When Old White Guys Discover Memes

Ms Soapbox recently received a series of memes from an old white guy justifying his support of Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, anti-refugee, anti-everything policies.

She’s been seething ever since.

Not because of their content (bad) but because of their appalling lack of critical thinking and digital fluency (the ability to find and critically evaluate online information).

Here are some examples:

On RefugeesNot taking refugees and closing our borders doesn’t mean we’re “heartless” or “mean”.  I lock my doors every night.  I don’t lock them because I “hate” the people outside. I lock them because I LOVE the people INSIDE! Yes Good job Mr. President! 

I hate to break it to you Old White Guy, but that’s a faulty analogy.  Refugees are not like burglars.  Refugees are people your government said have the legal right to enter your country.  The correct analogy would be this:  you gave refugees the KEY to your door and then changed the locks and told them to get lost when they arrived on the doorstep.

This is not the act of a sensible Old White Guy who loves his family but a paranoid who can’t be trusted to keep his word.


Two Old White Guys

An Old White Guy with a dollop of digital fluency would have tested his analogy by googling “refugee vetting USA” and perusing a few of the 465,000 articles on the vetting process, including a Time article that says Syrian refugees are subjected to the most intensive vetting process of any group entering the United States.

On Cabinet appointments:   Rob O’Neill is the man who killed Bin Laden.  When asked what he thinks about General Mattis being Secretary of Defense, O’Neill said:  “General Mattis has a bear rug in his home, but it’s not dead; it’s just afraid to move.”  IN GOD WE TRUST!

Presumably, the purpose of this meme is to support Trump’s choice of James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense by citing Rob O’Neill’s endorsement.

Not only is this a fallacious appeal to authority (O’Neill may have shot Bin Laden, but this doesn’t make him an expert on national security and foreign affairs), a google search would have revealed that the SEALs are not happy that Rob O’Neill has taken credit for killing Bin Laden.  He violated the cardinal rule that a SEAL does not advertise the nature of his work or seek recognition for his actions.

If the SEALs disapprove of O’Neill’s actions Old White Guys shouldn’t be citing him as a credible authority.

Poor Old White Guy (this is a longer diatribe, bear with me):  I used to think I was just a regular guy, but…I was born white, which now, whether I like it or not, makes me a racist.  And yet I have & know many black friends who are truly wonderful people and have friends of other races as well.  I am a fiscal and moral conservative, which by today’s standards, makes me a fascist.  I am heterosexual, which according to gay folks, now makes me a homophobic.  I am a Christian, which now labels me as an infidel.  I believe in the 2nd Amendment, which now makes me a member of the vast gun lobby.  I am older than 65, which makes me a useless old man.  I think and I reason, therefore I doubt much that the main stream media tells me, which must make me a reactionary.  I am proud of my heritage (I belong to the Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of the War of 1812 and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War) and our inclusive American culture, which makes me a xenophobe.  I value my safety and that of my family and I appreciate the police and the legal system, which makes me a right-wing extremist.  I believe in hard work, fair play, and fair compensation according to each individual’s merits, which today makes me an anti-socialist.  I believe in the defense and protection of the homeland for and by all citizens, which now makes me a militant.  Now, a woman said me and my friends are a basket of deplorables.  Please help me come to terms with the new me…because I’m just not sure who I am anymore!  I would like to thank all my friends for sticking with me through these abrupt, new found changes in my life and my thinking!  I just can’t imagine or understand what’s happened to me so quickly!  Funny…it’s all just taken place over the last 7 or 8 years!  As if all this change wasn’t enough to deal with, I’m now afraid to go into either restroom!      

Wow.  False dilemmas, faulty analogies, slippery slopes, hasty generalizations and an atrocious misuse of exclamation marks—this meme was intended to show that Democrats have gone completely off the rails but it sounds like the ramblings of a pathetic old man who sits on the porch yelling at the neighbour kids to get off his lawn.


Having said that, the Old White Guy’s memes play well in the Old White Guy echo chamber and demonstrate once again that critical thinking, augmented by digital fluency (look it up for god’s sake!) is no match for group polarization and the political meme.

PS:  If you’re a mature white male who knows the difference between a meme and rational thought, rest assured Ms Soapbox was not talking to you. 

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20 Responses to When Old White Guys Discover Memes

  1. RJ Pisko says:

    And yet another good one, Susan – thanks and keep it up. Bob.

  2. Ed Henderson says:

    Quote…”” Refugees are people your government said have the legal right to enter your country.””
    The people of Canada told the people we elect to govern us that they should let refugee’s into our Country.

  3. ABCanuck says:

    I am a mature white male – though my wife once gave me a coaster that read “You are only young once, but you can be immature forever!”

    I admit I had to look up “meme”: noun: meme; plural noun: memes;
    “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.”
    -a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

    Today, “humorous” hardly describes the vitriolic memes spread by Internet users, would be political leaders, right-wing wing-dings, and Presidents – and Google really should make their definition of “meme” reflect the times.

    • Excellent point ABCanuck. My Old White Guy sent along some really nasty anti-Muslim memes that I didn’t describe in the post. What I can’t figure out is why he thinks I’d be remotely interested in receiving them. The only reason I look at them at all is to get a sense for what he’s thinking, although thinking is not the right descriptor, his reaction is emotional, not intellectual…and therein lies the problem.

    • The first definition of meme was the original one, invented by the guy who wrote “The Selfish Gene” and suggested a parallel between biological and cultural evolution. Then Susan Blackmore took that idea and wrote a whole book about it called “The Meme Machine” and her worry that we are all as enslaved to our memes as we are to our genes.

      • Paul, thanks for your comments, particularly the one about memes. I’m not familiar with either book, but Susan Blackmore may be on to something given the level of heated outrage and dearth of critical thinking that masquerades for political discourse nowadays.

  4. ABCanuck says:

    And I do believe there are probably comparable numbers of equally loud left-wing wing-dings – just to correct my writing.

    • ABCanuck, I agree with you. The left-wing wing-dings (just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it 🙂 ) are just as illogical, and often downright silly. The jabs at Ivanka are a waste of time, so what if she sat in the President’s chair in the Oval office or wore a silver evening gown (this juxtaposed next to a child in a silver rescue blanket), attacking Trump’s daughter won’t make Trump change his policies.

      • While there might be as many left wing wing dings as there are right wing ding wings, the difference is the Democratic Party generally doesn’t let our wing dings run for political office, while in the GOP it is becoming a necessary qualification.

  5. David Watson says:

    you might like this

  6. crazbazdad says:

    be easy on us old white guys. Using general branding techniques like that is the same has saying all immigrants are terrorists. Even if you are not talking to me, most of the population is pointing at all “old white guys” as the route of all evil. Some of us old white guys have paid a pretty price for fighting the establishment and i am tired of people blaming us for all the world issues. I would prefer if you would pick specific people in your commentary. Regards Marlow Currie

    On Sun, Feb 26, 2017 at 7:12 PM, Susan on the Soapbox wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: “Ms Soapbox recently received a series of memes > from an old white guy justifying his support of Trump’s anti-Muslim, > anti-immigration, anti-refugee, anti-everything policies. She’s been > seething ever since. Not because of their content (bad) but because ” >

  7. Point taken Marlow. “Old white guys” is turning into a pejorative term. I know many mature white males who marched for justice in the 60s and who joined us on the Women’s march a month ago. They, like you, are not to blame for the mess we’re facing now.

  8. jerrymacgp says:

    Well, I am of European heritage, which makes me white; and I’m male, so I’m a white guy. This past weekend my wife & I (yes, I’m also hetero) went for breakfast at a popular local hotel restaurant, and when we got our menus, they included their Seniors Memu, for patrons 55 & over… at 57, I guess that now makes me officially an “old white guy” lol. But I disagree with this fellow on so many issues, it’s astounding.

    I don’t think more guns make us safer; if they did, the United States would be the safest country in the developed world, when in fact is the most dangerous. I think “family values” are for families as defined by their members, not as defined by some religious text, and I support marriage equality and equal rights for LGBTQ individuals. I’m an atheist, but I support freedom of religion and equal treatment of all faiths, within reason. I support basic human rights without discrimination on grounds of sex/gender, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief or non-belief, sexual orientation or gender identity, or any other grounds that are not relevant. I believe in social justice and that we that are better off have a moral responsibility to assist those who are less so. I also believe that the economy exists to serve the people, not the other way around. I believe the police and the criminal justice system have a duty to protect us not only from crime but from the untrammelled power of the State, and so policing must be carried out with due care and attention with full respect for civil rights and the law. I believe in peace and diplomacy, not in war and conflict. Etc., etc., etc…

    Always enjoy reading your blog… don’t let the RWNJs get you down. From a proud SJW who’s also an “old white guy”.

  9. Jerry your response to the Poor Old White Guy’s diatribe was perfect! If it’s OK with you I’d like to send it along to POWG. He’s probably going to ask me what a SJW is. I’ll tell him to google it; hopefully this will get him in the habit of looking things up. Thanks.

  10. Carlos Beca says:

    Every time I see an article about refugees only one, to me important thought comes to my mind – let us stop interfering with less powerful nations economies and invading them, if we do not want to deal with refugees. Rich nations exploit other peoples resources and interfere with their governments and their stability because we cannot control our greed and then we complain they are mismanaged and their refugees are a problem to us. The US should have their doors open to this wave of refugees because most of them were created by their crazy politicians. Instead they are increasing their military budget by 89 billion dollars. It is almost a done deal that another invasion is coming. Any explanation that the US army is in need of more money is to say the least lunatic but it is happening and more wars will be needed to test the new fad in weaponry.
    Refugees are in most cases caused by either the military hawks of the world or by corrupt politicians as it is so clear in Africa. Summarizing, this planet would be calmer without our species.

  11. Carlos, you’ve made a very important point. Historian Jennifer Welsh says 65 million people are on the move across the planet. They’re refugees and migrants who are forced out of their homes by civil wars, food insecurity, natural disasters and environmental change. Richer nations created this situation and are making it even worse by electing petty billionaires who cater to greed rather than setting a bold vision of greater equality for everyone.

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