• Identity Politics, Free Speech and White Nationalism

    Is it time to pick a side? It’s a sentiment regularly expressed explicitly and implicitly by people on both “sides” of the Left/Right divide. Let’s take Sargon of Akkad, for example. Carl has railed against identity politics for years now. Almost every video on his channel touches on the subject. How does he square his hatred of identity politics with the following call to arms?

    I’ve yet to hear a coherent argument in favour of combating identity politics with more identity politics. And make no mistake, that’s exactly what this is. If tribalism is the problem, does it make sense to encourage more tribalism? If you choose a side, you are necessarily in the wrong because the ultimate aim is to win. You’re not interested in representing reality or practising intellectual honesty. You are going to support your team irrespective of their actions and condemn the other team. That should be a problem for anyone who values reason.

    I rarely get wound up on Twitter, but I found myself struggling not to punch a hole in my laptop in the aftermath of the Berkeley riots. Twitter was awash with partisans re-tweeting anything that supports their narrative. The image of prominent white supremacist Nathan Damigo punching a female protester was all over my feed. A reprehensible act, to be sure. But where was the outrage when Antifa maced an innocent woman two months ago? Is it possible to find both acts repellent or is violence against women morally permissible when perpetrated by your side?

    I was attempting to make this point on Twitter, yet I couldn’t help but feel the platform is a major part of the problem. Everyone is trying to express their opinions on complex topics on a medium that doesn’t permit nuance. Even if you present a position over several tweets, there’s no guarantee people will see the entire thread. They might see the first tweet in which you criticise Antifa, assume you’re a Nazi and therefore think it’s acceptable to assault you. There’s no room for complexity. It simply doesn’t survive the editing process. “My side good, your side bad” is so much more convenient.

    If you try to inject nuance, it doesn’t tend to compute. People are so used to issues being framed as black and white that they reject the very notion of grey. I was told that by siding with white nationalists and Nazis I’ve ceded the moral high ground. It didn’t occur to this individual that I was advocating for free speech. I’m not on a “side”. I have no control over whether a hate group leverages the issue for its own agenda. Does such a basic right cease to be important because the likes of Damigo and Mike Cernovich latch onto it? I am in effect being told that supporting free speech makes me a Nazi because these lunatics have attached themselves to the cause.

    As you’ve likely sensed, I’m becoming increasingly angry as I write this post. So, I’m off to punch the nearest wall like it’s holding a copy of Mein Kampf. 

    Category: FeaturedSkepticismSocial Justice

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    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.
    • > If you choose a side, you are necessarily in the wrong because the ultimate aim is to win.

      I don’t think choosing a side per se is the problem, it’s choosing a side based on superficial and irrelevant characteristics, such as identity, that is the problem. After all, if one aligns oneself with those they see as more correct and true, they’ve in effect “chosen a side” too (at least for the moment). No? It’s unavoidable to choose a side to some extent.

      Also, I imagine the problem is choosing and making a commitment to any side, regardless of how future events and facts might change how that side operates.

      • But you’re on the “side” of truth. It’s a stretch to describe the truth as a tribe. If you choose an actual tribe, whether or not they’re mostly correct is irrelevant. When they’re inevitably wrong, you’re still going to take their side and condemn the opposing side.

        That’s what we tend to see. How often do you see people pick a tribe and remain entirely objective? It immediately instils a bias. That’s not to say there’s no room for organisation. But if you build a tribe around a single issue, you’re inevitably aligning with and biasing yourself towards some awful people.

    • Otto T. Goat

      There’s nothing reprehensible about punching a masked member of a criminal organization who is armed with a bottle.

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C9tOiSRW0AAJCPq.jpg

      • She’s not an innocent bystander like the “Make Bitcoin Great Again” girl, but it’s pretty cowardly to initiate a fight with a 90 pound girl. And that’s what I saw Damigo doing. He wasn’t defending himself. He sucker punched a girl you could knock over with a gust of wind.

        • Otto T. Goat

          She was trying to hit someone with a bottle. Even if we accept your sexist double standard, how was he supposed to know she’s a woman?

          • She was wielding a bottle, but she hadn’t attacked Damigo.

            And it isn’t about sex. It’s about size and weight. He picked out the most vulnerable person there and threw a sucker punch.

            • Otto T. Goat

              I didn’t know small criminals got a free pass.

            • They don’t and she shouldn’t. That doesn’t mean Damigo isn’t a coward for targeting the most vulnerable person he could find and throwing a sucker punch.

            • Otto T. Goat

              The cowards are the leftists who run Berkeley who allow Antifa criminals to attack people exercising free speech rights.

            • When did I say he was the only coward? There can be more than one coward.

    • Otto T. Goat

      It does make sense to encourage more tribalism if the alternative is losing to hostile tribes.

      • If you acknowledge tribalism is a problem, you’re only exacerbating the problem if you create more tribes.

        People can fight for a cause without marrying themselves to people who agree with them on a single issue.

        • Otto T. Goat

          I wish weren’t necessary for me to be tribal, but that’s not what current reality requires.

          • Then we’ll have to agree to disagree. It’s just going to continue to escalate.

            • Otto T. Goat

              I agree that it’s going to escalate.