The Other McCain

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

It Can’t Happen Here

Posted on | March 6, 2023 | 1 Comment

In a post about the new Netflix series Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies, and the Internet, Jeff Goldstein points out the essential difference between neo-Nazism and American conservatism, namely that conservatism has always emphasized individual liberty. Indeed, it might be said that the charter of conservatism can be found in the Constitution, where the Founders declare their intent to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” This is part of the reason why the conflation of conservatism with Nazism has always been false, the other reason — and this is not a trivial distinction — being that America is not Germany in the aftermath of World War I.

Anyone who has seriously studied the rise of the Third Reich has to understand this. The conditions that existed in Germany in the 1920s and ’30s were sui generis, a particular set of historical circumstances that never existed anywhere else at any other time. This is why neo-Nazism is always doomed to failure. The Hitler wannabees are wrong to believe they can replicate in America (or anywhere else) the astonishing events by which Hitler went from being a fringe figure to being the all-powerful leader of what was, in 1939, the world’s greatest military power.

Neo-Nazis are fools and, however dangerous their folly may be — no matter how many acts of criminal terrorism they may commit — there is no real possibility that they will organize a “Fourth Reich.”

Once you realize this, you recognize that left-wing rhetoric warning about the danger posed by the “far right” is as deluded as the hateful nonsense spewed by Jew-hating kooks. The lucrative hustle of the SPLC, sniffing out allegedly dangerous “extremism” everywhere, depends on the fallacy that such extremists are (or could be) the harbingers of a future genocidal dictatorship in America: “It could happen here!”

Well, actually, no it can’t if, by “it,” you mean Nazi Germany.

Some people seem unable to deal with more than one thought at the same time, and thus cannot reconcile two realities: (a) there are dangerous “far right” kooks in America, but (b) they’re not going to take over the country. The incessant fear-mongering of the SPLC — a scam, a hustle, a racket — is wildly out of proportion to the size of the actual threat posed by neo-Nazis and their ilk. As I recently pointed out, the Anti-Defamation League’s most recent report on extremist violence found that the number of deaths from such incidents has declined sharply, from 78 in 2016 to 25 in 2022. In a nation where there are more than 22,000 homicides annually, the “extremist” threat is a statistical blip.

The way the SPLC and other such “hate” hustlers are able to keep up the scare is by expanding their purview to include as threats various groups and individuals who have never advocated or engaged in violent activity. Go ask the Family Research Council where this tactic can lead — Floyd Lee Corkins showed up with a pistol at FRC headquarters after the SPLC named them as a “hate group” for their opposition to same-sex marriage.

To repeat: Some people can’t handle two thoughts simultaneously. People may advocate viewpoints that we disagree with — viewpoints which may, in some sense, be characterized as “hate” — without representing a threat of terroristic violence. This important distinction is frequently lost in discussions of “hate,” where it is used as a pretext for “deplatforming” people whose only crime is expressing opinions that offend liberals. There was never any reason to blame FRC for violence against homosexuals (or anyone else) but, in labeling them a “hate group,” the SPLC made this conservative 501(c)3 the target of actual violence by a deranged gay man. This business of conflating conservatism with “hate” is not accidental, of course. The SPLC did not make an innocent error; they are a partisan political organization, founded by a Democrat fundraiser, and dedicated to silencing opposition to the Democratic Party and its policy agenda. Every honest and intelligent person knows this.

Which brings us back to Web of Make Believe, the Netflix series whose co-executive producer is Ron Howard, and which is directed by Brian Knappenberger, who has an interesting history. He directed the 2012 documentary We Are Legion, celebrating the criminal hacker conspiracy known as “Anonymous.” You may remember those heady days circa 2011, when Anonymous committed various cybercrimes in defense of Julian Assange and Wikileaks, crimes that were celebrated as heroic by liberals at the time. Fast-forward five years, however, when the Democratic National Committee’s emails were allegedly “hacked,” and suddenly hacking was an outrage, a sinister Russian conspiracy to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. So hacking is good, if it is viewed as helping Democrats, but evil when it hurts Democrats.

Are you surprised, then, to learn that Episode Two of Web of Make Believe is aimed at accusing the “right wing” of fomenting conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich? Then in Episode Three, as Jeff Goldstein explains at length, Knappenberger indulges in guilt-by-association between Trump supporters in general and the “Identity Evropa” group whose former spokeswoman is featured:

[The episode] connects white supremacy to conservatism, and depicts a rejection of conservatism as a concomitant Escape from Hate. All violence depicted is perpetrated by “the right”; images of Charlottesville are juxtaposed with images of January 6; the heroes are the leftwing doxxers who fight the haters, or the brave, diverse crowd who stand as a bulwark against rancid conservatism.
The protagonist — who during her online phase went by “Norah Fox” as a member of the group Identity Evropa, where she ultimately became a leader of the women’s arm, and later a popular recruiter — is herself a living metaphor for the episode’s narrative arc and heavy-handed message: she is redeemed by her rejection of the movement; and she is cleansed by engaging in a narrativized struggle session in which she is gently guided by the interviewer, with a gloss on both her redemption and on broader social issues of free speech (and why it must necessarily be policed and constrained) provided by several supporting players: a former FBI agent who bemoans the traditional “whiteness” and “maleness” of the agency; tech writer April Glaser; and New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz, this last of whom is promoted as the intellectual anchor and living conscience of the film, a role he seems to relish.

Can we take a moment to interrogate the idea that a journalist who writes about a subject (as Marantz has written about “Norah Fox”) thereby becomes an “expert” on whatever it is he’s writing about? Because I’ve written about a wide number of subjects over the years, and have never been contacted by documentary producers to pose as an “expert” on any of these topics. This sort of journalistic “expertise” seems only to be possessed by liberals, and is therefore off-limits to skeptical inquiry. You’re probably some kind of right-wing conspiracy theorist if you even call attention to the dubious nature of this kind of “expert” status.

Confronted with the tendentiousness (and obvious partisan bias) of such works as Web of Make Believe, we may classify it as propaganda. And guess who else engaged in propaganda? NAZIS, that’s who!

Godwin’s Law works both ways, you know.

(Hat-tip: Instapundit.)




One Response to “It Can’t Happen Here”

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    March 6th, 2023 @ 7:12 pm

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