Should Alt-Right Trolls Go Easy on the Trigger?
Alexander Hart, American Renaissance, June 10, 2016
In 2003, Phil Donahue devoted an entire program to Jared Taylor in the hope of discrediting him. At the time, I showed the interview to many friends and family members who disagreed with American Renaissance, but they all agreed that Mr. Taylor got the better of Mr. Donahue. It’s probably no coincidence that Mr. Taylor’s television appearances disappeared shortly after that. However, Mr. Donahue managed to trip up Mr. Taylor once:
DONAHUE: Here’s what you said, just one of many thing you said. And you’ll stand by this, I’m sure. “Ugly Mexicans and ugly Haitians come here to live permanently. But we are supposed to be endlessly sensitive to their peculiarities and revel in the diversity of toadying to their ethnic demands.” Jared Taylor, American Renaissance. . . . Ugly Mexicans and ugly Haitians, you said that?
TAYLOR: I don’t remember writing that. That’s very unlike the way I write. I’d be surprised . . .
After his producers gave him the citation during a commercial break, Mr. Donahue went on:
DONAHUE: American Renaissance–June 1996–you said you never said “ugly Mexicans and ugly Haitians come here to live permanently.”
TAYLOR: Maybe I did.
DONAHUE: Here’s the article, American Renaissance.
DONAHUE: “If we do nothing, the nation we are building is one in which we would not wish to live,” Jared Taylor–“ugly Mexicans,” “ugly Haitians.” You said that sounds like something you wouldn’t say. You did say it. You wrote it, and you published it.
The full context, which Mr. Donahue intentionally left out and which Mr. Taylor unfortunately did not remember seven years later, was:
There used to be much talk about “ugly Americans,” who traveled overseas expecting to find hamburgers and English-speakers, and who ignorantly deprecated the quaint customs of the natives. We were supposed to be deeply ashamed of them–and they were only tourists! “Ugly Mexicans” and “ugly Haitians” come here to live permanently, but we are supposed to be endlessly sensitive to their peculiarities, and revel in the diversity of toadying to their ethnic demands.
Mr. Donahue and his producers thought that by showing Mr. Taylor had made mean-spirited comments they could discredit his otherwise reasonable case for race realism. Indeed, most of Mr. Taylor’s detractors call him a “genteel racis[t],”(Anti Defamation League), or note his “polite manners” (Slate).
In the last several years the Alt-Right has grown tremendously–and most of the new activists are anonymous. While American Renaissance and VDARE have always published pseudonymous authors, there has always been an editor or publisher who took at least indirect responsibility for what their authors wrote. Many of the new voices of the Alt-Right–names such as Ricky Vaughn, Morrakiu, Murdoch Murdoch, Conservative Pundit, and Walt Bismarck–post their material independently on YouTube or Twitter, or on completely anonymous websites such as The Right Stuff.
Most of these anonymous accounts are not “genteel” or “polite.” Indeed, the out-of-context comments about “ugly Mexicans” sounds innocent by comparison. In the last year mainstream media have written hundreds of articles about the Alt-Right, and almost all focus on personal attacks and harsh rhetoric.
What gives the Alt-Right this character? Many of its most prominent figures came from “Chan Culture.” 4chan and 8chan are anonymous and largely unregulated imageboards that have no official ideology. Anonymous young users are often intentionally offensive, with or without right-wing politics. The sub-forum /pol/, for politically incorrect, added Alt-Right politics to the mix.
Because left-wing culture has dismantled almost all sexual and moral taboos, political incorrectness has become one of the few ways to be edgy or shocking.
As Milo Yiannopoulos explains,
Just as the kids of the 60s shocked their parents with promiscuity, long hair and rock’n’roll, so too do the alt-right’s young meme brigades shock older generations with outrageous caricatures, from the Jewish “Shlomo Shekelburg” to “Remove Kebab,” an internet in-joke about the Bosnian genocide. These caricatures are often spliced together with Millennial pop culture references, from old 4chan memes like Pepe the Frog, to anime and My Little Pony references.
Mr. Yiannopoulos added that despite these hard-edged jokes, the Alt-Right’s “meme brigades” have “no real problem with race-mixing, homosexuality, or even diverse societies: it’s just fun to watch the mayhem and outrage that erupts when those secular shibboleths are openly mocked.”
Since these accounts are anonymous, it’s hard to know what the people behind them really believe. I suspect the majority are more deeply dissident than Mr. Yiannopoulos seems to think, but that their online personae are more extreme, both in substance and style, than their true beliefs.
The witty parody song writer Morrakiu writes violent and vulgar lyrics. However, when he gave straight answers on YouTube about his politics, he was far more moderate. For example, he said that while he personally opposed miscegenation, “I don’t want to ban interracial marriage.” He also said: “Mixing is not the big issue for the white race; the big issues are birthrates and the fact that we’re being replaced with immigrants.” Despite writing songs with names such as “Oven Man,” he has criticized some on the Alt-Right for lacking “nuance” when describing Jewish influence.
Walt Bismarck, another popular parody song writer, collaborated with Morrakiu on a song called 14-88 (for those who do not know, 14 stands for the 14 words: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and 88 stands for “Heil Hitler,” ‘H’ being the eighth letter in the alphabet), but then said on his YouTube channel, “I’m all for 14–not so much 88. But the meme potential was too much to resist.”
So in contrast to the usual smear that American Renaissance and similar groups are closet Nazis posing as respectable white advocates, many on the Alt-Right seem to be white advocates posing as Nazis.
Why? First, there is the “meme potential.” As Mr. Yiannopoulos explained, they want to get a reaction: “Barely a month passes without a long feature in a new media outlet about the rampant sexism, racism or homophobia of online imageboards. For regular posters at these boards, that’s mission accomplished.” Now, hardly a day goes by without such an article.
So if this attracts some young people sympathetic to our cause because it’s fun, while endlessly tormenting our ideological opponents, what’s wrong? It’s “mission accomplished,” right?
Not exactly. Our goal is to preserve our people and restore Western Civilization. Accomplishing that goal is not necessarily the same as angering and tormenting our enemies; we need to weaken and defeat them–and, if possible, convert them.
No doubt, trolls can help. The media cannot resist covering them, giving Twitter troll Jared Taylor Swift more media coverage than Jared Taylor. And often, as when the media took up the word cuckservative, some insightful and important thoughts managed to creep through the hostile coverage.
However, in recent weeks, the bulk of the coverage has been of memes that photoshopped Jewish journalists into gas chambers and concentration camps. Other than to insult and shock people, it’s hard to see how this advances our interests.
The media’s response was predictable. The same journalists who ignored and excused Barack Obama’s close relationship with his anti-white pastor Jeremiah Wright demand that Donald Trump be held personally responsible for every mean thing anyone said about them on Twitter.
They blame Trump supporters when lefties attack them, but they pretend they are in fear for their lives, speaking truth to power by calling Trump a racist. Despite the shrieking, they have not even pretended that harsh internet rhetoric has lead to a single case of actual violence or even to harassment in person.
The Anti-Defamation League recently joined with the Deans of Columbia and Northwestern Journalism School to start a “Task Force to Address Anti-Semitic and Racist Harassment of Journalists on Social Media” with the goal of enacting tougher hate speech policies. Conservative journalist Eric Erickson tweeted, “Red hats are the new brown shirts.”
While these reactions are either disingenuous or hysterical, those who revel in “triggering” lefties and conservatives should ask themselves a few questions:
- Do average Americans get the joke or do they instead take you seriously?
- Do you drive away Americans who might be sympathetic to Donald Trump and/or race realism?
- Do you make it harder for non-anonymous dissidents such as Milo Yiannopoulos to defend the movement? Likewise, do you make it even harder for anonymous Alt-Rightists eventually to come out of the closet?
- Do you make Americans, who overwhelmingly distrust the media, feel sympathy for people who really are biased, dishonest journalists?
Admittedly, these questions cut both ways. Many argue that race realists and white advocates poison the well for Trump when they endorse them, and that their mere existence makes life hard for less explicit immigration patriots. People can make strong cases for drawing lines in different places.
We are not like mainstream conservatives who “tone police” and purge anyone to their right. Even if there weren’t people posting pictures of frogs in Nazi uniforms, the media would find some obscure Nazi who supports Trump and try to tie him to the entire movement. And some trolls are high school students who just want to raise hell, and it’s silly to get excited about them, much less try to stop them. Finally, most of these new Alt-Right figures produce parody songs, tweets, memes, and podcasts, rather than op-eds and serious articles. By their nature, these new media require more blunt and provocative rhetoric and imagery.
However, those who troll to help their people rather than as an end in itself might reflect on what they are doing. The web’s anonymity means we can speak without consequences. Because our society penalizes people who break taboos, this frees us to speak the truth. Yet, anonymity also means we can be crass, juvenile, vulgar, and–perhaps this is the greatest temptation–self indulgent. My own rule is to use anonymity only to avoid the social consequences of writing the truth. It is not to write things that would embarrass me if the taboos did not exist and I could write under my own name.
Triggering leftists is fun, but winning converts is more important.