The messages are written, we hope, with some sense of irony. And yet they are so very creepy.
Hundreds of posts in Reddit’s The_Donald forum ― where Donald Trump this week participated in a Q&A session ― refer to the Republican presidential nominee as “God Emperor.”
The practice of using this name for Trump apparently caught on last spring. New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman wrote in May about the deluge of anti-Semitic hate he’d received from self-identified Trump supporters, including “Nazi iconography of the shiftless, hooknosed Jew” from a user called “Trump God Emperor.”
Among Trump’s active online supporters, using the nickname is now commonplace. The post announcing Trump’s participation in the Q&A heralded “our God Emperor,” and a search of the phrase returned over 200 posts in the day after Trump’s appearance.
Some forum members say “God Emperor” is simply a tongue-in-cheek attempt to rile up Trump opponents who fear he would be a strongman as president. The term is attributed variously to God Emperor characters in the science fiction series Dune and a tabletop game called “Warhammer 40,000.”
“We know he can’t literally be one,” wrote member NewJersey908, but the phrase whips people “into a frenzy saying that we literally want a dictator.”
Likewise, The_Donald members also frequently describe Trump as “His Nimbleness” and call each other “centipedes,” apparently a joking reference to a series of YouTube videos that blend footage of Trump with narration of what sounds like a nature show on insects.
Yet the bizarre and sometimes vulgar terms common to the forum (their enemies are “cucks,” an abbreviation of the racially charged term “cuckold”) are paired with fringe conspiratorial views.
The most popular forum posts from the last month include one complaining that the media paid too much attention to a black police officer who was shot. Another referenced a conspiracy that a Democratic National Committee staffer was murdered for leaking the group’s emails. A third, titled “Religion of Peace,” features a cartoon of an Arab man with a bomb.
This nexus of pro-Trump activity on Reddit is strictly policed, with the goal of providing a safe space for its members.
“Like Trump’s campaign, r/The_Donald has faced significant growing pains transitioning from a ragtag political campaign into a nationally relevant force,” NBC News reported. “Its moderators have clashed over its direction and at times struggled to keep the site from being overrun by white supremacist and neo-Nazi Trump supporters.”
Ahead of the Q&A on Wednesday, forum moderators banned more than 2,200 accounts, according to tech site The Next Web.
“Mods banned any account created within the past month, and any that asked questions they felt were hostile, although there were no clear-cut guidelines of what constituted a hostile question,” The Next Web reported.
The forum’s previous leader, CisWhiteMaelstrom, was removed “over accusations he planned to coordinate with white nationalist leaders to promote Trump.”
Assuming you don’t spend a lot of time in The_Donald, below is a taste of what you’ve missed this past week.
“I will be voting for the smoothest centipede, God Emperor DONALD J. TRUMP”
“Thrust Game Too Strong”
“I bow before the GOD EMPEROR as I realize the error of my ways”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.