A couple days ago somebody retweeted this post, which I thought was vaguely interesting and not unexpected. You see this weird medieval stuff from time to time, and it doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense:
lololol the alt right is seriously circulating a ‘crying templar’ meme over refugees pic.twitter.com/rs1xM9vVI3
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) August 22, 2016
(Read the convo thread only if you want a dose of questionable opinions on the crusades; I covered this last February at length)
Then today I saw Dave Perry’s daily column about the post, and it seems that it’s hard to dig up where it came from. Which strikes me as odd. If it’s such a big “alt-right” deal, as Ahmed suggests, it should be getting around, right? But, no such luck apparently.
So, I did a bit of digging. The image seems to have no provenance, except for a post I found on the Google+ page “The Catholic Faith,” from April 2014–so it’s not new. That in turns tracks to an article from the website of the same name. There are two track-backs from white surpremacist sites, both of which have this curious sentence: “This is a meme that probably originated from /pol/.” I have no idea what that is (dark net?? I plead ignorance here), but it would unlock the mystery as to the origin of the meme itself. [update: my tech-savvy brother informs me that /pol/ is 4chan…so, the murky web…]
The text, on the other hand, proved somewhat easier to track. It seems to come from a now-defunct Tumblr account called “trade network”, also posted in 2014 (as recorded in the attributions in this post). It was re-posted a number of times, mostly on Tumblr, with some blogging as well, in these accounts, among others, usually accompanied with GIF footage of Kingdom of Heaven and titled “for all white people”: here, here, here, here, here, and here (this last takes the post to task). There’s also this fascinating reddit thread here.
So, the image, quote, and description itself aren’t new, and, while clearly responding to the refugee crisis in Europe, don’t really stand out from the crowd of other such “medieval” posts and movements produced around that time (Sons of Odin, anyone?). Matching it with a badly-drawn picture of a crying Templar is interesting, but not much more than that. It certainly doesn’t represent some kind of “new troubling development” in our summer of discontent 2016, and is of minor interest. Unless it starts popping up everywhere, THEN that will be worth a second look.