The Newest Potential White Supremacist Code Word? Calling Democrats 'Clowns'


I was kind of amazed to see that the Daily Kos was still around and making news. I had figured Markos Moulitsas’ anything-goes liberal blog had become terminally irrelevant the second the Bush administration had passed into oblivion.

But no, they’re still there and churning out strange conspiracy theories, including trying to connect a GOP candidate’s use of the word “clown” to describe Democrats as a secret nod to a racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic meme literally no one who doesn’t wallow in the depths of the internet would possibly understand.

The Daily Kos “controversy” involves the special election for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The seat is currently vacant because, you may recall, election fraud by Republican Mark Harris led to the results not being certified.

In the redo, The Washington Free Beacon notes, Harris lost to state Sen. Dan Bishop in the GOP primary, although he probably would have lost the general election to that glass of water Nancy Pelosi is fond of talking about. (Or, well, an actual clown.)

Democrat Dan McCready won his party’s primary unopposed and will face Bishop in the September election.

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Bishop isn’t an election fraudster, at least as far as we know. However, according to the Daily Kos‘ David Nir, he’s got an even more ghastly secret: He likes to call Democrats “clowns.”

Actually, that’s not so much of a secret. In fact, he put out a campaign advertisement in which he attacked “crazy liberal clowns” like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Maxine Waters.

Here’s the advertisement — which, as you’ll note, is wholly innocuous:

Do you think that "clown" is a secret dog-whistle to racists?

The fact that liberals are, well, clownish has been a big theme for Bishop’s campaign. He released a longer version of that commercial and went on Twitter this weekend to label Democrats blaming conservatives for the violence in El Paso “clowns” as well.

I think what we can all agree he’s saying here is that Democrats are clowns.

But is that all he’s saying? Nir isn’t sure.

“State Sen. Dan Bishop, the GOP candidate in next month’s special election for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, has yet to offer even a hint of sympathy to the victims of this weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton,” Nir began his Tuesday article.

“But on Sunday night, he did find time to spend an hour on Twitter berating Democrats who’ve called out the far-right hatred that has sparked so much of this violence as ‘clowns.'”

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This “far-right hatred” being called out, by the way, was Fox News (by Elizabeth Warren), the GOP (by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and President Donald Trump (by Beto O’Rourke). But never mind that, since I’m sure Jeb Bush qualifies as “far-right” to the folks over at Daily Kos. Instead, I want to direct your attention to the potential motive Nir espies for the use of the clown imagery.

“This whole ‘clown’ business has been circulating among Republicans for some time — the ne’er-do-wells at the National Republican Congressional Committee, for instance, have been tweeting out creepy, crappy clown Photoshops for months,” he wrote.

“But it’s not just a particularly lame joke. It turns out there’s a disturbing genesis. Jared Holt, one of the tireless folks at Right Wing Watch, reported in April that white supremacists have begun adopting a version of the infamous far-right ‘Pepe the Frog’ meme decked out in clown garb that they call ‘Honkler,’ to symbolize ‘their exasperation over an imagined state of collapse in the Western hemisphere that they largely blame on immigrants and minority groups.’”

And it has an anti-Semitic element, too. Nir pointed readers to an article in the Jewish publication The Forward in which Aiden Pink writes that “online anti-Semites have built upon the Honkler imagery when citing news that confirms their nihilistic worldview. When describing what they see as the illogic of a liberal, non-racist society, they write that they are living in a ‘clown world,’ or just write ‘honk honk’ as a shorthand to get that point across.”

Now, I can safely say two things here. The first is that all of what Nir and Pink say about Honkler and “clown world” is totally true. The second is that this is almost certainly the first time that you’ve heard about it, and the same probably goes for Dan Bishop.

That’s because almost nobody — and I mean nobody — has heard about or would buy into this garbage.

Stuff like this “clown world” nonsense happen on the dark corners of the internet, on websites that end in the suffix -chan in which an infinitesimally small group of losers drown in a mental sewer. The rest of us — the vast, vast majority of us — mean that someone is a “clown” when we call them a clown. That’s it.

Nir is willing to give Bishop the smallest benefit of the doubt in his article, but he still claims the evidence shows this clown stuff is very clearly a Republican dog-whistle: “Whether or not Bishop understands the significance of his ‘clown’ slurs, the propagation of this meme from the cesspools of the internet directly to the highest levels of Republican power shows just how in thrall to the far-right today’s GOP is.”

“Whether or not?” There’s literally almost no chance Dan Bishop has ever heard of this garbage, the same way the Daily Kos’ readership hadn’t heard of it either until Nir came up with this insane conspiracy theory.

Furthermore, to suggest the idea that this is being sent out as a wink to this minority of basement-dwelling wastes of carbon on the part of the Republican Party in order to dredge up votes is the height of irresponsibility.

Thankfully, Democrat Dan McCready didn’t play into this nonsense and ignored it like the trash that it is, preferring to focus on–

He actually retweeted the article. Well, we’re all doomed.

For the record, we are better than that, yes, Mr. McCready. That’s because we’re not doing anything like what Nir is suggesting that we are. As for what you’re better than, the answer seems to be “not much.”

The Washington Free Beacon’s Alex Griswold closed his article by noting that just this week, Joe Scarborough called Trump’s pick for director of national intelligence a “clown” and Barbara Streisand mocked Trump with a “Send in the Clowns” parody song.

Does that mean they’re secret bigots, too?

I mean, I always knew that Scarborogh was a soft target for the anti-Semitic far-right. He used to be a Republican, after all. But, my God, they’ve gotten Streisand.

Thank heavens we have the tireless truth-seekers at the Daily Kos who can tell it like it is. I have no doubt Mr. Nir’s exposé on those two closet alt-righters will be forthcoming in next few days.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture