The alt-right Internet community has started to sneak into the fringes of the mainstream Internet recently, undoubtedly helped along by unofficial alt-right idol Donald Trump’s rise to prominence in the presidential race. And this means more people are getting introduced to the racist memes popular in this corner of the online universe.
This week, Mic wrote about (((echoes))), an anti-Semitic punctuation-based code for identifying Jewish people; a name appearing in between parentheses indicates the person is Jewish.
(((Echoes))) is also the basis of a Google Chrome extension called “Coincidence Detector,” which automatically placed those parentheses around more than 8,000 names, whenever those names appeared on a webpage viewed in Chrome with the extension active.
The extension’s description in the Chrome store sarcastically explained that its purpose was to “help you detect total coincidences about who has been involved in certain political movements and media empires.”
The names on the list were partially crowdsourced by the members of the anti-Semitic forum that started (((echoes))) in the first place.
(((Echoes))), Mic wrote, comes from a podcast hosted by the Right Stuff blog, where a segment involved the repeated use of a sound effect that “gave Jewish names a cartoonish ‘echo’ ” whenever a name was said on the show. The parentheses started appearing around 2014, and they are the written equivalent of that sound effect.
The rise of this sort of Internet-savvy racist trolling has accompanied the ascension of the alt-right, an amorphous, politically right-leaning group that has attracted the loyalty of the casually anti-politically correct; the racist meme lords who are mainly in it for the trolling and jokes; and more traditional white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
The alt-right existed before the Trump candidacy, but his political rise has had a kind of coalescing effect: the different parts of the alt-right all know who their enemies are, and they’re some of the same groups that the Trump campaign has run against. Namely, those enemies are establishment conservatives, liberal “social justice warriors,” and most of the mainstream media.
(((Echoes))) might read as just another instance of racist 4chan /pol/ nonsense, but it’s becoming harder to ignore as it creeps into more public spaces. The driving force behind the meme is the same old anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish people that racists have used to justify targeting people for harassment in the past.
Although some of those behind the (((echoes))) meme might see all the media attention this week as a victory, it has also at least resulted in the disappearance of the extension. When Mic first reported on it, Coincidence Detector had more than 2,000 users and a five-star rating. It’s since been removed from Google’s Chrome web store.
And the original list of names, too, has been deleted (yet still visible here, as one reader noted), presumably by the extension’s creators. In its place was another list, comprised of just a single name: “Trump.”
[this post has been updated]
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