For the past few weeks, right-wing social media personalities have been arguing about the pit bull dog breed, and alt-right internet activists are utilizing the conversation to justify statistics they believe justify their vitriolic racism toward minorities in America.
The years-old debate about pit bulls, as it is currently happening online, hinges on statistics about the breed’s purported tendency to violently attack people. Or, as Scott Greer at the Daily Caller puts it, the debate is between “pit bull attack data vs. the one cute pic you found of a pit bull”:
The great debate: pit bull attack data vs. the one cute pic you found of a pit bull pic.twitter.com/o5RC9MZUkh
— Scott Greer (@ScottMGreer) May 14, 2018
While some naïve Twitter users are debating pit bulls purely on the merits of the dog breed, many right-wing figures have attempted to co-opt the discussion to reconcile their use of crime statistics to justify racism. Although alt-right figures have been pushing the trope for months with little viable success, multiple new threads on the anonymous image board 4chan using racial slurs to liken black people to dogs have invigorated the racism-laden discussions about demographics in America. One user called the pit bull debate “slow burning troll with major payoff potential”:
It’s also worth noting that images of pit bulls have also served as ages-old icons among white supremacists. But the newest pit bull narrative has been most aggressively pushed by Twitter user “WildGoose,” who is apparently a former writer for the nationalist site The Ralph Retort.
Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist podcaster, mocked liberal attitudes on race when discussing pit bulls earlier this year. “I’m a little bit progressive. When people talk about pit bulls, I say, ‘What? You mean dog?’” Fuentes said, before sarcastically eluding to his feigned tolerance of “killers” roaming “the streets of the inner cities” and comparing the rate of violent pit bull attacks to the number of African Americans jailed in the United States for violent crimes.
This tweet, shared by Colin Robertson—an alt-right video blogger who calls himself “Millennial Woes”—used the pit bull debate as a proxy for making a white nationalist anti-immigrant argument.
Once called out online, some alt-right sympathizers who were pushing the spin-off discussion pulled a signature 180-degree turn to accuse liberals who exposed what the alt-right was doing of being the actual racists.
Left twitter thinks the pitbull “meme” is an analogy for blaq pepo
— ＲＵＩＮ™ (@BravingRuin) May 14, 2018
The blog Angry White Men also posted a few examples of this trend:
— J-Leftorium (@EyesOnTheRight) May 14, 2018