So far, the liberal response to the alt-right has been this meme from the days when 4chan auto-replaced the word “sup” with “Ron Paul”:
It was recently very well articulated by Abe Low: My Liberal White Male Rage: What Should I Do About It?. At first the perspective in the article was incomprehensible to me, until I realized the author was confused because he was a white guy who didn’t get bullied. Then I laghed.
I’m a left-wing white guy. And a Jew. Since Charlottesville, I’ve noticed some strange changes in myself.
At work, I’ve spaced out for 20 minutes at a time during meetings, daydreaming about committing violence, always righteously, in overly dramatic, obnoxiously heroic ways, with a very troubling overtone of white saviorism. In addition to saving the girls from a male predator with my brute strength and righteous rage, I’ve had another recurring fantasy of saving the passengers on a plane hijacked by “911-esque” terrorists. I tackle an armed hijacker, turn his gun on him, immediately inspire the other passengers to team up to distract the terrorists, and then deftly fire bullets into all three terrorists’ heads. Dark blood drips down their noses from the wounds on their foreheads. If the meeting is particularly boring, I’ll concoct permutations, new endings. Because it just feels so damn good. Like the dopamine rush of a sex fantasy.
I don’t think I’m alone.
Yeah, dude, that’s why people watch action movies. This is where the fascists are correct that liberalism has a neutering influence. Abe Low doesn’t understand the great satisfaction of watching Floyd Mayweather punch a racist in the face. $100 pay-per-view. Circuses.
Then he talks about attending an “anti-racist/anti-sexist white male group.” On the one hand, I want the white guys to talk to each other. On the other hand, not like this:
I’m furious and upset. I feel trapped in my rage. All these impulses I’ve tried to tame over the years —
Because the aggressive, brash, self-righteous feelings polluted everything from my activism to my romantic life
I’m being provoked by these fucking assholes, these men, and I want to lash out, punch back, but I don’t think that’s what we need right now, what anyone needs right now
Isn’t that just the same patronizing, hyper-masculine bullshit that lets these fucking Nazis think they have the right to make others feel so terrible, to threaten, kill? I mean, I don’t want to replicate that. That’s the master’s tools, right?
Also, I’m scared. I mean, what if one of them brings a gun? Just one assault rifle. I saw a civilian carrying an assault rifle in Arizona. Scared the shit out of me. So I feel doubly trapped. I don’t want to do what’s selfishly best for me — beating the shit out of one of these guys [note the assumption that I could] — and I also don’t want to die. So in that way, I also feel like, and it’s the only word that makes sense to me here, a pussy.
I mean, after Trump was elected, I thought I might be fighting a totalitarian regime that would be locking up activists and journalists. And perhaps it seems hyperbolic, but I kept thinking: If it came to it, would I be willing to die for a cause? The way some non-Jews hid Jews during WWII; would I have that courage? Or at the end of the day, am I too afraid, selfish, weak? Not a real man.
Yeah, dude. Don’t be a pussy. My great aunt was more badass than this. She handed out magazines about why Nazism is bad and wouldn’t salute Hitler.
But then I realized: he has no personal experience of getting unfairly fucked over by malicious people, so he doesn’t know righteous anger. He only knows white guy anger. LOL!
He wasn’t alone:
One man jumps in. He had been at the last scrap with the “alt-right” when they came to town. He says that he probably should have been throwing punches, but he found out that he just wasn’t that kind of guy. But he was able to have some conversations with them. He said that one alt-rightist said, “If someone can dominate you, that means they are superior to you.” The aspiring anti-racist anti-sexist white guy said he didn’t even know where to go from there.
If there is a political philosophy that embodies the worst of masculinity, it is neo-Nazism.
That guy does more harm than good being just associated with anti-racism/anti-sexism. Major respectability fail.
It is the job of white guys to know where to go from there. Figure it out!
Do not, under any circumstances, walk up to a Nazi, trembling, and make them feel superior to you. Stay home! This stuff actively makes it harder to recruit anyone. I don’t want to be like that guy. I bet nobody else does, either, which is why we’re losing as long as he’s representative.
I don’t mean to comment on the “diversity of tactics” or the Antifa or black bloc. That is a far more complex issue. I’ve been told that Antifa have physically fended off neo-Nazis who have attempted to enter people’s homes in raids in predominantly black neighborhoods. Unverified; but even if that instance is false, the point is that there can be physical intervention that is the product of strategy or defense or care. The physical compulsions I’m feeling are purely from rage — a hunger for violence and vengeance. You threaten me, I fuck you up.
Compare that with A History of Antifascists Beating the Shit Out of the National Front:
After a couple of years of marching, and clashes before and after, you decided to go back to Victoria to oppose the NF directly – the tactic you used in 1985. Why was that and what happened?
We felt we could repeat the original formula, but about five times stronger. Instead of putting 150 in the field, you put 500-plus in the field – but mainly fighters, which wasn’t the case the first time we went down there. So that’s what we did. They had a pub right on the Victoria concourse, which was used by the Chelsea Headhunters. We just took that over. That became our base of operations, which made a perfect honey trap for them, because that’s where they would make for. You’d see them come and they’d get splattered. Whoever got away, got away. But then more would come, because you’re talking about hundreds of people coming from all over, and they’d be – bang, bang, bang bang bang.
Weren’t there any police about?
The coppers weren’t really on top of it. They hadn’t anticipated it and couldn’t distinguish our side from the fascists. There was no particular distinguishing feature – there was no social demographic like there was with the first march. [At the 1985 there were] obvious students and lefties against obvious hooligans and fascists, so you separate them out and you’ve got a law and order situation. But this was completely fluid.
There was one situation where a particularly notorious and soon-to-be member of [neo-Nazi organisation] Combat 18 decided to march into the pub with one or two others. He took about two steps inside the door, got hit with an ashtray, staggered on, got hit by a chair making for the other door, took a pint pot straight over the nut and then staggered out the other side. It just kind of summed it all up. He was a big old brute – he was up for attempted murder charges at some stage later. It was the kind of thing they thought they could get away with, but obviously not to any great degree. He didn’t repeat it.
What effect did this have on the National Front?
That was a low-point for them, obviously. Their own organisation hadn’t anticipated that. They weren’t prepared for us. The police weren’t prepared for us, either. A lot of this organisation is done word of mouth; it was prior to mobile phones and email and all that, so you didn’t get that kind of a trap where you’ve got a chain of evidence and people can build up an intelligence picture. There was nothing – it was done word of mouth.
Also, the plans would change in the day at the discretion of the chief steward. You could only broadly anticipate what AFA was going to do, and AFA was also marching, so police were all geared up for the march. Five hundred-plus police went to Victoria, and they had people at Trafalgar Square, anticipating and trying to prevent another attack by the far-right, when in fact it was the far-right which was being attacked. They couldn’t seem to move their feet quick enough – they couldn’t adjust. It was a good day. The fascist recriminations went on and on after – who was to blame, etc.
The ramifications of that kind of humiliation just ripples through the organisations for months, if not years, afterwards. Sometimes they never recover at all. I think Richard Edmonds [formerly] of the BNP [and now a NF member] said later that they had a contingent there, [but] that there was no point in going to Victoria because it was just full of reds. That was his own direct experience – the BNP never took part in Remembrance Day after that at all, not even as a token force.
The white male group therapy session has never heard of that even happening.
Recently, I was frustrated at a locksmith. I had come to his storefront twice during business hours and he was closed, even after I’d gotten hold of him on the phone. I left an overly polite, perturbed voicemail. Then I called again a minute later thinking I might get him — I still needed a key copied. No answer. I get a call a moment later from an unknown number.
“Why you keep calling me you fucking faggot?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Why do you keep calling me. You fucking faggot.”
I hung up.
He called back. He kept calling me a fucking faggot. I told him that this is crazy and that I’m just going to write on Yelp with what he’s saying. “I hope this isn’t your personal number,” he said. I ask if he was threatening me. He texted me a moment later with a link to a Yelp page for a nonprofit. The nonprofit that I run.
Let me know when you wana act like a big boy. We wear big boy shoes over here.
Don’t call to harass businesses, not a good idea.
It’s a small example, but it was a similar feeling. Caught. Trapped. I wanted to say, fuck it, I believe what he said was wrong and other people should know about it, and I’m not scared of this random guy. But, damn, if he posts something messed up on our Yelp page, even if it’s totally made up, that could affect our reputation and end up really affecting our organization, our employees, and the families we serve. Also, if he’s really some lunatic, who knows what else he might do; after all, he can pretty easily figure out who I am, and I have a lot of other public profiles on the Internet. Fuck!
Opsec, bro. He seems like the type who called people aware of the NSA before Snowden tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists.
Being called a faggot and not being able to do anything about it is a genuinely new and shocking experience for him. Hahaha! He’s processing those feelings in therapy group for the first time.
I don’t know if he’d ever psychologically recover from being black for a day and spending an afternoon on the internet.
It does suck when shit like that happens, though. A couple years ago, I was in the parking lot of a grocery store and drove past someone who wanted to back out. I didn’t really see them behind a bigger delivery truck. The point of the story is that a the guy got out of his car and threatened to beat my ass, looking very serious about the whole thing, and he particularly didn’t like that I do facial expressions wrong due to autism. I smile inappropriately. I didn’t know I was autistic, yet.
That day was the same day I realized the hair was falling out of my face because of alopecia, and I was generally stressed out. That was the last thing I needed. I stayed calm and admitted “fault.” “I’m not proud of it” [my driving or whatever]. He had to turn around a couple times while walking away to be sure I knew he meant business. I wasn’t really feeling like hospitalization on that day. It does suck that that can happen on a random trip to the grocery store. I felt feelings about it.
Abe Low just experienced social defeat stress, seemingly for the first time, but he knows nothing of chronic social defeat stress, where his identity is that he’s defeated and he’s been defeated for centuries.
If I strike back, it’s me selfishly putting my anger above the needs of others. And it might only make problems worse. It’s not like I have changing this guy’s mind at the forefront. But I just can’t stand that he walks away with the message that he can call people slurs, bully them, call out their masculinity, and then get what he wants. He might walk away thinking that since he beat me, he is the superior person, and therefore validated in continuing his practice of violence.
And I feel confronted: Are most guys out there fucking assholes? Do most guys say faggot and retard and pussy? Am I just living in a little social-justice bubble, and really this violent male way of being is in most places, most of the time? And if so, what is my role in changing that?
He’s getting it!
And now it’s especially on my mind as the neo-Nazi alt-right folk are gathering in my city in just a few days. If I go, should I take the role of security for a counter-protest, as some white men I know are doing (at the request of some organizers)? Should I use my white male privilege to be taken seriously enough by a misogynist white supremacist to have a dialogue, reach for empathy, in the hopes of humanizing the “other” to him? Should I go to a family-friendly anti-white-supremacy rally away from the Neo-nazis and work a childcare shift? Should I continue to step back, manage my socialized masculine impulses of presumptuous arrogant aggression, or should I harness them, or simply let loose as much as my courage will allow?
The correct answer to that question is to do what’s empirically effective. Tactics, man.
“Protect the women and children” doesn’t occur to him beyond a vague sense of “harnessing his impulses.” It does in his fantasy life at the beginning of the article (beating up a random creepy school intruder), but it doesn’t in a more realistic scenario, where he has to face actual fear.
The other side has basic training to deal with these issues, and it works at its purpose.
It’s been a major setback that we’ve spent the last decades listening to people who’ve never been bullied as erect taboos against militancy.
It’s obvious this Abe Low guy is working through this stuff for the first time. What that means is that he never actually empathized with marginalized people this entire time. “You mean they can call you a faggot and threaten you with harm and laugh in your face?!” Yes! That’s what’s we’ve been saying! Earth to white guys!
It’s like…they’re totally irrational and unrepentant! It’s almost like they have a different value system in which everything we believe is good makes someone a faggot.
It was also said in the 1950s, by Norman Mailer.
In this sense it is equally a psychic necessity for the liberal to believe that the Negro and even the reactionary Southern White eventually and fundamentally people like himself, capable of becoming good liberals too if only they can be reached by good liberal reason. What the liberal cannot bear to admit is the hatred beneath the skin of a society so unjust that the amount of collective violence buried in the people is perhaps incapable of being contained, and therefore if one wants a better world one does well to hold one’s breath, for a worse world is bound to come first, and the dilemma may well be this: given such hatred, it must either vent itself nihilistically or become turned into the cold murderous liquidations of the totalitarian state.
In its own way, white pacifism is a theory-of-mind failure: an inability to see the reality of both minorities and other white people.
What I don’t know, because I’m autistic and don’t actually do politics with other people in large groups, is how many people this Abe Low guy is speaking for. Is he a representative Bernie Bro?
From the book Days of Rage on how it used to be:
Imagine if this happened today: Hundreds of young Americans–white, black, and Hispanic–disappear from their everyday lives and secretly form urban guerilla groups. Dedicated to confronting the government and righting society’s wrongs, they smuggle bombs into skyscrapers and federal buildings and detonate them from coast to coast. They strike inside the Pentagon, inside the US Capitol, at a courthouse in Boston, at dozens of multinational corporations, at a Wall Street restaurant packed with lunchtime diners. People die. They rob banks, dozens of them, launch raids on National Guard arsenals, and assassinate policemen, in New York, in San Francisco, in Atlanta. There are deadly shoot-outs and daring jailbreaks, illegal government break-ins and a scandal in Washington…
During an eighteen-month period in 1971 and 1972, the FBI reported more than 2500 bombings on US soil, nearly 5 a day. Yet less than 1 percent of the 1970s era bombings led to a fatality; the single deadliest radical-underground attack of the decade killed four people. Most bombings were followed by communiques denouncing some aspect of the American condition; bombs basically functioned as exploding press releases. The sheer number of attacks led to a grudging public resignation. Unless someone was killed, press accounts rarely carried any expression of outrage. In fact, as hard as it may be to comprehend today, there was a moment during the early 1970s when bombings were viewed by many Americans as a semilegitimate form of protest. In the mind of others, they amounted to little more than a public nuisance.
Consider what happened when an obscure Puerto Rican group, MIRA, detonated bombs in two Bronx theaters in New York on May 1, 1970. Eleven people suffered minor injuries when one device went off at the Dale Theater during a showing of Cactus Flower. The second exploded beneath a seat at the cavernous Loew’s Paradise while a rapt audience watched The Liberation of LB Jones; when police ordered everyone to leave, the audience angrily refused, demanding to see the rest of the movie. When the theater was forcibly cleared, an NYPD official said later, the audience “about tore the place apart.” Neither the bombings nor the Paradise audience’s reaction was deemed especially newsworthy; the incident drew barely six paragraphs in the New York Times.
This history is forgotten, except in the sense of “Obama is pal-ing around with terrorists.”
Simply re-doing the Weather Underground wouldn’t work, but it’s mentally crippling not to know there was the Weather Underground.
If they’ve never heard of the Weather Underground, Frantz Fanon would blow their minds:
In America, we’re crying about whether or not to punch Nazis in the face. In Africa, they raised fucking armies and AFRICOM is stronger than ever.
Maybe the nonviolence people are right, but they’re definitely not worth listening to if they don’t have a plan on how to defeat people with rifles who hate them. Because that is the actual situation. For them, too, finally.