One of the things I study is the way that subcultures online develop their own vocabularies and memes as a way to distinguish between the out group members and in group members. And just this last week, the mainstream media picked up on a particularly disgusting meme employed by neo Nazis and white supremacists: the (((echo))).
Neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white nationalists have begun using three sets of parentheses encasing a Jewish surname — for instance, (((Fleishman))) — to identify and target Jews for harassment on blogs and major social media sites like Twitter. As one white supremacist tweeted, “It’s closed captioning for the Jew-blind.”
The origins of the symbol ((())) can be traced to a hardcore, right-wing podcast called The Daily Shoah in 2014. It’s known as an “echo” in the anti-Semitic corners of the alt-right — a new, young, amorphous conservative movement that comprises trolls fluent in internet culture, free speech activists warring against political correctness and earnest white nationalists. Some use the symbol to mock Jews; others seek to expose supposed Jewish collusion in controlling media or politics. All use it to put a target on their heads.
To the public, the symbol is not easily searchable on most sites and social networks; search engines strip punctuation from results. This means that trolls committed to uncovering, labeling and harassing Jewish users can do so in relative obscurity: No one can search those threats to find who’s sending them.
One echo user referred to it as “belling the cat,” making it easier to find and harass their targets by using a code that is difficult for the uninitiated to detect.
In response, lots of Twitter users have started encasing their own names as “a gesture of pride and reclamation” or as a symbol of solidarity. According to Matthew Yglesias at Vox, “the idea is that the act of singling out Jews for discrimination with a particular marker is thwarted if non-Jews choose to wear it voluntarily.”
This is a great response, but I would also like to humbly suggest a few punctuation marks that, I think, aptly describe the white supremacists who use the (((echo))) as their calling card:
( )*( )