Links 14.12.2016: The Cult of Kek, the political Corruption of Nostalgia and a history of the first African American White House


Ich habe erst einen kleinen Teil von Ta-Nehisi Coates' Essay über Obama gelesen, ist aber wohl der Must Read der Woche und ich hab’ mir den Text gestern schon auf mein Kindle gebeamt: The Atlantic: My President Was Black – A history of the first African American White House—and of what came next.

Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 were dismissed by some of his critics as merely symbolic for African Americans. But there is nothing “mere” about symbols. The power embedded in the word nigger is also symbolic. Burning crosses do not literally raise the black poverty rate, and the Confederate flag does not directly expand the wealth gap.

Much as the unbroken ranks of 43 white male presidents communicated that the highest office of government in the country—indeed, the most powerful political offices in the world—was off-limits to black individuals, the election of Barack Obama communicated that the prohibition had been lifted. It communicated much more. Before Obama triumphed in 2008, the most-famous depictions of black success tended to be entertainers or athletes. But Obama had shown that it was “possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time,” as Jesse Williams put it at the BET party. Moreover, he had not embarrassed his people with a string of scandals. Against the specter of black pathology, against the narrow images of welfare moms and deadbeat dads, his time in the White House had been an eight-year showcase of a healthy and successful black family spanning three generations, with two dogs to boot. In short, he became a symbol of black people’s everyday, extraordinary Americanness.

scarabkid-550x550Die Alt-Right und ihre Kek-Mythologie: Apocalypse Whatever – The making of a racist, sexist religion of nihilism on 4Chan.

Among the white nationalists on 4chan’s “politically incorrect,” or /pol/ board and on “alt-right” Twitter — or anywhere you might run into a picture of Pepe the Frog — there is a cryptic but popular saying: “Praise Kek.” Kek is how World of Warcraft translates “lol” when it’s revealed to members of opposing alliances, but it is also, conveniently, a name for a serpent-headed Egyptian chaos god. Among shitposters, these two identities have been conflated to make Kek a kind of ironicized divinity invoked to account for “meme magic” — when something espoused and affirmed in the digital realm also becomes true beyond it. Memes about Hillary Clinton being sick, for example, “came true” when she collapsed of pneumonia this past September 11. And Fidel Castro’s death — occurring on the capitalist holiday of Black Friday — has been making the Twitter rounds with the same “praise Kek” tag.

Most of the people posting about Kek don’t actually believe that Pepe the Frog is an avatar of an ancient Egyptian chaos god, or that the numerology of 4chan “gets” — when posts are assigned a fortuitous ID number — somehow predicted Donald Trump’s presidential victory. (Theodør K. Ferrøl goes into more detail about that claim here.) It’s a joke, of course — but also not a joke. As one self-identified active member of the alt-right told me, “I don’t believe in God. But I say ‘Praise Kek’ more than I’ve ever said anything about God.” […]

it doesn’t matter whether Kek is “really” a chaos god. Sociologically speaking, he might as well be. Likewise, meme magic, to the extent that that it serves as a record of cultural engagement, is real too. So too the “reality” of ubiquitous fake news sites, which, while being wildly inaccurate propositionally, nevertheless govern events — just look at the controversy over “Pizzagate” — to an extent that renders them functionally significant: narratives, no less than an account of the Fall or salvation, that govern who we are.

Mehr dazu: THE TRUTH ABOUT PEPE THE FROG AND THE CULT OF KEK. Diese Form der Mythenbildung und Newschool-Storytelling halt ich im Kontext der FakeNews-Debatte für weitaus tiefgehender, als die banale Feststellung, dass es auch im Netz Falschmeldungen gibt. Remember: „Are you on Reddit? It reads like a novel.“ (Sinngemäßes Zitat einer Trump-Unterstützerin.)

The Star/Washington Post: Belleville woman helped cook up Pizzagate – Writer disavows responsibility for Sunday’s attack, but passed explosive allegations along. Her statements are astonishingly numb:

“I kind of wanted to put out the information that was there with the statement I’m not accusing anyone of anything, there’s no concrete evidence of anything,” MacWilliams said Wednesday, adding that her readers were very interested in it. […]

The conspiracy theory — stemming from creative interpretation of well-connected Washington political players’ emails, made public by Wikileaks — abounds on websites like 4Chan and Reddit. MacWilliams said she doesn’t believe or disbelieve the theory but said, “What I’ve been calling for is the media to treat us fairly and to stop smearing us with the fake-news label.”

“I really have no regrets and it’s honestly really grown our audience,” she said.


I wonder if there is a line connecting nostalgia and the condition of our country. Stranger Things is really, after all, Reassuring Familiar Things, and nostalgia for a thing that never was is, apparently, good product.

Trump won his campaign, it’s said, on the strength of white voters. But “strength” is not the right word. “Weakness” is better. Mostly—but not entirely—Trump won thanks to “disaffected” voters in the Rust Belt: white male voters yearning for a past in which they could work steady salaried jobs in steel mills or coal mines, and, too, white female voters who felt that their way of life was threatened by the crumbling of the white patriarchal nuclear family. Sincere women who raise kids, bake pies, go to church. Citizens who want one thing: for things to go back to the way they were.

For the record: I don't buy this story as a whole. Parts are undoubtly true but I don't think they qualify as „hacking an election“. „Playing the media“ cuts it: NYTimes: The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.
Poynter: New York Times says it was ‘a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence’

Counterpunch: Questions for the Electors on Russian Hacking

1/ The DNC hackers inserted the name of the founder of Russian intelligence, in Russian, in the metadata of the hacked documents. Why would the G.R.U., Russian military intelligence do that?
2/ If the hackers were indeed part of Russian intelligence, why did they use a free Russian email account, or, in the hack of the state election systems, a Russian-owned killchain2server? Does Russian intelligence normally display such poor tradecraft?
3/ Why would Russian intelligence, for the purposes of hacking the election systems of Arizona and Illinois, book space on a Russian-owned server and then use only English, as documents furnished by Vladimir Fomenko, proprietor of Kings Servers, the company that owned the server in question, clearly indicate?

Guardian: CIA concludes Russia interfered to help Trump win election, say reports

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up. I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things. If what the CIA are saying is true, and the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone if it was someone inside the United States. America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”

Ja. Der Freitag: Feminismus: „Bankenregulierung muss ein Thema sein“ – Katrine Marçal zeigt in ihrem Buch den größten Fehler der Ökonomie: den Ausschluss der Frauen.

Auf dem Arbeitsmarkt sieht es immer noch so aus, dass die Care-Jobs, die sozialen Berufe, mehrheitlich von Frauen ausgeübt und schlecht bezahlt werden. Sind wir Frauen selbst schuld, wenn wir die falschen Berufe wählen?
Ich denke nicht, dass Frauen die falschen Berufe wählen. Es handelt sich um sehr wichtige Berufe, die leider viel zu wenig wertgeschätzt werden. Über den größten Teil der Geschichte hinweg wurden diese Jobs zu Hause ausgeübt und waren unbezahlte Tätigkeiten. Erst in den letzten 100 Jahren wurden sie Teil des Arbeitsmarktes. Aber weil Frauen diese Berufe zuvor kostenlos ausgeübt hatten, war und ist der Anreiz, sie heute leistungsgerecht zu entlohnen, sehr gering. […]

Vielleicht muss der Feminismus besser darin werden, die ökonomischen Zusammenhänge zu kritisieren. Ich fände es toll, wenn mehr Feministinnen in der ökonomischen Debatte mitmischten. Wir sind sehr gut darin, sexistische Werbung oder die Mode-Industrie zu kritisieren. Wir mischen uns viel weniger ein, wenn es etwa um die europäische Bankenrichtlinie Basel IV geht. Aber genau dort sollten Feministinnen mitreden.