The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Against Extremism

Posted on | December 3, 2019 | Comments Off on Against Extremism

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao,
You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

What John Lennon said about left-wing radicals 50 years ago is wise advice that should be heeded by radicals of the “alt-right” today, although we might need to alter the lyrics slightly: If you go carrying pictures of Ernst Rohm, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

The disastrous carnival of madness at Charlottesville in August 2017 was, for these young extremists, what the 1969 “Days of Rage” were to the SDS — proof that their movement had been seized by a totalitarian spirit incompatible with the mainstream of American political life.

What’s weird to me is that I actually knew so many of the guys involved in that scene. Here I was, a mild-mannered bourgeois grandfather enjoying life in my cozy family home amid the Appalachian hills, while that insane riot was going down, with latter-day Sturmabteilung mixing it up with Antifa thugs on the streets next to a Confederate monument near the campus of the University of Virginia. And I do not hesitate to admit that, for example, I’ve known Richard Spencer since 2007 and, when he was editor at Taki’s Magazine, I wrote several columns for them. You can read there, for example, my sarcastic thoughts about being “hate-listed” by the SPLC. (Wow, what a flashback — the time I introduced Suzanna Logan to Richard Spencer!) Even then, I knew that Richard was two or three clicks to the right of me; as I’ve said, what happened to Richard was that he read Nietzsche at a young age, and took it seriously. By the time I read Nietzsche, I was in my mid-30s, with a wife and three kids, and had been forewarned about the dangers of Nietzsche’s nihilism. Still, it was a disturbing experience to encounter Beyond Good and Evil and wonder, “What if he’s right?” That’s the thing about me — even when dealing with arguments that directly oppose my own values, I try to step back and objectively consider the possibility that I’ve overlooked something and thus might be, in some sense, mistaken in my beliefs.

Over the years, I’ve read all kinds of “extremist” literature — Marxism, feminism, whatever — and had to deal with these contradictions, but if you aren’t willing to confront your antagonist’s arguments directly (e.g., reading four entire books by Andrea Dworkin), you’re guilty of intellectual cowardice. That’s the problem with most liberals — they’ve never bothered to examine and carefully consider the best work of conservative thinkers. One of these days, I might meet a liberal who has actually read Thomas Sowell, but if it ever happens, that will be the first time it’s happened. Because liberalism is so pervasive among the college-educated classes, including the overwhelming majority of journalists, it’s easy for them to follow the herd and live inside an echo-chamber where everyone they respect and take seriously agrees with them. And so the rest of us, in the “basket of deplorables,” are dismissed as ignorant bigots, no matter how intelligent or well-educated we might be.

If you’ve ever had the chance to meet some of the intellectuals who have inspired the “alt-right,” you know how false the stereotype is. Paul Gottfried, Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor, Amy Wax — they are not stupid, nor should they be dismissed as “haters” simply because they have devoted themselves to contradicting the liberal (and neoconservative) narrative about controversial issues including racial problems. Neither is it fair to blame “alt-right” intellectuals for violence perpetrated by the kind of idiots whose idea of a fun summer weekend is doing Hitlerjugend cosplay at a protest rally. (Here’s a clue for you boys: If you don’t want to be treated like a stereotype, don’t act like a stereotype.) Any intelligent person understands that, whatever “cause” you claim to represent, you will discredit your cause in the eyes of most Americans if you resort to lawless violence. That’s the story of #BlackLivesMatter in a nutshell — how many riots did we need to see before deciding that this was a bad movement? I’m certain that the Charlotte, N.C., riot in September 2016 played a crucial role in tipping the election to President Trump. The facts of that particular case — the local police chief was black, and the suspect was a career criminal — contradict the #BlackLivesMatter narrative of racist white cops murdering innocent black men in cold blood.

Anyone who would both to investigate the facts could see that this liberal victimhood narrative was false, and Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops, pointed out that a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by black man than the other way around. The mythology of #BlackLivesMatter was based on a lie, and that lie was not trivial. Protecting the public from crime is one of the most basic duties of government, and the dangerous falsehoods propagated in the name of “social justice” undermine the safety of every American — especially black people, who are most often the victims of violence perpetrated by black criminals. Why is it “racism” to tell the truth about this?

People get angry when they know they have been deceived, so if white voters were angry in November 2016, whose fault is that? When is CNN going to admit its role in creating the “alt-right”? If the mainstream media would just tell the truth, maybe people wouldn’t be so angry.

However angry we are, and however justified our anger might be, we must resist the siren voices who would lure us to destruction. If conservatives understand their duty to defend civilization against decadence, anarchy, barbarism and tyranny, then it is obvious that the August 2017 riot at Charlottesville was contrary to that duty. Never mind the role of Left in precipitating that violence; whose idea was it to invite every skinhead and Klansman on the continent to that rally? Who decided that a nighttime tiki-torch parade, a scene straight out of Triumph of the Will, was “good optics” for the Right?

Well, I’ve rambled on for nearly a thousand words, when all I wanted to do was to talk about the SPLC’s smear of Stephen Miller:

For most of its history, a wise observer once remarked, the American conservative movement has been an oxymoron: it doesn’t move anywhere and has never conserved anything. The man who made that observation died a few years ago, but not before suffering the common fate of anyone who tells the truth in America. He was denounced as a racist, banished from polite society, and “hate-listed” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Such is the destructive fate that liberals (and some misguided soi-disant “conservatives”) have in mind for Stephen Miller, the senior adviser to President Trump. If you are a conservative who just stumbled onto this column online, and you are too busy to read past the first paragraph, let me sum it up succinctly: Protecting Miller from this dishonest attack is as vital to the future of the Republican Party as it is to oppose the Democrats’ efforts to impeach our president.
Even his worst enemies will admit that Stephen Miller is a genius. Whatever his IQ might be, it’s almost certainly at least one standard deviation above the average of your typical Republican political strategist. Miller has an uncanny knack for spotting the key stress points in our long-running culture war and finding ways to leverage these conflicts to gain support for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda. It is precisely because he has been so effective that the Left has long sought a way to destroy him, and it is frankly shocking that a former writer for Breitbart News was willing to assist the president’s enemies in this project by leaking hundreds of emails to the SPLC. . . .

Read the rest of my latest column at The American Spectator.



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