(For the blogpost of mine originally linked to by the VICE article, it can be found here.)
There’s a new hit piece on VICE.com that features me heavily, entitled “The Alt-Right is a Subculture Without a Culture”. It is written by Allie Conti, who came to visit me at Rutgers back in November. For anybody unfamiliar with VICE, they are a gonzo media network known for their unethical journalism and drive-by video editing, a great example of which is their video piece on Jordan Peterson. On the whole, the article is aggressively misleading in that it insinuates that my criticism of the war on racism, and the dogma that underpins it, is motivated by some baseless racial hatred of non-whites and a pessimistic view on the possibility of fairness and coexistence between human groups.
In reality, my professed belief is that the post-war human rights consensus (and its later, Rawlsian fruits) needs to be surgically tweaked to account for the possibility of human difference across the contours of our species. In laymen’s terms, I’m against identity politics, white exceptionalism, the notion that absolute equality is fair or possible, and the presupposition that all inequality of outcomes between human groups are caused by “legacies of racism” or anything of that matter. During our interaction, Allie and I hardly even scratched the surface of my worldview and what I hope to see changed in the world. We talked for maybe 2-3 hours, and I don’t think I discussed my beliefs and goals for more than ten seconds, when I perhaps mentioned my critical skepticism about the blank slate dogma of human nature. (This article by Andrew Sullivan for New York Magazine: “Denying Genetics Isn’t Shutting Down Racism, It’s Fueling It” does an excellent job at capturing my sentiments on the topic.) As a consequence of this, the article falsely insinuates from the get-go and across the board that I am a rank-and-file agent of the pessimistic “burn it all down!” view of multiculturalism that is seen from the outside as the defining, deeply undesirable feature of the “alt-right”.
I don’t hold any hard feelings toward the editorship at VICE for the same reason that I am quick to forgive people locked in the clutches of any given ideological power structure throughout history. People are self-interested, obsessed with their careers and being adored by those in the seats of power or channels of influence. I have sympathy for them for the same reason I have sympathy for ex-Nazis, as understood by Stanley Milgram and Hannah Arendt, or perhaps Michele Moody-Adams. In Allie’s case, there was already an understanding between us that her piece would be subject to the sort of predatory editorial framing that VICE is known for, which I was first subjected to at the 2016 NPI conference when I posed for uncomfortably long while a VICE photographer took the most unflattering photograph of me possible.
When Allie and I first met, we broke the ice by cracking jokes about VICE’s lack of journalistic rigor and credibility. What can I say, I am willing accept the risk of being misrepresented, and forced to wear the scarlet R, if it means fighting the good fight – and preventing my stupid older self from getting sucked into the world of mind-numbing consumerism and wage slavery. To the contrary, I much prefer being forced to build a meaningful career doing what I’m doing, or else escape into Le Sud.
All this said, it behooves me to address the inaccuracies and inconsistencies in her article:
Al Stankard is a racist.
Though I (sometimes, conditionally) label myself a “racist” – typically as a “bleeding-heart racist” – to describe me as a “racist” is incredibly misleading, and is here used to insinuate that I am deserving of physical violence. The word “racist” is incredibly, incredibly ill-defined in 2018, and I mostly use it as an “let’s build from the ground up” conversation-starter. Do I hate non-whites? No, that’s an outlandish, false claim. (If I were to label myself a unicorn, would you start declaring me a unicorn?) My main starting point is that the definition of “racist” has diverged wildly from what it meant at the time of its establishment as the mark of a pariah. I mean, hell, are not all white people anyway deemed ‘implicitly, systemically’ racist in 2018?
that black people in the US who demand reparations are engaging in “seriously violent, vitriolic rhetoric.”
This is false because I rarely, and definitely not in this case, ascribe blame to specific people or individuals. I likely was speaking of “anti-whites” or “anti-racists” or “those beholden to the dominant ideology” as spewing such anti-white scapegoating rhetoric. Whenever I talk about anti-white scapegoating rhetoric (such as was evinced in Imam Khalid Latif’s anti-white screed during a recent colloquium at Rutgers, during which I interjected “YOU ARE ANTI-WHITE”) I focus primarily on bad ideas rather than bad people. In the case of Latif, what I found so disturbing and, well, anti-white, was that he verbally danced around the idea that
white people “whiteness” (a lovely euphemism) exists as a sort of invisible, “systemic” dark matter at the heart of all that is wrong in our world. (Can’t pay your bills? Envy people who exceed you in material prosperity? Why, that’s white people’s fault — or at least all white people who are not themselves anti-white.) What I find so insidious about anti-white rhetoric like this is that it has seemingly universal applicability and is unfalsifiable, couched in the supposed inviolable subjective experiences of those lodging the accusations — and above scrutiny. If Latif, or any other person dabbling in anti-white scapegoating rhetoric, were to qualify their claims rather than claim “white supremacy” to be “systemic” and “embedded in the DNA of the country”, I would not be so quick to condemn it. But they neglect to qualify their claims. As cheap a trick as it may be, I can’t help but compare it to the common Daily Stormer imperative to “name the Jew.” This shit is not only unjust — it’s scary.
He effectively disguises these abhorrent views by dressing like, in his own words, a “shit-lib.”
While the framing of this entire article is incredibly unscrupulous, this case is particularly instructive. What many people struggle to understand about me is that I am obsessed with compatibilizing seemingly disparate points of view and reconciling competing human needs. (In fact, after the Trump election (which I was not overjoyed by), my prerogative shifted to ensuring harmony and preventing the escalation of conflict in the United States.) I see conflict as stemming from misunderstanding and, ultimately, miscommunication. That said, with a view to bridging the gap, I tend to code-switch between alt-right-ish and liberal-humanist-ish. In this case, me saying “shitlib” was certainly accompanied by air quotes and a clarification like “to use the alt-right-ish term…”. This is thus a dishonest quotation on the part of VICE.
He’s also the champion of those he described to me as “quiet white males who are normal outwardly but are secretly wanting to go back in time and help Hitler win World War II or something.”
As with anything attributed to me, this is intended to grossly mislead. Am I a genocidal neo-Nazi, or do I merely understand why such people are so frustrated and angry at society at large, in ways that transcend the outcome of WWII? I mean, hell, is Allie Conti not also culpable as a genocidal neo-Nazi for not going all the way and shooting me in the face herself? Where do we draw the line for blameworthiness for touching the untouchables?
And as we walked and chatted last November, he stopped, unannounced, to tape up a flyer that declared, “The Only Way to Win the War on Racism Will Be to End It.”
This is worded in a way that implies that I did tape up a flyer. In reality, I stopped to consider it, but in the end no such flyer was posted. We kept walking.
What Stankard is calling for is not an end to racism itself, but rather the right for self-described racists to peddle their toxic worldview without facing consequences.
I would argue that the emergence of the alt-right — including some of its more distasteful elements — is caused by the war on racism. If we as a society were to stop stigmatizing those who refuse to scapegoat white people, and who believe that white people should not be penalized for being white nor force to accept their ethnic and cultural subjugation as a moral imperative, I believe that a stable, prosperous multicultural United States might be possible. However, the war on racism — the war on whites — as it is currently practiced seems me to be on a dangerously unsustainable course.
Instead, it was something he said he felt deeply as a child and refined both by neoreactionary online journals and racist web series like Murdoch, Murdoch, which looks like a crude copycat of South Park.
This is somewhat misleading. I remember Allie and I struggling a bit to come up with something that would fit into her narrative of angsty, embittered white male adolescents being radicalized by old, racist myths that just won’t die. As discussed with her, my immature worldview — that is, the set of beliefs that I held approximately up until age 20, and which aligns approximately with the typical alt-right set of beliefs as they today exist — was formed entirely prior to any exposure to things like American Renaissance or Murdoch Murdoch. Indeed, even my mature worldview had more or less coalesced by the time I first encountered such wares. I even wrote my first critique of American Renaissance’s revival of paleoconservative race science (IE: the early alt-right) immediately upon my first encounters with it in 2014. In reality, I was “red-pilled” (IE: my immature worldview) as an adolescent due to my awareness of certain inconvenient empirical data, such as what but in no way limited to what is presented in The Bell Curve, as well as my own observations of and encounters with reality.
While Anglin wants American racists to dress like Larry David, Spencer wants them to dress like GQ models, and Stankard wants them to look like Conor Oberst circa 2001, all three men understand the power that fashion and culture can grant a fledgling movement.
This made me lol, but it’s inaccurate on many levels. The first is that, in spite of my numerous efforts over the years to give Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes a fair listen, to this day I find him, his lyrics, and his style cringy and insufferable. (No hard feelings, Conor.) In fact, I would say that he is one of my least favorite musicians out there. This statement is also inaccurate in that I don’t tell alt-righters to try to camouflage their politics; to say that I think in terms of deception is to misunderstand me on a very deep level.
The whole article falsely insinuates that my literary output and personal brand underwrite efforts to “infiltrate” the non-far-right culture. If I am, then so too am I trying to infiltrate the alt-right discourse, which is just as foreign to my way of thinking. While it is certainly true that I seek to reach an audience and inspire people to rethink certain assumptions about the pursuit of absolute equality and absolute homogenization, I am anything but disingenuous. In reality, I am as much trying to alter the views of the alt-right as I am trying to alter the views of left-leaning “anti-white” liberal humanists. In terms of realpolitik, I have to first expand my foothold in the alt-right first before I can effectively confront the mainstream discourse, else I am merely talking to myself in a vacuum. Be it the far right or far left, I must contort my views to whomever I am addressing.
Lastly, another thing that’s missing from the article is mention of other great non-conformist writers and visionaries in my corner of the reactosphere, including Pilleater, Brandon Adamson, and Robert Stark.