The Hubbub About ‘The Boogaloo’ Is the Worst Kind of Fake News

As self-described Marxists and anarchists rampage through American cities, threaten lives, destroy historic monuments, burn churches, and terrorize the public, the Department of Homeland Security’s crack analysts have emphasized the real threat: Hawaiian shirts and cartoon frogs.

Politico reports that the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium (NTIC), a DHS Fusion Center for Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, warned of the threat of “Violent adherents of the boogaloo” ideology, which the outlet headlined as “far-right extremists.”

That headline caused the Department of Homeland Security to object to Politico’s mischaracterization of its sharp intelligence assessment, tweeting out,

Another work of fiction by @politico. The @DHSgov intel bulletin does NOT identify the Boogaloo movement as left-wing OR right-wing. They are simply violent extremists from both ends of the ideological spectrum.

It is true that the bulletin does not refer to “adherents” as “far-right.” But this is only because the report attempts to construct an ideology essentially out of thin air, based entirely on a set of internet memes largely created by activist trolls. The DHS report warns that violent Boogaloo extremists frequently wear Hawaiian shirts and may display images of “Pepe the Frog,” an internet meme of a sad frog that became popular with some elements of the Right.

From Memes to “Menace”

The term “Boogaloo” refers to an online meme about the potential for a second American civil war. The term is derived from the 1984 break-dancing movie, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” and the subsequent movie meme which appends the mocking term “electric boogaloo” to derivative or uninspired sequels. Boogaloo memes often take the form of hypothetical discussions about what one would do “when the boogaloo”—meaning when civil war—begins. Boogaloo memes are often sharply fantastical or couched in video game language, referring to “equipment drops” or “leveling up.”

It is of course possible, even likely, that some individuals participating in this internet subculture could attempt to actualize such fantasies. Law enforcement should be careful and take such threats seriously. But this is not the same as being a “movement,” let alone a coherent ideology. 

For one thing, fear of a second civil war is no longer an extreme idea. A recent Rasmussen poll revealed substantial numbers of Americans, on both the Right and the Left, are concerned about the prospect of civil war with just over a third (34 percent) of those polled saying they believe such a national catastrophe is likely within the next five years.

Despite DHS’s tweet insisting that its Boogaloo bulletin was intended to be nonpartisan, the reality is that the report relies almost entirely on biased reporting which attempts to portray the Boogaloo internet phenomenon as an overarching and coherent far-right movement posing a dire threat.

Substandard Sources

A look at the sourcing of the Boogaloo bulletin shows that the document, like other of Homeland Security’s NTIC products, cannot withstand objective scrutiny.

One of the NTIC bulletin’s primary sources is the Tech Transparency Project, a project of the Campaign for Accountability (CfA), which is a left-leaning nonprofit that “almost exclusively targets” conservative politicians and organizations for opposition research and dubious ethics complaints. One of CfA’s board members, Nick Hayworth, has been described as “Obama’s Opposition Researcher” while other CfA leaders have ties to groups founded by long-time Democratic “dirty tricks hitman” David Brock.

Such sources can be useful in any intelligence product, but the NTIC’s inordinate dependency on it as a major source betrays an unprofessional standard within Homeland Security’s NTIC unit.

Not only does the Tech Transparency Project’s article directly link the “Boogaloo” to the far-right, but this purported intelligence source deliberately blames President Trump personally for the threat, saying that he “inspired” and “energized” the Boogaloo adherents with tweets about the lockdown.

Other substandard sources for the NTIC report include Buzzfeed—infamous for releasing the Steele Dossier disinformation package that kicked off the debunked Russian collusion narrative against the president—and Vox, another heavily politicized site known for its explainer on a non-existent bridge between Gaza and the West Bank.

Given NTIC’s choice of sourcing, it is hard to believe that the Boogaloo bulletin’s release was intended to do anything other than achieve the exact interpretation that Politico provided, despite DHS’ social media protest to the contrary.

This incident yet again reflects a ongoing trend of politicized members of the intelligence community citing left-wing opposition research designed for political attacks upon the president, compiled into sloppy and sensationalist reports devoid of professional intelligence or analytical integrity, which are then leaked to a compliant media outlet to trumpet those extremist and unsubstantiated claims as authentic products of the nation’s “nonpartisan” security and intelligence bureaucracy.

“Imaginary” Antifa? 

The leaked report to Politico whitewashes the organized criminal activity waged by Antifa which, as an avowed Marxist and anarchist entity, seeks to overthrow the U.S. Constitution. It also comes at a time when the president is attempting to spur federal law enforcement into action to target Antifa—which has a coherent ideological base and ties stretching back to domestic and international terrorism for over 60 years—for its role as violent agitators in the ongoing protests, despite claims by certain sympathetic lawmakers that Antifa is “imaginary.”

Meanwhile, some government officials, aided by the media, continue to lie about the role of Antifa in the protests. D.C. District Attorney Karl Racine claimed no local rioters had ties to Antifa, despite one arrested individual having been profiled by the Washington Post as an Antifa leader, according to independent journalist Andy Ngo, who recently testified before Congress on the Antifa threat.

The Department of Homeland Security is inverting reality. Its National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium wants people to believe that a nebulous group of Hawaiian shirt-attired individuals known for sharing Boogaloo and frog memes is an organized insurrectionist movement that threatens public safety, human life, and the Constitution, while simultaneously insisting that a highly developed and organized Marxist-anarchist network devoted to all those evils doesn’t really exist at all. 

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About Kyle Shideler

Kyle Shideler is the Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterroism at the Center for Security Policy. You can follow him at @ShidelerK on Twitter.

Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

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