By Eric Lee | USA
The alt right, a small but growing hodgepodge of white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other assorted wingnuts, poses a threat to American society on many levels. Formerly relegated to hiding under subreddits and bedsheets, they are coming out of the shadows and growing louder in their cries for white power. As in Charlottesville, many of their protests and rallies have descended into violence as they get into fights with anarchists, communists, and other members of the radical left. As a result of this violence, there have been multiple disturbing trends. First among them is a tendency among leftist pundits to venerate the Antifa communists as heroes in the fight against fascism, coupled with a desire to brand conservatives, libertarians, and everyone who does not subscribe to their militant collectivism as members of the alt right. This is met by a tacit silence from conservatives that should know better, as some on the right see them as a natural reaction to Communist militancy or even hold that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Unfortunately, this silence, sometimes extending to the highest echelons of American government, plays into the hands of leftists who are all too eager to brand everyone who disagrees with them as fascists. These events are highly worrisome, and as radical totalitarian movements on both the left and right gain recruits and sympathizers, those who would advocate individual liberty and rights for all find a smaller and smaller audience.
More than anything else, the left’s obsession with name calling is the driving factor behind alt right recruitment. While a key platform of the alt-right is the superiority of the so-called “white race” and the importance of an all-white nation-state, the left is eager to describe anyone with a right-wing bent as alt-right. As a result, people on the right who don’t know any better are using the left’s definition of “alt-right,” and are sympathizing with the movement, either not knowing or not caring that it is dominated by racists. The leftist tendency to see violent protesters as heroes also play into the hands of the alt-right. Thanks to the misguided but popular leftist notion that words can hurt, many on the left believe that it is perfectly acceptable to initiate violence against neo-Nazis because their noxious opinions are not protected by free speech. As a result, many who advocate free speech find themselves forced to defend the right of the alt right to rally and march. This, combined with Antifa’s tendency to use violence against any organization that is remotely conservative or libertarian, has led some on the right to view the alt right as the new defenders of free speech and the primary source of resistance against leftist totalitarianism. This is, of course, preposterous, as the alt right simply wishes to enact their own breed of authoritarian misery. Until the mainstream left ceases to embrace Antifa’s use of political violence, some ill-informed members of the right will tacitly accept the use of force by the alt-right, and the sizes of both movements, as well as the accompanying violence, will continue to escalate.
Perhaps just as bad as the Left’s defense of political violence and their association of all conservatives and libertarians with the alt-right is the toxic view amongst some conservatives that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They watch as the left embraces political violence, and then fail to condemn those that fight against the left. After all, they reason, if Antifa is allowed to run roughshod over far-right organizations, how long is it until they come after us? This is an unacceptable mentality because it mainstreams the actions of the alt right, and by mainstreaming their actions, some may come to believe that their views are less repulsive than those of the hard left. This is blatantly false. From the perspective of those who value individualism and liberty, both the alt right and the far left are equally odious. Both support political violence and hate free speech, and will happily use violence against those who disagree with them. Both embrace tribalism and support the ugly form of collectivism that is racial identity politics. Both believe that people can be separated into cookie-cutter groups based on race. Both are inherently un-American and wave the flags of totalitarian regimes that massacred millions of innocent people. The enemy of our enemy is not our friend. The enemy of our enemy is the very same enemy, albeit wearing different clothes and waving a different flag. Those on the right who fail to see this are doing a grave disservice to the cause of individual liberty and equality under the law, for they are failing to condemn one of the most toxic ideologies ever to plague mankind. Unless those the alt right sees as their allies condemn racism, white nationalism, and organizations that support these ideas, the left will continue to decry mainstream conservatism as alt-right, and the alt right will continue to gain followers from the ranks of mainstream conservatives, despite the fact that they are fundamentally opposing ideologies.
The rise of the alt right and its counterparts on the left is intensely worrisome, as both pose a fundamental threat to constitutionalism and American liberty. This escalation in violence, endorsed by the Left and met with silence by certain corners of the right, can only lead to ever more polarization and the decline of the free exchange of ideas. As the liberty-based philosophy of the American founding is replaced by an us-versus-them totalitarian mentality, the struggle for personal liberty will be lost in the United States, and by extension the Western world. It is paramount to reject the false choice between the militant authoritarianism of the alt right and the violence and censorship of the alt left. They represent only the fringe of the fringe, and it is essential for freedom-loving of the Americans left, right and center to condemn political violence, no matter who commits it. No matter where we are on the political spectrum, we are all Americans, the law is the law, and we all have the same rights to freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom of conscience. Those who wish to take us down the dark road of violence and totalitarianism are to be condemned thoroughly and often, for the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy.