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The New Criterion

On the “Let’s Go Brandon” phenomenon and its causes.

James Bowman

Dec. 2021

Right up there with “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” as an instant American classic is what Slate has called “the secretly vulgar chant suddenly beloved by Republicans”—though “secretly vulgar” is an oxymoron, and enthusiasm for the increasingly popular “Let’s Go Brandon” chant is hardly limited to Republicans. It isn’t by way of the country club and the Chamber of Commerce that you arrive at viral meme-hood, I think. Ex-military guys who shop at convenience stores are a different matter. When one of them, a Marine Corps veteran named James Kilcer from Yuma, Arizona, went viral himself by disarming and capturing a gas-station robber, he accepted his award for valor from the Yuma County sheriff’s office wearing a tee-shirt emblazoned with the slogan lets [sic] go brandon over an image of an American flag.

He would have been ill-advised to do that if he were still serving, of course, but I imagine that sales of the shirt will be plentiful among victims of the advertised purge of political “extremists” from the American armed forces. What made the slogan suddenly beloved by me is that its satirical shaft is directed not just at hapless Joe Biden, who is no more capable of inspiring Trumpian levels of hatred than he is Trumpian levels of love. Coined in October 2021 by Kelli Stavast of nbc Sports, when she ostensibly misheard a vulgar chant directed at the President by the crowd at a nascar race in Talladega, Alabama, “Let’s Go Brandon” has since become even more popular than its original, at least partly because it ridicules the slavishly devoted media, whose absurd attempts to cover for the President’s many failures appear to have reached their ne plus ultra with Ms. Stavast’s version of the slogan.


And maybe behind those teachers, too, who are openly or surreptitiously trying to introduce fashionable left-wing orthodoxies into our public school curricula, indoctrinating children as young as five. At any rate, such teachers and the local school boards that employ them have already inspired a revolt by enraged parents, whom the Attorney General of the United States has averred pose a threat to the republic comparable to that of “domestic terrorists.” As Mr. Biden himself would say, I’m not kidding. Not that that it’s any real surprise. The same characterization of the Capitol rioters of January 6 by the President (not to mention the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the nation’s armed forces) suggested some time ago that any resistance to the Left’s agenda “to fundamentally transform the country” is liable to be treated as potential, if not actual, terrorism.





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