Like the rest of the mainstream media, Andrew Marantz of the New Yorker is trying to figure out what on Earth is going on in the aftermath of the God-Emperor’s ascension:
The alt-right is united less by ideology than by sensibility; a hallmark of that sensibility is a careful attunement to social norms, and a perverse delight in desecrating them. This is easy to do on the Internet, where anyone can say anything. Mike Cernovich, whom I profiled last month, became a prominent vessel of pro-Trump populism by saying unconscionable things on Twitter. “This election was a contest between P.C. culture and free-speech culture,” he told me the day after Trump’s victory. “Most people know what it’s like for some smug, élite asshole to tell them, ‘You can’t say that, it’s racist, it’s bad.’ Well, a vote for Trump meant, ‘Fuck you, you don’t get to tell me what to say.’ ” Cernovich, who grew up working-class in rural Illinois, visited his home town in February. He said, “My parents voted for Obama, but they told me, ‘If it’s Trump versus Hillary, we’ll go with him. He gets us. He talks like us.’ Since then, I never doubted that he’d be President.”
The morning after the election, an influential alt-right blogger who goes by Vox Day wrote, “Donald Trump has a lot to do . . . It is the Alt-Right’s job to move the Overton Window and give him conceptual room to work.” Day and his peers have been doing this job for months. They have flooded the Internet with offensive images and words—cartoon frogs emblazoned with swastikas, theories of racial hierarchy—and then ridiculed anyone who had the temerity to be offended. “Racism and sexism are a) human beliefs, and, b) as legitimately held as any other belief,” Day told me in a recent e-mail. No picture is shocking. No idea is bad. Who gets to define bad, anyway? “Remember that rhetoric is the art of emotional manipulation,” Day added. Last week, on his blog, Day wrote, “There is no more Republican vs. Democrat. It is now whites vs. non-whites and white quislings.”
It’s rather amusing to see a political reporter utilizing rhetoric – and less crudely and ineptly than the average journalist – in order to denounce the use of rhetoric in a political campaign. (It’s even funnier to see a presumably secular left-liberal affecting horror over postmodern relativist norms.) You’ll notice that because he didn’t get anything sufficiently strong enough to provoke the desired emotional reaction from his exchange of emails with me, he had to resort to digging up something from Twitter that would serve his rhetorical purpose.
That’s legitimate, of course. I’m certainly not complaining about it, and indeed, I only spoke to him because Mike and I both observed that he gave Mike a reasonably fair shake in the bio-piece he’d written about Mike. And what a fantastic title; it’s truly better than I would ever have imagined. But then, consider what he chose to use from what I gave him, and then think about how he chose to present it. It should be illuminating for those of you who have read SJWAL. As I did not ask for permission to quote his emails, you’ll have to make do with my end of the exchange.
The Alt-Right has a not-insignificant element with #GamerGate experience. While there were more left-wingers in #GamerGate than right-wingers, we all learned how to rapidly blunt the effect of even mass media attacks by dozens of journalists operating in collusion. So, once we saw the mainstream media utilizing the same tactics to attempt to disqualify and discredit Donald Trump that we had seen used against us, we knew that our conceptual shock tactics would be effective against them too. I would say most of the memelords set to work after Super Tuesday, when it became apparent that Trump could win, not only the Republican primary, but the election.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would say that we knew people were responding positively to concepts previously ruled out of bounds by the mainstream media by March 2016.
I don’t think the election was about expression at all. I think it represented a significant portion of the white majority shifting from the ideology politics it has historically practiced to the identity politics that the various minorities have been practicing for decades. That’s why policies and ideologies, from abortion to expression to war with Russia, all proved largely irrelevant to both sides.
The next move is to defeat the counterproductive attempt by the cuckservatives and moderates to ease up on the rhetoric. But really, we don’t have to do anything, since the angry, riotous reaction by disappointed Hillary supporters will see to that.
1. Chiefly, agreeing with and amplifying their accusations while demonstrating their collusion, ineffectiveness, and dishonesty.
2. When readers stopped responding emotionally to the accusations.
3. They rendered the various accusations toothless.
4. I doubt they’ll need to change much. What worked with the game journos worked even better with the mainstream media. The media seldom does anything beyond double down, again and again. We openly mock that. I mean, look at how they’re still all screaming RACIST SEXIST blah blah blah. It’s like the Robin Williams sketch. “Stop! Or I shall say ‘stop’ again!”
At this point, who doesn’t know that everyone at the NYT, the WaPo, and ABCNNBCBS believes Trump is an evil racist sexist Nazi badthinker? But if they change their tactics, we’ll adjust.
5. I’m not a memelord. While I’ve been known to meme from time to time, I’m not that dank. I would say “organic harmony” is a more accurate description than “open collaboration”. We don’t do organization or hierarchy. No one is in charge. If someone lands on something that works, or that everyone thinks is funny, others pick it up.
Racism and sexism are a) human beliefs, and, b) as legitimately held as any other belief. Regardless of whether they are wrong or not, regardless of whether they are justified or not, it is no one else’s business what you happen to believe. Given that the definitions of both racism and sexism are in constant flux, that isn’t a question that can be meaningfully answered.
I believe racism is the belief in the intrinsic inferiority of other races. Perhaps your definition is more expansive, more relative, or more nebulous. Hence the difficulty in saying what “actual racism” or “actual sexism” looks like.
But regardless of how you or I would define the terms, no word, image, or meme can be racist or sexist in itself, because an inanimate symbol is not a belief, and furthermore, is an unreliable indicator of any individual’s actual belief, including the original creator’s.
For example, I am an American Indian, but I can certainly create a funny anti-Indian meme about redskins if it happens to suit my purpose. To insist that because X has created, let alone posted, meme Y, you can accurately ascertain X’s genuine beliefs, is to commit a basic category error. Remember that rhetoric is the art of emotional manipulation, and that nothing manipulates the emotions of the US left like racist themes.
What Marantz presented was a fair, but very limited snapshot of an intrinsically complicated subject. And he presented it in a rhetorical manner meant to emotionally manipulate the reader towards disapproval of Trump supporters, the Alt-Right, Chuck Johnson, Mike Cernovich, and me. That’s fine, that’s in line with his publication’s objectives and his responsibilities, and neither Mike nor I was unaware of it. He certainly appears to have remembered the second half of my last sentence, the half he did not quote.
Anyhow, I suspect it will be useful for some of you to see how the media process plays out when seen from the other side of the story.