I got told off this week by a presenter on BBC radio for using a four-letter word live on air. In my defence, I was merely quoting a tweet from a black Hollywood comedy star called Leslie Jones which said: ‘Lord have mercy… white people shit.’ And the only reason I did so was that I thought it important that someone, somewhere, spoke out against the double standards which seem to exist on social media right now: one rule for progressives and accepted victim groups; quite another for everyone else.
A good example is the ban recently imposed by Twitter on my friend and colleague Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo had got into a public spat with Jones when he goaded her over the awfulness of her new movie, an all-female remake of Ghostbusters. Nothing he said matched the borderline racism and incitement to mob bullying in some of Jones’s tweets. Yet guess which party it was that ended up being booted permanently off Twitter…
This is why I took very strong exception to a piece written by Brendan O’Neill on Coffee House condemning Milo and his Twitter followers as ‘alt-right angries, convinced the world is one big lefty, feminist plot to ruin your average white dude’s life’ and ‘as anti-PC, bedroom-bound fans of Trump and strangers to sexual intercourse’. It seems to me that if you’re going to campaign for fairness and free speech — as Brendan frequently and heroically does — then you need correctly to identify the true enemy.
To help you understand what’s going on, I’d like you to cast your minds back to the Eighties and the era of ‘political correctness gone mad’. At the time, we thought it was so loopy it would disappear up its own bottom. Instead, it continued to get worse and worse, leading to lunacies like the nursery schools in Oxfordshire teaching kids to sing about ‘Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep’, and thence to nonsense like the ‘safe spaces’ promoted on university campuses for a generation of special snowflakes, as well as to vexatious campaigns like the one conducted at Oxford by anti-white race hustlers known as Rhodes Must Fall.
Yes, to some it might seem a joke but to the kids who have to live in this oppressive environment — as Brendan himself knows, having written about the Stepford Students in The Spectator — it’s horribly real. Young white straight males suffer especially: the moment they arrive on campus they are treated like potential rapists; in lectures they’re harangued by Marxist professors on their ‘white privilege’, as if all ills in the world from the abuse of women to racism are somehow their fault. And the conservatives who should have been fighting their corner just haven’t been up to the job because of the fatal weakness so many on the right have: a secret terror that they’re as nasty as the left claims they are.
For years, from America to Europe to Australia, on a whole range of social issues from the environment to gay marriage to multiculturalism, diversity and gender, mainstream conservatism has far too eagerly conceded territory to the progressive opposition in order to demonstrate its caring, fluffy side. Even when conservative administrations have been in office they have failed to arrest the leftwards drift of the culture.
Clearly something had to give and just recently it has. Possibly it had some influence on the Brexit vote; definitely it helps explain the rise and rise of Donald Trump. For most voters it’s just a feeling — the sense that they don’t recognise their own country anymore; that they’re being bullied and constrained just for being who they are — but for a certain kind of red-meat conservative intellectual it has coalesced into a movement (albeit loosely defined and fissiparous, mostly existing only in internet chat rooms and on social media pages) known as the alt-right.
Part of me feels uncomfortable defending the alt-right because it has been associated with anti-Semitism and racism. Yes, most of this stuff is confected and insincere — just mischievous internet kids experimenting with irony, knowing that if there’s one way absolutely guaranteed to rile the grown-ups it’s a hideously tasteless Holocaust joke. But undeniably for some of the alt-right’s more extreme exponents, it’s a sincere expression of their philosophical core.
Ultimately — as blogger Sargon of Akkad explains on a YouTube investigation — it’s about the idea that white culture (which they identify interchangeably with western civilisation) is under threat and must be preserved for the future of the race. Hence the alt-right’s violent objection to immigration; hence the nationalistic ‘America first’ theme of Trump’s campaigning: it all appeals to that increasingly popular impulse, from northern England to middle America to Angela Merkel’s immigrant-friendly Germany, that this represents ordinary white folks’ last chance to preserve their culture and traditions before they’re overwhelmed by the dusky hordes.
Should more mainstream conservatives be worried by this? Well yes, of course, but they have largely themselves to blame. It’s why the alt-right refers to them disparagingly as ‘cuckservatives’ — that is, cuckolds whose spinelessness, compromise and me-too virtue signalling has enabled the social justice warriors of the progressive left to take so much territory.
You could argue that what has happened to conservative politics is not dissimilar from what has happened in Syria and Iraq: when there’s a lawless space, a power vacuum is created which sucks in the most aggressive and committed players and in the process crushes all the moderates.
The alt-right are, if you like, the vigilantes of conservatism. The regular authorities didn’t do their job to protect the conservative community from the marauding gangs of social justice warriors (think Mao’s Red Guard — only with hipster beards or feminist–blue hair) strutting round the neighbourhood enforcing their oppressive rules. So the alt-right stepped in instead. And are now preparing to claim the spoils.