Tarred

The good news?  You’ve got people on the left defending free speech on campus, and defending it well, as Charles C. Cooke notes in the National Review about a piece in New York Magazine by Jesse Singal:.

But there’s still a bit of fact-checking to do, as Cooke notes – in this case, quoting Singal:

“The existence of white nationalist Richard Spencer, and other bigoted far-right figures like him, poses a genuine challenge to public universities. Conservative student groups invite these sorts of figures to speak fairly often, and the courts have consistently held that public universities can’t really interfere with such events.”

There’s just one thing wrong:

Having read this, you could be forgiven for thinking that “conservative student groups” have invited ”white nationalist Richard Spencer” to speak on campus, and that they have done so “fairly often.” This isn’t correct. Richard Spencer has indeed spoken on college campuses recently. But, invariably, he has invited himself.

After which the conservative groups do what they do – defend actual free speech, including the stuff that everyone hates, which is indeed why we need “Free Speech” in the Constitution in the first place.

So there’s that.

But there’s one other problem:  Singal refers to Spencer et al as “bigoted far-right figures”.   And he’s far from alone.

Thing is, as Michael Knowles points out in this superb Prager U video, the “Alt-Right” is not right.  It repudiates, in fact, much of what American conservatism believes:

To sum up, the “Alt-Right” – or “Alternative to the Right” – believes in:

  • Relentless identity politics, just like Big Left does, only in  its case the identity is “White”.
  • Atheistic.  Christianity important to the alt-right only as a motivator for Western European civilizzation – but rejects faith as a moral, ethical or spiritual force.
  • A disdain for the value of the individual in favor of the primacy of the group.

Conservatism is focused on the individual, and the presence of a stable, higher order (even conservative atheists – they exist – generally believe in some sort of higher moral order).

I know, I know – they christened themselves “Alt-Right”, sparing the media the trouble of doing it for them.

10 thoughts on “Tarred

  1. One problem with quoting the “leader” of a leaderless movement is you get conflicting ideas of what the movement is, where it came from and where it’s going, which allows critics to pick-and-choose the most damning quotes to make the entire movement look bad.

    Here’s a fuller explanation of one person’s view of the alternative to traditional conservatism. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-alt-right-is.html

  2. Vox’s sixteen points are a combination of white nationalism and flim-flammery. Marxism and globalism are creations of Western civilization, “the pinacle of human achievment.”
    Western civilization inherited Christianity, it did not create Christianity.

  3. If you prefer your trip towards understanding the alt-right to be a scenic, slow-ride you could follow Kurt Schlichter who is documenting the circumstances that push him towards the alt-right (consider that he was a fairly normal GOPe type , even a vocal Never Trumper early on in the Republican primaries). Vox even mentioned this the other day.

  4. ” . . . to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . . .”

    ” . . . we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children . . . .”

    What a difference 200 years makes. What once was wonderful, now is hateful.

  5. I don’t like Vox. He tends to hijack memes and try to shape them with his own vision, i.e., sad puppies vs. rabid puppies. He is not a particularly insightful thinker. The Western way is the best for Western people, other than its native religion. And its number system. Unimportant things like that.

  6. I point out Vox only to illustrate how hard it is to understand a truly grassroots political movement. There is no “leader” of the alt-right, there are only people expressing their ideas about what it should be.

    For example, some claim the Alt-Right is atheistic but Vox is an unapologetic Christian. And the Alt-Right doesn’t reject individuality in favor of group identity politics because those are intellectually sound positions, but because those are the rules Americans now play by.

    Dedicated individualists can join the Libertarian party having their convention in a phone booth but no effect on the course of history. Establishment Republicans can sniff that street-fighters like Trump are “not our kind of people, dear” while enjoying canapés with Washington Post reporters as Deep State bureaucrats undermine our rights. None of that ideological purity will save the nation.

    Ask yourself this: would you rather have Trump in the White House, or Jeb!

    Ask yourself this: why?

  7. I think that “nationalism” is too readily embraced by many in the alt-right and by Trump supporters (God only knows what Trump himself thinks about nationalism). Vox endorses European nationalism, but I doubt that he knows that it only goes back as far as about 1860, when Italians broke away from the French and the Austrians. Nationalism is anti-conservative in that sense. The conservative view is that nationalism is a modern, upstart political philosophy. Nationalism is to blame for both world wars. The relative peace of 1946-1991 was the result of the important nations of the world being defacto provinces of one of two empires (keep your peace, Canadians!).

  8. Joe, from my reading I find the alt-right to be in a period of formation. They are not sure if they are proud to be white, defenders of Western culture, white supremacists or virulent anti-Semites.

    Right now, they are a mixture of all of the above. Richard Spencer is intelligent and erudite, he makes a good argument at times, but he seems to be leaning towards the anti-Semitic, white Supremacists.

    It will be interesting to see how it falls out.

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