The unfortunate events at Charlottesville have ramped up the racial and political tension in this country, and blame and accusations are flying around at anyone who does not find a side and scream at the top of his lungs. For some odd reason, we are not allowed to say that both of these are true: Antifa as well as the the alt-right are overly-sensitive and violent fools who have stupid philosophies. If you do, there will be some people on both sides who call you a Nazi sympathizer or a communist. Lovely.
In any case, here’s the problem with Antifa and, generally, the response from the Left: They usually don’t address any arguments. When they do try to address arguments against the more articulate of the alt-right, they look clueless, emotional, and/or unable to explain how they are not creating blatant and unjustified double standards against white people. Couple this with violent reactions, and this only serves to bolster the alt-right because they can argue that they’re victims of violent persecution when the other side is too afraid to address their arguments.
Here are a couple of cringeworthy performances: The first is Jared Taylor speaking to television anchor Jorge Ramos and the second is Taylor speaking to Eddie Huang of Huang’s World. Ramos was unprepared to answer Taylor’s arguments and tried ducking his questions most of the time, and while I credit Huang for having a civil conversation, he resorted to silly arguments like, “But aren’t we all evolved from Africa?”, a statement so irrelevant that Taylor simply said, “So what?” It was also an argument that can backfire because people like Taylor actually use human evolution to show that certain races have developed inherent traits that may be superior to others.
Clearly, there needs to be better answers to the alt-right, and frankly, the Left is not where those answers are going to come from. The reason is that the alt-right has turned much of their logic against them. The far left has jumped head first into identity politics, where people are grouped by allegedly genetic or otherwise immutable traits like race and sexual orientation and told that they are disadvantaged by “systems” such as the white patriarchy. Therefore, they have to think a certain way and fight aggressively for their survival and “rights.” White nationalists have simply taken advantage of that logic and have pointed out that white people are a group too with certain traits and who should look out for their own interests and survival against “systems” such as white guilt and wanton immigration, especially as their majority percentage dwindles in the West. While it is entertaining to see how people on the Left stumble to answer this and throw out red herrings such as colonialism, it isn’t exactly helpful.
The alt-right’s best case
As always, dealing with a position’s best version is always more helpful: It tends to make conversations more civil and honest, and it also has the practical effect of eliminating weaker versions of an argument if you can refute the strongest. Jared Taylor seems to articulate the alt-right’s position the best, so let’s take a look at what he says.
Taylor’s basic argument is this: Whites are responsible for Western civilization and all of its glory, and whites should stay in control of it. He’s also an advocate of the view that races have general and inherent characteristics of behavior and aptitude; for example, he thinks it’s a feature of race that blacks proportionally commit more crimes in this country and do worse academically and economically than whites. Interestingly enough, he also thinks that East Asians are intrinsically superior to whites in those two categories. These two beliefs lead him to argue that the West, particularly America, is utterly tied up with whiteness. Taylor doesn’t seem to mind if there are small minorities in America (which is why he happily eats at a Chinese restaurant with Huang), but he has a problem with whites losing their majority numbers to mass influxes of non-whites. He also doesn’t seem to be an imperialist; he doesn’t want white people to spread everywhere and dominate other areas of the world. Mexicans can have Mexico, Koreans can have Korea, and Iranians can have Iran, but this also means that whites should be unapologetic about keeping America and Europe.
Taylor’s strongest argument against those in the Left is simply this: What do you think would happen if, say, white people (or Chinese) started flooding into Mexico and demanded that they get to set up their own communities that may eventually threaten to make native Mexicans a minority in their own country? This is something he asked Ramos, and Ramos had to avoid the question because he knew the answer: Mexican people would not be okay with that, and this is proven by their own strict immigration policy, far stricter than America’s. As a Korean, I would readily affirm that if immigrants were allowed to flood into South Korea, there would be a massive backlash and cries to stem the tide in order to preserve the purity of Korea. If this is the case, however, and the Left cheers on these other people groups, why can’t white people keep their own countries? Why are historically white countries guilt-tripped into taking in massive amounts of immigrants and refugees on threat of being called racist when that standard is not placed on any other people group or country? Why are only whites accused of “privilege,” “systemic racism,” and other catchwords when other races have their own long list of misdeeds in history?
When faced with arguments like this, it is my experience that those on the Left have to resort to red herrings or ad hominem and even physical attacks. Again, the reason is because they are trapped by their own logic: They are creating double standards, and all of their railings against American “systems” and “white privilege” backfire.
How to answer the alt-right: Rejecting the premise
The increasingly radical Left is in denial that it played a huge part in the rise of the alt-right: They, after all, share many of the same premises about identity and genetics while also sharing many of the same bullying tactics. The solution, therefore, is to reject the premise of identity politics altogether.
Now, it is uncontroversial to state that genetics influences behavior and that one’s ethno-cultural upbringing also plays a huge role in how one acts. However, what should be rejected is how strongly deterministic both the alt-right and the far left make these things. You may be born black, white, or Vietnamese, and while that does influence who you are, it does not determine everything and shouldn’t even be the most important thing about you. There are definitely cultural trends within ethnicities, but this does not mean trends cannot change over time or that individuals can’t buck those trends by the power of their own choice. Individuals and even groups should identify more with their choices in life than how they were born because they have no control over the latter. For example, it should be far more meaningful for someone to be a Christian, a Buddhist, or a Texas Longhorn then it is for someone to simply be Korean. Saying that someone has to think, vote, or act in a certain way because of his race or other in-born trait is very problematic because it groups people by traits that they cannot control in principle. It is this kind of logic that actually breeds racism.
The idea that individuals have the power to make their own choices in life is embedded in America’s Constitution, and that brings me to American exceptionalism. The United States is exceptional not because it is white or even racially diverse; it is exceptional because of the ideals that are at the foundation of the country. This doesn’t mean that the Constitution is perfect or that the US doesn’t often fail its own ideals (the three-fifths compromise was an infamous shortcoming), but it does mean that there is something powerful about what America stands for, which is why so many people want to come here. The alt-right is therefore mistaken: America is the way it is not because it is white but because it has certain founding ideals. Did those ideals largely come from the development of Western philosophy? Sure, and white people should not be ashamed to be proud of that. Still, since it is the ideas that are important, it is not tied to any one race. The danger to America is therefore not non-white races but un-American philosophies that threaten free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc. Politics should thus be about ideas, not driven by genetic (or allegedly genetic) identities.
This is why Leftist arguments that the Constitution was written by racists and should be ignored are fantastically stupid; this actually agrees with the alt-right that America is inherently white. Those on the alt-right may even happily agree that there is “white privilege” in the “systems” of America but argue that this is exactly the way it should be because the United States is simply a white country, just as India is a country for Indians. This argument also ignores the fact that it is by those very ideals that America has become the most diverse, wealthiest, and freest nation the world has ever seen.
So what can we say when someone like Taylor gripes that Koreans would not want to lose their majority numbers in their own country? We can agree with that… and also state that while Korea is free to do what it wants, America has chosen a different route and that makes it better in many ways. If white Americans should feel some shame about 19th century slavery, they should also feel some pride that a bunch of white guys put in some good ideas in our Constitution that allowed America to be what it is today. Even if the white population dips below 50%, America can still be America as long as it holds true to its founding ideals and processes.
Thus, even if the alt-right is correct about the double standards of the Left, it is wrong about America (and, to a lesser extent, Europe). Whiteness or any other such genetic identity does not define America. What does define it are certain ideas, and that’s where the battlefield should be. It is also wrong about behavior; while genes and upbringing do influence behavior, it is still wrong to view that as deterministic of individuals and to over-generalize that one race is superior to another. Instead, all men have equal value under God and should be treated that way, judged more by their actions and character than some inborn trait they have.
The radical Left and the alt-right are two sides of the same irrational coin, which is why when they clash, it often devolves into violence, raging, and nonsense. Wise Americans (and certainly Christians) should want no part of either, and that means rejecting their shared premises regarding identity and what America is. The alt-right thinks America is white and wants to preserve whiteness. The Left thinks America is white and wants to change or reject the founding ideals. A pox on both of them, as far as I’m concerned.