There’s no “Alt-Left”
It’s comparing many on the Left to neo-nazis.
It’s remarkable that Neo-Nazis so successfully mainstreamed in less than a year.
When white supremacists rebranded as the “Alt-Right,” they easily claimed a beachhead in conservatism, where there was real overlap in identity politics. But it seems like people didn’t understand what was happening. I guess they just assumed Nazis all shaved their heads…
Maybe it was the quaintness of the dapper look and the slicked hair. Or was it that the clever gang-signs couldn’t really be a problem: because free speech.
They seemed to come out of nowhere even though it was just 4Chan and Reddit. Or that there were plenty of warning signs in Gamergate and the pickup artists. And at the same time, it was far too easy to see white supremacists as alien to our culture and not our problem. While these were just pubescent boys in their parents’ basement.
Even when real people were receiving real harassment. It was just so quaint. Or else “what else can we do?” Because free speech.
Boycotts and the precious “men’s rights” activists all seemed like more culture war junk. We couldn’t possibly pay attention to any of that.
So when the rebranding of fascist white supremacy attached itself to support for a presidential candidate, we didn’t really understand how or why. Or more importantly, what we could do about it, because partisanship.
And we didn’t concern ourselves with how the mixing of the two would drive enough die-hard conservatives into the arms of the “Alt-Right.”
We ignored what the Alt-Right was or where it came from. It was wishful thinking, I suppose. Mostly accepting the sanitized branding of Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, and Richard Spencer and our obsession for bothsidesism, where we couldn’t possibly call out white supremacists for racism because it becomes partisan.
While those drawn to Trump, but not the white supremacy, felt the need to cast their lots with something they knew as Alt-Right, not knowing they’re rebranded neo-nazis. Even feeling compelled to defend it from the media and liberals, adopting the language and the signs and the memes, and calling themselves “deplorable” too.
We even called Ms. Clinton’s use of the word “deplorable” a gaff, the sort of horse-race mistake we’re used to seeing in normal elections, when what she was doing was warning people not to get in bed with racists. But, we all know how the media struggles with bothsidesism.
The Alt-Right was so attractive as a mainstreamed hate group because they had those clever memes and had hair, so they couldn’t be nazis. Never mind the salute. But more importantly, it seems the whole Republican Party was excusing them.
But really, for them, it was all about winning. And the hatred of Hillary Clinton which was a close second. These were so important that so many people on the Right saw themselves in this “movement”.
And many on the Left, unwilling to spend any time really getting a sense of who these people really were and what was really happening just came to see the “Alt-Right” like another Right-Wing group, like another Tea Party. They all remember the Tea Party as a great big show which inspired hardline legislators, but was just libertarian conservatism. It wasn’t classic conservatism, but was conservative adjacent. But that’s too complicated.
Of course, the media was eager to label the Tea Party as a movement, but couldn’t come up with any real way it was different from current conservatism. This, of course, is because the Tea Party, as it came to Washington, stopped being hardcore Conservative Libertarianism and became the hardline Right Wing.
The media never cared about the difference because of bothsidesism. They just wanted to label it conservative and move on. Maybe the fringey polarity of the Right, but still something they could call Right Wing.
They’ve done the same thing with the Alt-Right, transforming it into another reference to the Right Wing. They don’t care where it comes from or what they want. They think they know because they’ve placed them at the pole of a manufactured polarity.
And because apparently, the most racist thing a person can ever say is to call a racist a racist and journalism’s addiction to bothsidesism and false equivalency means you can’t call a racist a racist. AND there must be a liberal equivalent.
And since the media has taken to seeing “Alt-Right” as a popular fill-in for “Right Wing” they think there must be an “Alt-Left”:
This line of attack is based on both a misunderstanding of who the Alt-Right actually is and the dangerous bothsidesism which leads them to believe that a specific fringe group on the Right must have an equivalent fringe on the Left.
So when they look at who is already organizing on the Left, they find it in Bernie supporters. Who, we should remember, supported a candidate who supported community health, increased transparency and decreased corruption in government.
Oh, and most importantly, wanted the U.S. to learn from our European allies, taking the best ideas around healthcare, taxation, and education for ourselves. And he did so while recognizing that the financial cost to these endeavors is not as great as we think and would ensure every American would be protected and given a chance.
So these persons who supported a pretty mainstream candidate on the global stage, encouraging us to be a better partner to our friends locally and globally, and encouraged us to learn from our global partners in Europe, were tossed into a fringe group of another’s making. Not the self-rebranding of the Neo-Nazi into Alt-Right but the media creation of an Alt-Left.
So think about it: a group which comes from a deep affection for fascism and white supremacy, who take their lead from the 20th Century’s most evil butchers who wanted to rule all of Europe is being mainstreamed on the one hand, while, at the same time, on the other, those people who look to the best of Europe for hope and opportunity are being ostracized as fringe and branded as Nazi-equivalent.
In pursuit of their own version of purity, many on the Left are mainstreaming those inspired by Nazis and demonizing those inspired by their victims.
This is the danger of #bothsidesism.
Drew also writes frequently at drewdowns.net where he helps people make a new normal and preaches regularly about love, inclusion, and how radical Jesus really is.