Better defined by what it isn’t than what it is, the “Alt-right,” broadly speaking, is a reaction to left wing identity politics and the failure of traditional Conservatism to formulate a reply. The alt-right opposes interventionist neocon policies with the same ferocity as illegal immigration and gun control. They share more similarities with European “far right” parties, such as the French FN, than they do with traditional Republicans. History buffs may want to look at “Nationalist State Capitalist” policies of the Spanish Falange in the early 1930’s to get a clearer picture.
Aside from this, the alt-right is the most aggressively offensive political movement in existence, and it often targets the Jewish community. So why would I be there?
Is it time to look at adding this “Pepe the Frog” character to the official database of hate symbols? pic.twitter.com/9y9ggL1gLR— Herschel Lieberman (@RabbiLieberman) August 18, 2016
I enjoy the nasty talk in the alt-right. I enjoy spending rhetorical time with people who might otherwise hate me. The alt-right has energy, it has vitality, it’s something NEW and creative, it’s honest and forthright. It’s also the only viable political movement that is explicitly fighting for that nebulous concept of “Western Civilization.”
I have thick skin and a tolerance for others. Liberals like to imagine themselves “tolerant,” but real tolerance is the ability to be around people who are different than you and still value them as people. I’m from a small town, and was raised around tough, rural whites who didn’t spend much time checking their privilege.
College was where my awakening began. I majored in Philosophy, and in the mid to late 90’s, concepts such as “white privilege” and “critical race theory” were still part of the free marketplace of ideas, ideas you could debate without fear of sanction. Being acutely aware of rural white poverty, I rejected these concepts in favor of an understanding that privilege was as complex as the human experience, an experience the identity warrior on the left believes is dependent on our racial identity. Politically I called myself a leftist, but this changed as I realized the privilege equation worked against my own community. Watching the left attack Israel in the late 90’s turned me away from left wing politics for good.
After 9/11, the “neo con” ideology took over Conservative thought. The Bush Administration’s failed policies opened the door for Barack Obama and what should have been a new era of progressive politics. I had rejected the hard left, but saw Obama as a pragmatic whose economic policies would be better for middle and working class Americans. I don’t think he had been in office six months before his capitulation to Wall Street was complete, and within a few years his foreign policy was little different than Bush’s, full of failed interventions and optimistic slaughters. The Republicans, through all of this, had nothing to offer but shrill, ineffective denunciation.
The Trayvon Martin case had more to do with the growth of the Alt-Right than any individual event. I remember the initial reports of the incident, suggesting Zimmerman had used racial slurs, tracked down and shot an innocent child. As more and more evidence came out challenging this narrative, something was happening to my “liberal” friends.
They refused to pay any attention to the facts. George Zimmerman was guilty, a racist, a terrible person not deserving of a fair trial… and why? Because the mainstream media said so. That’s it. What happened that night was as irrelevant to them as the text of the Affordable Care Act was to the Tea Party. This was a shock. Liberals were supposed to stand up for the unpopular, for rational inquiry, calm deliberation, and the basics of due process! Why was every value that educated people claimed to believe in being thrown out the window because two violent men got in a fight?
These questions led me to an unavoidable conclusion: I was no longer a liberal, and liberals no longer cared about the truth. The “tribalization” of American politics was complete. It was time to go right, not to the neocons, but a right wing that rejected their failed economic and foreign policy, and fought back against leftist identity politics. I found like-minded people online. Some of them were overtly anti-Semitic, but I found that their critique of the Jewish community was similar to mine. Neo-cons were dangerous and disloyal, liberals stuck in hypocritical identity politics. I found myself respecting Evangelical Christians who supported Israel and the Jewish Community despite our hatred towards them. I found myself offended, rather then amused, as “white” became a slur in our media, government, and universities.
I sometimes wonder what Jews who enthusiastically go on about “white privilege” think the endgame is. They seem to think this concept will serve to shut the mouths of middle and working class whites in flyover country, while liberal Jews hold the clipboards and direct victorious POC in a dismantling of “whiteness.” Privileges will be checked, and all will be well in the world. I don’t see it.
So, I could have ended up a nice liberal Jewish boy, but my wandering nature put an end to that. I’ve seen too much, experienced too much, to be bothered by the memes of the alt-right. I’ve lived with and befriended people most Jews would dismiss, and found that the meanest and the roughest can hold forth with truth. As a community we’re quick to ignore certain speech because of who the speaker is. I focus on the speech.
Western Civilization is a good thing for Jews. Sharia Law, Political Islam, identity politics, and the collapse of reason generally are bad things for Jews. I don’t care if someone standing up to the left doesn’t talk like my mother. I don’t care if someone who wants to control European borders blames Jews for the Muslim influx. Time to grow some skin, and focus on the real threats.
I am often asked: “As a Jewish person, why doesn’t the Alt-right’s anti-Semitism bother you?” I understand why people would ask, and why they see the alt-right as they do. To answer, I need to ask a question of my own:
What is anti-Semitism?
I favor Rothbard’s definition, slightly modified: an anti-Semite is someone who wants Jews subjected to legal sanction of some kind, as well as those who call for violence against us Jews. This definition won’t help the mental tranquility of liberal Jews and Trump critics, seeing a deluge of frog-memes coming their way, but it helps me stay focused. I ask myself: Why do some Jews put so much effort into combating the Alt-Right for cartoonish memes, while ignoring systematic, institutional threats? Why are we, as a community, afraid of any reasonable engagement with people like this:
Yes, very relevant. Jews who push for diversity in the US but not Israel should be challenged. https://t.co/oQ5KxH3dBl— Ricky Vaughn (@Ricky_Vaughn99) May 4, 2016
Is “Ricky” wrong? Does this dynamic indeed exist in our community? Are Jewish people not overrepresented in this great western push for “diversity”? Most Jews would call Ricky anti-Semitic for saying this, while I’d simply call it the truth.
So what is “real” antisemitism, if not a tweet?
Consider the case of Eliav Terk, Jewish High School student in Texas. Complaining about fellow students posting anti-Semitic imagery on Facebook:
“School administrators informed him that no action would be taken. Terk was told by the administrators that the anti-Israel students must be excused for their behavior because they are part of an ‘oppressed and victimized’ people.”
This is high school! In the same national environment where saying “All Lives Matter” can lead to sanction, posting “anti-Semitic” caricatures are part of being “an oppressed and victimized people”?
Does this look like the language and behavior of the Alt-Right? Where is the ADL to investigate? American Jewish organizations have made us look foolish, kvetching about Pepe the Frog and nasty tweets, yet when a Jewish High School student faces institutional discrimination, only the Israeli Press notices. The situation is much worse when we take a larger look at things. Jews are fleeing Europe, under constant attack by members of the Muslim community. Jews in higher education face threats, ostracism, and discrimination. Identity groups like Black Lives Matter have made Israel the ONLY overseas focus point, and this is replicated in Hispanic, Asian, and Muslim student groups. Considering the institutional fawning over identity groups representing “people of color”, this will not end well for Jews. Jewish groups remain largely ineffective in dealing with left wing intuitional and demographic threats. The Alt-Right is more observant:
So Soros (a Jew) bribes politicians to flood Europe with Muslims. Alt Right warns this is a bad idea. Muslims stab Jews. Alt Right is blamed— RAMZPAUL (@ramzpaul) August 19, 2016
Why can I swim in a sea of (sometimes genuine) anti-Semitism and laugh at it, while other Jews can’t stand to be called “Jew”? Why am I easily able to ignore the nasty language, stereotyping, and general hostility Jews experience from the Alt-Right?
Part of it is because I believe that what happened to young Eliav Terk is worse than a million Pepe memes. Part of it is because traditional Conservative politics have failed and offer no response to the left’s toxic identity politics.
But in the end it’s just me.