90 Miles From Tyranny : The Hubbub About ‘The Boogaloo’ Is the Worst Kind of Fake News

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Hubbub About ‘The Boogaloo’ Is the Worst Kind of Fake News

Meanwhile, let’s keep pretending Antifa doesn’t exist.

As self-described Marxists and anarchists rampage through American cities, threaten lives, destroy historic monuments, burn churches, and terrorize the public, the Department of Homeland Security’s crack analysts have emphasized the real threat: Hawaiian shirts and cartoon frogs.

Politico reports that the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC), a DHS Fusion Center for Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, warned of the threat of “Violent adherents of the boogaloo” ideology, which the outlet headlined as “far-right extremists.”

That headline caused the Department of Homeland Security to object to Politico’s mischaracterization of its sharp intelligence assessment, tweeting out, 

Another work of fiction by @politico. The @DHSgov intel bulletin does NOT identify the Boogaloo movement as left-wing OR right-wing. They are simply violent extremists from both ends of the ideological spectrum.

It is true that the bulletin does not refer to “adherents” as “far-right.” But this is only because the report attempts to construct an ideology essentially out of thin air, based entirely on a set of internet memes largely created by activist trolls. The DHS report warns that violent Boogaloo extremists frequently wear Hawaiian shirts and may display images of “Pepe the Frog,” an internet meme of a sad frog that became popular with some elements of the Right.

From Memes to “Menace”

The term “Boogaloo” refers to an online meme about the potential for a second American civil war. The term is derived from the 1984 break-dancing movie, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” and the subsequent movie meme which appends the mocking term “electric boogaloo” to derivative or uninspired sequels. Boogaloo memes often take the form of hypothetical discussions about what one would do “when the boogaloo”—meaning when civil war—begins. Boogaloo memes are often sharply fantastical or couched in video game language, referring to “equipment drops” or “leveling up.”

It is of course possible, even likely, that some individuals participating in this internet subculture could attempt to actualize such fantasies. Law enforcement should be careful and take such threats seriously. But this is not the same as being a “movement,” let alone a coherent ideology.

For one thing, fear of a second civil war is no longer an extreme idea. A recent Rasmussen poll revealed substantial numbers of Americans, on both the Right and the Left, are concerned about the prospect of civil war with just over a third (34 percent) of those polled saying they believe such a national catastrophe is likely within the next five years.

Despite DHS’s tweet insisting that its Boogaloo bulletin was intended to be nonpartisan, the reality is that the report relies almost entirely on biased reporting which attempts to portray the Boogaloo internet phenomenon as an overarching and coherent far-right movement posing a dire threat.

Substandard Sources

A look at the sourcing of the Boogaloo bulletin shows that the document, like other of Homeland Security’s NTIC products, cannot withstand objective scrutiny.

One of the NTIC bulletin’s primary sources is the Tech Transparency Project, a project of the Campaign for Accountability (CfA), which is a left-leaning nonprofit that “almost exclusively targets” conservative politicians and organizations for opposition research and dubious...

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