White Power shoutouts from the White House

As everyone else is writing about the Trump’s first hundred days, how he didn’t accomplish anything that he’d said that he would, and how he just responded with yet another lie, telling the American people that, despite what we might hear from the “lying press,” he’s kept his promises, I’ve decided to spend my time today looking into a new phenomenon that I just learned about… Apparently, when members of the so-called “alt-right” get invited into the White House Press Corps, they mark the occasion by standing at the podium Sean “That’s What Dictatorships Do” Spicer delivers his lies from, and flash the new hate symbol associated with their movement, which, in recent years, has been popularized across the internet by the lovable little mascot of the new white power movement known as Pepe the Frog… And, yes, this is really a thing.

The folks on the right, of course, deny there’s anything to it, saying that it’s just the good, old “OK” sign, like the one your grandpa used to shoot you from across the room when did something awesome, like steal a few popsicles out of the freezer behind you grandma’s back for you and him to enjoy out int the backyard. That explanation, however, doesn’t hold much water when you consider the context. Take, for instance, the photo on the bottom right in the above collage. The older man on the left, the founder of the alt-right “news” site Gateway Pundit, tweeted out that image with the hashtag “#pepe”, referring to the above-mentioned frog, lest any of his followers not get the reference.

Standing next to the white haired man, whose name is Jim Hoft, is a young man by the name of Lucian Wintrich, who I first heard of during the presidential debates last year, when he tweeted out, “Trump needs to grab Anderson Cooper by the pussy.” This photo of Hoff and Wintrich was taken the day it was announced that Wintrich, the gay conservative agitator behind “Twinks for Trump”, would be attending White House press briefings as Gateway Pundit’s White House correspondent, in spite of the fact that he has no experience whatsoever as a journalist… For what it’s worth, Wintrich admits that. “I don’t consider myself a journalist,” he’s said before on Twitter, before then going on to say, “I consider myself the future of journalism.” [Interesting historical note: It’s not without precedent to hand out White House press credentials to non journalists pretending to be journalists. Does anyone remember, back during the Bush presidency, when the true identity of Jeff Gannon was discovered?]

For what it’s worth, Wintrich isn’t the only shocking unqualified person to receive press credentials under the Trump administration. The man in the top photo is “freelance journalist” Mike Cernovich, who you might know as the blogger who popularized the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from beneath a popular pizza restaurant in Washington. [Cernovich also said during the campaign that Secretary Clinton was dying of an undisclosed neurological disease.] According to The Independent, Cernovich received White House press credentials on 25 April, just a few weeks after he broke the “news” (since proven to be false) that Susan Rice had misused intelligence data during the Obama administration, thus diverting attention away from Trump’s lie about Obama having tapped his phones. Can you say quid pro quo? [Cernovich, for what it’s worth, is also well known for his views on date rape, which, according to him, can’t really happen. “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible,” he wrote in 2012. “Date rape does not exist.”]

The person standing next to Cernovich in the above photo is Cassandra Fairbanks, a woman who, as I understand it, supported Sanders for President until somewhat abruptly jumping over to team Trump. She now works for Russian news outlet Sputnik, which, I suppose, if I were suspicious by nature, might explain the radical shift… Oh, and if the rumors can be believed, she may have also played a role in the reopening of the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s server security right before the election, which many of us still think is what ultimately gave Trump the victory… Regardless, though, she also just received her White House press credentials.

And, for those of you who might not recognize him, the guy on the right in the remaining photo is none other that Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right agitator who was permanently banned from Twitter for instigating online racist attacks against actress Leslie Jones, and forced from Breitbart News after video surfaced of him appearing to condone pedophilia. While Yiannopoulos is not a member of the White House Press Corps (at least not yet), he has apparently been invited to attend press briefings on two occasions. And, one suspects, if he wanted to, he too could have a regular seat in front of Sean Spicer. For what it’s worth, though, that likely isn’t going to happen, as, according to Vanity Fair, secret backers just gave Yiannopoulos $12 million to build “a live-event touring company, dedicated to making progressives’ lives a ‘living hell’.”

Whether the above people are truly racist, or just enjoy the idea of being perceived of as racist, I’m not sure. I don’t know, however, that it really matters. Even if they’re just trolling the left, trying to upset those of us who care about things like decency, civil rights, and the future of humanity, the end result is the same. By lining up behind the Pepe flag, and signaling their allegiance, they’re normalizing extremism, acknowledging the work of those like Richard Spencer who are working to bring the American Nazi movement into the mainstream, and demonstrating to the public at large that it’s not only “OK” to believe such things, but acceptable to celebrate the fact in public. These are scary times, my friends.

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37 Comments

  1. John Galt
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Let us have our fun. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.

  2. anonymous
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Who is the guy with Milo Yiannopoulos? Is he in the Press Corps?

  3. M
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I watched Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” on Saturday. While it wasn’t great, I’d encourage people to watch the opening segment, which featured Allison Janney reprising her “West Wing” role as White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg. It does a great job, among other things, of demonstrating the fact that people like those mentioned above have been allowed into the White House Press Corps. The video can be found here:

    http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/allison-janney-samantha-bee-not-the-white-house-correspondents-dinner-west-wing-1202404176/

  4. XXX
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    So we know know what it takes to get press credentials.

  5. site admin
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    We still have our middle fingers. They’ll never take those.

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Open racism is easy to target. These dolts are making fun of a national horror, but they are also intentionally drawing white liberal fire by doing so, because it serves their cause. We are being played again.

    Would that open racism were the real problem leading to inequity in America. We live in a deeply racist country. Mass incarceration (and prison labor) alone makes that clear. But so do health outcomes, educational outcomes etc. I spend a lot of time talking about evidence of persistent racial inequality in Ann Arbor/Ypsi. The education and suspension gap. Increasing racial and economic segregation. Aura Rosser. The north and south of Michigan avenue divide. Festivals with grand statements of inclusivity and community building with no hip hop bands. etc etc.

    No one cares. We don’t care about inequity close to home. I’m told I’m pointing fingers at the wrong people. No, I’m pointing fingers at exactly the right people. All of us.

    Aura Rosser was killed in this community shortly after the Ferguson riots. White liberals from A2 went to Ferguson and Standing Rock, but they did not show up for Aura Rosser protests in any great number.

    If we want to create equity (and I believe we do), we need to stop focussing on others and look inward. Or at minimum, look at ourselves and our communities as much as we look outward at others for responsibility.

    We’re all racist. The data exists to show it. Implicit bias is very real and almost universal. Open racism is an obvious symptom of a much deeper and wide spread pandemic. Denying the pandemic while blaming open racists is just another way to re-enforce our convenient ignorance.

    https://www.guernicamag.com/michael-eric-dyson-challenging-lethal-ignorance/

    Quoting from above: “James Baldwin talked about the fact that people who invest in innocence at a certain level will die. The culture will not be able to persist in light of the rigid systems of its own innocence. And I want to ask white people to unveil it, think about it, let me help you rip that mask off, let me help you understand and peer beneath the surface and behind the curtain to see how that white innocence has been constructed on the backs of black people who could not help but know the horrors and traumas of white supremacy that were posed upon them—the pervasions and depredations that were imposed on them, that were the result of a culture that refused to acknowledge our humanity, our fundamental intelligence, our worth and value.

    I wanted to challenge that white innocence, to look at what it might mean to white people to maintain their insistence on that innocence, and to show white brothers and sisters how the preservation of such innocence is antithetical to the relevant evolution and maturing of American democracy and culture.”

  7. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    If you listen to Ozzy Osbourne records backwards you will not hear:

    “The press is full of shit.”

    It is true. I read it in the newspaper.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    should have added to this, this**: “Aura Rosser was killed in this community shortly after the Ferguson riots. White liberals from A2 went to Ferguson and Standing Rock, but they did not show up for Aura Rosser protests in any great number.”
    **because we do not believe we live in racist communities. We think we are better than that. We think that Aura Rosser’s killing was different somehow. Excusable. Dismissible. Not indicative of any larger problem. The barrier to our progress is us. And our insistence on our own communities innocence and even exceptionalism with regards to social justice.

    We talk and march but we don;t walk the walk. And we are always looking elsewhere to place blame. When a problem is systemic. There will always be another direction to look to place blame. And this is a denial of our responsibility, of the area over which we have some actual say and control. **

  9. Kat
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Jean, are you suggesting that we not discuss the fact that the White House press corp is being filled with alt-right liars and propagandists? As I see it, this is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I think they want us to be talking about just that. They are trolls. Do you understand how that works?

    I think the left’s impulse to righteous outrage has been well used against us. It’s our limitation and our vulnerability.

    It won’t win anyone over to our side and it distracts us from fighting the real fights and actually creating meaningful change where we can. Ann Arbor is a town that is convinced inequity is someone else’s fault. Ypsilanti is quickly becoming the same.

    I’m asking us to examine our investment in externalizing blame. As I said, if a problem is systemic, there will always be someone else to blame inaction on. Always. And that is a barrier to progress.

  11. Aaaron
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    So your only proof that this is white power salute is that these people are not real journalists? Am I missing some leap in logic here?

  12. Pepe
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Jean’s right. It’s better that we ignore this. It’s a barrier to progress to acknowledge that we have racists in the White House.

  13. M
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, Jean, you also said that we should ignore Trump, and that he’d never win the primary, let alone the general election. And I do think this is worthy of discussion. Like the post says, they well could be trolling, but this is an opportunity to discuss the kind of people that are infiltrating the White House Press Corps, and I think that’s important. People need to know that these people have been given access, and, if sharing pictures of them trolling the left with symbols of hate helps get that message out, I’m “OK” with it.

  14. someone on facebook
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    All I know is that whenever one of my friends do this, and I look at it, I get punched in the arm. Hard.

  15. M
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I would agree that all of these people are asking to be hit.

  16. B.E.
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    When I was in the Army in Germany, it was said the “OK” sign meant “asshole” over there. Here too, apparently.

  17. Lynne
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Even if it is trolling, there is still value in addressing overt racism. It doesn’t have to mean ignoring the more implicit kind.

  18. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    THE CIRCLE GAME

  19. Jcp2
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I get that talking about overt racism makes people in the majority group who don’t want to be mistaken for being racist feel better, but I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that it doesn’t have any real significance to a person in a minority group as long as talk is just talk. And certainly there’s a lot to talk about. So much that there’s never a time to stop talking and start acting.

  20. Ypsiphage
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    M.

    Samantha Bee’s husband is fighting school integration on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/schooled/2016/06/17/the_upper_west_side_is_new_york_s_latest_school_integration_battleground.html

  21. stupid hick
    Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Can we instead have a discussion about how white the Shadow Art Fair and Krampus were, and how much more diverse they will be, now that they will be held in Canton instead of Ypsi?

  22. Posted May 1, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Pepe has no dick. It’s a biological fact that frogs do not have penises. A bunch of racists have chosen a literally dickless avatar to represent themselves.

    The charge that Pepe gets off by sticking a firecracker up his cloaca is an unsubstantiated rumor

  23. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    You:
    The people we hate represent themselves as not having penises which makes them a bunch of girly girls. (Or even worse–just girls.) LOL

    Them:
    “OK”

  24. Lynne
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    There is nothing wrong with not having a penis. There is even nothing wrong with being a man who doesn’t have a penis.

  25. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 2, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Exactly.

  26. Posted May 2, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    This does look like trolling. Of course, it’s hard to say where the line is between trolling anti-racists and affirming racism, and a lot of the hatred of journalists is explicitly anti-Semitic: http://ageofshitlords.com/4chan-trolls-media-fall

  27. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks Doug.

    This quote from one of the users who decided to trick people into believing the “ok” symbol means “white power”, is insightful, I think, and reveals that what is happening is a little bit different than just trolling:

    “Leftists have dug so deep down into their lunacy. We must force [them ]to dig more, until the rest of society ain’t going anywhere near that shit”.

  28. Jean Henry
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    It’s true Mark that I still believe if the press and the left had ignored Trump, he would not win the primary or the general election. I made that statement based on data of which candidates were getting the most daily news coverage. And many political and media analysts agree with me.

    Our troll in chief and his minions continue to win. And they win by stirring up outrage on the left, which the right finds hysterical, which more deeply divides us, and does zero to keep Trump in check.

    Now that Trump has real power, there are real issues to cover. I’m grateful that you do that most of the time. This, however, is not one of them. This blog exercise is about declaring yourself anti-racist. It has nothing to do with opposing Trump. It has a lot to do with why he won.

  29. mark
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Mark, maybe all the work on your new building is causing you to lose it a bit. This is at worst, the right trolling the left for their own entertainment. But in reality, people have been making the okay sign at trump rallies for years, because for whatever reason, trump pinches is thumb and finger when he makes hand gestures. Maybe the accordion thing he does with his hands is a secret nazi handshake? His supporters see it as one of his endearing quirks, so they make the gesture too.

    Make no mistake, trump is a bigoted bastard, and many of his supporters are disgusting. But you need to stop reading/writing lefty conspiracy blogs.

    Trump doing his stupid hand thing
    https://cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/lead630-b75130cde720d8bf615959c5daa0acef.jpg

  30. Posted May 3, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    “This blog exercise is about declaring yourself anti-racist. It has nothing to do with opposing Trump.”

    Actually, no, Jean. This blog post is about exposing the fact that our White House Press Corps is being handed over to non journalists who are more interested in stoking the fires of the so-called alt-right than the are getting at the truth.

  31. Posted May 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    And, mark, I’d like to agree with you that these folks are just giving the “OK” sign because it’s something they saw Trump do on the campaign trail, but, given that at least one of the people shown in the photographs posted the photo to Twitter along with the #pepe hashtag, I think it’s unlikely. We can, of course, debate whether they’re just trolling the left of seriously believe in white nationalism. And I said as much in my post. But, as Doug Skinner said above, “it’s hard to say where the line is between trolling anti-racists and affirming racism.”

  32. mark
    Posted May 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Where were these “anti-racists” when Obama began the unprecedented mass deportation of immigrants? Where were they when Obama chose to flout international law and waged an unchecked drone war? Did they try to help the thousands of Iraqi contractors that the Obama administration refused to allow refuge in this country despite the often-successful threats on their lives? And how about locally, when people dog-whistled about how the anti-Water-Street tax campaign took advantage of Ward 1 voters, did local ‘anti-racists’ make the point that all people, regarding of skin color or education understand their best interests without white liberals telling them what to do?

    I’m not trying to say that liberals are racist, its just we are lying to ourselves if we claim to be anti-racist. We are happy to turn a blind eye to racism when we are the ones in power, and use it as a club against those we oppose. I think thats the joke that the alt-right loves to make that progressives don’t understand, that we are blindly hypocritical and only anti-racist when it suits us. Thats what makes it so easy for idiots like Milo Yiannopoulos to troll us. There are so many reasons to oppose trump legitimately, and we only damage those efforts with ridiculous conspiracy theories.

    Also, that damn frog doesn’t make that gesture from what i’ve seen.

  33. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 6, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Man, you guys have unreasonably high standards for what counts as evidence.

    #BecausePepe

  34. Jean Henry
    Posted May 6, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    We are only anti-racist so long as the finger is pointed outward towards others. Racism in our own communities and within the liberal and progressive movements (all factions–none are immune) is not to be discussed. Racists, like sexists, are OTHER people.

    Mark if this blog post was not about attacking racism but about partisan hacks taking over the white house press corps, then you need to fix your headline.

    PS The Press Corps does not generate news stories. It follows up. It’s been a long time since it mattered. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/whitehouse.php

  35. Lynne
    Posted May 7, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    To be fair, bigotry is something much easier to see in others than it is in ourselves. That is true of all bias.

  36. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    We have no shortage of people who believe they are experts at detecting bias in others.

  37. Meta
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Slate: “How the Alt-Right Is Using Sex and Camp to Attract Gay Men to Fascism”

    At the National Policy Institute’s 2015 conference, alt-right star Richard Spencer’s annual Nazi-fest, a speaker named Jack Donovan exhorted the crowd “to leave the world the way you entered it, kicking and screaming and covered in somebody else’s blood.” The same year, in the pages of the The Occidental Observer, one of the most prominent white nationalist webzines, another alt-righter, James J. O’Meara, held forth about how “behind the Negro, hidden away, as always, is the darker, more sinister figure of the Judeo. The Negro is the shock troop. The Jew is the ultimate beneficiary.” Aside from being open fascists and “white racialists,” Donovan and O’Meara have another thing in common: They’re both out gay men.

    In his book The Homo and the Negro, O’Meara says that gay white men represent the best of what Western culture has to offer because of their “intelligence” and “beauty,” and that “Negroes” represent the worst, being incapable of “achievement.” Donovan calls women “whores” and “bitches,” and, when a questioner on Reddit asked him his views of the Holocaust, responded, “What is this Holocaust thing? I’m drawing a blank.”

    Both have become influential figures in the alt-right; horribly, they are not the only gay men to respond to an olive branch lately offered by white nationalism. The opening of this movement to cisgender gay men is a radical change, “one of the biggest changes I’ve seen on the right in 40 years,” says Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America. In the United States, unlike in Europe, out gay men have never been welcome in white supremacist groups. The Klan and neo-Nazi groups, the main previous incarnations of white hate in this country, were and still are violently anti-queer. And while a subset of openly gay men has always been conservative (or, as in all populations, casually racist), they never sought to join the racist right.

    That was before groups like NPI, Counter-Currents Publishing, and American Renaissance started putting out the welcome mat. Since around 2010, some (though by no means all) groups in the leadership of the white nationalist movement have been inviting out cis gay men to speak at their conferences, write for their magazines, and be interviewed in their journals. Donovan and O’Meara, far to the right of disgraced provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, are the white nationalist movement’s actual queer stars. But there are others in the ranks, like Douglas Pearce of the popular neofolk band Death in June. And there are many more gay men (and some trans women) who have been profoundly influenced by two white nationalist ideas: the “threat” posed by Islam and the “danger” posed by immigrants.

    Donovan tries to sugarcoat his own racist beliefs when speaking to his main fan base, gay men who like his macho looks and straight men from the “pickup artist” culture and the manosphere who are desperately trying to learn from him how to be manly. Instead, reverting to the other half of the Nazi playbook, he prefers to highlight his hatred for “effeminacy,” feminism, and “weakness.” A beautifully muscular man of 42 who has perfected a masculine scowl in the many photographs of himself he releases on his website and Facebook page, he functions as beefcake for the neofascist cause. He’s parlayed his butch allure into a brand, earning money from a line of T-shirts and wrist guards that say things like BARBARIAN and a series of books that seek to instruct both straight and gay men in how to become more masculine and in particular, more “violent.”

    Read more:
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/06/05/how_alt_right_leaders_jack_donovan_and_james_o_meara_attract_gay_men_to.html

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