Last semester, the Berkeley College Republicans’ decision to hold a bake sale event against affirmative action legislation sparked controversy across the campus and the nation, eliciting a heavy amount of online criticism.
And now, a “College Republican meme” has sprung up on the Internet mocking the group and its president, Shawn Lewis.
The meme, which was first posted several weeks ago, features a photograph of Lewis along with overlaying text that pokes fun at student Republicans and their stereotypical conservativeness. The images frequently satirize conservative views on war, government, social reform and other controversial ideas.
“I was kind of surprised to see it,” Lewis said. “I think it’s entertaining, but it says more about the creator of the memes than what college Republicans think.”
Lewis was launched into the national spotlight in September, when the group’s “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” — an event intended to protest the affirmative action-like bill SB 185 — elicited outrage from other campus groups because of its pricing of cupcakes by race and gender.
Lewis said he believes many of the statements on the meme to be “quite inaccurate,” including an image with the text “goes to conservative private school in the South” and several statements that label Republicans as racists.
“I think almost anybody of relevance has a sort of Internet caricature,” he said, pointing out that a college liberal meme had also existed before this one emerged. He added that he thinks both memes are just for entertainment.
According to website quickmeme.com, where the meme is hosted, several of the images have been viewed over 50,000 times.
Despite the meme’s targeted mockery, Lewis said he does not take the meme as a personal offense.
“I don’t consider it to be libel,” he said. “I haven’t sought getting it removed — it’s free speech and it doesn’t seem like an attack to me, so it doesn’t bother me.”
Amy Wang covers academics and administration.