I travel in the same social circles as a lot of people who ended up in the alt right. I think it’s not coincidental that I also travel in the same social circles as a lot of people who ended up in the most toxic ends of call-out culture. It seemed to me that in these circles, often, if you were male, you ended up alt-right calling youtube videos SJWs for saying they liked a gay character, and if you were female, you ended up on Tumblr harrassing highschoolers for drawing art of cartoon characters with the wrong skin tone (even though they weren’t even originally human.)
My experience with the alt-right people I know has been that they often started out as genuinely compassionate, kind, helpful, and otherwise on the right track people. But they had some struggles at some point, and ended up running into someone who rejected them on the grounds of their BEING white men. Or people who responded politically first to a problem that needed personal attention.
If a guy goes through a break-up, and he’s despondent and upset that he can’t get with anyone, that is not the time to call him out for his male privilege in thinking he’s entitled to a woman’s vagina. If a guy is upset that a girl he likes doesn’t see him romantically, that’s not the time to say that feeling makes him a rapist in training. When a man has been molested or raped, that’s not the time to tell him that his rape isn’t as bad as if he’d been a woman. And as important as it can be to look at art from a perspective of politics, when a guy says he likes something, and that something is in some way problematic, it’s probably not a good idea to call him a Nazi for thinking “The Incredibles” was a fun movie. When a guy is working two jobs AND struggling to attend college, you should probably not slap his lunch for the day out of his hand because he got it from Chik-Fil-A, and call him “homophobic racist bastard” for daring to work there.
I’ve seen those. On top of that, I’ve personally been told that, as a white man, I can’t have an anxiety disorder, because the REAL anxiety disorder is being black in America. I’ve been told I can’t be depressed, because depression is for LGBT people and I, as a white man, should not be taking their experience. I used to wear a broad-brimmed hat in order to block out the sun due to my light sensitivity, and I had it grabbed off my head and told I was promoting rape culture because MRAs wear fedoras.
I’m not saying there would not otherwise be nazis. But the performative wokeness and calling out of every person who says or does a ‘problematic’ thing cotnributes to the presence of the alt-right. The ritualistic disgust and disdain makes it very clear that to be accepted as a white person, you must describe yourself as gross and disgusting at all turns.
When we don’t have more mature people leading the discourse, which too often we do not, the message we get is not “Non-white identities need to be valued.” It’s “Every identity is acceptable except white people, who are subhuman slime.” This isn’t an effect of that being what identity politics IS. This is an effect of the fact that too often, identity politics is mispracticed by immature idiots, and that the more mature people who understand it better are loathe to call them out lest they ‘damage the movement.’
I’m reminded of how, when my mother would insult me, say I’ll never accomplish anything, say I’m stupid or I’m useless or I’m disgusting, my father (who was much calmer) would respond to this when I complained to him about it by explaining that mom suffered from depression and anxiety and was just lashing out because she was upset.
Which is fine. And true. And I hold no antipathy towards her because I DO understand that. But what I needed to hear was “You’re fine, you’re not worthless, you’re not disgusting, you’re worthy of love and respect.
This is the alt-right writ large. Without people like Freddie, who are willing to say that yes, white privilege does exist, and also some people who talk about it are idiots and should be ignored, I imagine I might have ended up amongst them. I was lucky enough not to.
The performance of “I hate white people so much!” is going to inevitably lead to white people hating you right back. When you call someone a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a transphobe, for even the most minor things… Well, sometimes they’ll just go along with it.
It’s an unfortunate cycle, but it happens. People get rejected by idiots, have that idiocy reinforced, and then they go to the alt-right because they’ve just been told that’s where they are anyway. People who think they’re helping black rights and LGBT rights and women’s rights keep telling someone they’re the enemy.
If you don’t get a strong counter-narrative when people talk about vhow your enjoyment of one kid’s TV show, or dislike of another kid’s TV show, makes you an enemy of feminism… Well, is it surprising that you decide feminism is stupid and needs to be gotten rid of, if that’s the battles it’s fighting?
I’ve talked to Trump-worshippers and Pepe-posters, and I have gotten a couple of them to change their views. Not 100% radical switch, but to see what they’d gotten into and the problems it causes.
I think there’s a lot of people in the alt-right who we could get on our side, if we just stopped telling them to go away.