Meet 'Kek', The Alt-Right's Anti-Semitic Hate God
After Donald Trump's stunning presidential election victory, much attention has been devoted to the 'Alt-Right'. This vast, leaderless digital activist movement positions itself on the American right; But it rejects basic tenets of constitutional conservatism, such as limited government, fiscal prudence and inalienable individual rights in favour of white supremacist identity politics. The Alt-Right has become such a nexus of controversy even Donald Trump has had to disavow of their support.
As the Alt-Right rose to fame, their penchant for using seemingly bizarre coded symbols to spread racist propaganda has attracted heaps of attention. Even Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sought to capitalise on this. Her campaign highlighted the fact that the Alt-Right's mascot, the green cartoon frog Pepe, is "associated with white supremacy."
Its easy to understand why the Alt-Right turned the ugly, bile-green amphibian into their flagbearer of choice. Long-before the Alt-Right started to misuse him, Pepe was already one of the most popular, totally non-political memes, internet culture injokes, among Millennials and Generation X. Hijacking him and morphing him into their propaganda vehicle allowed the Alt-Right to attract the attention of a whole lot of young internet users who would never have bothered reading a traditional political article or op-ed.
Not so easy to understand, for many commentators, has been the Alt-Right's obsession with a mythical ancient Egyptian deity called Kek; Despite the barn-storming popularity he has enjoyed among Alt-Right fanatics. On Reddit's, The_Donald sub-forum, the possibly largest Alt-Right influenced space on the internet, Kek has been mentioned over 4000 times. Compare that to just 1098 mentions of Jesus, 728 mentions of the Bible, to a mere 277 references to Jefferson and only 389 mentions of George Washington. Clearly the Alt-Right care far more about the little-known Middle Eastern deity Kek than about traditional figureheads of American conservatism, such the Founding Fathers, or in the case of the religious Right, Jesus Christ.
In fact, one of the most popular posts on The_Donald subreddit even depicts Kek as Jesus personified, and Alt-Righters frequently address him in worshipful language.
Where Kek has been mentioned in news coverage of the Alt-Right, journalists usually don't explain why exactly the racist Alt-Righters have turned him into to their idol. And even if they try, they don't usually get beyond noting that Kek is the "ancient, androgynous Egyptian deity Kek: god of chaos, darkness...". They also note Kek was sometimes represented as frog-like in Ancient Egypt, which may link in with the Alt-Right's ugly Pepe obsession.
Of course, the fact that Kek is associated with darkness and chaos may well explain why the Alt-Right chose Kek, of all the many Egyptian gods they could have selected. Just like some of the post-modernist student far-left, the Alt-Right rejects universalism, the concept of truth and ethical morality. Alt-Rightists favour the primacy of a subjective, emotional, collectivist racial sense of belonging over timeless ideas like individual human dignity, individual rights and free market rationality. In that sense, the Alt-Right is a classical Anti-Enlightenment movement, that seeks to keep people trapped in the emotional safe space group-think of Plato's cave, rather than allowing them to enter a rational, free-thinking world where reason and truth can challenge and offend emotive identities. No wonder they would prefer the darkness of the cave over the light of reason.
But why would Alt-Righters, who loathe Middle-Eastern peoples and cultures, worship an ancient Middle Eastern God? Why would snowflake racists who never stop whining about the "decline of White, Western Civilisation" fall in love with an 'Oriental' deity? After all, a large number of Neo-Nazis even reject modern Western Christianity because they view it as "too Jewish","too Semitic", "too Middle Eastern" and wah, wah, wah (nevermind the long history of medieval European Christian anti-Semitism).
The decentral, and disorganised way in which the Alt-Right works makes it hard to chart the origin of their symbols, let alone to find Alt-Righters engaging in a detailed discussion of why Kek and ancient Egypt were selected for reverence.
But here's what we know. The Egyptian Pharaohs were some of the first and most vicious Jew-haters in the ancient world. American-Jewish columnist Jeff Jacoby once reflected on the similarities between the murderous persecution of Jews by Hitler and by the Egyptian Pharaohs. He wrote "Both were attempts at genocide — and in both cases the perpetrators justified their savageries by claiming that they were the real victims, threatened by the people they intended to wipe out." Some historians have called Hitler "a twentieth-century Pharaoh" (see. chapter VI). So it shouldn't be too surprising that Neo-Nazi Alt-Righters find something to like about Ancient Egypt.
In fact, Neo-Nazis have a long history of putting their other racial prejudices aside in order to collaborate with Anti-Semites who are not white. The German NPD party, for example, has had links to radical Islamist anti-Semitic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Individuals connected to Oklahoma neo-Nazi terrorist and mass murderer Timothy McVeigh may have had contacts with the Philippine Jihadist kidnapping gang Abu Sayyaf, according to a US congressional report.
Alt-Righters themselves reference Exodus, the part of the Torah that records the Egyptian persecution of the Jews, in their discussions about the meaning of Kek. So, for example, in an Alt-Right thread about Kek worship, one racist rants "YHWH the Monotheistic Usurper had its Jewish progeny slander Egypt with their fake Holocaust-tier Book of Exodus. Kek is the herald of all the Old Gods, and he has every reason to hate the Jews and their demon YHWH. Abrahamism will feel his wrath". In another Kek-focused online thread, a commenter chimes in "Your usurper Semite demon YHWH and its proto Communist spawn infuriated the Gods of Egypt, including Kek, when their chosen Jewsenites stole Egypt's magic to make Kabbalah, and the slandered the very reputation of Egypt herself in the false book of Exodus."
It also hasn't escaped the notice of Alt-Righters that the legend of Exodus features a punitive infestation of frogs as one of the signs of divine condemnation of the Pharaoh's anti-Semitic hatred. In a movement as focused on a twisted sense of irony and post-modern inverted meanings as the Alt-Right, that may well explain why they have chosen to turn Kek, the frog-like Egyptian deity of darkness, into their modern super-God as they spread fascist Jew-hatred. On 4chan's /pol/ forum, one of the birthplaces of the modern Alt-Right, this has been openly acknowledged. One thread notes "Long time ago, Jews cursed egyptians with frog plagues to set their people free. Now 4chan is cursing Jews with plague of Kek's?".
Of course, many, probably even the vast majority of Alt-Righters who talk about Kek may not be aware of Kek's modern day association with people who celebrate the ancient Egypt's anti-Semitism. Just like the student radicals of 1968 mostly worshipped totalitarian mass-murderer Lenin because they thought it was a trendy, counter-cultural thing to do, many Alt-Righters may celebrate Kek because they see him as the en-vogue symbol for showing disdain towards mainstream democracy and social tolerance.
But that is exactly why critics of the Alt-Right must work to expose the ugly anti-Semitic hidden meanings that really lie behind the movement's use of figures like Kek and Pepe. When the use of these symbols is exposed as yet another propaganda trick to subconsciously draw these people into a vicious cycle of stale, old Jew-Hatred and Hitler-Worship, the Alt-Right's seemingly countercultural "meme-magick" loses its 'coolness' appeal to the disenchanted, internet-savvy teenagers they seek to recruit.
Some prominent Alt-Right activists, including the well-known vlogger RamzPaul were quick to dissociate themselves from the Hitler-Saluting shambles that Richard Spencer's self-proclaimed Alt-Right victory conference earlier this month turned into. RamzPaul even suggested that it was over Alt-Right as a brand, now that it had been associated with the distinctively uncool aesthetics of the salutes. He wrote "Most normal people can support the Alt Right ideas of self-determination, protection of borders, good trade deals, America First, etc. But normal people can't support anything that is associated with Nazism ... the brand is now impossible to rehabilitate."
Just watch how quickly many Alt-Right followers will be running away from the movement's core symbols when the public starts to recognise them for the hateful obsession they really represent.
Update 1 (27/11):Some readers have helpfully pointed out that long before the Alt-Right existed, the word Kek was used in a non-political sense as “as a substitute for lol/lul” in some online gaming sub-cultures. Kek, as a term, apparently gained this usage after forming part of one of the team languages during “World of Warcrafts early days”, years ago.
As mentioned in this article, the Alt-Right has a long-established habit of appropriating and completely redefining popular internet cultural references for their own twisted purposes. This article only deals with why Kek has become a revered deity for Alt-Right racists in recent time – there is absolutely no suggestion that earlier, non-racist users of the word Kek, particularly online gaming fans, attached the same meaning to it.
While some online gamers may be shell-shocked to see what has become of Kek, Alt-Right activists have confirmed the accuracy of my research. Self-Proclaimed “Alt-Right, Race Realist” blogger Saboteur365 responded to my article writing “Maybe you’ve seen references to Kek on alt-right websites. When Donald Trump won the presidential election (which is now in doubt due to the Crooked Hillary recount issue, which is shaping up to be big), I saw a lot of “Praise Kek” comments on friendly sites. The author of this piece is hostile to the alt-right, but he appears to have the story of Kek correct.”
With special thanks to Daniel L. for his detailed explanations via email (some of which I quoted at the beginning of this update.) And thanks also to James C. for getting in touch.
Update 2 (27/11): I don't believe in censorship, particularly not in regards to people who criticise my writing, or insult me (fire away). However, as a legal precaution, I have had to remove one troll comment left beneath this article, which falsely and maliciously named a living individual (unrelated to the subject of this article or myself) as a "founder" of the Klu Klux Klan.
Update 3 (27/11): A screenshot of an extremely popular post on Reddit's Alt-Right-influenced The_Donald subforum, which shows Pepe as a religious holy figure, was originally used to illustrate this article, pursuant to fair use/fair dealing rules, for current affairs reporting and criticism purposes. This article explicitly stated "Of course, many, probably even the vast majority of Alt-Righters who talk about Kek may not be aware of Kek's modern day association with people who celebrate the ancient Egypt's anti-Semitism". As such there was never any suggestion or implication whatsoever that the Redditor who made the screenshotted post featured at the begining of this article is aware of, or condones, the anti-Semitic symbolism Kek represents for the hard-core Alt-Right -a hate movement built on promoting anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and White supremacist tropes. However, given that the anonymous Redditor in question has voiced their dissatisfaction with the inclusion of the screenshot in this article, purely as a gesture of goodwill only, and without the implication of any wrongdoing, I have decided to remove the screenshot.