Friday, August 26, 2016

Hillary Promotes the Alt-Right

Hillary Clinton just committed what might be the greatest blunder of this election cycle, and this has been one with some doozies. There was Trump's "bleeding out of her whatever" comment, and Jeb meekly asking his audience for applause, and Sanders' truly bizarre strategy of endorsing Clinton but remaining in the primary race.

Yesterday Clinton gave her speech on the alt-right. While most people have probably not heard the term, the alt-right is a reactionary movement against modern liberalism. Most significantly, the alt-right is opposed to multiculturalism and globalism. While fairly obscure, the alt-right has had explosive growth in the last year. I've been frequenting alt-right sites for maybe the past 8 or 9 months.

Part of the alt-right's growth has been natural. The same anti-establishment sentiments that drove Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, and the Bernie Sanders campaign are also fueling the nationalist right. Current events have given even more wind to their sails. The immigration crisis in Europe has people flocking to the right-wing parties there, and in the US the liberal support for radical leftist groups like BLM is having a similar effect.

The other part has been intentional and strategic. If you look at different players associated with the alt-right, Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, Brexit, and r/the_donald (now Reddit's second most active community) there is a consistent 2-part strategy:

  1. Trigger liberals to generate exposure
  2. Shift the Overton window to the right
Triggering liberals has become the specialty of the alt-right. When they trigger liberal institutions such as the media, they are basically hijacking those institutions for their own benefit. Milo has nearly perfected the craft. Being banned from Twitter, despite not saying anything worse really than calling a girl ugly, has helped him break out into mainstream exposure. Trump also is a master of this. The best example that comes to mind, and there are many, was when he said of the judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit, "and he's a Mexican." The media jumped on it as a careless blunder. I believe he had picked the phrase out ahead of time. I guarantee he knew all the background on this judge. He knew prying would show the judge's association with Mexican racialist organizations and affinity for illegal immigrants. He also knew the phrasing would trigger the hell out of liberals, but still give him plausible deniability and ultimately vindication. And of course it did enrage the left. Because the phrasing feels racist. And so, they embarked on another rabid witch hunt, which ultimately did nothing but keep Trump front-and-center for like a whole week. It's ironic, really, they are utterly convinced that Trump's popularity has been base appeal to emotion to conservatives. And yet, if he couldn't so consistently trigger their emotions he probably never would have generated the buzz to knock off Jeb and the rest in the primaries. They'so so incensed by the emotional right backing Trump that their own emotional responses are what actually fuel his campaign. I can't think of anything more ironic than that. 
You won't have to hang out around the alt-right very long to learn about the Overton window, which is just the range of discussion permissible in the mainstream. The goal of the alt-right is to always push the Overton window to the right. Think about this: a year ago there could have been a conversation about building a wall at the US southern border. Trump has single-handedly pushed that topic into the Overton window, as well as the suggestion of banning Muslims from immigration. It's interesting that shifting the window is a victory in itself. So if Trump gets the US talking about the wall and it never gets built, well he's still had some success. The alt-right know that they have a superior ideology and that their biggest enemy is censorship. If they can just shift the Overton window, then converts to the right will be inevitable.

Which brings us back to Hillary's speech.

In what was either a desperate play to take heat off the growing coverage of the Clinton Foundation scandals, or sheer ignorance, her campaign decided it would be a good idea to dedicate an entire rally -- and she doesn't do very many -- to the alt right. The speech was a combination of "Trump is a racist" and "look how eeeevil the alt-right is!" To the first case: yawn. This was also the primary argument of the Brexit remain camp (hint: they lost). Towards the end of the speech, the only part I caught live, she was making reference to black and white teammates in the Olympics, and how it proves America needs everyone for greatness, or something like that. As if Trump was calling to ban blacks from the Olympics, or for segregation or whatever she is trying to imply. She might as well have played Clash of the Titans and said, "look at that team, you need to vote for me."

But that was just tired race-baiting. Her speech also included describing the alt-right, and attacking some of its adherents by name. For instance, attacking Alex Jones. He is well-known among conspiracy theorists, and has grown his appeal recently as he's become something more akin to an anti-globalism activist, but he is still a fringe personality. Hillary has given him the one true gift you can give obscure public personalities trying to break out: EXPOSURE! Not only that, but she's brought into the spotlight someone from the right who makes Trump look quite moderate by comparison. 

Not to outdo herself, she also read a few provocative headlines from Breitbart, a right-wing online news organization that has seen explosive growth. The headlines included such Milo-written jewels such as "Would you rather your child have feminism or cancer?" Here is a headline that is, (a) hilarious, and (b), designed to grab attention and get you to read his article. I guess Hillary thinks Milo needs more attention?? (Maybe she thinks the extra bump to his ego will literally explode his head.)

She has basically done everything for the alt-right that they have been working to do themselves: stoke controversy, generate exposure, and push the Overton window to the right. It was almost the greatest ever for the alt-right. And it would have been, except it doesn't seem like very many people actually listen to her speeches.

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