Last week, Shia LaBeouf’s “He Will Not Divide Us” live-stream was shuttered by Queens’ Museum of the Moving Image, who cited the “serious and ongoing safety hazard” associated with so many people, of all political stripes, furiously wanking in a single area. Since it was conceived by the team of LaBeouf, Nastja Säde Rönkkö, and Luke Turner as a response to the inauguration of Donald Trump, the performance art piece had become a target for 4chan trolls and maybe-ironic white nationalists who were eager for a new medium to shout their memes into as a way of drowning out the ever-present void, creating a tense, generally irritating atmosphere that led to a 24/7 police presence, numerous arrests (including LaBeouf himself), and eventually, the whole thing being shut down. But before it was over, it gave the world a lasting, poignant image of America’s newest political force: a bunch of shirtless, bellowing, internet outlaws chugging milk while joking about racism.
Yes, milk, long beloved of babies, is now associated with attention-seeking, sort-of-kidding white supremacists, who have adopted it—like New Balance shoes and Wendy’s before it—as a winking symbol of their own racial superiority. As with every aspect of the “alt-right” culture, of course, understanding how this happened requires digging through multiple layers of internet irony and eye-stabbing 4chan threads: Essentially, somebody once posted a scientific study on higher instances of lactose intolerance among certain populations; some of 4chan’s legion of “shitposters”—who were just being edgy!—used this a springboard to joke about how the ability to drink milk is a mark of white purity. The meme then entered our bleary-eyed waking world when Internet-famous rapper Paperboy Prince told 4chan personality “/pol/blart,” live on Shia LaBeouf’s stream, that drinking milk is “hate speech,” thus giving their trolling the transformative power of someone actually caring.
In response, “/pol/blart”—along with his various other message board bandits riding roughshod across the hardy terrain of message boards, rebelling against the hegemony of not being dicks to everyone—swarmed the museum to strip to the waist, dance around, and drink milk straight from the bottle. As they dribbled that milk like big, manly toddlers into their goatees, one of them dripping it down the LOL-Nazi tattoos on their chest, they cheered their exuberant display of “peak masculinity.” They flexed and bragged about how much they could squat. They rubbed their pale, glistening, milk-fed bellies together, did cartwheels, straddled their balls across each other’s necks, and shouted about “cucks” and the “vegan agenda.” And they laughed at how they were making fools of all the triggered, gay libtards down in their safe spaces and the silly things they do, shouting out their alpha male community of dudes who spend their entire day trading in-jokes on the internet.
And hey, it worked! Not only did they make a bunch of museum employees sick of dealing with grown men giggling about Hitler, then triumphantly force them to cancel an art installation, the media actually wrote about how Nazis love milk! Thanks to this, the “alt-right’s” love of milk is now officially a meme we all have to hear about—which is why you will see people like Richard Spencer, the punched face of the movement, ceremonially replacing the cartoon frogs with milk emojis in their Twitter handles and joking about how cows are racists and the “lactose intolerant left.” All in all, a successful act of proving to Shia LaBeouf that, when it comes to being obnoxious solely for attention, these pasty bros spitting up milk on themselves into a webcam are truly superior.