Conor Friedersdorf wrote a very thoughtful think piece thinking about the things that liberals think about and how those thoughts influence the thoughts of other thinkers they don’t agree with. I wanted to lump it in with the long, long, long, long list of think pieces claiming that calling a spade a spade is the reason the Alt-Right only grows stronger.
But I have to admit, it is not those, and should not be lumped in with them.
It is, however, so wrong. Just...crazy wrong. Bananas wrong.
The hinge of the piece, as I read it, is that liberals are hypocritical in their approach towards labeling. Drawing a parallel between the labeling that the left wanted to avoid when talking about Islam versus talking about Terrorists and the labeling that the left is stridently not avoiding when talking about Conservatives versus talking about the Alt-Right (or, as I have made a point to say many times, Nazis. They are Nazis. The Alt-Right does not exist. Nazis do. They’re fucking Nazis, guys. Call them Nazis please.). He points out that the left, and Obama, made it clear that discussing terrorism within the confines of a religious war only makes it more likely that Muslims would embrace that narrative and take the side of terrorists. The thinking being along the lines of “if everyone already thinks I’m _____ because of _____ then the only way I’m going to get acceptance is if I join the _____ because everyone else already discards me as ______.”
Following that logic, he argues that mischaracterizing “conservatives” as “Nazis” will only push more moderate conservatives towards Nazism. The “gotcha” being that if liberals recognize the former, they must recognize the latter as same, and to do otherwise is hypocritical.
This is not the stupidity of the regular think piece about how liberals are really to blame for Nazis. This is a false equivalency of the highest order that makes perfect sense if you have a definition of something that does not reflect reality.
Friedersdorf’s piece is in response to the response to Bari Weiss’ dumbfuck bullshittery (oh, and what dumbfuck bullshittery it was!). When talking about the differences between rhetoric regarding Islam and conservatism, (even more importantly, when talking about the similarities), it’s important to note the actual differences between a worldwide religion and a worldwide death cult.
By characterizing the never-ending “War on Terror” as a war between America and Islam - something that Friedersdorf noted that anyone anywhere near military intelligence made clear was a bad idea - it would push America into a literal war with the entire Muslim world. If we make it a war between America and Islam, with no caveats, then, naturally, even the most moderate of Muslims (you know, the “we only go to mosque on Christmas and Easter” types) will have to war with America. It’s not that the rhetoric will “radicalize” Muslims, it’s that the rhetoric demands war with every Muslim. It is an existential threat to every individual Muslim. There is nothing radical about fighting for your life. Framing the dumbfuck War on Terror that way doesn’t radicalize, indeed it does the opposite, it makes Muslims who do not fight for their very existence the “radicals.” Of course that’s rhetoric the left cannot and, unless you’re a piece of shit Bill Maher, will not use. That rhetoric makes war with America impossible to avoid, radical or not, because America is the fucking worst.
With conservatives this issue is not a problem. We are already at war with all conservatives. I do not care if you are a “moderate” conservative (you aren’t, cause that doesn’t exist), your views are already killing us. The climate denial is killing us. The policies that prop up and exacerbate income inequality are killing us. The pro-life bullshit is killing us. Conservatives are not a political party or ideology, they are a death cult murdering and murdering and murdering, all in support of wealthy monsters who have brainwashed them with a steady diet of Fox News lies.
He pulls a quote from Brian Beutler in 2015:
Liberals and conservatives frequently disagree about what constitutes racism, but there is a strong bipartisan consensus in the country that overt racism is anathema. Conservatives take incredible umbrage at any linkage—whether justified or trumped up—between conservatism and extant racism in America for precisely this reason. Call Dylann Storm Roof a neo-Nazi, nobody will object. Call him a right-wing extremist, and conservatives will balk. Some will take great offense. It turns out leaders of all stripes, including religious and political ones, are at pains to distinguish their ideological commitments from those who do violent or otherwise heinous things in their name. Neither Republicans, nor orthodox Muslims, are exempt.
This is inapplicable in this case, because I don’t give a fuck. If you are supporting policies that are inherently racist or disproportionately affect people who aren’t white, you’re a fucking racist. I don’t give a shit if you don’t want to hear it.
He then goes on to write:
The left should stop promiscuously labeling popular figures as ideologically diverse as Sam Harris and Ben Shapiro as members of the alt-right. Doing so is wrong simply because it is inaccurate. And strategically, if you want the term to retain any stigma, you could hardly do a dumber thing than expanding its scope to inaptly include very popular figures. Their fans will sooner conclude that they cannot trust the mainstream to apply the label, or that it doesn’t mean anything, or that they must be alt-right if it definitionally includes someone who likes Harris or Shapiro, than abandon commentators to whom they’re drawn.
This is the classic Godwin’s Law defense, made all the more literal because alt-right just means Nazi. Ben Shapiro is a Nazi. Sam Harris, he of the black people are genetically less intelligent than whites argument, is a Nazi. I don’t even fucking care about whether or not that is promiscuous labeling, because they can go fucking die.
The problem that we are constantly running up against with arguments like Friedersdorf’s is that we don’t have the time for this shit. There is no conversation to be had. If Ben Shapiro wants to stop being a fuckhead and have a conversation about whether or not a global carbon tax is the most effective way to combat climate change, I’m happy to. If he wants to deny climate change exists because he’s paid well to do so, then I hope he dies tonight. I don’t give a shit about understanding, respecting, or straight up pandering to conservatives.
Unlike Islam, conservatives are at war with the human race’s survival and to pretend otherwise is naive.