It’s maddening to consider, but it’s only been a month since a bunch of folks who now seem to believe that police brutality is a reasonable response to peaceful protest got their underthings in a twist and took to city squares across the country—guns slung over their shoulders or cradled in their arms—to publicly whinge about being unable to get a haircut. Nevertheless, it’s true. And if you were paying attention to those demonstrations, you may have noticed a contingent of those 2A types wearing an unlikely garment: the Hawaiian shirt.
Ridiculous as it may seem, that’s no coincidence. In fact, all those aloha prints are designed to send a very clear message to folks with the right set of references: I am hoping for a second Civil War. Chilling? Fuck yes. But confounding, too. And it gets even weirder when you learn that this whole thing springs from dumb online jokes about the 1984 cinematic flop Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
I’m no scholar of the alt-right or the anti-government fringe, so I’ll do my best to break down a history of internet message-board fuckery into something digestible without getting too far into the weeds. With a huge nod to this Twitter thread, this article, this one, this blog post breaking down some of the more complicated intra-group dynamics, and this piece delving into the real history of the word, let’s lay out the basics of the “boogaloo” in 2020.
First, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo drops on the world in the ’80s, a spectacular failure of a film designed to cash in on the popularity of breakdancing that just so happens to have an extremely meme-able title. It becomes a cult classic for being so terrible, and a shorthand for (unnecessary) sequels. Naturally, in more recent decades, that memetic impulse propagates widely on internet message boards like 4chan and Reddit, and eventually spreads to Facebook. Crucially, it catches on in alt-right circles, where militia types and racists alike start joking about Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo. The internet being what it is, that eventually shortens to just “boogaloo.”
From there, “boogaloo” evolves further to jokey soundalike phrases like “big igloo” and—here’s where we finally get to the Hawaiian shirts—”big luau.” What do you wear to a luau? Well, you already know the answer to that one. Hence, a bunch of rightwing types started wearing aloha shirts while holding weapons of war and demanding a chance to sit back down in a Cracker Barrel or get that high-and-tight touched up. Interestingly, there’s some dissent within the ranks. Some of the “big luau” types are devoted to destroying what they see as an increasingly totalitarian state, while others feel the need to bring a heaping portion of racism to the party and clamor for a white-supremacist war. Fuckin’ great.
In either case, these guys—and trust, it’s mostly guys—have their fingers crossed for violence in the near future. And those seemingly innocuous shirts they’re wearing are a signal of their intentions.
So what should the folks who look at this situation and think, “What a bunch of assholes, and also, please don’t ruin a good summer shirt for the rest of us” do about this situation? The same as we should do in general. Fight white supremacy with every resource available. Champion common-sense gun laws designed to keep military-grade firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. Support the protestors fighting for an equitable America, and decry those who would use a pandemic as a jumping-off point for their despicable ideology. Do everything you can to make sure the bastards don’t win—and maybe wear a Hawaiian shirt while you do it. Symbols matter, even small, seemingly silly ones. Don’t let them have this.
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Source : Esquire