It seems that left-wing and progressive sources are trying to brand the so-called ‘Alt-Right‘ of politics as being inherently racist. They’re also trying to tie it to Donald Trump’s election campaign, so that accusations against it also reflect on him, and vice versa. For example, the Washington Post identifies what it claims are leading Alt-Right figures, and describes their political orientation in somewhat negative terms. Well-known figures such as Vox Day, Milo Yiannopoulos and others are often accused of being ‘Alt-Rightists’. Those two, at least, gleefully agree.
I’m not sure whether I qualify as ‘Alt-Right’ or not. I’m certainly neither liberal nor conservative in terms of typical US political definitions. I’m independent, libertarian-minded, and tend to regard one’s shared culture (one’s ‘tribe’, in the social media sense) and shared values as being important elements of society. I’m emphatically not racist at all, as regular readers will understand, and I reject utterly anything that has any semblance of racism; yet I don’t regard loyalty to one’s ‘tribe’ or culture as racist, and don’t see anything wrong in wanting to preserve characteristics that have made a nation, or society, or culture, something to admire. Those trying to paint such attitudes as ‘racist’ are erecting a straw man. I probably know more about racism than most people, and I reject all such attempts with the contempt they deserve.
This raises the question of societal/cultural/national identity versus diversity. I think there’s a case to be made for being open to diversity (i.e. open to learning about other cultures, countries and peoples); but that isn’t the same as uncritically accepting other cultures, countries and peoples without comparing them to who and what we are, and deciding whether or not there’s likely to be a good fit between the two sides. Discernment is needed, but is often conspicuous by its absence. The apostles of ‘multiculturalism‘ and ‘cultural diversity‘ run rampant through the halls of academia, the news media, and left-wing and progressive political circles, and will brook no argument.
Taken to extremes, this has led to the current outcry against ‘cultural appropriation‘. It’s nonsense, of course. There’s no reason in the world why I, an African by birth, but of European/Caucasian origin and ethnicity, can’t enjoy, and own, and talk about, and incorporate into my books, Zulu dancing, or Indian curry, or Chinese Ming vases, or anything else that takes my fancy. However, that’s not how the politically correct see it. For a recent example, see the fiery exchange between US author Lionel Shriver and Yassmin Abdel-Magied over the former’s address at an Australian writer’s conference (follow the links to read their respective views). I find myself unequivocally in Shriver’s camp on this subject; but that puts me beyond the pale as far as the politically correct are concerned. (You doubtless understand how deeply, how profoundly, this troubles me. NOT!!!)
Another example is the cultural indoctrination being practiced at our universities and colleges. Margaret Wente summed it up well in a recent article. She concludes:
So that’s what you can look forward to at university, you guys. Groupthink, censorship, intellectual tyranny and continual assurance that the world we live in is a dark and dreadful place. Have fun!
I think Victor Davis Hanson addressed the overall dilemma very well in an article last month.
Emphasizing diversity has been the pitfall, not the strength, of nations throughout history.
The Roman Empire worked as long as Iberians, Greeks, Jews, Gauls and myriad other African, Asian and European communities spoke Latin, cherished habeas corpus and saw being Roman as preferable to identifying with their own particular tribe. By the fifth century, diversity had won out but would soon prove a fatal liability.
Rome disintegrated when it became unable to assimilate new influxes of northern European tribes. Newcomers had no intention of giving up their Gothic, Hunnish or Vandal identities.
. . .
America’s melting pot is history’s sole exception of E pluribus unum inclusivity: a successful multiracial society bound by a common culture, language and values. But this is a historic aberration with a future that is now in doubt.
. . .
It is time to step back from the apartheid brink.
Even onetime diversity advocate Oprah Winfrey has had second thoughts about the lack of commonality in America. She recently vowed to quit using the word “diversity” and now prefers “inclusion.”
A Latino-American undergraduate who is a student of Shakespeare is not “culturally appropriating” anyone’s white-European legacy, but instead seeking transcendence of ideas and a common humanity.
Asian-Americans are not “overrepresented” at premier campuses. Their high-profile presence should be praised as a model, not punished as aberrant by number-crunching bureaucrats.
African-Americans who excel in physics and engineering are not “acting white” but finding the proper pathways for their natural talents.
Being one-half Southeast Asian or three-quarters white is not the touchstone to one’s essence and is irrelevant to one’s character and conduct.
No one is impinging on anyone’s culture when blacks dye their hair blond, or when blondes prefer to wear cornrow braids.
Campuses desperately need unity czars, not diversity czars.
Otherwise, we will end up as 50 separate and rival nations — just like other failed states in history whose diverse tribes and races destroyed themselves in a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog war with one another.
There’s more at the link. Highly recommended reading.
I think that also encapsulates the main thrust of the ‘Alt-Right’ argument. Both liberalism and conservatism have failed miserably to preserve what is good in our cultures, societies and traditions. It’s long gone time that those of us who value those elements stood up to be counted, and insisted that our perspectives have at least as much right to be considered as any others. If we are to be condemned as racist, reactionary or bigoted because of that, those making such accusations may as well point their own fingers at themselves as well, because they’re just as guilty. “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander“, as the well-known idiom reminds us. As a general rule nowadays, whenever I see a bunch of people pointing and yelling and making accusations, I question their motivation before I question whether those they’re accusing are guilty as charged. It’s surprising how often that changes one’s perspective on the matter.
I have grave reservations about accepting or participating in any ‘group-think‘ as far as such classifications are concerned. I believe that we are to deal with, and judge, individuals as such, not as members of a group. To take just one example from today’s headlines, there are Muslims who are violent extremists and terrorists; but there are others who are good, solid citizens, who reject violence and try to live their lives in peaceful relations with those around them. I’ve owed my life (literally) to Muslim friends on more than one occasion. To brand all Muslims as extremists and potential terrorists is a travesty of justice. It’s simply not true. No amount of wishful thinking or closed-mindedness will make it true. To quote Sergeant ‘Buster’ Kilrain in the movie Gettysburg: “Any man who judges by the group is a pea-wit. You take men one at a time.”
Friends, if anyone tries to make you judge someone by labels they attach to them, that’s a danger sign right there. Judge the individual by what he or she has done, and the views they espouse – not by what others call them. If you don’t, you’re more likely to be part of the problem than of the solution, as far as our society and culture and traditions are concerned. There’s nothing the forces of nihilism would like better than to make us all adopt the ‘party line‘ instead of thinking for ourselves. Literally for God’s sake, never mind our own . . . let’s not go there.