Tiki Torch

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The alt-right co-opted the Tiki® Torch, an innocent barbecue torch, against the manufacturer's wishes and for their own nefarious purposes. Richard Spencer said, "We've really gotten into the tiki torch nationalism, we’ve embraced it, I love it."[1] The use of tiki torches by racists is loaded with irony because of:

  • The torches and pitchforks trope, [2] particularly parodies such as Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein.[3] When a mob using torches and/or pitchforks is going after a hero(es) in the drama, it often results in the shaming of the mob, as was the case with the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.
  • The word tiki originates from Polynesian languages. Tiki was a culture hero in much of Polynesia; among the Maori, Tiki was the first human.[4]

The use of torches as threatening instruments goes back to the Bible (John, 18:3), but the more likely cultural reference is with the KKK's use of torches for cross burning to intimidate, and the use of torchlight processions by Nazis at the Nuremberg rallies.[5]

  1. A guide to some of the far-right symbols seen in Charlottesville by Matt Pearce (August 14, 2017) Los Angeles Times.
  2. Torches and Pitchforks TV Tropes
  3. Film / Young Frankenstein TV Tropes
  4. How the Tiki torch was co-opted by white supremacists by Tom Ryan (August 21, 2017) TRT World.
  5. A Short History Of Torches And Intimidation by Sarah Bond (Aug 15, 2017 @ 01:04 PM) Forbes.

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