Posted on September 26, 2016

Mainstream Conservatives and the Alt-Right

Ben Cohen, American Thinker, September 24, 2016

Recently, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt debated how conservatives should respond to the rise of the so-called “alternative right.” The “alternative right,” is a disorganized movement centered on message boards, blogs, and social media. Based on their social media postings, blogs, and podcasts, it would be fair to call the alternative right a bigoted anti-Semitic movement.

If your favorite podcast is “The Daily Shoah,” and your favorite blog calls itself “The Daily Stormer,” it is a safe bet that you belong to a bigoted and anti-Semitic movement. There exist, as with any movement, alt-right moderates and alt-right fellow travelers, but the core of the movement is racist, anti-Semitic, and generally vile.

Those that dispute this characterization can look here for a fuller explanation.

If the alt-right were simply confined to people like David Duke and Andrew Anglin, it would be easy for normal conservatives to distance themselves from it. Unfortunately, there exists what could be called a “moderate alt-right,” along with a larger universe of fellow travelers, sympathizers, and panderers.

This broader universe of moderate alt-righters, sympathizers, and fellow travelers, has developed a fairly sophisticated critique of mainstream conservatism, a critique conservatives can ill afford to ignore.

Probably, the best articulation of this critique comes from Jared Taylor’s “Open Letter to Cuckservatives.” In order to give readers a full and accurate understanding of Taylor’s views, I have quoted what I see to be the key passages of his letter.

“American conservatism can conserve nothing if it cannot conserve the nation’s founding stock. I’ll put it bluntly: Nothing you love will survive without white people.”

“Do you stand for limited government and a balanced budget? Count your black and Hispanic allies. Do you admire Thomas Jefferson? He was a slave-holder who will end up on the dung heap with the Confederate flag. Do you care about stable families and the rights of the unborn? Look up illegitimacy, divorce, and abortion rates for blacks and Hispanics. Do you cherish the stillness at dawn in Bryce Canyon? When the park service manages to get blacks and Hispanics to go camping they play boom-boxes until 1:00 a.m. Was Ronald Reagan your hero? He would not win a majority of today’s electorate.”

“Outreach doesn’t work. You can’t talk someone into loving what you love. Faith, patriotism, duty, and honor come from deeply cultural, religious, and ancestral sources you can’t reach.”

“You tell yourself that the things you love about America–and I love them, too–are rooted in certain principles. That is your greatest mistake. They are rooted in certain people. That is why Germans, Swedes, Irishmen, and Hungarians could come and contribute to the America you love. Do you really believe that a future Afro-Hispanic-Caribbean-Asiatic America will be anything like the America your ancestors built?”

Fundamentally, Taylor believes that the America we know and love can only be maintained by people of European descent’

Jared Taylor is fundamentally wrong. As I will discuss later, American culture and American institutions can survive non-white immigration, but he isn’t totally off track, and in order to properly respond to Taylor conservatives have to acknowledge what he gets right.

1. America is a branch of Anglo-European civilization. Our constitution emerged from a particular tradition, it was not derived from pure reason. Veneration of the founding fathers and the constitution must be tempered with a recognition that the values embodied in that document are not universally held around the world.

2. The relationship of an American to his nation is not purely contractual. Nations are held together by a shared sense of identity and patriotism, not simply by a set of laws.

3. Large scale immigration makes it more difficult to maintain a common identity, because it results in Americans having less in common.

4. Multiculturalism aggravates these problems by emphasizing, encouraging and celebrating these differences. Diversity is nice, but it needs to be balanced by the things that allow us to maintain a common identity.

Where Taylor goes wrong – very wrong, in fact – is in his unhealthy fixation on race. Taylor is correct that most of what we love about America was created by white people; he is wrong to believe that only white people can sustain American civilization.

Interestingly, Taylor’s hypothesis has already ben tested. In 1959, Congress admitted to the union a state that was overwhelmingly non-white. Has that state transformed into a third-world hell hole? A dictatorship? No.

By all measures Hawaii is doing pretty well. Hawaii’s residents enjoy the eighth-highest median income of any state in the Union, according to 2014 figures. Meanwhile, West Virginia which is almost exclusively white has the second lowest median house hold income in the United States. If you believe the key to keeping America great is keeping America white, it’s hard to explain why Hawaii is thriving and West Virginia is not.

Non-Hispanic whites compose roughly 40% of New Mexico’s population, with the rest being a mixture of Hispanics and American Indians. New Mexico isn’t rich, (43rd in median income), but it isn’t a “third-world hell hole.”

A similar argument could be made for California, which has the third-highest median income.

None of this obligates America to accept immigrants from anywhere–this author tends to sympathize with the moderate restrictionist position as articulated by people like Mark Krikorian–but we also have no reason to panic, and lose hope for the future. Which is the message one gets from Jared Taylor.

The toxic combination of mass immigration and unbridled multiculturalism is bad for America, but it doesn’t have to be fatal. A reduction in the raw numbers of immigrants along with an emphasis on a common American identity, will resolve many of our problems. If Anglo-American institution can survive on a pacific archipelago populated by Polynesians and East-Asians, they will survive the current wave of immigration.