Are you interested in a good, balanced article on free speech? Here’s one: How Free Speech Warriors Mainstreamed White Supremacists. Our current problem isn’t a lack of free speech, it’s that the most vocal advocates for free speech, the ones who claim that it is curtailed and that they are victims, aren’t actually interested in free speech. They want an excuse to silence criticism of the most odious opinions. It’s the opposite of free speech — they want selective support for expression of bad ideas, while shutting down opposition in the name of protecting their views.
Capitalizing on the fuzziness of their coded speech, the new right has spun this plausible deniability off on hosts who either aren’t attuned to the underlying message or simply don’t care. Take, for example, the Rubin Report, a YouTube show purportedly devoted to “free speech” and “big ideas” with more than 700,000 subscribers. Host Dave Rubin positions himself as a “free agent” in the “marketplace of ideas,” seeking to establish a “new center rooted in free speech, logic, and reason.” To that end, he has invited on an eclectic, albeit right leaning, mix of guests, including mainstream public intellectuals like David Frum and Steven Pinker. But Rubin has made his antipathy for what he calls the “regressive left” and PC culture a common theme and so on the more extreme ends of the spectrum, he rarely, if ever, brings on a radical leftist. While Rubin frequently rails on identity politics, which he has called “evil,” he often invites on some of the most toxic practitioners of pro-Trump, white-identity politics, like InfoWars’ Paul Joseph Watson, who recycle black and immigrant crime stories, decry globalism and multiculturalism, and portray white identity as under attack. There they are offered the same deference and audience as some of the country’s leading public intellectuals.
Rubin is what used to be called a useful idiot — an undiscriminating tool who would uncritically promote terrible, destructive opinions while presenting himself as the noble supporter of open unbiased commentary. He’s not very bright, despite claiming to be a fan of logic and reason. The worst skinheads are smarter than he is.
“Thirty years ago, we used the same tactic and would refer to our movement as ‘White Pride’ or ‘White Separatist,’ said Picciolini, who was once a leader in the skinhead group Hammerskin Nation, recounting that less palatable labels caused problems and turned off potential recruits. “We [would say] we didn’t hate anyone, we were just interested in white civil rights. That was our public face. Behind closed doors, we were virulently racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic. The whole notion of ‘white nationalist’ or ‘race realist’ or ‘identitarian’ or ‘alt-right’ are based in the same racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic ideas we held. It is a marketing tactic and people should not be fooled.”
Yeah, they shouldn’t be, but it seems that being a fool is a path to wealth and popularity, as the Intellectual Dork Web has discovered. People with bad ideas are desperate for some kind of affirmation, and there’s always someone willing to provide it, for a fee. That’s been the lesson of religion for thousands of years, and now some atheists have rediscovered the principle, and have found that there are misogynists and racists happy to cough up cash if only you will tell them that their beliefs are virtuous and good. Telling people what they want to hear is always profitable.
Another darling of the Right, Bari Weiss, has also mastered this style. Like others of her duplicitous alt-right kind, she doesn’t even seem to be aware of how bad her arguments are. I’ll bet you’ve heard this one from the media a few times before.
I'm talking here about an emotional response. What happens to you when you are called deplorable? Is the response to say to the accuser: Actually, hey, you're right! I hadn't realized that about myself. Or is it to maybe consider voting for Trump?
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) May 11, 2018
I’m talking here about an emotional response. What happens to you when you are called deplorable? Is the response to say to the accuser: Actually, hey, you’re right! I hadn’t realized that about myself. Or is it to maybe consider voting for Trump?
Second: When conservatives, classical liberals or libertarians are told by the progressive chattering class that they–or those they read–are alt-right, the very common response is to say: Screw it. They think everyone is alt-right. And then those people move further right.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) May 11, 2018
When conservatives, classical liberals or libertarians are told by the progressive chattering class that they–or those they read–are alt-right, the very common response is to say: Screw it. They think everyone is alt-right. And then those people move further right.
Trump voters aren’t racist! But you are making them racist by calling them racist!
You know, that’s not how it works. I don’t want to be racist, either, but if you called me a racist, if you were even precise and specific and quoted something at me that I said that was racist, my reaction wouldn’t be to embrace that idea and go whole hog for Trump and join the KKK. It would be to say to myself that I don’t want to be a racist, I don’t want to be that person I was, what can I do to be better?
The Bari Weiss response is apparently to say, “What can I do to be a better racist?”, and that’s only the kind of thing somebody who is already pretty damned racist would say.
But here’s the bottom line, my emphasis:
In their blinkered fight for the alt-right’s “free speech”—a battle rarely, if ever, waged by the same actors on behalf of liberals—Rubin, Shepherd, and a number of college groups around the country seem to be both unable to make the vital distinction between protecting and promoting hateful ideology and unwilling to learn about it. They seem to view white-supremacist ideas pushed by social-media trolls to be on the same plane of harmless offensiveness as a Coed Naked T-shirt, inured to their real-world implications. Of course, they all have the right, at least in America, to give a platform without a heckler’s veto or credible counterpoint to ethno-state propagandists and noxious conspiracy theorists, who can smile and speak politely while peddling black crime stories and racist pseudoscience. But why, in the name of civil discourse and individual rights, would they want to?
That’s the real problem. I like free speech; I benefit from free speech. But I believe in the responsible exchange of ideas, I think in part because I’ve been conditioned by years of engagement in creationist arguments. That’s a situation where the other side is clearly intellectually bankrupt, where even someone like Dave Rubin or Sam Harris would agree that those people are so terribly wrong that it’s appalling to even consider giving them a free pass to indoctrinate our children. Yet I can disagree with creationists in the strongest possible terms and so detest them that I’ve been refusing to dignify their representatives with debate, while not suggesting that churches ought to be burned or fundamentalists jailed. That’s free speech.
They don’t seem to recognize that the pseudoscientific racism that they platform, or the institutionalized misogyny they promote, is just as disreputable and scientifically nonsensical as creationism, and even more damaging to society. So they talk about the “marketplace of ideas” and the “free exchange of views”, and offer a bullhorn to the biggest assholes they can find, while quietly whispering mild demurrals.
We on the Left are not fooled. We can see what you’re doing.
What’s wrong with you
conservatives, classical liberals or libertarians that you don’t realize we can see right through you? The Communists had a term for enablers like you, “korisne budale”, or “useful innocents”, but I don’t think these right-wingers are innocent at all — they can’t be that stupid. They are well aware of what they are doing, and their disingenuousness is duplicitous.