Donald Trump’s unexpected ascension to the highest office in the land has pushed more than one liberal over the edge this week — myself included.
Trump has spoken about "Making America great again," but someone else had a different message recently in Wellsville. pic.twitter.com/YGBFfBXO8F
— Brian Quinn (@brianqwdr) November 9, 2016
And with reports of hate crimes against Muslims, minorities and LGBT folks allegedly on the rise (some are admitted hoaxes, others are very real), some people decided to take to the streets in protest, while others… Well, others decided that the best way to fight bigotry in the wake of Trump’s election was to proudly parade around with safety pins. That’s right: “safety” pins.
The movement is well-intentioned, I’ll give you that, and therefore has been widely hailed as a “quietly powerful” “message of hope” by right-thinking fashion editors. Except that, besides the fact that it does absolutely nothing to protect immigrants, refugees or any vulnerable person from fearmongering (and that no person in their right mind would think of donning a $300 gold-platted safety pin to show just how ‘woke’ they are) — the whole thing might be a prank by 4 chan trolls to mock virtue signaling.
The trend caught up after the Brexit vote that rocked up the United Kingdom this summer and saw a spike in xenophobic and racial abuse against immigrants across the country.
An American Twitter user by the name of Allison (@cheeahs), who’s been described as “an American living in London” (without much substantiation), then suggested wearing a small safety pin as a sign of solidarity with migrants living in the UK, and to show potential targets that they had allies.
“I quite like the idea of just putting a safety pin, empty of anything else, on your coat. A literal SAFETY pin!” said her tweet from June 2016 (the account has since been deleted.) “The idea being that anyone against the sort of nationalistic, racist violence we’ve been seeing could identify themselves as a ‘safe’ ally.”
But since Tuesday anonymous 4Chan users have been boasting about the formidable prank they’ve pulled on liberals by enticing them to wear safety pins — when so few of them know the real meaning of this gesture.
Indeed, during the AIDS epidemic that swept the United States in the 1980s, safety pins became part of the “hanky code” employed in the gay scene, and were worn by gay men in public to let others know they practiced safe sex.
And that, you see, is absolutely hilarious to 4chan pranksters who abhor the phenomenon of virtue signaling, where hand-wringing social justice warriors display their moral superiority to the world on social media without doing much in real life. (Like celebrities and politicians who brag about welcoming refugees into their own homes in front of cameras, but have yet to actually do so.)
The “utter vigor” with which celebrities and news site “memed” the safety pin movement, is sure to give these trolls the lulz for months to come.
Until they find something better to do, that is.
But in the meantime, well-meaning progressives, do us a favor: don’t feed the trolls.
If you care about fighting racism and xenophobia, take that piece of metal off your jacket, and actually stand up for your peers.