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Journal Archives

Some things I'll keep in mind this week while the Republican spin machine does its thing:

- Ronan and Mayer exposed the Eric Schneiderman Sexual Assault Scandal, the same Schneiderman who declared his opposition to Trump early in Trump's presidency.

- Discussions about Ms Ramirez's recollection of events will be used against her. However, her story is credible precisely because she acknowledges gaps in her memory. Memory is not infallible, and a cautious witness is more reliable than a witness who can confidently recount every single detail of a past event which happened over 2 decades ago. While it's reasonable to question her memory,there were many other ways Ms Ramirez could have described her assault if she had less than honorable motives. Her account truly comes across like someone who was inebriated and taken advantage of.

- I'm not an Avenatti fan, but I wouldn't be surprised if the info pans out. It's in keeping with what we know of the culture at Georgetown Prep.

- Republicans knew about this, which is why girls were used as props during the hearing and why a generic letter signed by 65 women was prepared. They wanted to push through this nomination because they knew the longer it takes to confirm Kavanaugh the greater the likelihood that:
1) more women will come forward.
2) Alumni will also come forward, confirming the sort of toxic culture which existed at Georgetown.
2) Republicans will say dumb shit throughout, pissing off sane women (and men) everywhere.

Yes ++ It's tempting to describe this as horseshoe theory BUT..

there's no specific point where the left wing and right wing converge. The impetus for political activism is just different on the hard left compared to the hard right.

What Moore doesn't understand is power, real political power. The GOP understands that, and he's conflating their lust for power with moral conviction.

But our conversation makes me think of how someone can become a useful idiot or how a worldview can make you susceptible to ideas which lead to worse outcomes.

Ideologies are complex, beliefs vacillate depending on changing circumstances but the consequences of elections in a political system where the filibuster dominates, means elections become a zero-sum game. Right after the 2016 election, I saw leftists take aim at Identity Politics, feeding conservative narratives about diverse representation in politics. The same people in the crosshairs of the Trump administration were admonished for demanding political action on the issues which impacted them the most: These people also happen to make up the base of the Democratic party. To make the concerns of the WWC the epicenter of Politics, or characterizing their concerns as the real "bread and butter" issues, dovetailed with Trump's rhetoric. So worldviews converged even though they came from different points.

Historically, we've seen this phenomenon result in disastrous consequences, particularly with anti-semitism. A worldview, even one rooted in "justice for all", can end up punishing the vulnerable. For Polish Communists, for example, it was too easy to buy into Anti-Zionist rhetoric. "Zionism" - which is a call for self-determination among Jewish people - was twisted into conspiratorial theorizing which claimed that Jews were only interested in consolidating economic wealth to the disadvantage of everyone else- a very old tired trope going back centuries. Just 2 decades after the Holocaust, in a country which saw the greatest crimes of the Holocaust, antisemitism reared its head again, with Polish Communists demanding the exile of Jews from public life or demanding Jews denounce Zionism - Which didn't guarantee that Jews weren't exiled anyway, because at the end of it all, even for Communists, a Jew remained someone to be distrusted. To this day, this conspiratorial view of Zionism persists among the left. We're too familiar with how Goldman-Sachs is talked about more than J.P Morgan (it's my belief that Goldman-Sachs gets more attention than J.P Morgan because of the name), and memes like the "Zionist Capitalist Agenda" , "Zionist Banks" etc.

This isn't to say that hard lefties and hard righties are the same, but ideology and politics can make strange bedfellows when you don't correctly identify who the real enemy is.

Eyewitness to the Desolation of 'Black Wall Street'

"Her name is Olivia J. Hooker, and she is a sharp and glorious 103 years old. Not only was she the first African-American woman to join the Coast Guard, not only was she a psychology professor and activist, but she is one of the last known survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. During the riot, white residents destroyed the prosperous black neighborhood of Greenwood, which had come to be known as “Black Wall Street.” A report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot said, “It is estimated that approximately 11,000 blacks resided in Tulsa in 1921, most living in the area of the Greenwood section.” As many as 300 people were killed and 8,000 left homeless.

As The New York Times wrote in 2011 on the 90th anniversary, the Tulsa riot “may be the deadliest occurrence of racial violence in United States history.” And yet, as the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum points out, not one act of violence that occurred that day “was then or ever has been prosecuted or punished by government at any level: municipal, county, state, or federal.”"American history is full of stories of black people doing precisely what America says it wants of its citizens — being creative, enterprising and industrious, being self-respecting and self-sufficient — only to have white people destroy what they’ve built, impede their progress and erase their wealth. And those are not far-off stories: Those are also the stories of the living."


She described an idyllic life of school, visits to the grocery store whenever she had two pennies, and her fear of the trolley that ran through town.

But that was all ripped apart one day in her sixth summer, when Greenwood erupted.

White men broke into their house as Hooker and some of her siblings hid beneath an oak dining table, draped with a tablecloth.

“They took a hatchet to my sisters’ piano. They poured oil all over my grandmother’s bed.” They “stuffed the dresser” with ammunition, Hooker told me. Maybe they had intended to burn or destroy the house, but they didn’t.

She continued, “They took all the beautiful biscuits out of the oven and threw them out in the mud.” We both managed a laugh.

They broke the phonograph and the Enrico Caruso records her mother had received as a gift from a friend who had gone to study in Heidelberg, Germany.

“They didn’t appreciate you having anything classical,” Hooker said. “They took all the silverware that Momma had just got for Christmas, coffee pot, teapot — you know, that kind of beautiful stuff. If anything looked precious, they took it.”


Republicans, Power and Rape Culture...

Republicans on Rape:

"Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it."
"If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down."
"Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation."
Republicans on Rape

Now we can add to the Republican Cannon of Rape and Sexual Assault :

"Should a man be held responsible for the actions he took as a youth?" - A statement assuming guilt and rationalizing violence.

Apparently, Conservatives can find no shame in the fact that a 53 year old who is accused of sexual assault in his youth is the most qualified person the Trump administration could find to put on SCOTUS.

While the GOP has come to represent everything Anti-Woman, their malignancy is a symptom of Rape Culture and we all swim in its toxic waters.

One of the features of Rape Culture is the presentation of rape only in its most extreme, violent, sadistic form, the sort instigated by strangers. The reality is rape is often not extremely violent, and this fact makes it no less a violation because the cornerstone of rape is non-consent. In most cases, the assailant is known to the victim. The way victims process trauma also differs - it may take them a few days or it may take them decades and by focusing on extreme examples of rape as the sole definition of what rape is, less violent and similarly dysfunctional psychosocial behavior become normalized as "horseplay", and sexual assault trauma is trivialized. In a similar vein, to use an analogy, this same phenomenon is at work when racism is only acknowledged in its most violent forms, like the KKK and Lynching, while discrimination in a million other different, less obviously violent, ways are dismissed and minimized ( anti-semitism and other toxic isms are applicable)

Since Dr. Ford's allegations became public, the idea of whether to "believe" her has also predictably entered the debate, when the focus should be on how structural systems respond to allegations of assault. Far more important than the notion of belief, should be an expectation that a sexual assault accuser's claims are to be treated seriously and with professionalism. How allegations are handled sends a message to sexual assault survivors, both male and female, that demanding accountability will not result in further victimization

Beyond the fact that the GOP denied a sitting President a hearing for his SCOTUS pick, and beyond all arguments about Democrats and their strategies, lies the truth at stake here: We women are not property and it is we who should determine what happens to our bodies.

Seems like a lifetime ago we were told it was a fallacy to call Trump a wannabe fascist.

That our concerns were all leftist hyperbole and part of the "anyone who disagrees with me is Hitler" reasoning. There's a lot less of this kind of critique these days from certain quarters.

For those of us who saw the threat, there's no joy in saying I told you so. Recently I thought about the insight of Arendt, Paxton and Umberto Eco, thinkers whose insight resonate more strongly since Trump's inauguration...

“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Paxton's 5 stages of fascism:

Intellectual exploration, where disillusionment with popular democracy manifests itself in discussions of lost national vigor;

Rooting, where a fascist movement, aided by political deadlock and polarization, becomes a player on the national stage;

Arrival to power, where conservatives seeking to control rising leftist opposition invite the movement to share power;

Exercise of power, where the movement and its charismatic leader control the state in balance with state institutions such as the police and traditional elites such as the clergy and business magnates; and

Radicalization or entropy, where the state either becomes increasingly radical, as did Nazi Germany, or slips into traditional authoritarian rule, as did Fascist Italy.

Umberto Eco's 14 common features of fascism

The cult of tradition.- “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”

The rejection of modernism.- “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”

The cult of action for action’s sake. -“Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”

Disagreement is treason. -“The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture, the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”

Fear of difference.- “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”

Appeal to social frustration. -“One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”

The obsession with a plot. -“The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”

The enemy is both strong and weak.- “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”

Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”

Contempt for the weak. -“Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”

Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”

Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”

Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

The Things Wrong With Dems

There are a lot of complaints about Democrats.

I feel we should break them down:

- Dem failures to get things done in Congress. If Dems can't get something done it's because they're either compromised or too "weak" to fight. Things like procedural votes and deals done when you're in a minority, or the understanding that majorities determine what you can do, is lost... completely. Paying too much detail to policy and getting it right and airtight, is just Dems lollygagging. Any errors of judgment are to be brought up constantly, even 30 years afterward. In fact, forever and ever even if the Dem expresses regret.

- Dems can't hold it together on votes, what's Chuck doing??? - re Kavanaugh. Seems the votes on Trumpcare and the Tax Bill are part of a history that was lost with the Library of Alexandria.

- Democrats are the only ones with agency. Always. Republicans and their evil-doing don't really exist. Does a Democrat get smeared unfairly by Republicans? It's obviously the Democrat's fault if only she didn't [something something something]. Even when there are countervailing forces making progress difficult it's still the Democrat's fault. Even in the face of powerful forces like the famed "Arkansas Project", The Birchers, The Federalists, The Mercers, the loonies who hate anything connected to the New Deal & Great Society or Lee Atwater-esque strategies, it's always down to what Democrats do: are we even sure Republicans actually exist in this schema of Powerful Dem Agency?

- "The Donor Class" - All Donors are Evil, and even aggregate donations from industries are evil. In fact, money is evil. And all industries are evil. Unless someone we like gets money from a venture capitalist then it's okay and if a group we like keeps their donors secret, that's okay too ....btw, we oughta do something about all this dark money in politics.

-"ACA is actually a conservative plan and Obama could have gone for Single Payer but he was too weak" & "Bill Clinton is the reason why everything is bad", "FDR was the greatest, purest politician ever and never compromised!" -File these under Historical Revisionism's Greatest Hits

- Dems are ALWAYS terrible at messaging. Always. And that's why they're seen as weak. The messaging is not even resonating enough with millennial gentrifiers in Brooklyn. When was the last time Chuck or Nancy offered a cri de cœur to young people in a tweet? This is why they both suck even though they keep winning their elections and house members keep placing faith in Nancy, but these facts are beside the point.

- The whole primary thing is corrupt because of SuperDelegates So what if caucuses are similarly problematic and Superdelegates haven't really done much in ages except go with the flow.

- DNC hates progressives and picks faves The DNC is God and rigs everything even though it isn't and hasn't and just organizes fundraising. Donna Brazille's book didn't prove anything on this score - Welcome to reality.

- Dems need to grow a spine. I am surprised they manage to stand upright. Then when they do something the backseat drivers approve of they are complimented with.. "About time they grew a spine: This must be a first! Never happen again from the spineless Dems!" I'm really surprised they're able to walk. Dems also always bring a casserole to a gunfight- this is actually pretty funny even though it's wrong. But who cares.

Dems are still to blame even though the media suffers from the disease of bothsideism


- Actual solid critiques don't appear often - like ignoring state parties which hurt Dems in Obama's second term in a big way, structural issues, securing and updating of data, and the need to improve digital presence.

/snark off.

I am not saying Democrats should never be criticized but hot takes that ignore context and political realities gets a no from me.

Voting As An Expression of Personality...

or Why I Didn't Watch Chris Hayes last night.

From the reaction on DU, and social media in general, it was apparently a "kill me now" moment, as Charles Pierce succinctly described on twitter.

There are lots of reasons why voters end up not voting. They may be low information, or in a state where voter suppression tactics are practiced however for voters who had the means to inform themselves, could have voted but still didn't vote, "self-absorbed" doesn't go deep enough to describe them.

When a young man said he needed to be "inspired", he's saying he needed to be seduced and catered to, marketed to even. My generation has been aggressively marketed to since we were kids, is it any wonder he sees voting in this light?

I think this is a reflection of how our marketing models and economic structures embedded themselves in our politics and it reached its zenith in 2016. Chomsky's warning was prescient:

1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgment directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning].

so how did a society which hitherto understood the import of civic action as social action, descend to this point where voting becomes something akin to a vanity project?

Perhaps neoliberalism is partly to blame. The quotes below are lifted from a blog post and some thoughts the author shared on twitter I found insightful when Cornell West attacked Ta-Nehisi Coates as a Neo-liberal.

Neoliberalism was once understood to be an approach to economic policy which favored property rights, limited government intervention in the form of weak or non-existent regulatory frameworks, low taxes, and unregulated markets - in a word laissez-faire economics. Hayek devised this approach at a time when your capitalist was an industrialist and this philosophy was fully expressed in Reaganomics and Thatcherism.

The Neoliberal sees government intervention as tipping the scales in a particular direction. Less government intervention means more equitable outcomes. "The "equitable" here doesn't mean "everyone is equal". It means, "everyone gets what they deserve." Neoliberalism is dedicated to doctrinaire individualism; it assumes that without government, everyone has the same chance at success, so those who do succeed do so through merit"

It "denigrates structures in favor of individuals where deregulation allows everyone to maximize their potential and be their most successful selves. Turning a systemic critique into an individual moral failing is exactly what neoliberalism does".

So what is the net effect of this phenomenon?

The individual becomes a self-interested consumer who cannot see "the forest for the trees". Focus on structural issues are abandoned in favor of individual prejudice, and desires.

None of us are fully immune from this.

We ( royal "we" ) are all customers in a consumerist model where we brand ourselves and signal to the world who we are through our consumer choices. We don't buy things solely for their utility, we also buy things because we think they're a reflection of who we are and this makes us feel good. One of the best examples of this was the hugely successful Marlboro Man advertising campaign in the 50's- Men bought Marlboros not because they liked smoking, they wanted to become a Marlboro man. Today, some buy fair trade coffee because it makes them feel good to buy a product they think helps poor farmers. Pondering on how we all benefit from tariffs which hurt producers of all kinds in third world countries or Protectionist Policies which favor producers in powerful states over others is too grand a scale to consider because then you would have to look at structures and that's way too complicated.

Every advertisement for products focuses on how that product makes you feel and what kind of person you are for having bought it - utility is secondary.

This type of thinking has morphed itself into how civic action is perceived by many - a phenomenon I've observed more on the left than the right. The right has felt aggrieved since LBJ's Great Society Initiative and their reaction to losing ground has been a hyper-focus on recapturing power. They have longed to enjoy getting back at liberals for something long lost, it's why many Republicans are enjoying their little orgy of revanchism at the moment with Trump's vulgarity a minor concern in the big picture. However, on the left, there's been complacency. Rights that were won through blood, sweat and tears have been taken for granted.

Voting has morphed into an expression of Self and Personality. And the candidate must cater to "you" and "earn your vote", which means that the candidate must always fill you with bliss and make you feel "inspired", instead of voting seen as what it actually is - social civic action. One approach focuses on self, the other prioritizes community and best outcomes beyond one's self.

Third Party Voters and Non-Voters have nothing to show for their choices and indecision. For third-party voters, they knew their chosen candidates wouldn't win. Some liberals even voted for Gary Johnson's absurd platform which they ordinarily wouldn't agree with. Some non-voters didn't vote because a candidate wasn't appealing enough to them, she had to be sexy enough in their eyes. But on a deeper level, what is this voter saying to the world? They are branding themselves as "an iconoclast, a free thinker whose views can't be put into neat boxes, You can't force me to vote in either direction."

Sometimes Dems benefit from this kind of approach to voting. The "Obama Brand" symbolized a more diverse America with the promise of a progressive future, and Voters closely identified with this. Hillary would have expanded on what Obama achieved, which is typical for those rare Presidents whose predecessor was in the same party.

But who was the Hillary Clinton voter? did we ever really know? For decades, pundits insinuated that the only kind of Hillary voter was a vagina voter, or a bitter divorcee, or a nagging wife and/or mom. The Media did not really cover Hillary voters who were enthusiastic to vote for her. We either got lukewarm articles, or articles acknowledging support dashed with either antagonistic spin or snark. This erased her accomplishments and dragged her to Trump's level. Her "brand" was tarnished, almost non-existent. There are reasons for this, like sexism and so on, I won't delve into here.

When voting is seen as such an individualistic enterprise, systems and structures are ignored - Like the Supreme Court, the Importance of retaining Control in Congress, Threats to Democracy like Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression. I often heard in 2016: "You can't blackmail me into voting for her with warnings about SCOTUS" Now that Roe V Wade is in the cross hairs of the Federalists, and god knows what else, we may need to experience a whole lot of hurt before lessons are learned.

John Bunn, Wrongfully Incarcerated for 17 Years, Says Learning to Read Saved Him

He spent 27 years wrongly convicted of murder. He wants to spend the rest of his life encouraging inmates to read

The first book John Bunn fell in love with, curled up in his cell at a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, was Sister Souljah's novel "The Coldest Winter Ever."

In the book, a maternal woman advocates for the improvement of her black community in Brooklyn as she watches the people she loves suffer from the consequences of incarceration, violence and a seemingly endless cycle of poverty.

"I related to that book on so many levels," Bunn says.

Bunn knows more than most what it's like to face injustice. Arrested and imprisoned as an adolescent in New York City, he spent 17 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit and a further decade on parole, fighting for his exoneration. In that time, he battled, among others, the courts, police investigators, PTSD and the challenges of illiteracy. He was 16 before he could read and write.
Today Bunn is 41 and a free man at last, mentoring at-risk young people and advocating for the power of reading through his own program that brings books to prisons.
In many ways, his own story sounds straight out of a Sister Souljah book. Except that Bunn, who survived years of wrongful incarceration with his humanity intact, is determined to write the next chapter himself.

.. An incredible story of resilience.

Some thoughts on Alt-right Trolling.

A key component of Trump's rise was his ability to Troll. His staffers, followers, and admirers follow his lead.

For such people - the Milo's and Mike Cernovich's of this world- they live not only to exploit Democratic freedoms to spread fascistic hate but to also trigger the libs and exploit Liberal reasonableness.

In the "freeze peach" wars, when trolls like Milo and Ann Coulter felt they should have access to rarified platforms like Universities, many reasonable liberals agreed, because we're about fairness and when they go low we go high. Many reasonable arguments were laid out citing the freedom of speech, and a slippery slope, and intolerance. Absent from this reasoning is the fact that we are not entitled to rarified spaces or platforms. Newspapers are discriminatory about who gets to write op-eds, TV show hosts exercise discretion over who they invite as guests to their shows. Of all platforms, Universities should exercise great discretion over whom they invite for campus talks.

There is no right to all platforms written anywhere in the constitution. Are there instances where Universities are heavy-handed? Yes, but resistance to controversial invitations to University platforms is nothing new.

I see shades of this same type of manipulation of liberal reasonableness when it comes to Zina Bash. There are now long pieces, both in left leaning and right leaning publications, shaming Liberals-who-are-not-reasonable for assuming that Zina was signaling "white power" at the Kavanaugh hearings. Never mind when she learned of the speculation, she turned it up a notch.

I've used that hand signal to mean something is perfect or good or "A Okay!" But Fascists have a habit of appropriating innocuous, even religious, symbolism for nefarious purposes. See Pepe the Frog or the Swastika.

The defense of Zina Bash is bizarre because she is an acolyte of Stephen Miller - The most Bigoted Edgelord of all bigoted Millennial edgelords. She worked with him on immigration policy. We know Stephen Miller is vile. We know the ethos of this administration is ethnonationalism so it's curious all the confusion. I've seen defenses of Ms Bash claiming her ancestry when she works for Trump. Power is a fact of life, and some human beings don't care who they align with to attain it.

By calling a hand symbol which has been appropriated by alt-righters to wink-nudge their followers "fake news", I believe we're gaslighting ourselves. She is free to use whatever signals she likes, but we don't help when we deny the signaling going on here.

Alt-righters use this hand signal as a way to tell the marginalized and those in the crosshairs of this administration "We're the ones with power now and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. And if you call me racist or fascist for using this hand signal, reasonable people will laugh at you"

They love this chaos because a lot of this type of trolling was born in the toxic mess that was 4chan.

The best description of how elements in 4 chan evolved into the Alt-right is from Morgan Chase, I've condensed her tweets on this in paragraphs: https://twitter.com/morganmpage/status/827725357704953856

As a gamer myself, I couldn't put it better than this:

"So much of the alt-right grew out of online geek culture (GG [Gamergate] is a good example). Which I guess makes sense because it's a group of people who feel like outsiders but are in fact quite privileged (white, male, straight). And we all know what happens when you make white straight men feel even slightly disenfranchised. A layer the media has not picked up on is the gamification of the alt-right.

It is a game played for nihilistic pleasure. Every woman, POC, queer, trans person intimidated - every social justice space 'infiltrated' - scores points for the nerd nazis. Geek culture was perfect breeding ground for this. Like geeks intensely nostalgize the media culture of their youths, so too the alt-right. It became easy to like a nostalgia for media culture to a nostalgia for nationalist culture. Both are reactions to a rapidly changing world. Geek culture is also an intensely male-centric space (despite or perhaps bc of it's slightly effeminate stature in the wider culture).

Reddit and the chans, with their male-centric and game-ified trolling cultures, gave birth to the bastard child that is the alt-right. That nazi-who-gets-punched actually hit on something when he said that neo-Nazis don't like him. We're dealing with a very different demographic. The geek alt-right stuff is not coming from the uneducated rural working-class whites - it is coming from educated white nerds.

These are guys who work in STEM. At least, this was who originally started it (GG, etc.). Now it's snowballed up all kinds of other opportunistic white nationalists. We have a bunch of identifiable groups who previously wouldn't have spoken to each other forming a coalition of awful.

I think that maybe separating out each group we can find strategies best suited to countering their particular brand of terrible. It's fascinating in a way because so much of the geek culture is about resisting fascism. But these men's nostalgia for their uncritical childhood takes ("cool explosions! space travel!" blinds them to this.

Of course, it is not all individual geeks. But this subculture is what gave birth to the alt-right. The sneering way the left dismisses the alt-right as uneducated is simply not the case, which I guess is one of the points I'm making here. The Gaters are really the direct antecedents of the current alt-right. The Gate is how they learned to organize, gameify harassment, etc. Gamergate was where this generation of white right-wingers became radicalized. I'm not even sure they're accurately described as rightwing.

Many are essentially apolitical but find it fun to relax into racist tendencies. And I think that's why we have particular difficulty reaching them: we're trying to convince them of politics but they are apolitical. They don't actually care about politics: they're using it as a game and as a tool for lashing out about their feelings of disenfranchisement. A lot of this is classic trauma behaviour also: many of them were bullied as kids and now are getting "revenge of the nerds" via same tactic. But instead of lashing out at the power structures that created their trauma, they're lashing out at the people they think threaten their power. Sarah Schulman's Conflict is Not Abuse is basically a roadmap for how this type of thinking works, if you're interested in learning more.

When we nonchalantly dismiss this phenomenon as nothing we miss the undercurrents at work here.

This is applicable:

The "Left Behind" Trump voter has nothing left to tell us.

"Editors are looking for stories on Trump voters who are making do, soldiering on, hanging tough, wishing each other “Merry Christmas” instead of that heathen “Happy Holidays,” and extending the president the benefit of the doubt no matter how many times he does them rotten. Small-town, heartland, blue-collar, bingo-hall, left-behind authentic representatives and descendants of the “Real America” whom hip elitist bi-coastals and technocrat politicians ignore, until their votes bite Democrats in the butt. So where does an enterprising reporter go to bag a focus group of Trump voters in their native habitat? The local diner.

And not just any diner. Definitely not one of those Silver Diners, a chain that offers “Flexitarian” menus, whatever the fancy hell that means, or one of those shiny faux-retro diners in the suburbs catering to Happy Days nostalgia. No, it has to be a diner that still offers a wood-paneled haven steeped in the aroma and kitchen grease of yesteryear, a clientele of rumpled regulars, an old cathode-tube TV in the corner, and voilà . . . “Steven Whitt fires up the coffeepot and flips on the fluorescent sign in the window of the Frosty Freeze, his diner that looks and sounds and smells about the same as it did when it opened a half-century ago. Coffee is 50 cents a cup, refills 25 cents. The pot sits on the counter, and payment is based on the honor system.” So begins a dispatch from Claire Galofaro, an A.P. reporter whose special beat is Trump Country, in a story dated December 28, 2017. The Frosty Freeze is in Elliott County, Kentucky, a region in worsening distress which in 2016, for the first time, broke its string of going Democratic, betting on Trump to be the turnaround guy. Trip Gabriel is The New York Times’s unofficial Trump roving diner correspondent. In “In Iowa, Trump Voters Are Unfazed by Controversies,” Gabriel opened at one diner (“The eight men around a rectangular table, sipping coffee from a hodgepodge of mugs donated by customers, meet daily for breakfasts of French toast, eggs and bacon at Darrell’s diner”), then popped into another, where he quoted a waitress who didn’t vote in the 2016 election because she didn’t like either candidate, not exactly a gem worth extracting. Reuters reporter Tim Reid also drew blanks when he corralled a trio of Trump supporters at a Bob Evans diner in Jackson, Ohio, and asked their opinions on the Russia investigation. “I have never heard anything about it,” imparted Chastity Banks, and neither had the other two Trumpies. At Nana Dee’s Diner, in Mesa, Arizona, CNN interviewed a quartet of Trump supporters over the family-separation policy at the border that was ripping children from their parents. “I think people need to stop constantly bringing up the poor children, the poor children,” complained one old dear. “Quit trying to make us feel teary-eyed for the children.” Yes, that does sound like the heartfelt, cankered voice of a Trumpian.

The journalistic device of converting diner patrons into field studies didn’t originate in the aftermath of Trump’s upset victory. It’s a hoary practice that became a staple in campaign coverage of political caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the diner became the go-to spot for getting the ornery lowdown from the red-flannel-plaid set. The deadline laureate of this hunter-gatherer journalism was the Washington Post reporter and columnist David Broder, the “dean” of the Washington press corps, who knocked on doors at dinner hour, interviewed subjects on park benches, and convened impromptu focus groups of diner patrons to get a feel for shifts in sentiment that had eluded correspondents trailing candidates from stop to stop. Broder put in the shoe leather and brought back the goods on his Tocquevillian rounds, but today that approach has become a cliché, a traffic jam, a theatrical genre. The patrons have become self-conscious in their role-playing as Average Americans, trying to finish their cardboard waffles while the politicians go glad-handing from table to table surrounded by a scrum.

t is unusual, however, to keep returning to diners, bars, and American Legion halls to take the temperatures of one sliver of the electorate and gussy up their predictable sound bites with descriptive dabs of short-storyish scene-setting. (The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri did a hilarious send-up of this woebegone naturalism: “In the shadow of the old flag factory, Craig Slabornik sits whittling away on a rusty nail, his only hobby since the plant shut down.”) It not only privileges the attitudes of one subset of voters but it leaves a lopsided impression of the whole mural. “The media is blinded by its obsession with rural white Trump voters,” Ryan Cooper argued forcibly in a column for The Week last December. “Trump does—or did—have unusual levels of blue-collar support, but the actual bulk of Trump support is the same old professional, petty bourgeois, and ultra-wealthy capitalists who have been voting Republican for generations.” And, Cooper notes, this zoom-in on rural whites has “largely ignored the black and brown working class who never fell for Trump’s nonsense.”"

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