Kekistan: Supremacy or Satire?
The year 2017 has seen the birth of many things happen in internet culture. It was the year of #HWNDU, when plucky child actor-turned cringey adult activist Shia LeBeouf engaged in what he defined as a four year protest performance against President Donald Trump. The original intention was that the livestream was open to all to speak their minds. However, the original location of the camera changed not long after LeBeouf himself was arrested assaulting a Trump supporter on the stream itself, not to mention the organizer’s disdain for Pro-Trump speech on the livestream itself.
It then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a short-lived attempt to continue, which led to more of the same sort of Pro-Trump speakers and neighbors irate about the placement of the performance. Soon afterward, sensing that perhaps freedom of speech wasn’t compatible with the performance, the livestream’s location was yet again changed, this time moved to a secret location in Tennessee. Within twenty-four hours it was located by cloud and flight patterns, and someone managed to take down the flag and replace it with a MAGA hat and a Pepe the Frog t-shirt.
Again the location changed, this time to Liverpool, and within another 24 hours it had been located. Then the stream went down for several months.
Until early August, that is, when it again went back online, set against nothing more than a white wall.
Reportedly within twenty-four hours, the flag was located yet again, the internet denizens of Kekistan taking credit.
So what exactly is Kekistan?
The website Know Your Meme defines Kekistan as:
a fictional country invented by users on 4chan’s /pol/ board as the tongue-in-cheek ethnic origin of “shitposters” known as “Kekistanis” who worship the ancient Egyptian diety Kek. In late January 2017, Kekistan began widely circulating on Twitter following its promotion by YouTuber Sargon of Akkad.
Since its inception, Kekistan has been regarded as both whimsical tomfoolery and a signal for white supremacists, most notably due to the fact that the design of the flag is heavily based on the flag of the Nazi Luftwaffe, except green with the swastika replaced by the “KEK” logo. It’s been asserted by some, including MSNBC and various social commentators, that it is a symbol of white supremacy.
But according to many others, including YouTuber Sargon of Akkad and University of Toronto’s Professor Jordan Peterson, it should be regarded as little more than a satirical response to critics such as the Anti-Defamation League, who have made the claim that use of the Pepe the Frog meme is linked to ideas of white supremacy. Both Sargon and Peterson, of course, have never supported white supremacy, and in fact, Jordan Peterson has spent most of his career warning of the dangers of such extremist positions.
To one uninitiated in the ways of the internet, it might seem as though Kekistan was a front for racial supremacy. But to those of us used to internet subculture going as far back as Godwin’s Law in the 1980’s, it’s a clever reaction to the propensity for people to compare anything they fail to understand as Nazism, and comparable to the principles of Discordia.
However you view it, in this authors experience most people who “Praise Kek,” on the internet are doing so with a tongue planted firmly-in-cheek in a reaction to the very clear Pseudo-Nazi Witch Hunt taking place in today’s political and media culture. In many cases, even left-wing individuals with some form of criticism against the onward march of academic, postmodern Neo-Marxist Social Justice culture are being tossed into the pit with the likes of those who marched in Charlottesville this past weekend in what is being described as one of the largest gatherings of legitimate Nazis in decades.
In reality, the war against Kekistan seems to be more a war against those who are refusing to take life too seriously than any sort of legitimate white supremacist movement. The symbolism of the Kekistani flag might have its roots in an old Nazi War Flag, but it’s since been re-purposed for humorous intent. It’s easy to find examples of white supremacy associated with Kek-loving users of social media, certainly. But it’s just as easy to ignore whether or not the users themselves have a tongue planted firmly in-cheek.