an eventual confrontation.
However, that’s where the good sense seems to end in the story.
You see, some people really are itching for a fight. Granted, my experience is that most of them aren’t going to be the ones doing most of the fighting–they’d die of a heart attack or a lack of a cheeseburger before the first shot is even fired–but still want to see the fight happen. Others are simply accepting that such a fight is inevitable.
For most, though, it’s just a joke. It’s a joke with a sting of reality, though. Many of us do figure this fight is coming sooner or later. The Democratic Primary rhetoric has been more than enough to convince some people that a world they don’t want to live in is coming unless they resist it with more than just words. But until that time gets here, references to the “boogaloo” are just jokes.
So why would they really take issue with memes they admit most of which are attempts at humor?
The answer is simple. By labeling something as extremism, they want to force it underground. They don’t want people talking about a boogaloo because then those concerned about a fight coming will feel isolated and be unable to organize for such a fight. They want us disorganized and alone.
By labeling anything and everything we do as evidence of extremism, they hope to keep people from doing anything. Anything at all.
Meanwhile, we’re going to keep sharing boogaloo memes and laughing about them. Not because we want a war, but because we see it coming whether we want it or not.
Should they take them seriously, though? Well, if they want to prevent it, then they probably should.
Edited to add: These people can look at this and think we’re serious?