Kirchick: The Symbiotic Relationship Between the Alt-Right and PC Left

The always interesting James Kirchick has penned an essay titled Enemies, A Love Story. Here’s an excerpt:

The rise of a majoritarian (i.e., white male) identity politics is the lamentable yet entirely predictable reaction to decades of minority identity politics. The alt-right is literally a reactionary movement, reacting to the perceived denigration of mainstream American culture by grievance-mongering radicals for whom the very word “white” is a slur. Absent the intellectual totalitarianism and bullying hypocrisy of the ascendant social-justice-warrior left, the Trump phenomenon would have lacked potency. The two sides exist in a sick, codependent symbiosis. …

Of course, racism, sexism, and nativism existed long before Trump, and nothing can excuse the demagogy and divisiveness engaged in by the president-elect and his surrogates. But we should be able to critique the excesses of identity politics without being called racists.

That’s what Columbia professor Mark Lilla tried to do in a postmortem essay for the New York Times titled “The End of Identity Liberalism.” A liberal in good standing, Lilla reassessed the prominence afforded to identity politics as the engine of the left’s value system and appealed for a return to a more universalistic politics that focuses more on broad economic concerns than narrow racial, sexual, and gendered ones. “American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender, and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing,” he wrote. For this, a Columbia colleague angrily likened Lilla to David Duke, both men being accused of “contributing to the same ideological project, the former cloaked in a KKK hood, the latter in an academic gown.”

Kirchick concludes, “Those wanting to deflate the allure of the Trumpian right must also tackle the excesses of the social-justice-warrior left.” But from what I’ve seen, it’s “circle the wagons” all round on both the right and the left.

Further Annals of Progressivism

Tammy Bruce, who is lesbian and conservative, writes:

A funny thing happened on the way to the Donald Trump inauguration — liberals suddenly became champions of people being allowed to decline participating in something if it violated their conscience.

She was remarking about the response on the left to the story, albeit “fake news,” it turns out, that the Radio City Rockettes were requiring dancers to perform against their will at the Trump inauguration (in actuality, participating in the inauguration is voluntary). Writes Bruce:

During the brief hubbub, actors and other performers understandably came out in support of the dancers’ right to refuse to perform if an event violated their conscience. I also believe there should be an escape clause in cases such as this allowing a performer flexibility. After all, who wants anyone to be forced to do something against their conscience?

Yet it’s fair to say the same liberals who support the Rockettes’ right to not perform are the same people who have no problem with Christian businesses being attacked for declining to participate in something that violates their conscience and faith. In their cases, the refusal to cater or bake a cake for a gay wedding. …

It’s the same double standard we saw recently when, as the Portland (Maine) Press Herald reported:

On the coldest day of the season, a Skowhegan-area propane dealer has a pointed message for would-be customers. “If you voted for Donald Trump for President, I will no longer be delivering your gas, please find someone else,” is the message left for customers that call Turner LP Gas Service, on Canaan Road in Skowhegan.

But if this were a bakery that refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple….

It might be said that if not for their double standards, progressives would have no standards at all.

Added: More mendacity:

Writing in Bustle, Cate Carrejo said the government should force Christians to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies but the Rockettes should not be obligated to perform at the inauguration “because one is discriminatory and the other isn’t.”

And a response:

Pointing to the case of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, an Oregon bakery that was fined $135,000 and forced to close for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, Mr. Gainor said Christian bakers are happy to serve gay people.

“And that’s different — it’s a creative labor,” Mr. Gainor said. “If you wanted something that was in the shop, help yourself, happy to provide it. But if you want me to be involved in your wedding, I can’t do that. It’s a very clear line.”

It’s unfortunate we have to rely on social conservatives to point out the obvious.

Added: Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby: Freedom of association isn’t just for the Rockettes. Right, it isn’t.

More. I’ll segue into another story. Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) are petitioning the school to ban a campus conservative group, Young Americans for Freedom, which has numerous chapters on U.S. college campuses:

The petition further faults YAF for creating a “hostile environment” by “misgender[ing] LGBTQIA+ students” making members of the student government feel “unsafe.”

”We, the undersigned are asking that UW-Madison administration take a hard look at the charter of Young Americans for Freedom … and ideally put the involved students through intensive diversity training and have the charter revoked so Y.A.F. is no longer a campus organization that can create a hostile environment on campus,” the petition reads.

YAF’s thought crime was to invite conservative political commentator, columnist and radio host Ben Shapiro to speak on campus. Shapiro, as it happens, is a never-Trumper, which, as Wikipedia recounts, has brought him under fire from the alt right swamplands. Which you might think would cut him some slack with progressives—if you didn’t actually know any progressives.

Furthermore. Out magazine is still complaining that “It’s telling that when Donald Trump awkwardly waved a rainbow flag during a Colorado rally in October, the banner was upside down.” Which, apparently, was a sign that “Trump’s White House will effectively act as the nation’s largest anti-LGBT hate group.” Oh.

It’s reminiscent of the dismissal of Trump’s July acceptance speech at the GOP convention, when he said: “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community. No good. And we’re going to stop it. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” [applause] “I must say as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering. Thank you.” (Progressive response: pandering.)

At the October rally, Trump was handed the flag by gay supporters and held it out for the audience, leading Zack Ford, the LGBT editor for, to tweet:

Putting a slogan [“LGBTs for Trump”] on a flag is considered desecration. Also, the flag was upside down (red goes on top). What am I supposed to respect here?

Mind you, it’s not that the words were upside down, it’s that the rainbow flag should have the red stripe on top. Which means it’s not Trump’s fault, but that some incompetent gay person supporting Trump didn’t know which way the flag goes or that writing on the sacred object was an act of “desecration” and probably a hate crime. Sad!

Some, of a more rational bent, might think that Trump’s holding up the rainbow flag was, in itself, what was significant, and in a good way. Such people, however, would not be progressives.

As I noted, the conservative Washington Times ran a supportive op-ed titled “ Donald Trump holds high the flag for gay equality,” which indicated that conservatives were more comfortable with a gay-inclusive GOP than the LGBT establishment is.

Life at ‘GULPTAB’

The leftwing site Huffington Post “Queer Voices” has posted a funny video take-down of LGBT advocacy groups.

If you didn’t know it was intended as a protest against “the modern climate of corporate LGBT activism,” showing that “Corporates commodify LGBT activism with the same zeal that they’ve commodified self-love,” as the video’s creators state in the accompanying “Queer Voices” article, you’d just think the satire was spot-on (unless, of course, the description is part of the satire).

Deplorables and Bigots

Hillary Clinton made it clear what she thinks of Donald Trump supporters. In comments that were only slightly walked back the next day, she told an LGBT fundraiser in New York City featuring Barbra Streisand:

To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.

She further explained:

That other basket of people are people who feel that government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures. They are just desperate for change. Doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.

In other words, Trump voters are either haters or pitiable dupes.

The fundraiser reportedly raised around $6 million, with ticket prices ranging from $1,200 to $250,000, with many paying $50,000, according to reports.

Are some of Trump’s supporters bigots? Sure. But nowhere near half of them, and to say so is to pander to Hillary’s supporters sense of smug moral superiority to the lower orders, particularly the white working and lower-middle classes excluded from the Democrats’ top-bottom coalition of wealthy liberals and minorities—plus, of course, the growing legions of government employees.

One could as easily claim that half of Hillary’s supporters are left-authoritarians (she was endorsed by the head of the Communist Party USA, after all), and be as close to the truth, which is to say, not very truthful at all.

Trump supporters, to a large extent, see failed Democratic policies on the economic and international fronts, and while many believe Trump to be flawed, they view him as a better choice than Hillary when it comes to reviving economic growth and defending American interests. But progressive Democrats can only see the world through a self-justifying lens of rote identity politics, so if you don’t believe in bigger, more intrusive government chipping away at economic prosperity and expressive freedom, you’re a bigot.

A case in point is Obama’s chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission declaring that antidiscrimination laws override other constitutional liberties and those who disagree are (well, you know):

The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts just issued a regulation requiring public accommodations to recognize people on the basis of their gender identity and not biological sex, pointedly noting that regardless of doctrinal issues, “Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”

The decision of what church events are secular and which are religious is apparently to be determined by the state.

I’m no fan of Milo Yiannopoulos, the self-aggrandizing openly gay editor at the conservative Breitbart site, but he scores some points about the Democrats’ distorted view of Trump voters in this interview with CNBC. (For the record, I don’t equate most Trump supporters with the alt-right and would agree there are bigots within the alt-right movement who are backing Trump—just as there are left-authoritarians and PC inquisitors supporting Hillary.)

More. David Boaz writes that “it’s an indication that politicians like Clinton and Obama just can’t *imagine* any legitimate reason that people would vote Republican. … I think it’s a problem for politicians not to be able to imagine how anyone could think or vote differently from them.”

(I’ve moved the updates into a new post as they grew beyond a few additional closing thoughts.)

A Symbiotic Relationship

Jason Willick explains at “The American Interest” why The Campus Left and the Alt-Right Are Natural Allies:

On the one hand, excessive left-wing speech policing and cultural brinksmanship on issues of race and gender was bound to make Milo-style ideological transgression more appealing. On the other hand, the alt-right’s newfound cultural power seems to vindicate some of the assumptions of the PC leftt: that racism and misogyny are deeply embedded in America’s cultural fabric, just below the surface, ready to erupt unless controls on thought and language are continuously tightened. …

The PC left and the alt-right exist symbiotically with one another: Working together to exacerbate tribal loyalties, to undermine the legitimacy of the state as a political unit, to question the idea that Western institutions can really treat groups of people with equal respect—in other words, to draw out and hijack the inherent weaknesses and contradictions in the Enlightenment liberal tradition. It’s unlikely that either movement has the cultural power or breadth of appeal to succeed on its own. But taken together, they make a fearsome foe.

From where I sit, it seems that far more center-right conservatives and libertarians are sharply critical of Trumpism and the alt-right than center-left progressives are of illiberal PC extremism, which they often strain to defend when they aren’t denying that it exists at all.

Cop Lives Matter

After the horrific events in Dallas, where at least five police officers were killed and seven more wounded at a Black Lives Matter protest against police shootings last week of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, I’m bumping up the discussion of whether LGBT activists groups and pride march organizers should work with, and give in to the demands of, Black Lives Matter anti-police activists.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), in particular, has sought to align itself with Black Lives Matter despite BLM’s incendiary denunciations of police officers—last year, the New York Post reported on the deadly rhetoric of the anti-cop movement, with activists calling for the murder of police officers:

“What do we want?” the crowd roared while marching in Manhattan last December. Without missing a beat, the protesters answered their own question: “Dead cops.”

Here’s the addendum I had put at the end of the prior post:
Black Lives Matter Toronto staged a sit-in during the city’s July 2 Pride march, halting the procession for 30 minutes before organizers signed a list of demands, including “A commitment to increase representation among Pride Toronto staffing/hiring, prioritizing black trans women” among others, and, more ominously, “Removal of police floats in the pride marches/parades.”

Global News reports that despite the pledge to “purge the parade of police marchers,” that “Officers will still be present to enforce security at future parades.”

Via The Star, “Police also wouldn’t be allowed to have booths at future Pride celebrations, if the demands are met.” Inclusion!

Via Walter Olson:

If you thought blackmailing gays was a thing of the past, you didn’t reckon with BLM. … It so typifies 2016 that the ones to shut down a gay pride parade would be on the Left, and that no one would tell them off.

And from James Kirchick:

Gay groups honored Black Lives Matter with prominent roles at their pride events, and Black Lives Matter returned the favor by hijacking those events to further their own anti-cop agendas. Condemning the police as an inherently racist, homophobic institution is not only false and counterproductive, it denigrates the many LGBT officers whose participation in these festivities would be annulled if the activists got their way.

Embracing BLM was never a good idea. But as I’ve noted before, now that gay legal equality in the U.S. has been achieved, LGBT left-progressive activists are looking for new causes, and recruiting LGBT battalions in the fight for the progressive agenda is increasingly their mission.

More. Conservative twitter-curation website twitchy looks at tweets by Sally Kohn, liberal political commentator and out lesbian, following the Dallas murders: NOW Sally Kohn doesn’t want an entire group blamed for the actions of a few?

FurtherMore. Addressing the jihadist-driven mass murder of gay people in Orlando, Black Lives Matter’s website says “Homegrown terror is the product of a long history of colonialism…white supremacy and capitalism, which deforms the spirit and fuels interpersonal violence.” Oh.

Final word. Could have seen this coming: Black Lives Matter blindsides Jewish supporters with anti-Israel platform.

Young Authoritarians on the March

Well, one more post on the Creating Change travesty, because I think it encapsulates a seminal development on the left—including among younger LBTQ progressives—that older left-liberals haven’t wanted to face. It’s the fact that on college campuses progressivism now means shutting down or otherwise eliminating the expression of viewpoints that are not deemed sufficiently and correctly progressive. It’s a new streak of authoritarianism that reflects back to the pro-Soviet leftism of the ‘30s and ‘40s.

This is an ideology grounded in anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism, so it should really be no surprise to scratch the surface and find just underneath our old acquaintance, anti-Semitism, dolled up superficially as anti-Zionism.

The leaders of the National LGBTQ Task Force say they want all progressives to be able to come to their conferences as their true selves, but what happens when their true self is an authoritarian anti-Semite? At some point, “no enemies on the left” is just not viable, unless you’re willing to surrender to and henceforth take orders from the mob, as leftwing university administrators now appear willing to do.

Some are trying to defend the Task Force by claiming that the Israeli speakers at the Jerusalem Open House reception were the ones who decided to end the event because they didn’t want to deal with condemnation by the protesters. But that’s entirely disingenuous, as made clear by Washington Blade editor Keven Naff in his commentary Creating Shame: Anti-Israel protest misguided, offensive. He notes:

The organizers of Creating Change had to know something like this was brewing. Yet they had no control over the protest, which easily could have devolved into a dangerous situation. “The Task Force did very little to ensure that the program …could go on as planned, safely and without disruption,” [American University Law professor Tony] Varona reported. “Instead, the protestors were allowed to bully the speakers off the stage, and then to bully and harass the attendees out of the room.” When your invited speakers are forced to flee out a back door, you have failed in your responsibility to ensure the safety of attendees. Task Force staff must do a better job of providing security and of maintaining control over their own events. Ceding the stage to protesters sets an irresponsible precedent.

Naff concludes:

It’s refreshing to meet with younger LGBT advocates and Creating Change provides a safe space for them to share ideas and tactics. But “safe spaces” should refer to protecting the physical safety of attendees. They should not be shielded from opinions and ideas they find offensive. … Censoring speech and shouting down those we disagree with should not be on our agenda. Creating Change organizers must behave like the parent in the room and establish some basic rules of engagement and enforce them. And there’s clearly much work to be done in educating younger advocates on the history of Israel, the Holocaust and the plight of LGBT people in the Middle East.

Those who define themselves as on the left must either stand up to the new authoritarians or eventually surrender to them.

‘Creating Change’ of the Worst Kind

[I’m moving forward this update to a prior post, LGBTQ Task Force Exemplifies Bigotry of the Left.]

In Chicago, at the LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference, censorship by disruption by the anti-Israeli LBGTQ left. As is typical of their tactics, “de-platforming” those with views they want to silence replaces any pretense of discussion or debate.

And, of course, the LGBTQ Task Force caves in, again: “Protesters on Friday forced the cancellation of a reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual conference that was to have featured two advocates from Israel.”

Said Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge:

These remarkable LGBT leaders from Israel, who do great work in the very diverse and challenging city of Jerusalem, had spent the last six months helping their community heal and recover from the trauma of a barbaric act of anti-gay violence at last summer’s Jerusalem Pride march. They expected to be supported and embraced by the U.S. LGBT community at Creating Change. Instead, the protestors denied their humanity and silenced their voices, and the conference tragically did little to provide for their safety and security.

From the Windy City Times:

A Jan. 22 statement from Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network summarized the protesters’ objections. “For several years the Israeli government has attempted to use propaganda about the freedoms some LGBTQs in that country have as a cover for their increasingly brutal rule over Palestinians, a process known as ‘pinkwashing,'” the statement said. …

Earlier in the week, Black Lives Matter Chicago voiced its disapproval of AWB’s participation at Creating Change, drawing correlations between the experiences of African Americans and the Palestinians. In a statement, they said, “They/We navigate heavily surveilled and detained realities on tightropes. They/We are expected to be grateful to those that itemize their/our pain to strengthen existing norms. As is routine for too many souls across the globe, They/We must negotiate oppressions as a provision of harm reduction and triage.”

Faith Cheltenham, president of BiNet USA, took part in the protest and said shortly after it ended that she saw it as part of a larger effort to get “our movement back.”

Sort of speaks for itself. It’s the LGBTQ faction of the left that’s characterized by being anti-America, anti-West, anti-capitalism, and anti-Israel.

More. Task Force head Rea Carey issued this statement, which starts out strong but then becomes wishy-washy pap:

“I want to make this crystal clear: the National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event including our Creating Change Conference. … Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable whether it’s directed at Jewish or Muslim people. …

The last couple of weeks leading-up to Creating Change have been rough. The events leading up to and during it have been extremely hurtful to many — and for really different reasons. What we all are experiencing is complicated and messy. We know that many people at Creating Change share our belief in the self-determination of all people. And for many we have failed to live up to the ideals of our mission or values. We are leaning into the struggle.

As Creating Change has grown to over 4,000 people, we are experiencing some of what happens when we ask people to be their full selves, to bring their whole selves to Creating Change… and those whole selves come into conflict.

A Brief History of ‘Political Correctness’

An interesting style article in the Washington Post recently looked at How ‘politically correct’ went from compliment to insult, and from politics to sexuality and back to politics.

As writer Caitlin Gibson explains, the phrase originated in the 1930s as “the proper position for a member of the U.S. Communist Party to take on a particular issue.” In the 1960s, feminist and lesbian circles adopted the phrase, “sometimes as a fairly neutral term…and sometimes with a tiny hint of judgment” about ideological rigidity.

What’s politically correct, of course, changes over time. Gibson recounts that a 1979 book on the lesbian community noted, “In America among many political lesbians, bisexuality is regarded as a betrayal … [therefore] the politically correct thing is to define oneself as a lesbian.” Today, being “pansexual” is what’s truly progressive.

In the 1980s, campus activists embraced the concept unapologetically, as in “P.C. and Proud.” By the mid-‘80s, however, politically correct “was being leveled by some conservative critics with heavy doses of irony against what they viewed as…liberal pieties,” Gibson notes.

Looking back, I recall this early example of LGBT P.C. run amok vividly: In 1995, lesbian activist Urvashi Vaid wrote:

[Gay] Conservatives derided the 1993 March on Washington as the epitome of “political correctness” for its requirement that all delegations to its national steering committee be gender balanced and racially diverse. When gay conservatives criticized the 1993 march for insisting that 50 percent of all steering committee members be people of color, on the grounds that such representation inaccurately reflected the demographics of the community, what message were they sending to gay communities of color? That they believe people of color will not fairly represent whites?

There were some 120 people on the steering committee representing all 50 states plus U.S. territories, so if a state sent two reps one had to be a woman; if she wasn’t a woman of color, then the second representative couldn’t be a white male. (And yes, for supporting this and similarly arch positions, some of us called Vaid out for political correctness).

Today, the left no longer uses the phrase, except to deny that such a thing as “political correctness” even exists as anything other than a right-wing slur. But these denials seem to take the form (and this is me paraphrasing): “There is no such thing as political correctness, and if you try to say there is, we will demand that your invitation to speak be rescinded and/or shout so loud when you try to speak that no one will be able to listen to you, and then we’ll lobby to get you fired.”

More. David Gelernter on how speaking against political correctness is a big reason why Donald Trump is connecting on an emotional level with so many voters:

Republicans rarely even acknowledge its existence as the open wound it really is; a wound that will fester forever until someone has the nerve to heal it—or the patient succumbs. To watch young minorities protest their maltreatment on fancy campuses when your own working life has seen, from the very start, relentless discrimination in favor of minorities—such events can make people a little testy. …

Mainstream reporters can’t see the crucial importance of political correctness because they are wholly immersed in it, can’t conceive of questioning it; it is the very stuff of their thinking, their heart’s blood. Most have been raised in this faith and have no other. Can you blame them if they take it for granted?