Alt-Right? Alt-Weird

BY ALEXIA JAMES

I don’t buy the Alt-Right. In fact, too often, they seem Alt-Wrong. Just because they are right a lot of the time does not make up for their kookiness which, at times, can be downright inexplicable and unnecessarily offensive.

Who do I mean by the Alt-Right?

I am talking about the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos (who gave a detailed explanation of the Alt Right here) and Paul Joseph Watson. The Post-2015 pockets of commentators who show hostility towards mainstream liberalism and conservatism, who prefer tribalism to libertarian individualism, who use virtual platforms ranging from 4Chan to Breitbart to peddle their opinions and ideas.

As Paul Joseph Watson said himself, there are already two Alt-Rights:

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Here I am not even going to bother discussing the Jew-hating Alt-Right with the awful Richard Spencer as its totem – those kinds of racists are not worth giving the time of day.

Here I am talking about the Yiannopoulos and Watson variety, who eloquently postulate their criticisms about conservatives, liberals and Islamists in an often-refreshing way. (Of course, the problem for the likes of Watson is that opponents forever associate the two factions. In a defensive swipe of denial related to media accusations that his Chief of Staff Steve Bannon was Alt-Right, President-Elect Trump disavowed the alt-right movement altogether, saying “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”)

Why am I not a believer?

In a nutshell, the Alt-Right too often descends into reactionary conspiraloon talk. In that respect, it’s as bad as the Far Left, who tend to cluster in Twitter echo chambers and associate around the causes of wingnuts like media restrictionist Dr Evan Harris or get taken in by the banter of champagne Marxists like the DJ James O’Brien.

Take the latest Alt -Right conspiracy doing the rounds – that YouTube, where the Alt-Right commentariat hangs out and posts its videos, is blocking Alt-Right content behind dodgy content barriers for political purposes, under “restricted mode”. Watson claims that because the left is getting an ass-whupping on YouTube (true), they (the Mass Mainstream Media) have decided to censor the Alt-Right (untrue).

It’s when the Alt-Right gets to “THEY” that I lose them and they lose me.

The restricted mode situation was brought up by companies like Verizon and Johnson & Johnson. They were understandably upset seeing their ads alongside undesirable content, such as Daesh videos. Watson claims “THEY” then jumped on the bandwagon and used the advertisers’ complaints to tar with the same extremist brush people like Watson’s content.

I decided to experiment. I turned my computer to restricted mode. “Restricted Mode is an optional setting that you can use to help screen out potentially mature content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see,” says YouTube.

Sure enough, most of the Daesh videos are not accessible, nor were a lot of the sex-related videos (penis extenders and the like) but, while Paul Joseph Watson’s Channel was indeed restricted, there were still videos of his rants still available on a general search, as were the talks of Milo. I decided that the algorithms used by YouTube to decide which content on the site should be restricted  were not yet perfected, not that a conspiracy was afoot.

I wonder, how many of those interested in watching Alt-Right content would go in restricted mode On YouTube in the first place?

I am a businesswoman and a mother. I can see why I’d not want my company’s or government’s ads running alongside a fellow calling himself the Dangerous Faggot just as I don’t want my five-year-old clicking on a nice video of a green frog only for it to start shouting the c and f word while ranting about Feminazis. Watson is a big fan of the f word and kids should not have to put up with his expletive-laden rants. In short, restricted mode makes complete sense to me whilst wearing both hats of businesswoman and mum.

Nonetheless, Watson seems to have his knickers in a right old twist about “THEM” and creeping censorship:

Which brought me to think how should one treat the Alt-Right?

I concluded – you don’t. They don’t seem to be doing any harm. People like this don’t believe conspiracies because they’re convinced by the evidence, they believe them because the conspiracy achieves a psychological need they have (or in the case of many Alt-Righters makes for a good story and more clicks). It’s the same with Truthers – you’re going to have about as much success proving that 9/11 wasn’t a conspiracy as you would be trying to prove that an awkward silence means an Angel is passing over.

The few friends I’ve had who have become conspiracy theorists, I’ve dealt with by telling them that I’m not at all interested in discussions about conspiracy, and that, if they’re not willing to respect my boundaries, there’s no room for continued friendship. More often than not, their fascination with the conspiracy passes, and our friendship returns to normal.

I suspect the brighter Alt-Right commentators will simply grow into conservatives if and when they grow up. The Paul Joseph Watsons and Milos will be a flash-in-the-pan that the Left got very upset about between 2015 and 2020 before moving back onto more powerful conservative targets. In the meantime, I conceded they are quite entertaining characters but – if they resent restrictions by algorithm – they should jolly well go and wash their mouths out with soap.

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5 thoughts on “Alt-Right? Alt-Weird

  1. Your first paragraph is the most important part of having all these fresh and often outrageous news channels available to look at in my view. Without the internet news start ups I doubt anyone outside of the localities in Sweden would know, for example, about the grenade attacks, car burnings and no-go zones where even the police fear to tread without prior agreement from ‘community leaders’

    I may not swallow all they post without some degree of scepticism but at least it opens the pathway to being able to delve in to the story elsewhere – usually in the case of Sweden a google translated report on a local newspaper or TV channel.

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  2. Part correct, part flat out wrong. ( Apologies for the TL:DR nature of the post)

    If you want a quick and easy insight into the unequal way in which material that these supposedly impartial media companies police content pop on to Twitter and do a search for ‘kill all white people’ or any other implicit or explicit threats of violence against those on the ‘right’ of the political sphere. There’s loads of it there on the platform and nothing is done when it’s reported. Always the message from the support teams is essentially, ‘we’ve reviewed the material and it does not break our community guidelines.’ One group even went so far as to post a stream of identical posts from separate accounts – identical except the word ‘white’ was replaced with ‘black’ in those messages. Only one account was shut down, I’ll let you guess which.

    You want another example. Look at Milo. He mocked Leslie Jones in his review of the Ghostbusters remake. He didn’t invite or ask or suggest or intimate or hint in any way that people should go after her on Twitter, he mocked her for being in an awful film and as he put it ‘looking a bit like a bloke’ – It may not be very gallant or pleasant but it’s his opinion. He was banned from Twitter on the basis of the lie that he was encouraging a pile on. Does that mean that any criticism from unfriendly film critics will in future be deemed a demand for a Twitter pile on? I doubt it.

    He lost his job at Breitbart after making a bad joke about the ‘twink’ culture among gay men that many saw as joking about pedophilia and sexual assault. Right or wrong it was just that – a joke. The media went almost unanimously crazy calling for his head – and other parts in some cases. It cost him a huge book deal, speaking engagements and has pretty much ended any chance of being invited on news channels to discuss matters about which he offers excellent punditry.

    Now look at Lena Dunham, darling of the leftist media. In her autobiography she actually admits to sexually molesting her little sister. Not jokes about it in the abstract, but actually admits to doing it. From the media across the USA came naught but noises of crickets.

    There is a double standard in policies across social media platforms and the wider media.

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  3. I celebrate the variety of sources and opinions that the internet has made available. No longer am I expected to swallow whatever the BBC/SKY/etc choose to report, and ignore the things that they choose not to report.

    I don’t believe everything I hear, on the internet or the BBC. I will listen to whatever I wish, from a variety of sources, and decide for myself.

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  4. Maybe I’m wrong, but I get the impression the author is attempting to distance herself from an urge to agree with the so-called Alt Right here. No doubt they have some adolescent weirdness, but I see their existence as a reaction against the so-called Ctrl Left. Of course the truth of a situation is rarely found in polarisation. Interesting though…. is there a psychological need to avoid a debate about who shot JFK and just how did Building 7 collapse?

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  5. I fear there’s some truth in this article, but I also think the alt-right is a part of a great renaissance in human thought and debate that is beginning to explode on the internet, that I rather suspect will lead to truly fantastic advances eventually.

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