Kill All Normies

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, June 16, 2017

A leftist tries (and fails) to understand the Alt-Right.

Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right, Zero Books, 2017, 136 pp., $16.95.

“Kill All Normies” is a cry for control. The author, columnist Angela Nagle, promises an examination of the “online culture wars,” a historical review of how the Alt-Right developed, and an explanation of how Donald Trump defied overwhelming hostility from the media and the political class to hack the culture and win the presidency. But really, the only takeaway we get is the same slogan every journalist shrieks when faced with an uncomfortable idea: “Shut it Down.”

As Dr. Nagle notes, the internet has led to “the death of what remained of a mass culture sensibility” in favor of “an anti-establishment sensibility expressing itself in the kind of DIY culture of memes and user-generated content that cyberutopian true believers have evangelized about for many years.” However, Dr. Nagle worries that the “particular political form” this culture has taken is often right-wing, anti-PC, and racially aware rather than the egalitarian pap Dr. Nagle and her cohorts were presumably expecting. Instead of a progressive hugbox, what has emerged are “genuinely sinister things” hidden “amid the maze of irony.”

What Dr. Nagle considers “genuinely sinister” tells us more about her own views than her ostensible subject. She dedicates a great deal of attention to trolling campaigns, notably the “hate campaign led against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.” Similarly, she blasts the “shocking level of woman-hatred” found online, the name-calling directed at journalists and political activists, and the various mean-spirited memes that have grown around figures such as “feminist games critic” Anita Sarkeesian.

Leslie Jones (Credit Image: © Jim Smeal/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)

Naturally, a white nationalist has a different perspective on the supposedly “jaw-droppingly dark and disturbing personal abuse” such activists endure. There is not one above-ground person in the movement who does not habitually get death threats, economic punishment, or even direct physical attacks simply for believing things almost every other generation of whites would have taken for granted. As shown by the media campaigns to shut down the ability of white advocates to fund their organizations, meet in public, or even stay employed, our culture approves of such harassment. Who can imagine sympathetic media coverage for the likes of fired Breitbart reporter Katie McHugh if she ever dares complain about rape threats and promises of violence?

In contrast, when leftists are called mean words online, they get fawning media coverage, donations, and praise for their “bravery.” Indeed, it’s precisely because the rewards for “persecution” are so great that so many people fake hate crimes or hate speech against themselves. Their critics on the Right are often expelled from various platforms, and—if they can be identified—severely punished. People like Dr. Nagle couldn’t take the heat for five minutes in our world.

In Leslie Jones’s case, Milo Yiannopoulos was kicked off Twitter for mocking her. And though Dr. Nagle describes Anita Sarkeesian as a “self-identified games fan” (a lie), it’s more accurate to say she seized on video games as a profit-making opportunity; her complaints about the supposedly male-dominated culture of gaming meant she could garner tens of thousands of dollars on fundraising platforms that would have instantly banned her if she had been associated with the Alt-Right. She also received adoring interviews with the likes of Stephen Colbert. Lady-programmer Zoe Quinn, whose game Depression Quest was terrible—as even Dr. Nagle admits—got to address the United Nations and harvests several thousand dollars a month on Patreon.

Credit: Flickr (Susanne Nilsson)/Wikimedia.

What Dr. Nagle doesn’t seem to address, or even consider, is that trolling is a weapon of the weak. The Left is so determined to see themselves as underdogs that even tenured university professors, journalists who lead electronic mobs to get people fired, or female politicians somehow become helpless hate-crime victims when someone with an anime avatar sends them a picture of a cartoon frog. Similarly, the supposedly abusive speech from “men’s rights activists” that so worries Dr. Nagle is harmless compared to the anti-male vitriol of a typical college Women’s Studies class.

The reason why political dissidents have seized on image boards, Twitter, and various other conduits of anonymous free speech is that they are the only means of safe communication. Dr. Nagle seems convinced that she and her fellow journalists are scrappy fighters against malevolent power rather than what they are: activists who use their power to inflict punishment on critics, drive out speech they don’t like, and control the narratives presented to the public. The “shitposters” on the image boards and the trolls on Twitter are not so naive.

Dr. Nagle rails against what she calls her opponents’ “transgressive sensibility,” which is a dismissive tone “that is used to excuse and rationalize the utter dehumanization of women and ethnic minorities in the alt-right online sphere.” She adds that “the culture of transgression they have produced liberates their conscience from having to take seriously the potential human cost of breaking the taboo against racial politics that has held since WWII.”

This shows astonishing depths of self-deception. Even five minutes on a college campus will show that “racial politics” are not taboo in American culture, but practically mandatory. What is taboo is white identity politics.

Credit Image: © Orlando Sentinel/TNS/ZUMAPRESS.com.

The double standard is so obvious and so indefensible it is not surprising whites often react with anger or bitterness. Yet, as Dr. Nagle hints at but does not fully grasp, many of the more absurd or offensive memes or analogies used by the Alt-Right aren’t a manifestation of primal rage but are a way of showing that the status quo is upheld purely by left-wing power, not by a respectable moral code.

When it comes to “dehumanization,” it is now mainstream to dismiss a person’s knowledge and accomplishments because he is a “f***ing white male.” Violence against whites is openly celebrated in films such as Get Out. Whites, and only whites, are forbidden to identify positively with their ancestry, culture, or heritage, and are told never to act in their group interests. In mainstream American culture, whites are already dehumanized in that unlike every other group, they have no positive existence as whites. Their race is nothing more than the means by which they can be identified so they can be attacked.

Thus, the clickbait offered by the likes of Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post is not somehow more moderate than the likes of what you see at /pol/ or The Daily Stormer. It’s simply being broadcast by powerful media companies with bigger megaphones. Using shocking imagery is a way to highlight the absurdity of those things progressives insist we recognize as true, such as that there are no intellectual differences between races, that sex is a social construct, or that a white person eating a taco is guilty of “cultural appropriation” while the Mexican complaining about it on a computer is not.

What the media declare a moral code is really just a system of power. Trolling, subversive memes, and surrealist jokes are a way of highlighting that reality. And some of those things identified as “transgressive,” like the homosexual parading and sexual boasting of Milo Yiannopoulos, are, in the current cultural climate, a form of protection. Mr. Yiannopoulos’s tiresome braggadocio about black men was what allowed him to sneak in some observations on race and crime at Breitbart, in the same way conservatives fall all over themselves to listen to Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams critique the Democratic party.

Astonishingly, Dr. Nagle even compares the transgressive online Right of today with the May ’68 rebels in France, who famously used the slogan “it is forbidden to forbid.” Today, the most prominent street champion of that uprising, “Red” Daniel Cohn-Bendit, spends his days as a Euro-MP, campaigning against nationalism, and the young Identitarians of today explicitly define themselves in opposition to that movement.

Journalists like Dr. Nagle have been so thoroughly trained in deconstructing the systems of power that used to exist in the West that they don’t recognize they are cogs in the system that rules us today. And so, rather than turning that analytical lens on herself and the publications and institutions she supports, she tries to analyze internet trolls but doesn’t come up with compelling answers to explain their behavior.

To her credit, Dr. Nagle does recognize the online Left suffers from a dramatic lack of self-awareness and has in many ways forgotten how to argue. She is critical of how even progressives are constantly being identified as “racist,” “sexist,” “transphobic” or some other invented sin for making comments that would have universally been regarded as innocent even two years ago.

She is especially amusing when she categorizes some of the new genders which have been invented. An example is Genderale: a gender that is hard to describe, mainly associated with plants, herbs and liquids.

Yet she argues this point like a mainstream conservative. Dr. Nagle never really explains why it is absurd to have fifty genders; she simply lists them and takes it for granted people will point and laugh. But a similarly incredulous reaction would have been provoked by someone declaring in 1950 that the federal government needs to bus black students to white public schools to achieve something called “diversity,” or someone in 1990 announcing the government must ensure men who wear dresses are allowed to use girls’ rooms. Homosexual behavior, while traditionally looked upon with disgust, has existed throughout Western history, but it’s only recently that what was once seen as degeneracy was elevated into an “identity.”

But this is the logical conclusion of the premises you hear on any college campus. After all, if culture is a product of power and it oppresses people by forcing them into artificial social constructs such as race, binary gender, etc., why shouldn’t you be outraged if people do not recognize your newly created identity?

Dr. Nagle’s failure to understand the Left is matched by her failure to understand the Right, and this book is often a tedious recitation of authors she may or may not have actually read. You can almost hear the bitter scream of “educate yourself!” as Dr. Nagle clumsily tries to deconstruct ideas she is unable to grasp. It’s impossible to avoid the impression that her whimsical detours into critical theory are padding, since the book reads like it was rushed in to print and is littered with typos. (Pat Buchanan’s name is spelled two different ways in one chapter; this is especially unfortunate because the chapter is supposed to be about him.)

Dr. Nagle gives the game away at the end of the book when she expresses the hope that “the online world can contain rather than further enable the festering undergrowth of dehumanizing online politics now edging closer to the mainstream but unthinkable in the public arena just a few short years ago.” Ah, there’s that word again, “enable,” which we see from so many journalists since the rise of Donald Trump. She is no more capable of thoughtfully considering the ideas animating the online Right than her journalistic colleagues were of taking Trump’s supporters seriously. Instead, the challenge for her and her friends is always how best to cut off opponents’ access to media, resources, and credibility. Anyone unwilling to join in the repression is somehow morally flawed.

So, for example, while it was good for previous generations of scholars to celebrate the marginal people they studied when such figures could be used to subvert traditional society, now subversion must be reined in. “When we’ve reached a point where the idea of being edgy/countercultural/transgressive can place fascists in a position of moral superiority to regular people, we may seriously want to rethink the value of these stale and outworn countercultural ideas,” she sniffs. Earlier, she thunders that “If this dark, anti-Semitic, race segregationist ideology grows in the coming years, with their vision of the future that would necessitate violence, those who made the Right attractive will have to take responsibility for having played their role.”

Does this taking responsibility include violence? Dr. Nagle celebrates the “now famous Richard Spencer getting punched meme.” Why? “A giddy display of momentary muscle provided a temporary relief from the unfamiliar feeling of relentlessly losing.” Again, to Dr. Nagle, the “unfamiliar” feeling of political reversals is a departure from the natural order of things, a temporary retreat from that relentless progress towards equality which everyone from the Whigs to the Communists has taken for granted. And for all her talk about “dehumanization,” she doesn’t seem worried that a peaceful political activist giving an interview was sucker-punched by a cowardly, masked assailant.

“A giddy display of momentary muscle,” according to Dr. Nagle.

Of course, all journalists are commissars, servants of power, activists using a tactic, policemen guarding the leftist narrative. So it’s not surprising that Dr. Nagle, like all journalists, examines her subjects not with a view to understanding them, but simply to demand that someone make them go away. Yet, there are some misperceptions which should be clarified by someone who, in addition to serving in the Great Meme War of 2016, played at least some part in building the subculture into what it is today.

Dr. Nagle accuses the online Right of being “principle-less.” She accuses us of being hypocritical in calling for purity and tradition while browsing forums often filled with vulgarity and pornography. Most of all, she accuses us of being guilty of “dehumanizing” those not of our race.

Yet she neglects the obvious. We were born into a world where the inheritance every other generation in American history could take for granted—nation, identity, pride, family, culture—had been deliberately taken away. The was no “traditional morality” to defend because it had vanished long before we were even born. No one of this generation knows what it is to live under a government that isn’t deliberately trying to replace us with foreigners. And European-Americans—all European-Americans—are “dehumanized” by every powerful institution in our country, media, state, and church.

Those of us who have awakened to our own dispossession and who are groping for meaning, purpose, and identity, instead of the debris we have been offered, have no reason to be polite. We have no reason to be prudish when we were tossed into a world of filth. We have no reason to respect the institutions which have failed us. We have no interest in following a moral code that mandates our extermination.

What Angela Nagle never quite figures out in Kill The Normies is that if you simply let people speak the truth without fear of reprisal, most will find their way to our point of view. She finds it “strange” that the “far-right” grows in a context of free speech; really, it’s only natural. If she is upset about the vulgarity on the internet and wants to have a civil discussion with us, she’s welcome to it—but that’s of course not likely. Dr. Nagle knows her ideology can’t survive rational debate. And though she and her ilk may have the money, the media access, the power, and the universities, we have the image boards and the comments sections.

And we have the truth.

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Gregory Hood
Mr. Hood has been active in conservative youth movements in the US.
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