I spent a long time deciding whether or not to post this. I don’t expect it will make my friends on the right or the left happy. But after reading a complete list of the murder victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack last week, I see something constructive (albeit small) that can be done.
So I’m addressing myself to two camps who don’t see each other as allies but should try to find more common ground—especially here.
We don’t have to listen to every seminar or comb through the Slack logs of self-professed white supremacists (that sounds depressing), but we should take the time to understand their strategy and what it’s meant to accomplish so that we can do our best to make sure it’s not successful.
Contrapoints also has a good video on the subversive strategy of alt-right/identitarian/whatever-they-go-with-next messaging.
If you’ve anything to do with conservative politics or the liberty movement, inform yourself about the messaging being used by groups like Identity Evropa to try to convert libertarians and conservatives to an “identitarian” mindset. Their messaging is deliberately opaque and subversive, designed to maintain plausible deniability by piggybacking on the formerly harmless language used by those from whom they wish to recruit. If you refuse to confront the fact that your well-intentioned language is being co-opted and fight back against it (even though it is hard), you are giving the types of people who nurtured and support the terrorist in Christchurch what they want.
If you consider yourself opposed to conservative politics or the liberty movement, remember that what white supremacists want is to create problems for the otherwise decent people onto whose genuine fears and language this malignant element is glomming. The whole point of their strategy is to erode goodwill and trust and to create enemy camps to set the stage for the war of all against all that they crave. If you condemn all of this language, rather than doing your best to operate in good faith (even though it is hard), you are giving the types of people who nurtured and support the terrorist in Christchurch what they want.
I don’t know what the right balance is between confronting and discouraging intolerance and practicing it yourself. It might vary depending on who you are and in what situation you find yourself. But we can refuse to give the people who celebrate senseless murder what they want by refusing to use blanket condemnations of our political opponents. It is not enough to wait for someone to do something explicitly racist. It is not enough to condemn anyone who uses the same sort of language that the identitarian right uses.
I think (hope) that better information gets better results.
I know a lot of people don’t want to admit that there’s a conservative/libertarian-to-identitarian pipeline, but at least some of these guys think there is one and credit it with helping them find each other.
Alex Witoslawski, the guy running the Identity Evropa messaging seminars and encouraging their divisive, malignant strategy worked for the Leadership Institute (a conservative outlet) and wrote in defence of “libertarian populism” as a member of the libertarian movement.
To recruit from an event like LibertyCon should not even cross the minds of the identitarian right—their hateful, violent, racist, and collectivist ideology is at odds with everything that Students for Liberty, with chapters around the world and representing all races, stands for and the organisation has made that clear. The failure of more libertarian groups (and conservatives—Identity Evropa were recruiting at CPAC, too!) to thoughtfully and thoroughly condemn racism when it is a matter of free speech, when it is opposed to “the left”, or when it stays within some set of arbitrary bounds (like “He didn’t say he wants a LAW…” or “Maybe we could have stronger diversity in an anarchic country, but under the welfare state…”) has created an impression that white supremacy is tolerated, even if it is not welcome, as part of the libertarian movement.
Refusing to participate in the unforgiving, hair-trigger witch hunts that have embroiled much of the left is not something about which anyone should be ashamed. But that refusal does leave the group much more vulnerable.
Again: this is the point. Fight back. Don’t let it work.