With the appointment of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist in the Trump Administration, it is no longer possible to ignore the movement he has founded. Sure, he’s a vindictive strongman who has no morals or beliefs to speak of, but that doesn’t exactly make him stand out in the President Elect’s inner circle.
What does is his position as chief executive of Breitbart News, and gleefully oversaw its transition from “news organization aimed at dismantling the left’s media narrative” to “mouthpiece for the Trump campaign”. His obsession with destroying the GOP and the Left, adeptness at aggressive social climbing, and instinct for preying on the weak has served him quite well.
Under his chaotic rule, the website has turned into a cesspool that has spawned what is known as the “alt-right”. This fringe group believes, as former Breitbart reporter Ben Shapiro has said, “that Western culture is inseparable from European Ethnicity”. If that sounds like a White Supremacy movement to you, you’d be wrong. In their own words, the difference between them and a gaggle of skinheads is “intelligence”. Just what the philosophy has been missing; it takes a lot of ego to claim you’re the master race, but the alt-right has somehow managed to up the ante.
It’s difficult to suss out exactly what they are railing against- but the most urgent matter seems to be “political correctness”. They revel in breaking the norms of polite society, such as editing pictures of reporter’s children so they’re in gas chambers, and then congratulate themselves for being so brave.
I don’t want to give Steve Bannon more credit than he deserves- he will bend in whatever direction he deems advantageous, first cursing Obama for not being hard enough on Putin, then immediately jumping aboard the Trump train. But we have to remember that this man will have the President’s ear. Now that America has given him all the power he could want, let’s see what he does with it. Small men always make grand gestures.
4 thoughts on “Day 6: Years of Living Dangerously, Anger at the Unseen Other, The Spear in the Red Elephant”
So tell me, how does claiming that Western culture is inseparable from European Ethnicity when said by Bannon and his people any different from- or worse than when it’s said by Blacks, other minorities, or Liberals of European ethnicity / extraction?
And yes, that is something that is often and consistently said by those groups. The only difference is in the value of- and allegiance to Western culture espoused.
Oh wait! Sorry! Bannon and his people are White. I forgot that they’re – and I – are racist from birth because of that.
First, it’s important to realize that simply because I make a critique of the alt-right, it doesn’t mean I endorse the racial divisiveness of the left. That’s what a centrist does after all, holds the fringes, be they Steve Bannon or self flagellating liberals, in check. The difference here is that Steve Bannon, someone who no one can claim ISN’T on the fringe of ideology, is now the chief strategist in the White House. That’s worthy of a very hard look at him I’d say.
More importantly, I hold conservative values quite dearly. People are born with inalienable rights, limited government exists to enforce those rights- not grant them, and policy should arise from a place of doubt. None of these values are at all based in race, and to try and claim such is anti-democratic and insanely regressive, no matter if those calls are from the left or right.
Pushing back against a narrative doesn’t mean embracing the ugly fringe reaction on the far side.
OK, but you specifically focused on a certain statement as if it’s bad because Bannon espouses it when that same statement is fairly close to mainstream among Blacks, especially Blactivists. It is also, quite obviously, completely mainstream amongst Native American and their various European extracted supporters.
Remember that while “alt-right” may include some number of people under its penumbra that are fringe elements, if you’re going to speak of racial / ethnic / cultural solidarity and “extremity,” you have to take into account that the opposing “extreme” views are not fringe, they’re fully mainstream with “cultural gatekeepers” in place to ensure compliance with orthodoxy. Ask Stacy Dash.
I think “the statement”, that societal values should have a basis in race, be they white or otherwise, is wrong based on it’s own merit. Not because Steve Bannon said it. Anyone can say it, and I’ll disagree with them. I will, however, reserve the right to not like Steve Bannon because he espouses it.
As a straight white male living in a very liberal city, I’m familiar with the feeling of not being welcome on the new-left. I get the alienation and frustration. What I refuse to do is not call out fascist thugs and con men. We should be aiming our sights wider- at all identity politics, not just those on the side opposite our own.
Something that does give me hope is the feeling that you and I are on same page: identity politics are divisive and poisonous, and no one is exempt from that. Alt-right or left. The interesting development is that alt-right just won a massive victory that catapulted them to the top of our institutional powers. It’s up to the base to show they are interested in actually governing, not waging an identity war. Embracing race based politics as “resistance” is far too easy, not a solution, and profoundly un-American. The hard work is waging war on both sides.