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A primer on conservative dogwhistles

What is a Dog Whistle?

Like the name implies, it’s a word, or phrase that is used to secretly signify something. Usually used to signify less-than savory beliefs, they have become quite popular in the modern age, allowing the rapid distribution of information to spread their hateful ideals.


The “14 Words”

The fourteen words in question are “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” It’s believed that this “slogan” was originated by one David Lane, a white supremacist who was part of the terror group “The Order.” It can still be found being 13/50 used by Twitter, Instagram and likely 4chan users. Where might you find this hate symbol “in the wild”? Well, under any tweet/post about how “the left is trying to indoctrinate our children” or any kind of media about non-white people in general. Additionally, in just about any echo-chamber (4chan, Twitter, any other imageboard really) can the parroting of this “slogan” be found. Often just shortened to “14,” “14 words,” or “remember the 14 words,” once you’ve seen it, it’s hard to unsee.


Here is a perfect example of a dog whistle. Tucker Carlson was supposedly quoted for Matt Walsh’s new book What Makes a Woman. The quote seamlessly sews the “14 words” as well as dragging down many fellow “journalists.”


Luckily, however, from what I can tell, the quote by Tucker seems to be completely fabricated (supported by the fact that I can no longer find the image…). Tucker seems not to have even interviewed Walsh about his new book yet.

The book's cover

13/50 or 12/60

This dog whistle comes from a 1990’s statistic reporting that on average out of 100 homicides, African Americans were supposedly likely to commit about half. Where does the “13” part of this hate speech come in? Well it comes from the fact that African Americans make up ~13 percent of the population. This dog whistle is used to insinuate that African Americans are biologically inclined to do crime instead of literally anything else. Found in many of the same spaces that the “14 words” are, this one is a lot more modern and prevalent. A new “statistic” claims that African Americans commit 60 percent instead of ~50 percent of crimes; whether this is true or not is definitely up for debate. “13/50” can be found often under any news report that happens to include a black person, oftentimes used under pretty much any form of media relating to black Americans.


Additionally, sometimes comparisons to pitbulls will be made. The pitbull’s history of dogfighting is ingrained in it, and remains to this day.


“Cultural Marxism”

When people wholeheartedly believe in dog whistles, it's hard to decipher if it even is one anymore. “Cultural Marxism” was originally used by the Nazis as yet another way to target and discredit Jewish people. Nowadays, those on the right use it to play into the ingrained fear of communism instilled by the Red Scare. Used mostly by Jordan B. Peterson and Tucker Carlson, if you were to ask either of them what “Cultural Marxism” is, the answers given (if any were given at all) would likely be mismatched. This is due to the fact that “Cultural Marxism” isn’t really a thing. Additionally, if it were to be a thing, few (if any) left-leaning politicians, even in post-soviet countries which all have relatively substantial communist/socialist movements, ever mention “Cultural Marxism” as a driving factor.


Why do the talking heads of the modern conservative movements cling onto this almost 100 year old conspiracy theory? Well, it's because an “other,” or a kind of fear is needed for conservatives to gain and stay in power. With the fear of communism still somehow in the American zeitgeist, Peterson, Walsh, and Carlson found yet another way to keep the American public in their flock.


“Dindonuffin” and “Sheeit”

These two go hand-in-hand. Originally from 4chan, these are words that come from making fun of African Americans. “Dindonuffin” is used to describe predominantly black men who have been arrested primarily because “dindonuffin” is supposed to be a “play” on “didn’t do nothing” which is a stereotype that black men would say while being arrested. Commonly found on replies to news articles and 4chan “summarizing” the article while simultaneously revealing exactly how they feel about black people.


(((Echo))), AKA Triple Parentheses

Finally there is the triple parentheses, sometimes known as an “Echo.” Originating from a podcast, where names of famous Jewish people would have an echo effect added on to it. This echo would be translated to text-based online spaces by the use of multiple (commonly three) parentheses.


The echo has been used commonly with “they,” “them,” “bankers,” “lawyers,” “politicians,” pretty much any occupation that has been accused of being controlled by some magic unknown Jewish cabal [sidenote: the word kabbalah in itself is almost a dog whistle, coming from cabbala a practise of Jewish mysticism, which during the late 90’s and early 00’s became a fad for the rich and famous to partake in]. The echo additionally can sometimes be used to indicate that someone is suspected of being Jewish, although this is less commonly done.


The “inverted echo” e.g )))placeholder((( for a time was used on Twitter to indicate either that the user is Jewish, or is against anti-semitism. However, like everything else, anti-semites would eventually co-opt this dog whistle to indicate that the person in the echo hates Jewish people, or that the person in parentheses is suspected of being Jewish.


Trump’s usage of the “n-word”

The 45th president of the United States is no stranger to controversy. Recently however, Trump did something interesting. During an interview, Trump was describing interactions between him and Putin, mentioning how he “kept using the n-word… the nuclear word …” I believe I finally understand what Trump intended by this. Talks of Trump running for re-election have been circling ever since his impeachment. To this extent, it would make sense for Trump to say something “subversive” to keep himself in the periphery of the American mind. Keeping himself firmly in the territory of “anti-woke” allows him to continue to rub elbows with conservative pundits and keep himself in good standing with his followers, showing them that he is in fact still important and in vogue.


Hate Symbols:

With hate symbols, it is often much harder to find if one is part of a hate group. This is due to the fact that pictures speak a thousand words, but if you don’t speak the language, then it’s harder to cry foul, especially for things like tattoos.


Black Sun:

Originally a Nazi symbol, many White-supremacists today still use it as a symbol of hate and as a clear dog whistle. A Sun Cross and Broken Sun Cross are both also often used in parallel with it, although the Sun Cross is much less frequently used in favor of the Black and Broken Sun Cross.


Spiderweb Tattoo:

The spiderweb tattoo can mean a multitude of things. It can be a straight up normal tattoo for some with no hidden meanings. For others it is commonly a prison tattoo but again, used with no ill intent. For a select few a Spiderweb centered on the elbow is a signifier of a white supremacist who has taken a life.

Norse Runes:

This is difficult. For many, Norse runes are still a sign of pride in culture and heritage. Additionally, from what I can tell from my research, only a few runes are co-opted by white supremacists, namely the Tyr, Odal, and Algiz runes. However, it is often made easier to tell when runes are being used as dogwhistles, because these runes will commonly be paired with some other form of Nazi iconography, namely the afformentioned Black Sun, SS Bolts, the Iron Cross and supposedly the Celtic Cross, but I find that last one hard to believe.



Iron Cross

Speaking of the Iron Cross, there’s the Iron Cross as yet more Nazi/White supremacist iconography. Originally used by Prussia, Germany and later Nazi Germany would additionally use this medal as a symbol of honor. During the Nazi era however, a superimposed swastika would be put onto the Iron cross. Nowadays,the Iron Cross on its own has been bleached of its connotation for the most part, but if there is a superimposed swastika (or any other aforementioned iconography for that matter), then that person is definitely not friendly.

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