The Alt-Right: They're creepy and they're kooky, and not in the cute Addams Family way
My Federalist article taking on the Allum Bokhari/Milo Yiannopoulos defense of the "alternative right" at Breitbart.com (developed from my earlier post here at Allthink) has drawn some responses along predictable lines: Cathy Young is a Jew (true), a "Marxist" ex-Soviet immigrant (here's a tip: people who emigrated from the Soviet Union generally did so because they didn't like Marxism), a militant feminist (quick, someone tell Amanda Marcotte!), and a well-paid shill for the Koch brothers (yes, I get that from leftists too; FYI, my position as a research fellow at the Cato Institute is unpaid, and my annual income is below the average for writers and journalists).
Amidst all this drollery, a couple of responses warrant a reply: a string of tweets by a user who goes by "Pale Primate" purporting to be a detailed rebuttal of my piece, and a blogpost by one Luke Ford.
First, both of them point out a genuine error: I referred to VDARE as Steve Sailer's site when, in fact, it's Peter Brimelow's site. This came from a misreading of a line in the Breitbart article which referred to "nodes like Steve Sailer's blog, VDARE and American Renaissance." I should have checked the information better. The Federalist has now made a correction at my quest.
On to more substantive things. "Pale Primate" defends the RadixJournal column which argues against a pro-life position on the ground that legal abortion reduces breeding by stupid and irresponsible women who are mostly black, Hispanic and poor by claiming that it's not really any worse than a controversial 2001 article by legal scholar John Donohue and economist Steven Levitt (of "Freakonomics" fame) which argued that legalized abortion was partly responsible for the drop in violent crime. By the same logic, the rantings of certain radical feminists who think the number of males should be reduced to 10 percent of the human population because men wreak too much havoc on the world are not really any worse than a discussion of statistics showing that men commit the vast majority of violent crimes.
Donohue and Levitt stress that their conclusions are descriptive, not prescriptive. They also don't proudly declare their rejection of the principles of human rights and equality, or sling derogatory epithets at people who adopt African children.
I'm not going to get into a detailed discussion of race, intelligence and genetics. I freely admit that I'm not an expert on the subject; I've followed, for instance, some of the debate on Nicholas Wade's The Troublesome Inheritance, which deals with innate differences between human population groups, and I see persuasive arguments on both sides. The basic point I'd make is this: If we, as citizens of a multiracial and multiethnic society, want to have a more open discussion of issues of racial differences, it is imperative, as Steven Pinker wrote in 2006, to do so in a framework of "commitment to universal human rights, and to policies that treat people as individuals rather than as representatives of groups." (Group differences, as Pinker notes, "pertain to averages, not to individual men and women.") The Alt-Right wants the opposite.
"Pale Primate" takes issue with my statement that VDARE chronicles crimes by blacks, Hispanics and Muslims in a "gleeful" tone. I'll leave it to others to interpret the tone of headlines that refer to "murderous blacks hopped up on crack." He also defends a VDARE item that criticized an Associated Press article for downplaying the Nigerian background of a Texas couple arrested for enslaving and abusing a Nigerian nanny, asking why the headline referred to the nanny as "Nigerian" but the couple's background was buried inside the story. But there's a good reason for that. The nanny, who was here illegally, was a Nigerian national. The accused perpetrators, legal immigrants from Nigeria, were U.S. citizens.
I've said before, in this and other articles, that progressive and liberal writing on race and crime tends to descend into denialism of higher crime rates among blacks and "white supremacy" clichés. I've written repeatedly about this. In fact, my last Newsday column was a defense of Bill Clinton's remarks defending the 1994 crime bill. Miraculously, I managed to make my point without once referring to "murderous blacks hopped up on crack." Granted, that would not have gotten into Newsday, but I'm reasonably sure I would not have used that language even if writing for my own blog. I don't think our only options are denialism or VDARE-style "racialism" that constantly stresses the ethnic, racial or religious identity of perpetrators and always presuming it relevant to the crime. Incidentally, if a "social justice" website decided to highlight violent crimes by white people in order to counteract racial stereotypes, and started covering such crimes in the same way that VDARE covers crime by blacks, Latinos and Muslims, I would consider that racist and repulsive.
"Pale Primate" accuses me of "tone policing" - a phrase that comes, by the way, straight from the lexicon of "social justice warriors," who insist that "people of color" and women who want to talk about racism or sexism should never be criticized for expressing their frustration in such phrases as "white people suck" or "kill all men."
Yes, I think tone matters. I believe that when we discuss differences between population groups, we should be careful not to do it in a way that dehumanizes people or demeans them on the basis of identity, imputes collective guilt, or justifies relegating a group to inferior status (especially a group with a very real history of oppression and dehumanization). If that's "tone policing," guilty as charged. I call it basic human decency. (And yes, I'm well aware that progressives sometimes pretend that the "SJW" version of political correctness is nothing more than basic and civility toward women and minorities. As we all know, that's nonsense. But just because the SocJus crowd uses decency as a shield doesn't make decency a bad thing.)
By the way, when I said that the tone at VDARE "reeks of hostility and contempt toward the presumed losers in the 'biodiversity' lottery," I didn't mean criminals, as "Pale Primate" suggests. I meant mainly blacks and Hispanics.
And then we get to the Jews.
"Pale Primate" tries to exonerate retired psychology professor Kevin MacDonald of the charge of anti-Semitism, claiming that MacDonald is merely interested in "document[ing] Jewish intellectual and political movements." Since the alt-rightists apparently appreciate bluntness, I'll be blunt: don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. I invite anyone to read MacDonald's articles for themselves and to peruse his website, The Occidental Observer (dedicated to "white identity, interests, and culture"), where some 40 of the 136 topic tags refer to Jews - from "Israel Lobby" and "Holocaust Industry" to "Jewish aggressiveness," "Jewish influence," "Jewish wealth," "Jews as a hostile elite," and "Historical anti-Jewish writings."
"Pale Primate" also defends MacDonald's view that "Jews played a major role in destroying Russia via Bolshevism," since "Jews were a massively disproportionate share of upper level positions in every commissariat" in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and '30s, including the secret police. Well, let's see. This 1920 photo of the presidium of the 9th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) has 13 people identified by name. Two (Mikhail Lashevich and Lev Kamenev) are Jews. Obviously, 15% is disproportionate given that Jews made up only 2% of Russia's population at the time. But that hardly equals "Jewish-dominated." As for the secret police, according to Yuri Slezkine, the author cited by "Pale Primate," 4.3 percent of Cheka (secret police) commissars and 8 to 9 percent of senior officials in 1918-1920 were Jewish. The real overrepresented minority in the Cheka were Latvians, who made up less than 0.1% of Russia's population at the time but over 50% of Cheka commissars and senior officials. In 1922, the "collegium" of the Cheka's successor, the GPU, was made up of eight people, two of whom were Jews, one Latvian, one Ukrainian, and four (including its head, Felix Dzerzhinsky) were ethnic Poles.
Let's hear about how the Poles and the Latvians destroyed Russia, shall we?
But never mind MacDonald on the subject of the Jews. Here's Steve Sailer (at VDARE and on his own blog), reviewing the Amy Chua/Jeb Rubenfeld book on successful minorities in America. After quoting their assertion that members of these groups tend to be afflicted with insecurity and "to instill it in their children," Sailer adds: "Or in the case of the wealthiest, most powerful group, they use their influence over the media to instill it in their children and to depress, demoralize, and divide other groups` children."
That link? It leads to an article about a book commemorating the Holocaust.
I really don't think any further comment is needed.
(I do appreciate "Pale Primate's" tweets, which led me to do a bit more digging and find this gem.)
Luke Ford's blogpost, which speculates on whether or not I'm a "neocon," contains a tidbit that led me to another interesting discovery. As an aside, Ford takes a jab at me for having written two Reason.com columns on the University of Virginia/Rolling Stone rape hoax "without mentioning Steve [Sailer] or Richard Bradley": "Hard to say if she is just lazy or ignores the work of writers she doesn't like." Actually, both of those columns were reprints from RealClearPolitics.com; earlier, I had written two other RCP columns on the subject which did mention Bradley, a blogger and former magazine editor, and credit him for being first to raise questions about the credibility of the alleged fraternity gang rape victim, Jackie.
I'm not really sure why I should have credited Steve Sailer, who posted about the case on his Unz Review blog and then wrote about it for Taki Magazine but added nothing original. (In the magazine piece, Sailer claims that his November 29 blogpost drew attention to Bradley's post, which had languished unnoticed since November 24. Reason's Robby Soave wrote about it on December 1. I don't know if he was tipped off to Bradley's post by Sailer or one of Sailer's readers, but I can say that Robby and I were among several journalists privately discussing the problems with the Rolling Stone story by November 25.)
However! Ford's mention of Sailer's commentary on the UVA story reminded me of something I had forgotten: the Sailer acolytes in Bradley's blog comments who tried to argue that Rolling Stone author Sabrina Rubin Erdely's piece about rape culture at UVA, centered around Jackie's story, had something to do with Erdely being Jewish. Apparently, she had some kind of Jewish agenda to destroy UVA because it's too white, Christian, pretty and conservative, or something. (When another commenter pointed out that many of the journalists who helped debunk the hoax were also Jewish, the conspiracy nuts were undeterred: Of course the Jews will do that when their mischief is caught out!)
Okay, so these are just random commenters. But a December 3, 2014 post at VDARE by one of their prolific bloggers, Eugene Gant, highlighting Sailer's Taki Magazine article, referred to Erdely as "militantly Jewish" (linking to an article about a Jewish day camp that briefly referenced Erdely as one of the parents) and "a hit thing for the Christophobic left" (because she had previously written a story, also of dubious veracity, about a boy's sexual abuse by priests). The Occidental Observer ran a longer piece depicting the rape-hoax story as "ethnic warfare" born from Erdely's "anti-White animus" (in the Alt-Right taxonomy, Jews are, of course, not "white") and noting that some of her staunchest defenders were "Jewish female journalists." Oh, and Luke Ford did a blogpost that referred to Erdely as an "proud Jew and anti-white fabulist" (with a headline calling her a "left-wing Jew with a history of Christian-bashing).
As for Sailer? Well, he didn't exactly peddle this slimy nuttery himself, but he sure did pander to it. Check out this April 7, 2015 Sailer blogpost at VDARE titled "Sabrina Rubin Erdely's Kristallnacht on Campus." Its actual subject is the theme of broken glass in Erdely's story (such as the glass table shattering during Jackie's alleged rape) and actual broken glass at the fraternity named in the rape allegations, which was attacked by vandals throwing bottles and bricks through the windows in December 2014, shortly after the story's publication.
If it weren't for the obsession with Erdely's Jewishness in certain quarters, I would have assumed that "Kristallnacht" was just a fancy metaphor. But was it actually a not-so-subtle reversal of an infamous attack on Jews in which a "militant Jew" becomes the perpetrator inflicting a Kristallnacht on gentiles? You decide.
I suppose "Pale Primate" will tell me that I'm not actually disputing any of this, just "tone policing." Right-o. I'm also not in the habit of disputing the arguments of people who think rape is a male conspiracy to keep women in their place.
"Pale Primate" thinks my attack on the Alt-Right was "poorly researched." Well, it's better researched now, and the Alt-Right looks like an even more odious collection of kooky bigots.
Some people who are cautiously sympathetic to the Alt-Right because they believe large-scale immigration endangers America's cultural values keep trying to prove otherwise. For instance, the other night on Twitter, user Steven Falco offered this partial defense:
"Pale Primate," who is an alt-right moderate, did agree, arguing that the real issue is bringing in "people that don't fit well into Western societies."
But here are the other two responses Falco got:
Incidentally, I do think that large-scale immigration of people who find Western cultural norms alien and don't want to assimilate poses real problems. I absolutely agree that we need to confront those issues. But the Alt-Right is not helping such a discussion; on the contrary, it's making it easier to dismiss all such concerns as racist.