By Jonathon Van Maren
Through the recent election cycle, I’ve taken every opportunity I can to criticize and condemn the so-called “alt-right” movement, highlighting their racist views and refuting claims that they are simply a group of merry internet trolls. I also detailed their support for abortion, which takes a mostly eugenic form. The responses have been varied—vitriol laced with anti-Semitism from the “mischievous” alt-righters, and disapproval from a number of conservatives.
The disapproval almost always boils down to a single reproach: “The Left wins because the Left sticks together. They don’t attack each other. We shouldn’t be attacking other conservatives, even if we disagree with them or find some things that they believe to be distasteful.”
I disagree completely for a number of reasons. First, the alt-right is not “on my team.” They are not conservative, and they are not even “right”—they are an alternative to the right. Just because I don’t disagree with them on 100% of things does not make them a group to ally with. Solidarity around premises not rooted in principles is dangerous. But even further to that, I find that I disagree with the alt-right and the progressive Left on exactly the same issues.
Take abortion, for example. Alt-right commenters support legal abortion except, as one fellow put it, for white people. Abortion is problematic only when it reduces the white birthrate, while its impact on the black and Hispanic birthrate is considered actually desirable by the alt-right. Alt-righters also despise white families who choose to adopt non-white children, often referring to them as “race traitors.” This is as bizarre and repulsive as the secular Left championing abortion as essential to enabling sexual liberty and referring to the pre-born child in the womb as a “parasite.” The alt-right and the progressives may support the destruction of life in the womb for different reasons, but both are detestable.
Another good example is the ongoing discussion of rights and responsibilities. As a conservative, I believe that we have an obligation to focus on our responsibilities to one another primarily, and that progressives are growing hysterical and delusional in their never-ending quest to create new rights and then demonize those who they see as violating those rights (like the right not to be offended, for example.) But as much as I despise the constant demands for rights without responsibilities from the progressives, I find the alt-right’s gleeful exercise of their rights without any responsibility just as repulsive.
They take the right to free speech, for example, and use it to spread the vilest racial rhetoric. I believe they have the right to say such things, but I also think they are purposefully abusing the right to free speech. I believe that you have the right to free speech, and also that those who use it to say vile things should be ostracized by society. Peer pressure, not the government, should dictate what is unacceptable. Both the progressives and the alt-righters, it seems, believe in rights without correlating responsibilities.
I see the same thing when I look at the support of many third-wave feminists and so-called “sex positive” progressives on the Left defending the cruelest forms of pornography, which is currently creating a new rape culture throughout the West by mainstreaming entertainment that depicts the sexual assault and degradation of women. On the other side, we have the alt-right dealing in the ugliest misogynist rhetoric and unleashing vicious online mobs against those women they disagree with, often employing the most dehumanizing and sexualizing rhetoric they can conceive of. Both of these things are unacceptable and anathema to any true conservative.
And then there’s humor. The libertine Left, over the past decades, has created an entertainment industry that focuses almost exclusively on crude smut, pseudo-pornographic storylines, and increasingly twisted and depraved content. This is “humor” now—jokes about loveable playboys on comedy sitcoms using “daddy issues” to get with girls. Apparently, exploiting girls who were abandoned by their fathers in order to use them for sex is humorous rather than depressing and predatory. Much of this material doesn’t even rise to the level of innuendo.
On the other hand, the alt-right’s idea of humor seems to be Holocaust jokes, if there can even be such a thing. They talk about turning Jewish pundits and their children into lampshades, and then protest that they are joking when called out (although increasingly, it seems that they actually believe many of these things). But that’s not a joke, and that’s not funny. Just because the Left’s totalitarian instincts have shut down many valuable and needed discussions doesn’t mean we should ride the pendulum to the other side of the spectrum and begin treating trash race theories, Holocaust denial, and anti-Semitism as serious ideas meriting rigorous public debate. Even humor is being destroyed by both the progressives and the alt-righters, even if they’re doing so for very different ideological reasons.
This is why I think it is essential that real conservatives, who believe that racism and real misogyny are unacceptable, that rights should be exercised with responsibility, that pre-born human beings in the womb have the right to life, and that the increasing loss of civilized discourse is tragic must stand up, point out the so-called “alternative” to the right, and explain why this new “ideology,” if it can be called that, would be as dangerous if implemented as progressivism has proven to be. We cannot allow any of these ugly views to go unchallenged as we seek to further our own cause politically. They are poisonous.