Have you hugged an Alt-Right today?
The National Policy Institute caters to white people of European descent who don’t want to interact with other races. (Here’s video of a rally where some of them perform Nazi salutes and shout “Hail our people! Hail Trump!”)
I’ve had friends tell me recently that we should “marginalize” and “silence” people like this. I enthusiastically disagree.
Here are 4 reasons I think we should try to listen to, and understand, Trump’s Alt-Right movement.
1) Marginalizing and silencing them was what caused this problem in the first place.
Did you know that Reddit actually went out of their way to silence Trump supporters?
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman made changes to “prevent some posts from its popular pro-Donald Trump subreddit r/the_donald from appearing on one of the site’s main hubs.” He also personally edited some of their posts. This is one of the most popular websites in the world that is supposedly a democratic space.
I read Reddit every day, and I was shocked when Trump won.
Reddit tried to marginalize and silence the Alt-Right. And it WORKED.
They successfully separated Trump supporters from “the rest of us,” meaning we had no channel to hear these people and talk to them.
We were cheated of the chance to have a dialogue with them. And their passion resulted in a revolution that still shocks us daily.
2) Marginalized “losers” with no voice have nothing better to do than unite and become powerful.
Notice that both Richard B Spencer and “Millennial Woes,” the two white supremacists profiled in this piece, were marginalized losers.
I don’t mean that in a way to insult them. They had literally lost at life and were on the margins.
Spencer said he wanted to be in theater. According to his Wikipedia page, he dropped out of his PhD program and couldn’t hold a job. Even with the ramping up success of the Trump movement, he still only got “one media request a quarter.”
Millennial Woes was an art major in Scotland who was on welfare.
Neither of them had any great job prospects. The opportunity cost of organizing people was too low.
With no job or prospects, they literally had nothing better to do.
This is similar to the reason why wars and revolutions are easier to organize in poorer countries. Cheap labor means cheap soldiers.
3) We desperately need to understand the real reason for their fear and anxiety.
The real source of their anger isn’t racial mixing in America. It’s fear.
We’re in a new age where being a white male isn’t the only ticket into wealth and influence (it still provides a huge advantage.) People like Spencer, Woes, and their followers feel left out of the incredible wealth generated in the current age of automation and globalization.
This is the real reason why Trump’s supporters follow him. They’re afraid immigrants will take white jobs because of course they will. America only takes immigrants that will work harder or are smarter.
But that’s only part of the problem.
The economy is evolving. Muscles are becoming more irrelevant to work. And increasingly, so are brains.
With 400,000 ATMs in America, banks have cut their number of tellers in half. McDonald’s announced plans to replace 14,000 cashiers with robots. Autonomous self-driving cars will put 3 million truck drivers out of work.
Spencer and Woes are just two small sparks in an upcoming explosion of job loss. Job loss for repetitive work.
We desperately need to understand the real reason for the Alt-Right’s fear and anxiety.
We won’t stop their anger and hatred by making them lose more. We’ll do it by first trying to understand them.
4) It’s critical we help the Alt-Right channel their energy into something more positive.
The more we marginalize and silence the Alt-Right, the worse things will get.
On face value, it sounds completely unfair to talk about helping them.
But we’re humans and the only thing we care more about than “fair” is “whatever works best.”
Clearly marginalizing and silencing the Alt-Right didn’t work.
The Clinton era was the first where white Americans really started feeling self-conscious about saying racist things openly. We thought this was a good thing.
Now Americans are scratching our heads wondering how this racism “suddenly cropped up.”
It didn’t. It was always there.
When you don’t talk about something, it makes it worse.
Think about the last nightmare you had that scared you awake. Did it terrify you? Of course!
But did you try to tell someone else about it?
Did it frustrate you when they didn’t understand why you were so terrified?
“You don’t understand! There was… this clown, and he had a snake for a nose… and, the snake talked…”
They listen to you. Even talking about it makes you less scared. Seeing the other person’s reaction (they’re not afraid! They’re stifling a laugh!) makes you feel a little silly. And 5 minutes later, you feel much, much better.
All fears work that way. The more you bottle them inside, the worse they feel. The stronger the fear becomes.
Now, imagine you’re irrationally afraid of immigrants, and the Clinton era tells you to bottle it up. Don’t talk about it. Hold it inside. For years. And years.
Then you find people online who feel the same. When you tell them about the clown with the snake nose, they don’t look unconcerned. They don’t laugh. They ECHO your fears. They SHARE them. They start to make you feel even MORE scared. And it’s easy for them, because they’ve been bottling it up inside for years too.
That’s the situation we have now. It’s a result of people being marginalized and silenced for too long. While we were in our Obama daze, letting Barry drive, we were living in a fantasy. We were lazy. We didn’t listen to these people.
And now they’re back, and they’re organized, and they’ve been practicing their argument for years.
It’s critical we help the Alt-Right channel their energy into something more positive.
Give these guys a voice. Listen and understand. And then counsel them.
Show them they can get new jobs.
Imagine what they can accomplish once they focus this hate-energy on a productive task. that benefits the economy.
Like marketing or sales or new products or new ideas that help people.
They’ve shown they can be passionate about something and promote it on the internet.
Teach them how to do that with a new service that people need. Or a new toy kids will love. Or a better way to walk your dog. Or mow your lawn. Or build websites. Or do particle physics.
Anyone can innovate and share in the wealth of an increasingly globalized and automated world. But they need guidance. And guidance requires understanding, discussion, and lots of hugs.