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Friday, December 20, 2019

Follow-Up On "Ted Williams" Article: Changing Names But Same Dangerous Message

A month ago ARC published an article exposing the creator of a series of poorly constructed but virulently Islamophobic, xenophobic, and racist "memes" ostensibly penned by one "Ted Williams":


As a result of a tip we were able to identify "Ted Williams" as John Newton, formerly of Toronto currently residing in Costa Rica with his wife Loreta Yukeco; the irony and hypocrisy of missives about immigrants to Canada and the evils of socialism in the memes while they live in a foreign country on their CPP and OAS has certainly not escaped my attention:



In fact and in retrospect, I should have acknowledged the "Ted Williams" memes as a joint project of both Newton and Yukeco as Yukeco appears to be the person most active in disseminating them online and may be the one creating them now.

As transparently false as they might be, these memes have found a fairly large audience in the Islamophobic and racist ecosystem as credulous bigots share them primarily in far-right Facebook groups and on each other's own social media profiles.

Since the publication of the article last month, there has been a bit of a change in tactics if one if one could even dignify what they are doing as tactical. Yukeco is still sharing the "Ted William" memes, but not as many as before (they also all to be older ones). Instead there is now a cast of fictional characters who have been created to share Newton's and Yukeco's bigoted views and spread false information:

"Terribely" eh?

I mean, where does one start?


First, I'm quite sure a university history professor (or teacher) wouldn't need to reach out to random people on Facebook to answer a question given that the profession is sort of based on research. Second there's the fact that professors don't really refer to themselves as professors. Rather if our fake professor was inclined to include an honorific, he or she would go by Dr. Aldrich. However there actually isn't a Dr. Aldrich at Bowling Green State University (an interesting choice incidentally) though there is as of the writing of this article a PhD. candidate in sociology with that surname and a Dr. Howard E. Aldrich and Penny Daum Aldrich Distinguished Professor in Sociology title named after two distinguished alumni of the university. Third the email provided isn't that of the fictional professor but in fact will take you to the International Student Services office:
The International Student Services Office leads Bowling Green State University's efforts in recruiting international students and supporting them throughout their career at BGSU by providing them with immigration advising, advocacy, and programming support.
I could keep picking the meme apart because it is so easy to do so. Any critical thinker would see right through it as an obvious fake. However, since it confirms the biases held by the Islaophobes and xenophobes who already believe this bs already, they have bought it hook, line, and sinker:







But "Professor Aldrich" isn't alone in providing hyperbolic anecdotes and false information. Here is just a tiny fraction of the characters created to supplement the "Ted Williams" memes.

There's "Sandy MacDonald":


"Fred Wilson":


"Betty Wilson" (probably not married to "Fred Wilson" though as her husband had to see a "phyciotrist" about his severe Islamophobia problem):


"Karen Sanderson":


"Sam Mills":



"Ernie Komher:


"William O'Malley" (who probably should get in touch with "Betty Wilson" regarding the spelling of psychiatrist):


And my absolute personal favorite, "Guy Lacrosse":


Yeah, it's funny that Yukeco as "seen" all these posts that mimic exactly what she and her husband have written about themselves. I mean, what are the odds?

She even posted a missive under the real name of her husband:


So says someone literally not living in Canada.

These are all admittedly unintentionally, though objectively, hilarious and worthy of ridicule. They are absolutely terrible and designed by "boomers" who really think that most people will believe them despite being so transparently fake, and as someone with a lot of fake profiles on Facebook and elsewhere I know what I'm talking about.

The thing is though, there are people who do believe them because they are already inclined to believe them. And in this echo chamber, these ridiculously bad memes are helping to further radicalize the Islamophobes and xenophobes even further to the point that they are actively suggesting violent retribution.

Let's get back to the "Professor Aldrich" post for example. This was one of the exchanges that took place in the discussion thread:


One person suggesting murdering Muslims as if they are putting down rabid dogs and Yukeco mussing as to why no one has tried to assassinate Trudeau.... yet.

These kinds of comments can be found in response to almost all of Yukeco's posted memes:




They can also be found when Yukeco shares other notorious liars such as Kevin "Poodle" Johnston (who apparently spent another 10 days in jail last month):









I'm not sure if it is an exaggeration to state based on how she posts dehumanizing, incendiary comments, conspiracy theories, and lies while also antagonizing the people commenting that from the safety of her home in Costa Rica, Loreta Yukeco is trying to get someone killed in Canada.

And this is what the result of what such dehumanization can lead to:






She further can't resist another fake anecdote from another fake character:


So while we might find these laughable, there are those who read them as truth and are increasingly desirous that they be acted upon.

They become less funny once one comes to that particular realization. 

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