Earlier this week, the Oklahoma social media scene went into an uproar when some white guys with beards who may or may not own tiki torches launched a shirt with an inspiring, probably white nationalist message – “Defend OKC.”
Check it out:
Here’s another view:
On first glance, I’m mostly offended that it looks like it is promoting a generic Myspace hardcore band from 2006. Brass knuckles, wow so tuff. And that stencil font- woof. This shirt that looks like it was designed by a high school student doodling on the back of their notebook can be had for the ridiculous price of $28.
But where is the rest of the outrage coming from? Well, to start with, the “About Us” on their website is full of white nationalist dog whistles:
Oklahoma is a truly unique creation.
The spirit of the people who were attracted to the prospect of claiming ownership of and settling the unassigned lands in 1889 resonates to this day.
The homestead acts that established the settlement of this land said it all: If you claim it, defend it, and improve it, it’s yours.
We don’t think that idea is gone. We don’t believe that Oklahoma City is a mere economic zone for consumption. For us, Oklahoma is a place to stake your claim, dig in, and make something of it.
After all if you won’t defend it, do you really own it?
1. This completely throws out the fact that indigenous people were settled here long before the US government decided to open up the borders for all the white yokels to come in and lay claim to all the land. Does this brand care to “defend” the Shawnee, Osage, Caddo, Potawatomi, Delaware, Sac & Fox, or any of the other numerous tribes that had roots here before all the Sooners arrived?
2. If Oklahoma City shouldn’t be a “mere economic zone for consumption,” why are they selling these ugly shirts for like $30? That’s like three Steak Sandwich Supremes, who the hell has that kinda money to buy a low-rent MMA shirt?
And, the apparent owner of the company was outed on Twitter by a former friend:
Last year, a good friend mine started sympathizing with white nationalist ideas. We met once to talk and they voiced concerns that “whiteness was in danger”, “Blacks just have different values” etc
I’ve consistently reached out to them since & no response.
Now they’re doing this: pic.twitter.com/grK0QSArZ4
— Paul Zimmerman (@DawgHeardThat) July 9, 2018
Over the last few days, the Internet Outrage Machine has gone into full-effect. They basically called out the shirt maker for being a white nationalist sympathizer. This led to the website issuing a statement that still doesn’t explain anything but vehemently denies any involvement with hate groups:
It’s been quite an eventful day around here. I started this brand as a way to encourage people to take a vested interest in our great city and to defend the uniqueness of OKC. We are a city of entrepreneurial spirit and have so much rich history and yet so much room for growth. This account serves to encourage the citizens of OKC to have pride of ownership and to look for ways to improve (and defend!) upon the city, nothing more.
Unfortunately Defend OKC has been targeted by some sort of a libel campaign and attempts are being made to reach out to the publisher of false information. Inspiration for Defend OKC came from seeing these campaigns pop up across other cities and communities: Defend New Orleans, Defend Brooklyn, Defend Paris. These places have rich history and rich stories to tell that are uniquely their own. This platform was designed to encourage the development of OKC’s story, with the intention that you would all be inspired to be a main character in it. The brand and myself are in no way associated with hate groups of any sort and regret that you were led to believe that. But I guess it’s part of the story now. I’m here for any questions or inquiries you may have. -T
p.s. I know, I know, brass knuckles?? I’m a guy, I think they look cool. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Okay but WHO ARE WE DEFENDING OKLAHOMA CITY FROM? Are we worried that Tulsa or Los Angeles or Wichita are going to swoop in here and just wreck our culture? Whatever this guy’s intentions are, it does not help his cause that he is utterly incapable of defining the message behind his brand, even though it seems like there is some kind of strong statement behind the imagery. Your logo is BRASS KNUCKLES so clearly there is somebody you wanna beat up.
If anything, I would love it if we collectively decided to defend ourselves from swindlers looking to make Oklahoma City a “mere economic zone.” Ya know, the ones hawking over-priced apparel that is meant to appeal to us because it has the name of our city printed on it. I’d also like to defend OKC from this pseudo-tough-guy imagery that is counter to our true culture, which is being friendly and kind and understanding to any individual who would like to visit or live in our weird little state.
What do you think? Is this all a case of vague, ham-fisted messaging being taken wildly out of context? Or is it that hip new Richard Spencer brand of slick, white nationalism creeping into the metro? I’m sure you will let us know how you feel in the comments.