Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, July 3, 2018
Today, reporters attack free speech, comedians lecture about what isn’t funny, and punk rockers complain that young people are too rebellious. The iconic punk band Bad Religion clearly yearns for its glory days when it could pretend to be edgy by opposing the Iraq War or insulting Jerry Falwell. Now the faux rebels have become aging schoolmarms, complaining about teenagers’ unapproved thoughts. The band’s first single in five years, “The Kids Are Alt-Right,” is an unintentional salute to the movement.
The band’s signature approach is to combine a driving, upbeat rhythm with sarcastic, complex, and politically conscious lyrics. Their best work is memorable and insidious, songs would sing along to even if you hated the messages. Take “American Jesus,” a sarcastic critique of the use of Christianity to support traditional American power. It suggests Americanism itself is a kind of religion.
I feel sorry for the earth’s population
‘Cause so few live in the U.S.A.
At least the foreigners can copy our morality
They can visit but they cannot stay
Only precious few can garner the prosperity
It makes us walk with renewed confidence
We’ve got a place to go when we die
And the architect resides right here
Even those who think the traditional religion of the nation should support the nation can admit that the lyrics are cutting. Bad Religion’s propaganda is powerful, just like that of Rage Against the Machine, another group that is objectively our enemy.
But with “The Kids Are Alt-Right,” Bad Religion simply drops the Alt-Right name and tries to pass it off as critique. It fails from the start, with tired references to “jackboots” and a “crystal night.” It inspires the same sense of embarrassment one feels for someone who unironically still calls the president “Drumpf.” As half the country has been called “Nazis” for years, the term has almost as little power as “deplorables.” Speaking of deplorables, the video uses the “Pepe” mascot, a sure sign Bad Religion doesn’t understand what it’s dealing with.
Pepe, after all, was created by a left-wing cartoonist and was co-opted by “anons” who used it to convey a wide variety of meanings. The mainstream media, not understanding the meme or online culture generally, decided that anyone who used the frog was a “racist.” Its creator killed off the character and then resurrected him at the urging of the Anti-Defamation League, with the intention of “reclaiming his status as a universal symbol for peace, love, and acceptance.” Few noticed. The open-source online culture of radical critique, free speech, and artistic creation rejects clumsy, top-down attempts to impose orthodoxy or morality.
Yet journalists won’t stop trying. Most media coverage of anything politically incorrect is what Steve Sailer calls “point-and-sputter,” with journalists repeating their targets’ reasonable words but in a tone bordering on hysteria. Bad Religion has fallen into the same trap. Having used the “Nazi” charge, the rest of the song doesn’t so much caricature the Alt-Right as make it sound edgy, exciting, and victorious. The song’s chipper tone doesn’t mesh with the moral outrage the group is trying to inspire. It’s like Samantha Bee or Stephen Colbert switching from detached snark to emotional, obscenity-laden earnestness. It can’t be taken seriously.
Here is a line from the song: “We love God! We love our women! We love tradition! We love kin!” The satire falls flat. It’s like “insulting” a communist by saying he doesn’t believe in the free market or mocking a Hindu for denying Christ’s divinity. There’s no insult.
Even the deeper critiques don’t work. “We’ve got shiny new tools for ancient impulses that we don’t really understand,” sings band leader Greg Graffin. Dr. Graffin has a Ph.D. in zoology and teaches evolution, so he knows that genes affect a lot more than appearance: personality, ability and values. Egalitarianism requires that races, peoples, and individuals deny this and fight against their own instinctive impulses and evolutionary drives. The result is not only the madness we see in some antifa demonstrators, but such reductiones ad absurdum as Newsweek’s famous cover story, “Is Your Baby Racist?”
Instead, many race realists propose an “Archeofuturist” approach, accepting scientific reality, our highest values, and the biological imperative to survive and thrive. No one fully understands his deepest drives; but we know the egalitarian demand that whites submit to extinction is hatred, not love.
“So if you feel alone, and downtrodden, there’s an elixir for your ills,” sings Dr. Graffin, implying the movement is like a phony miracle tonic. “Join the Alt-Right, post-light, endarkenment order and the rest of those bastards can go to hell!” he shouts. This may or may not be an intentional reference to the “Dark Enlightenment.” Either way, many will simply sing along. For a young white person in search of meaning, there’s no greater cause than fighting for his people.
The lyrics suggest the band knows it is on the losing side. “Now grab your partner, do-si-do; populism is a sold-out show,” runs one verse, admitting that dissent is on the rise. The sarcasm about populism is remarkable coming from a band whose last tour before President Trump’s election was called “Vox Populi.”
The next line is “Humanity is a nowhere scene, when everybody has an AR-15.” The AR-15 is clearly thrown in because it’s what journalists are telling readers to be afraid of this month — as if racial dissidents were bristling with AR-15s anyway.
The song’s simple melody practically guarantees “The Kids Are Alt-Right” will be turned into a sing-along. Humorless journalists insisting this song is supposed to insult the Alt-Right miss the point. Just as people knew Fight Club was supposed to be “satire” but admired its neo-tribalist message anyway, “The Kids Are Alt-Right” will be an Alt-Right anthem precisely because it is meant to be an Alt-Right critique.
Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci observed that the power structure promotes an ideology that justifies its existence. No one in power is threatened by Bad Religion and its support for abortion and opposition to Christian conservatives. Naughty posturing notwithstanding, these leftist values are almost universally shared within the mainstream media. Because trolling is a weapon of the culturally weak — those excluded from media — Bad Religion’s song will be co-opted, subverted, and turned into its opposite. Now the establishment is falling victim to the same weapons of deconstruction and critique they once used to unmake traditional Western Culture.
Ever since the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, far fewer people claim to be “Alt-Right,” but Bad Religion is helping the brand. The song links the label to a decentralized, iconoclastic community dedicated to smashing political correctness. Bad Religion didn’t “take down” the movement, as journalists claim. It goes a long way to restoring the “Alt-Right’s” credibility.