The rest of the civilized world is celebrating the reveal of Barack and Michelle Obama’s official portraits today. But one corner of the internet is taking a darker approach.
Far-right trolls have mounted a campaign to discredit Barack Obama’s portrait artist, Kehinde Wiley, based on their interpretations of a series of paintings the artists had done previously.
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The former President of the United States has chosen a white genocide fetish artist to paint his Presidential portrait. If that isn't a wake up call, I don't know what is… https://t.co/bt8bSrAm5r
— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) February 12, 2018
The same man (Kehinde Wiley) who drew Obama's portrait also drew this depiction of a "queen" cutting off the head of a young white child. pic.twitter.com/INgMmxH3bG
In keeping with the tactic of mounting a campaign based on manufactured outrage, trolls have inundated twitter with responses to the series of paintings depicting black women dressed as queens beheading white women – an interpretation of the Biblical story of Judith beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes.
Far-right trolls cried “racism” and branded Wiley as such and the Obamas by association for choosing him as the official portrait artist. Mainstream media outlets dutifully picked up the story.
This is the same tactic these trolls used to garner media attention around other pet causes. Last year, pizza-gate troll Jack Posobiec sued a movie theater for holding a females-only screening of Wonder Woman. He also propagated the conspiracy theory about the death of Seth Rich.
The far right is known for weaponing irony and making of a point to never take anything seriously. The movement aggressively trolls anyone who does. It has become increasingly difficult to discern between true outrage and manufactured outrage emanating from the far right, and as a result, mainstream media covers these arguments in the same way regardless. It amplifies the far right’s message, galvanizing regular republicans around issues they might not have ever taken up in the first place.
That’s exactly what seems to be happening here, stealing the thunder of two notable African-American artists whose groundbreaking work shattered conventions of presidential portraiture and changed the game for the art going forward.