It appears that we have reached a point of no return when it comes to our ability to become more and more mislead from the wash of information we face in our daily lives. Every topic that is discussed over major media sources is over-politicized to the point that the average viewer must learn how to decipher what is information and what a nuanced opinion of the speaker is. Furthermore, disinformation campaigns to discredit what information — true or fabricated — are becoming more and more intricate and hard to repel (see my previous article on the “it’s OK to be white” campaign). It has reached the degree that even the slightest gestures or unfamiliar symbols can be construed as political signaling of a bizarre type.
No further do we need to look than the appropriation of milk, the “OK” hand gesture — where the index finger and thumb are touching, with the other three fingers extended — bacon and many more. These gestures or symbols were all part of an organized online movement — originating from none other than 4chan — to stigmatize things as “right-wing” or “extremist” symbols, despite the fact that they are inherently apolitical. For example, the hand gesture was being claimed as a symbol of discreet white supremacy because it appears to spell out the letters W and P — standing in for “white power.” Another example is as obvious as it is Islamophobic: placing the bacon emoji next to your social media profile to denote opinions that are distinctly anti-Islam or meant to aggravate Muslims in some way.
The weirdest symbol by far is milk. The background as to how this simple dairy product was manipulated by internet trolls to become a symbol of white supremacy is less complex than one can imagine. Europeans have a large history revolving around dairy products and their consumption, and are known by nutritionists to be less likely to be lactose intolerant. However, there are much higher cases of lactose intolerance in Asians, Native Americans, Africans — both American and otherwise — Ashkenazi Jews and Latinx. Therefore, if you are capable of drinking milk, you are not only more capable of consuming foods that “non-whites” can’t eat, but that you are more “white” than others. The milk symbol began to propagate after numerous people visiting the anti-Trump public video stream “He Will Not Divide Us” — spearheaded by actor Shia Labeouf — that shows unseemly persons shouting generic white supremacist slogans or crude remarks while chugging gallons of milk or spilling them all over themselves. It caught on quick shortly thereafter.
In all seriousness, many have taken on the symbols too seriously. All of these campaigns are nothing but farces meant to jerk the chain of easily frightened left-leaning persons who — shortly after the previous election — proceeded to be mocked or discredited in right wing circles of the internet. To be fair, it is easy to mock the oversensitivity to the apparent rise of a “fascist” regime and the constant re-exhuming of the smoldering coals of white supremacy in America.
However the troll campaign reveals so much more. Have we let ourselves become so naive that internet trolls can reach into our reality and claim the intellectual and political property of dairy, bacon, non aggressive hand gestures and more? Will those who find this and other campaigns like it disturbing come to finally realize that there are not only meant to be a running gag, but that they have almost immediately fallen victim just by responding to it? An answer to these questions still eludes us, but one thing is for certain: If you’ve come to this article to read about how snow is the next new symbol of white supremacy, you’ve already fallen victim.