I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but…this is a conspiracy


Patrik Hermannson is a young Swedish man who went undercover to explore the American alt-right movement. He works with a group called Hope Not Hate, and they’re working on a movie, My Year in Kekistan.

It doesn’t sound like he had a good time. I also hope he’s now taking precautions — he was dealing with dangerous, horrible people, and they’re not going to be happy about being exposed. He’s got video of these people saying vile things and revealing their true plans. And now they’re getting written up in the New York Times.

Mr. Hermansson and Mr. Jorjani met at an Irish pub near the Empire State Building, where the baby-faced Mr. Jorjani imagined a near future in which, thanks to liberal complacency over the migration crisis, Europe re-embraces fascism: “We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader.”

More shockingly, Mr. Jorjani bragged about his contacts in the American government. “We had connections in the Trump administration — we were going to do things!” he said at one point. “I had contacts with the Trump administration,” he said at another.

His connections, fortunately, seem to have been indirect and tangential, but it does reveal the grandiose delusions of importance these people have. Another guy he met with was always wearing a Hitler Youth-style outfit. They are backwards-looking dipshits, but don’t underestimate them.

This Jorjani fellow, though…I’d recently run across that name in the Chronicle of Higher Ed as the subject of criticism.

We especially write in response to news reports that have identified Iranian-American Jason Reza Jorjani, who received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Stony Brook University, as one of the co-founders of the white nationalist website altright.com and a member of its board of directors. It is clear to us that Jorjani uses his training in higher education to promote a controversial cultural and historical platform that connects Iranianness with Aryanness. Unfortunately, Jorjani’s position has a long-standing grip in our communities. This belief is animated by claims made by 19th century philologists about linguistic affiliations between Persian and European languages, as well as the narratives of the Avesta and the Gathas, which describe Aryans as a group of ethnically distinct people settling in the Iranian plateau.

Speaking of delusional…I don’t think an Iranian is going to be very popular among American hate groups. He can protest all he wants about 19th century philosophers classifying his people, as well as the Indians of South Asia, as belonging to the fictitious category of the “Aryans”, but these haters aren’t sophisticated enough to make that distinction. Brown and foreign is all they’re going to see.

So how are they going to get Adolf’s picture on our currency? Simple. Undermine people’s trust in the system, and radicalize the youth. Promote people who lean their way. Shuffle the gullible off farther and farther to the right (yeah, if you’re on /pol or r/theDonald, are flaunting Pepe memes and think torch-lit marches with white nationalists are cool, you’re just a gullible fool, a sheep following a goat).

The extreme alt-right are benefiting immensely from the energy being produced by a more moderate — but still far-right — faction known as the “alt-light.”

The alt-light promotes a slightly softer set of messages. Its figures — such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich — generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals. Many of them, in fact, have renounced explicit racism and anti-Semitism, though they will creep up to the line of explicitly racist speech, especially when Islam and immigration are concerned.

This apparent moderation partly explains why they tend to have much bigger online audiences than even the most important alt-right figures — and why Hope Not Hate describes them as “less extreme, more dangerous.” Alt-light sites like Breitbart, formerly home to Mr. Yiannopoulos, as well as Prison Planet, where Mr. Watson is editor at large, draw millions of readers and are key nodes in a hyperkinetic network that is endlessly broadcasting viral-friendly far-right news, rumors and incitement.

Wait. Yiannopoulos and Watson and Cernovich are light messengers of fascism? They always sound insanely regressive and rotten to me. Intellectual light-weights, maybe, but they spread a terribly vile message. Shying away from using the N-word while still advocating for oppression, deportation, and exploitation isn’t much of a softening.

If we accept this hypothesis of media being used to gradually radicalize people (which I do), it’s unfortunate that there isn’t more mention of YouTube. There’s a bit, but in my experience, YouTube has been an important potentiator of alt-right lies and arrogance.

This goal of mainstreaming is an abiding fixation of the far right, whose members are well aware of the problems their movement has had with attracting young people in recent decades. At one point in Mr. Hermansson’s footage, Colin Robertson, a far-right YouTube personality who goes by the name Millennial Woes, explained to an older extremist the importance of putting forward a friendly, accessible face: “If we don’t appear like angry misfits, then we will end up making friendships with people who don’t agree with us,” he said.

There are people with the confidence to make videos openly endorsing anti-feminism and anti-immigration sentiments, but even more chilling, there are hordes of hateful losers who turn the comment sections of virtually every video into a churning mess of misogyny and racism. There’s the easy on-ramp to alt-right radicalism. It’s a slippery slope well-greased with pictures of Pepe the Frog and kekistani flags.

Comments

  1. Siobhan says

    There’s a bit, but in my experience, YouTube has been an important potentiator of alt-right lies and arrogance.

    PST Feminist argues about this at length in “Youtube and the Death of Personal Study.” The appeal is not any thoroughness in research or meticulously argued conclusions, but rather in the enthusiastic thrashing of a topic the audience already dislikes. She argues this by observing that none of these Youtube pundits can accurately describe what they’re criticizing, and they misuse critical terms of art that actual experts know have specific meanings. They’re literally there for the screaming.

    So perhaps there’s evidence that it further radicalizes but I feel like you have to already be kind of an asshole to tolerate those videos to begin with.

    https://medium.com/@pstfeminist/the-death-of-personal-study-868474e923d2

  2. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    The 19th Century philologists did some excellent work, and the links between Persian and European languages are well-established: they are part of the Indo-European family of languages, which most likely originated in the steppes of Russia and were spread by waves of conquest from Europe across to western China and down into the subcontinent.

    But the obvious point that people seem to miss is that linguistic relatedness does not correlate with genetic relatedness. Conquerors don’t necessarily displace the local population; more often they either replace the rulers and/or commingle with the locals, and slowly impose their language on the locals*. Much of Spanish America is a relatively modern example of that, where the Spanish conquerors imposed their language on the much more numerous indigenous population (lots of complications, of course; e.g., the Spanish elite often tried to keep the locals from learning Spanish; for the locals, Spanish was often a neutral language when dealing with rival or even enemy populations).

    So yeah, it would seem that Jorjani is full of shit.

    *There are exceptions, of course, including most of the US.

  3. says

    “‘Iranianness with Aryanness”
    Aha! The old etymological fallacy. While it is true that the words are related, as the good Maroon points out above that’s just the WORDS themselves.
    And anyway, a) the Nazis screwed up their philology since it only really applied to satem languages, b) it probable etymon originally meant something like companion (again only probably).

  4. raven says

    as belonging to the fictitious category of the “Aryans”, but these haters aren’t sophisticated enough to make that distinction. Brown and foreign is all they’re going to see.

    1. All or most of the Iranians I’ve seen are middle east looking.
    That is brown skin tone, black hair, brown eyes.
    2. This all gets complicated as to who is “brown” and who is “white”.
    Mostly because white gradually intergrades into brown in skin tone. Because they aren’t separate but part of a continuum. Complicated by who gets tanned by the sun and how much.
    3. So who is white and who isn’t?
    Most of the Syrians I’ve seen on the news look whiteish. Not surprising since Syria was part of the ancient Greek and Roman empires.
    Turks? Maybe, some are white some brownish.
    Greeks? Sicilians?
    Some Afghanis are light skinned and have blue eyes.

    The point here is that it is hard to tell and it’s all an irrelevant superficial difference anyway.
    I suppose one could use a light meter on untanned skin or something.
    PS I suppose someone could ask a white supremacist. What usually happens is their eyes go blank while their minds spin in neutral. They aren’t all that bright.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    richardelguru @3:

    it only really applied to satem languages,

    I think it applied only to Indo-Iranian languages. Baltic and Slavic languages are also satem.

  6. raven says

    generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals.

    There is no such thing as Western Culture!!!
    As soon as you see that, you know they have nothing.
    1. My coastal Northern California culture has nothing in common with white supremacist, Nazi, or fundie xian culture.
    The US and the West is a huge area with myriads of cultures and subcultures.
    I can’t play the alpenhorn, yodel, or even ski, making me an outsider to the Swiss.

    2. Cultures are very fluid and changeable. They borrow and shift in real time.
    Much of my coastal Northern California culture was invented within my lifetime

  7. monad says

    And not only is “western culture” not a coherent thing but a collection of different ones, but left and liberal ideas very obviously come under that umbrella. Setting up that contrast is alone enough to show “west” is a euphemism for something else.

    Normally conspiracy theory means a “theory” in the popular sense of speculation or conjecture. Here it is one in the scientific sense of a body of explanations well-supported by evidence.

  8. cartomancer says

    I was actually quite surprised that Macedonia doesn’t put Alexander the Great on their banknotes at the moment. But apparently they don’t and never have. And Greece never did when it still had its own currency either (Modern Greece anyway, there are thousands of Alexander coins from the ancient world). Though the watermark on most of the old Drachma notes was a bust of Alexander’s father, Philip II.

    Clearly these Nazis haven’t read up on Alexander very carefully though. He not only married a Bactrian (modern Afghan) noblewoman and two Persian princesses, loved his childhood friend Hephaestion throughout his life and inherited Darius’s eunuch lover Bagas, but he actually made strenuous efforts to promote intermarriage and racial mixing between his Macedonian troops and the Persians. He came under considerable censure for doing so among the more traditionally-minded Macedonian veterans in his army – who feared that he was working to replace them with oriental boys. Whatever Alexander’s aims were, he was about as far from a racial nationalist as it is possible to get.

  9. unclefrogy says

    Setting up that contrast is alone enough to show “west” is a euphemism for something else.

    which probably has as different meaning depending on which adherent to this conspiracy theory you ask
    uncle frogy

  10. Callinectes says

    @ 9 Cartomancer

    When I visited Greece as a kid in the nineties, they had Alexander the Great on their 100 Drachma coin.

  11. kome says

    Your last bit about YouTube and the quote about mainstreaming made me think of Laci Green and what happened with her.

  12. says

    So how are they going to get Adolf’s picture on our currency? Simple. Undermine people’s trust in the system, and radicalize the youth.

    Well, since the former has long since been a done deal, all they really need to do is radicalize the youth.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    What a Maroon… @ # 2: … the Indo-European family of languages, which most likely originated in the steppes of Russia and were spread by waves of conquest from Europe across to western China and down into the subcontinent.

    Obviously led by a magnificent proto-Putin, soon to be uncovered by alt-archaeologists, whose image will be mandatory on e-currency everywhere.

  14. mnb0 says

    “Yiannopoulos and Watson and Cernovich are light messengers of fascism?”
    Yes. A fresh Dutch politician recently has complained about “homeopathic dilutation” of Dutch society. He also has given advise how to approach women. The Donald’s “pussy grabbing” is relatively polite.

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