Yesterday the Guardian, which is becoming increasingly worthless except as a source of levity, published a piece by an anonymous author: “‘Alt-right’ online poison nearly turned me into a racist.” When I first read it I thought it was a joke or a spoof, but knowing the Guardian’s penchant for regressive Leftism, of which this is a prime specimen, I decided it wasn’t a joke. You can be the judge; I’ll discuss it as if it were serious.
“Anonymous” first says that he was a liberal British white man of progressive sentiments who always found racism abhorrent. But then, against his will, he was sucked into a racist whirlpool: sent down the black “rabbit hole” of alt-rightism by going online after the Brexit “leave” vote. “Anonymous” avers that that his “liberal kneejerk reaction was to be shocked” when he encountered Sam Harris’s criticism of Islam, but the poor man then moved on to others on YouTube, including Milo Yiannopoulos. (As if Harris and Yiannopoulos were in any way comparable! I don’t even think they’ve interacted.) But even Milo was just a gateway drug to more toxic stuff: criticism of feminism, men’s rights activism, and so on. “Anonymous” saw himself becoming an alt-righter himself, and then one day he came to his senses:
For three months I watched this stuff grow steadily more fearful of Islam. “Not Muslims,” they would usually say, “individual Muslims are fine.” But Islam was presented as a “threat to western civilisation”. Fear-mongering content was presented in a compelling way by charismatic people who would distance themselves from the very movement of which they were a part.
. . . On one occasion I even, I am ashamed to admit, very diplomatically expressed negative sentiments on Islam to my wife. Nothing “overtly racist”, just some of the “innocuous” type of things the YouTubers had presented: “Islam isn’t compatible with western civilisation.”
She was taken aback: “Isn’t that a bit … rightwing?”
I justified it: “Well, I’m more a left-leaning centrist. PC culture has gone too far, we should be able to discuss these things without shutting down the conversation by calling people racist, or bigots.”
The indoctrination was complete.
Are you chuckling yet at the notion that criticism of religion is “right-wing” and a form of “indoctrination”? Well, hang on. For the author, after seeing the light, had to expiate his sins. As I think Peter Boghossian has noted, Regressive Leftism shares some of the traits of religion, including having the Original Sin of being a white male (or of criticizing Islam)—sins for which one must be deeply ashamed, confess to other Regressives, and then expiate by lashing oneself long and hard. And that’s the just what happened with “Anonymous”:
About a week before the US election, I heard one of these YouTubers use the phrase “red-pilled” – a term from the film The Matrix – in reference to people being awakened to the truth about the world and SJWs. Suddenly I thought: “This is exactly like a cult. What am I doing? I’m turning into an arsehole.”
I unsubscribed and unfollowed from everything, and told myself outright: “You’re becoming a racist. What you’re doing is turning you into a terrible, hateful person.” Until that moment I hadn’t even realised that “alt-right” was what I was becoming; I just thought I was a more open-minded person for tolerating these views.
It would take every swearword under the sun to describe how I now feel about tolerating such content and gradually accepting it as truth. I’ve spent every day since feeling shameful for being so blind and so easily coerced.
As you see, it’s deeply racist to vote “leave” on Brexit (a mistaken vote, I think, but not a racist one), criticize feminism, or ponder men’s rights. And it’s especially racist to criticize Islam.
What kind of world is that man living in, that he has to repudiate the idea (and lash himself for thinking) that “we should be able to discuss these things without shutting down the conversation by calling people racist, or bigots”? No, we must call these people racists and bigots. That, after all, is the ultimate weapon of the Regressive Leftist: the knowledge that other Leftists want to avoid at all costs being typed as a racist. If you use that word, they’ll more that likely shut up. But I’d like to know what’s racist about criticizing ideas.
But in the Church of Regressive Leftism, one can be forgiven, at least for a while, by confession. And so “anonymous” confessed to the Guardian‘s readers, and plans to confess to his wife:
. . . It’s clear this terrible ideology has now gone mainstream.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Online radicalisation of young white men. It’s here, it’s serious, and I was lucky to be able to snap out of it when I did. And if it can get somebody like me to swallow it – a lifelong liberal – I can’t imagine the damage it is doing overall.
It seemed so subtle – at no point did I think my casual and growing Islamophobia was genuine racism. The good news for me is that my journey toward the alt-right was mercifully brief: I never wanted to harm or abuse anybody verbally, it was all very low level – a creeping fear and bigotry that I won’t let infest me again. But I suspect you could, if you don’t catch it quickly, be guided into a much more overt and sinister hatred.
I haven’t yet told my wife that this happened, and I honestly don’t know how to. I need to apologise for what I said and tell her that I certainly don’t believe it. It is going to be a tough conversation and I’m not looking forward to it. I didn’t think this could happen to me. But it did and it will haunt me for a long time to come.
What a weenie!
Now does that sound like a joke to you? It would to normal people, but these people aren’t normal. Because of the cognitive dissonance they experience when two liberal values clash (concern for the underdog and concern for free speech and women’s rights), “anonymous” has been turned into a craven, sniveling joke who’s resolve his dissonance by throwing freedom of expression under the bus. The man can’t even distinguish between Sam Harris’s (and other people’s) criticism of Islam and the real Islamophobia that is bigotry against individual Muslims. Nor does he see that Muslims are not a race, but adherents to a particular faith, though of course their beliefs are diverse. Anonymous will confess to her wife (in a “tough conversation”; what kind of woman is that?) and say that it’s taboo to even consider that the tenets of Islam may be incompatible with Western civilization. Some thoughts must not be thought; some discussions must not be had. All that, of course, comes from fear that you’ll be branded a racist.
The article discredits itself, but the fact that the Guardian published it shows the dangers of Regressive Leftism. Those are the dangers of authoritarianism, of the suppression of free speech as “racist speech,” and the danger that, when these people get in positions of power, the Left will become afraid to discuss touchy issues lest they be branded racists and bigots.
Here’s some further expiation: “Anonymous” refused remuneration, probably as a further form of penance. Here’s the note at the end of his article: