Sunday, August 28, 2016

This is the true face of the alt-right

I enjoy having full comments moderation turned on here at Extra Thoughts. It allows me to filter the nastiness I get in response to posts like this one. I've also decided to start posting more, and shorter, posts here, more like Facebook updates.

I just learned of this bit of despicable trash today. As one Facebook wag put it, I wonder how it reads in the original German.

This is the face of the alt-right. If you are a conservative with any conscience left, have nothing to do with it, period. And, yeah, I really couldn't care less how upset you are with the betrayals of establishment Republicans. You must be really messed up if you think for a moment that "being frustrated with the betrayal of conservatism by establishment Republicans" can somehow be expressed by joining an utterly destructive movement that stands for none of what conservatives have stood for, run by foul-mouthed little boys pretending to be he-men, who think that they can carry out big Accomplishments for The Right Side by being, and encouraging, bullying jerks on Twitter and by attacking Ted Cruz, one of the most intelligent, principled, hard-working conservatives to come along in a long time. So don't be fooled like that.

Oh, and while we're at it, you know that word that starts with a c and ends with "servative" that I keep telling people at What's Wrong With the World is despicable and won't be tolerated? If you think it is a mere synonym for the older English word "cuckold," use Google and get a little more information, huh? Because it isn't just a synonym for that word. And it should have clued you off in the first place that it's a little bizarre and twisted to criticize someone for spinelessness or lack of principle or whatever you thought you meant by the word (the alt-right, of course, means "any conservative we hate") by referring to him merely as a man whose wife has been unfaithful, since that doesn't in itself necessarily mean anything bad about the character of the man.

Yes, I'm being blunt, here. So maybe I will merely a) preach to the choir and b) tick off the alt-righters and their fellow travelers.

But if you are a fellow traveler who can still be reached, read the above-linked article, back off from the alt-right sites you read, and ask yourself, "What am I becoming by making excuses for these people? And what of any enduring value am I gaining by associating with them?"

It's never too late to reject evil. It's never too late to turn back.


Mark Moncrieff said...

Dear Mrs. McGrew

I am as you put it a fellow-traveller and it seems to me that you have missed some very important points in regards to the Alt-Right.

The Alt-Right is primarily, although by no way exclusively, made up of young men. It is important when assessing them to remember that fact. They have not grown up with stable families. They have spent their entire lives being preached to by Liberals, in the media, in the schools and Universities and even by their own families. They are angry that they have been fed so many lies, and they should be angry.

That they do not always get it right proves they are human, but they do not get everything wrong, not by a long shot.

To be honest I was hoping for a Trump/Cruz ticket, but the differences between the two men, both political and personal seem too great.

Lastly while you are correct about what the word "Cuckold" means in the dictionary, due to internet pornography it's meaning amongst young people is slightly different. Today a "Cuckold" is someone who wants or encourages his wife to be promiscuous. In this situation the Husband is basically his own Wives Pimp. So when they call a Politician a "Cuck" they are not saying his wife was unfaithful, they are saying that he has sold out his ideals and his country.

Yours Sincerely
Mark Moncrieff
Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

Lydia McGrew said...

I notice that you cannot point to a single falsehood that I have promulgated about this movement.

Insofar as they are a movement, insofar as one _needs_ this movement qua movement to state something, yes, they do get everything wrong. That is, anything that is unique to the movement is wrong. I suppose a stopped clock is right twice a day, so if you simply want to talk about things like, "Feminism is bad" or something, you can find a lot of non-alt-right people, even anti-alt-right people, to say them.

It is creepy to bring in sexual matters, related, as you say, to pornography, to criticize someone for selling out his ideals. There are a vast number of different, specific things you could want to say about a politician to criticize him for selling out his ideals. Be manly enough to say precisely which of them you mean. Not to mention the fact that many people to whom that term gets applied are being viciously smeared just because they dared to criticize the alt-right itself! Which means that they haven't sold out anything.

In any event, the term means even more and even worse than what you have said here. It relates to particular pornographic sexual fetishes which I have no desire to recount right here.

R.C. said...

There are interesting parallels between the "alt right" and a lot of progressives (several of which Lydia has noted elsewhere, e.g. postmodern approaches to language and truth).

Mr. Moncrieff highlights another: the tendency to excuse almost any behavior because of the causal history of the bad actors. We shouldn't be so hard on, say, black teenagers rioting because they are really just expressing anger at systemic oppression, all the lies Whitey has told them, they have a bad family, etc. Note how little must be changed to turn this into Mr. Moncrieff's apologia--such as it is--for the bad behavior of the alt-right.

The one benefit of the "----servative" slur is that it is a very good indicator of who it is a waste time of time to read.

Lydia McGrew said...

RC, I agree most heartily with what you say about the slur. Indeed, I try to get the few people who listen to me at all about this to *look* at that. I say, "Why are you reading and recommending someone who uses this slur? What does that tell you about the person?"

I was therefore disappointed to see Steve Deace use it apparently as some kind of tu quoque against Trump's campaign. (He used it, IIRC, for the new campaign manager.) That's both silly and descending to the level of the other side. But I gather that just means I don't read "enough" Deace or else (I'm told) I would know that he thinks bad language is cool.

Ingemar said...


I've always wondered how the obviously-evil NSDAP were able to gain control of Germany. Perhaps this election cycle is a lesson.

Lydia McGrew said...

At the risk of running afoul of Godwin's law, I'm afraid I can't disagree.

Power Child said...

I've been reading Alt Right sites (a few of them anyway) for about 5 years, with oscillating and generally favorable levels of agreement. But a few weeks ago I closely watched their reaction to Hillary's speech (the one in which she mentioned them), and I have started to see how little is really there. They almost are turning into just part of the Trump campaign.

Until I discovered your blog today I hadn't heard an intelligent and informed critique of the Alt Right from a principled conservative. I also hadn't carefully considered how the abortion issue might fit into the views of the Alt Right. I'm not totally convinced that being pro-life (or, as I prefer, anti-abortion) is altogether incompatible or unwelcome in the Alt Right, but it is unfortunate to see evidence for that conclusion.

Part of the problem from my perspective might be the ambiguity of what the Alt Right is in the first place. The now-popular characterization seems to be toward the secular Nazi-flirting 20-something guys who hang out on 4Chan and use triple parentheses around everything, but despite some very occasional overlap they're a lot different from the Alt Right I've mostly been exposed to via VDare, Taki's Magazine, Steve Sailer, The Derb, Bonald, Sunshine Mary, etc., who themselves are not at all monolithic.

And so I guess that's part of the Alt Right's defensive toolkit: you can't really nail down who they are and what they stand for. Are you anti-abortion? Here are a dozen Alt Right bloggers who agree. Do you think abortion is eugenic? Here are a dozen others who agree. And so on. The Alt Right is coherent about only two things as far as I can tell: immigration and political correctness, and those happen to be two areas where they are likely to align with principled conservatives.

Lydia McGrew said...

On "the Derb," see the post currently at the top of this blog called "John Derbyshire's Hatred of the Good" for _his_ take on the pro-life movement! (Since 2006, no less.)

Certainly, this "movement" benefits from being loosely knit and thus maintaining plausible deniability about pretty much anything.

But let me address just one thing--the term "political correctness" as used by principled conservatives and (in contrast) by the alt-right. I have tussled with various alt-right commentators at the group blog I participate with, and in the end they have had to be banned (one or two of them, at least). And it was related in a way to differing concepts of "political correctness." You see, I was there, so to speak, when the term "political correctness" was coming into existence and first being used by conservatives. This was chiefly in response to left-wing speech codes in the 1990's.

At that time, "political correctness" very clearly referred to a distinctively *left-wing* phenomenon of trying to ban *legitimate* discussion of important issues and also their attempt to impose *ludicrous* speech requirements. So, for example, any attempt to say that black inner-city culture was dysfunctional, coupled with the refusal to use the phrase "African American," was politically incorrect.

The alt-right has attempted to hijack the term "political correctness" and literally to apply it to *any* standards of speech, even standards of speech against _actual_ vile epithets, etc. In fact, they will expressly argue for a "no enemies to the right" policy, so that we should never criticize anybody for racism, even if the person is being blatantly racist (using the n-word freely, for example), because that's "how the left talks." Well, that's absurd. The left is also opposed to telling Jews that they should be sent to the ovens, but does that mean we shouldn't criticize (or even ostracize) someone for telling Jews they should be sent to the ovens, because that makes us "sound like the left"? Should we say, "Oh, yes, I confess to trying to impose political correctness when I told you not to go on an n-word-laced rant comparing a black woman to a gorilla"?

Give me a break.

So really, there _isn't_ agreement between principled conservatives and the alt-right on "political correctness," because they don't mean the same thing by that phrase.

Here is one of my discussions of this point:

Here is a post and exchange that illustrates this problem:

Power Child said...

That's an interesting point. Do you think the Alt Right's redefinition of political correctness to mean roughly "any speech codes" was deliberate, or was it an accidental byproduct of the simplistic "but that's what liberals do" retort?

One could in good faith make the argument that the binary existence of speech codes is a more practical measure of political correctness, since if only "ludicrous" speech codes count, then there will be disagreement over where the boundary between ludicrous and acceptable lies. Who gets to decide?

I do of course perceive the problem there: when you eliminate speech standards, you quickly get overrun by the lowest common denominator of gutter talk.

My problem with this isn't even so much the lack of taste and civility on display or the fact that it's cruel to black women who get compared to gorillas--I'm probably patient to a fault there--but the fact that it undermines why I found the Alt Right intriguing in the first place: I thought they brought some worthy (and often witty) challenges to many of the views within the Overton Window.

You don't get to do any of that fun challenging when nobody will take you seriously because they first write you off as a punk kid in a Nazi replica uniform. This nicely encapsulates the increasing distance I've felt with the Alt Right lately.

A second question comes to mind though: Do you think principled conservatives have largely withstood this redefining of political correctness, or do you think a lot of them have (perhaps unknowingly) adopted the Alt Right's definition?

PS. I actually read your post on the Derb before I read this one. In my few years of listening to his podcast and reading his articles I don't remember the topic of abortion coming up, though I might just have not noticed. Come to think of it, it's a strange issue because I genuinely care a lot about abortion but I also don't focus on it much compared to other issues.

Lydia McGrew said...

On "accidental" vs. "deliberate" redefining of "political correctness": In fairness, I shd. say that over the ensuing twenty years the term has developed fuzzy edges, and I _have_ heard people (not in the alt-right) use it in what I would consider a sloppy way simply to mean "a restriction on speech that I, the speaker, think should probably be acceptable." That is, regardless of what _side_ of the political spectrum the social restriction came from. Even then, however, it didn't mean that *all* standards of discourse were per se *wrong*. There was always the implicit idea that "political correctness" was somehow stifling clarity of thought or legitimate discussion by imposing unnecessary euphemism, etc.

I would say that the alt-right's aggressive use of the phrase to mean "all standards of discourse that we wish to reject, including standards of basic decency and courtesy that we don't like" is a deliberate aspect of their attacks on fellow conservatives and their attacks on decency in discourse per se. Since you read them, you must know what I'm talking about. They deliberately teach *as a doctrine* that decency and courtesy of any kind are the behaviors of wimps and losers and that (this, to my mind, is ludicrous) sheer nastiness is some kind of brilliant political strategy that is going to help us to win.

The latter doctrine, as a sheer matter of political strategy, is plain dumb. There is no way that calling people by the n-word on Twitter is somehow going to bring about a political or practical victory of any kind. It just doesn't accomplish anything. Yet they will repeatedly go on and on (and on) along the lines of "How many legions hath your standard of discourse?" as though they really are achieving political *power* by gutter talk.

Meanwhile, they reserve their contempt for someone like, say, David French, who is a political pundit *and a lawyer* who has actually fought winning battles *in court* for the freedom of conservatives. So French has actually accomplished something. But French doesn't like the alt-right (plus he adopted a child from Africa), so to them, *he's* the unmanly loser and deserves all manner of vile epithets while *they* are the brave warriors out in the trenches doing...something. We're not quite sure what.

With those kinds of doctrines in their movement, it's not too surprising that the redefinition of "political correctness" would occur.

Lydia McGrew said...

It's very much worth noting that no social group can function without standards of discourse, even if they are what one might call "anti-standards."

So it is with the alt-right. They are *by no means* building some kind of Libertarian Speech Nirvana where nobody gets socially condemned or ostracized for the way that they talk! On the contrary. It's just that their standards are like Calvin's "opposite day" in Calvin and Hobbes.

The rest of the world thinks using the n-word is socially unacceptable. The alt-right thinks that telling someone that it's socially unacceptable to use the n-word is socially unacceptable.

One alt-right commentator once told me that calling someone a racist is vile. He literally said that. And I note that he _didn't_ mean that calling someone a racist *when that person is far from being a racist* is vile, because it's slander, etc. No. He mean that the word "racist" is a kind of swear word.

Or note what happens when, on an alt-right site, there is a lot of schadenfreude over a Muslim woman who got smacked in the face while eating an ice cream cone. (This is a real example.) And a commentator comes in and says, "Er, don't we want not to give the strong impression that we're advocating random violence against Muslims?"

*That* guy's comment is unacceptable according to alt-right standards.

So they definitely have their own standards of speech, and often very explicit. They are very prescriptive. They will go around telling each other what they should and shouldn't be saying.

Again, I think that people are always developing standards of discourse among themselves. If you moderate a blog, you decide what is trash, what to keep and not to keep. If you're a parent, you decide how to guide your children's development of language, what counts as a swear word, and so forth. If you're an employer, you are going to want your employees to get along. And so forth. *Absolute* freedom from all *social* norms of discourse is impossible. The attempt to enact some kind of speech anarchy either results in anarchy (and hence loss of function) or blinds people to the fact that they are, in fact, enacting standards of speech anyway but think they aren't. And sometimes both of these things happen.

So the alt-right definitely doesn't get to wear the mantle of "libertarian speech freedom lovers."

Speech _codes_ on college campuses are often a sign of social breakdown. They show that the rifts in society have broken down the _informal_ means of imposing standards of discourse and that these are now having to be imposed in an awkward, top-down fashion, usually with extremely heavy ideological content. When the left does it, they are trying to impose views which I think are importantly *false* and often even compel *positive* speech affirming those views. They are, moreover, trying to do so at the widest level possible--e.g., at the federal government level. If it were just a matter of Antioch College running its leftist freak show in its little leftist ghetto, then the students would know what they are getting into and could decide not to attend.

Okay, that's rather rambling, so I'll leave it there.

Lydia McGrew said...

"Do you think principled conservatives have largely withstood this redefining of political correctness, or do you think a lot of them have (perhaps unknowingly) adopted the Alt Right's definition?"

To the extent that there are any principled conservatives left, and if I understand your question (I may be misunderstanding it), I'd say that principled conservatives have definitely resisted the redefinition. For example, you wouldn't find Ben Shapiro or Ted Cruz saying that it should be perfectly acceptable to use any sort of gutter language as long as it is directed against leftists or as long as it doesn't "sound like the left" or whatever. On the contrary; they've both been targeted by the alt-right, and Shapiro gets inundated hourly with anti-semitism. So I can't imagine either of them saying that a blog (say) that deletes comments containing anti-semitic and racist epithets and that finds that unacceptable in a political commentator is being "politically correct."

An interesting case here is Matt Walsh. I find that Walsh hits about just *exactly* where I think principled conservatives should be. I'm a huge fan. He's hard-hitting and (in the *old* sense) he's "politically incorrect." He says things that make the left have conniptions, *not* because he's dirty-mouthed (as far as I can tell, he isn't) but rather because he simply won't accept their leftist nonsense and because he speaks clearly about their crazy nonsense.

So I was a tad disappointed when I got the impression that Walsh thought that Milo Y. is a conservative (he really isn't) and that he was banned from Twitter because he's a conservative (a questionable conclusion--after all, Walsh himself is still on Twitter, right?).

But even if Walsh and I disagree on those points, I still find it implausible that Walsh would accept the alt-right's nonsense on what "political correctness" is. He's too sensible for that, and he's had to endure too much vileness himself because he's a Never Trumper.

Power Child said...

Yeah, I've noticed that Alt Right rage is often bounced off a wacky fun-house mirror before it finds its targets. (Same goes for how their praise sometimes finds their heroes.) I think Derbyshire is often a voice of reason in this regard, though I'm sure you can find examples where he's joined in.

The parallels between some of the Alt Right's tactics and those of SJWs is interesting. I called out someone on the Alt Right for this once, and he actually replied to the effect of "But it works!" No, I told him, it doesn't. These kinds of antics get you a few minutes in the news and then afterwards your name is dirt, and you're stuck in your echo chamber.

We don't know much about the core demographics of the Alt Right, but stuff like this makes me think it must be mostly millennials. Who else would confuse 15 minutes of fame, or generating lots of activity on Twitter, for actual success and influence?

Anyway, thanks again for the new perspective.

Power Child said...

Since it was brought up, I have a view of "racism" I'd like your reaction to. For what it's worth, I got this idea from someone on the Alt Right:

The range of things that could realistically get you accused of racism is so wide it's become a useless term. If you list out just the categories of things that might qualify as racism, you can easily come up with a dozen without thinking very hard, and plenty more if you're willing to ponder it for an hour or two.

Charges of racism are used as a way to indelibly mark someone for ostracism of course, but it's almost always done without specific charges and frequently without evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for any charge.

If someone makes an accusation of racism, it's therefore taken (by people in the Alt Right, in this case) to mean this person is basically a witch-hunter with malicious intent and a hidden agenda, rather than an earnest defender of a beleaguered race.

I haven't seen the word "racism" get treated like a cuss word (I can easily imagine the scenario you describe where it was), but I agree there's a sensitivity to the use of that word and the above is my interpretation of why the sensitivity exists.

Lydia McGrew said...

But I'm not willing to let other people's overly broad use of a word deprive *me* of my ability to use a word that describes a phenomenon that is real. That's just devaluing language. Take the word "rape," for example. So, now we have activists conflating seduction and rape. Does that mean now we never call anything rape anymore, not even forcible rape of the most unequivocal variety? We just stop using the word or automatically sneer at anybody who uses it? Maybe lobby for having it removed from our criminal rosters as a category of crime?

But that would be dumb. (I hope that's obvious.) There's this real thing that happens, where a man forces himself physically on a woman, and it needs a name. We're just going to have to make up a new name if we abandon that one. The language needs a word for the phenomenon. So we should keep the word we already have for a phenomenon that already exists.

Same with "racism." There's a real phenomenon in human sociology that we can identify that involves despising certain races, thinking they are inferior, insulting people just for belonging to a particular race (and nothing else), hating people for the race they belong to, and so forth. That really happens. (In all sorts of directions. Certainly there's black-against-white racism as well.)

So we need a word for that kind of actual thought and behavior. We're just going to have to make something up, maybe use some long, clumsy expression, if we abandon the word that already exists. I'm not going to let leftists force me to do that.

And we've seen quite clearly what _does_ happen on the alt-right when they say, "Don't call anything racism." Somebody comes along and starts throwing around n-bombs and so on, or saying that the anti-abortion movement is "dysgenic" because too many black babies will be saved from abortion, stuff that is unambiguous, stuff that doesn't belong to some broad "penumbra" of racism but is smack-dab in the middle of the bullseye, and the alt-right gets the vapors if you refer to the behavior as racist.

The heck with that. That's the corruption of thought. That's them making excuses for the inexcusable. I'm not going to let the leftists force me into some kind of reaction such that I can't recognize reality when it's staring me right in the face and can't call a spade a spade.

Lydia McGrew said...

Posting for commentator "Power Child" who ran into a difficulty with blogger:

I don't disagree with you: We need a handy word to describe a particular kind of malicious attitude, having to do with race, that is harmful to our society's well-being, to truth, and of course to the race(s) being attacked. "Racism" is the perfect word for this, and "racist" is the perfect word for someone who subscribes to some form of racism.

BUT to be useful, the word ought to be carefully defined by the person using it. Otherwise it's too easy to end up describing something that is really not malicious or dangerous at all (e.g. innocent curiosity about what black people's hair feels like), or else something that basically all people are guilty of (e.g. the natural tendency to prefer the company of one's own race).

The definition you gave is, in my opinion, legitimate and appropriate: despising certain races, thinking they are inferior, insulting people just for belonging to a particular race (and nothing else), hating people for the race they belong to, and so forth.

(I leave aside for now the problem that much of your definition, as you've worded it, is about people's unprovable inner thoughts and motives.)

But you start to run into trouble with the "and so forth" part.

Think about the cleaning chemicals in the cabinet under your kitchen sink. If you have kids are are responsible, you will put some kind of lock on that cabinet because you don't know how your kids might misuse the chemicals if they get a hold of them. Similarly, racism is a kind of social cleaning agent--it's meant to brand people who are going to stir up trouble between the races, so that those people can be avoided or taken with a grain of salt. You have to "lock up" your definition so that irresponsible people (e.g. journalists), or people with an ax to grind or a hidden agenda (e.g. Al Sharpton), don't misuse it.

Unfortunately, the definition was never locked up, and now the cleaning agent has been spilled all over the whole house. People point to all kinds of things--even contradictory things--and call it racist. Credibility of accusation is given not to those with the most evidence behind their accusations, but to those able to emote most strongly about their own downtrodden wretchedness, and this has, in far too many instances, made "racist" a codeword for white, itself a codeword for evil.

Like you, and contra the Alt Right, I prefer to reclaim the word and the concept that its power is supposed to be based on, but it has to be done carefully and intelligently. This is annoying, but sometimes we pay a price for cleaning up messes even when other people made them.

Lydia McGrew said...

I tend to find that my own uses are pretty self-evidently not over-uses, for several reasons. First, anyone who knows me at all well realizes that I say a lot of things about inner-city culture and so forth that would be considered "racist," that I have absolutely no patience with BLM or with the excuse-making for rioting, that I never engage in white guilt breast-beating, etc. Second, on the occasions (they used to be rare but are now becoming less rare) when I refer to someone or to someone's opinions as racist, I think the context speaks for itself to anyone who doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about the term. It shouldn't be difficult to see why I would refer to many of the comments made to what's-her-name (the black actress) as racist, though the alt-right acts like it's difficult or like that use is an overuse. (And it doesn't matter to whether or not someone is using racist epithets *toward* her that she herself drops f-bombs, doesn't appear to like white people, and doesn't sound like either a very likable person or a talented actress. Something else the alt-right doesn't understand is that the tu quoque response doesn't magically baptize everything that is done or said to someone and make it "non-bad," like some kind of weird semi-sacrament!) Or if I go to a blog and find that they are arguing against international adoption on the grounds that "God intended the races to be kept separate, as shown by the story of the Tower of Babel in the Bible" (a real example, by the way) or that "blacks cannot do Algebra" (also a real example), and if I call those who have said those things racist, it isn't like I need to issue some long explanation. Their comments speak for themselves. Third, if I do ask someone to take my word for it that a group or person is racist, I will usually a) give an example and b) stress that I don't use the term lightly.

Power Child said...

I appreciate what you're saying, but I think it's very risky to expect people to rely on context and/or familiarity with you to correctly understand how you define "racism" or "racist", especially in an online venue. You really can't be too careful. Remember, it isn't just the Alt Right that is going to give you problems with these terms, it's basically everyone, from all directions including the Christian right/principled conservatives.

I applaud you for making sure to give an example when you call someone or something racist, but an example unfortunately isn't worth much unless it maps to a clear rule or definition--one that doesn't incriminate the wrong people.

For example, you mentioned one instance of racism as the belief that "God intended the races to be kept separate." Those holding such a belief are perhaps guilty of misinterpreting the Bible, but that belief is neither necessary nor sufficient to qualify one as a racist. Note that the belief doesn't meet the standard of your own definition above:

"Despising certain races, thinking they are inferior, insulting people just for belonging to a particular race (and nothing else), hating people for the race they belong to and so forth."

Maybe it's something you expected me to know from the "and so forth" clause, but that's my point.

Unlike a lot of other prescriptive words, our society uses "racism" as a binary marker to take or not take action against the "racist". If someone is branded "just a tad" racist, people tend to react the same way (or at least 80% or 90% the same way) as if that person was branded "full-on smack dab in the middle of the bulls-eye" racist. That's why it's so important to carefully draw the borders of the definition. You don't want to accidentally mark the wrong people, even a little bit.

Lydia McGrew said...

Nah, the person who said that about God's wanting to keep the races separate was the same person who said blacks can't do Algebra. Plus much more. And quite frankly, the odds of running across someone in the United States in 2016 who says that about God and the Tower of Babel who *doesn't* think at least some non-white races are inferior (in some very important senses) to caucasians are extremely low. Let's not be naive or exaggerate our skepticism because we're oh-so-sensitive about the extreme danger of overusing the term "racist." That's it's own kind of tip-toeing. I don't tiptoe around the leftists' taboos, and I'm certainly not going to feel like I have to tiptoe around the self-styled rightists' taboos.

Power Child said...

Maybe Tower-of-Babel Guy isn't the best example, but there are plenty of questionable gray-area cases. I'd say they vastly outnumber the cases of clear malicious intent toward members of another race qua race, especially on the Right where there is less tip-toeing around race in general.

Just for fun, I have a list going of the various categories of offenses that might plausibly get a person called racist. I'm up 15 categories and I haven't even put much time into it. I've ordered the list from most malicious/severe (this would include stuff like "supports the extermination of all members of another race") to least malicious/severe (this would include stuff like "partakes in aspects of another race's culture, mostly for the novelty of it"). Think of how much distance there is between those two positions! How far down the list, starting from the most severe/malicious end, do you think you need to go before the accusations of racism become unjustified? How about absurd? The gray areas are most of the list, not the edge cases.

I've reproduced the list here as it sits now:

1. Malicious intent (especially violent intent) toward members of another race based on irrational or emotional reasoning
2. Believing one's own race to be existentially superior to or more valuable than others
3. Malicious intent toward another race based on defensive reasoning or as a response to some perceived wrong
4. Noticing or expecting correlation between race and cognitive abilities
5. Fear of another race based on defensive reasons or as a response to some perceived wrong
6. Noticing or expecting correlation between race and physical abilities
7. Noticing correlation between race and physical characteristics (aside from skin tone and hair texture)
8. Placing value on racial continuity among one's descendants
9. Basic belief in race as a biological reality (as opposed to social construct)
10. Noticing or expecting correlation between race and behavioral characteristics
11. Preferring the company and/or culture of one's own race
12. Failing to place sufficient value on racial diversity (especially in workplaces or residential areas, also in sports and media)
13. Failing to use up-to-date politically correct racial language
14. Finding humor or fascination in the characteristics of another race
15. Borrowing or partaking in aspects of another race's culture

Lydia McGrew said...

"The gray areas are most of the list, not the edge cases."

I'd say that's because you wrote it that way. I'm not saying you did so with a deliberate intent to be biased, but I could beef up the earlier part of the list a lot more if I were sufficiently interested. Bet you could too.

Power Child said...

Fair enough, though I did try to chunk it as much as I could. But do you really think there are enough clear-cut cases to use the accusation of racism without carefully defining it? Besides, by defining it you make it easier for other people to use the term effectively as well. That would actually promote dialog rather than the fractured echo chambers that produced the Alt Right.

Lydia McGrew said...

We have to be able to *use* language, and there are plenty of contexts in which it's simply not conversationally appropriate to go, "Okay: Stop: I want to use a word. But first I have to spell out a definition." So of course I'm not going to agree that in no context would I say (without irony), "This web site is racist" or "That was a racist tweet" or whatever without saying, "Oh, by the way, here's my lengthy, explicit definition of 'racism.'" All the less so since the term is to some extent a family resemblance term. It describes a set or group of social phenomena. That's part of what conversational context is _for_--showing what one means by a word. Sometimes one might choose to use a longer phrase if that were clearer--e.g. "unhealthy obsession with racial grievances," or whatever.

Look, I'm an analytic philosopher and a pretty widely published writer. Linguistic precision and clarity are exceedingly important to me, and I daresay I'm pretty good at using language precisely. But partly for that very reason I'm not going to set up highly artificial rules about using a useful term.

Power Child said...

You can use "racism" however you want of course, and I honestly wish you best of luck when you do. I simply meant to provide, for your comment, a clear picture of how I would use it (i.e. not just very cautiously but also carefully), and to explain why the Alt Right is so sensitive towards it. I'm totally comfortable believing their sensitivity is 8/10ths justified while you only believe it's 2/10ths justified, as long as we can understand each other--and I think this conversation proves we can.

I look forward to reading your blog and occasionally commenting here again in the future. I'll try not to make a nuisance of myself.

Power Child said...

PS. Someday I might write a longish piece about how Trump destroyed the Alt Right. For now I wrote a brief outline:

Lydia McGrew said...

Getting back to the original post, the eugenic ideas expressed in the despicable post I linked were the type of thing being articulated in the self-styled alt-right long before Donald Trump ever came along. They certainly didn't get them from him! Those particular diabolical eugenic ideas are far too systematic and articulate, in any event, to come from him! He's dog-whistled the alt-right and given them an additional platform, additional attention, and a candidate to glom onto, but their own trash was their own trash and made quite explicitly and quite deliberately back when nobody thought of him as a political candidate at all.

Christopher Musslin said...

Lydia, the website you linked to was truly horrific. i appreciate reading your views because it is getting so confusing to know WHO to believe regarding what is going on with "being conservative" and loving Jesus.

won't it be great when our blessed Lord Jesus rules in power and majesty? maranatha!