When you are familiar with the (admittedly small) intellectual circles in the Alt Right movement, it becomes apparent that much of their nastiness stems from a reaction to the rise of identity politics in the the US. People like Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopolous cleverly use this to stir up public hatred of the left, minorities, gays, and transgendered people. They even managed to corral the energy created from this nastiness into a stunning presidential electoral victory.
I am not making a moral comparison between identity politics activists and the fascist Alt Right movement, but there is no doubt that they feed off one another. The far left’s obsession with race, gender, minority status and claims to historic oppression has grown so ridiculous that one almost has a degree of sympathy with the misguided Alt Right bros polluting 4chan and the Breitbart comments section (and I do stress the word almost).
Just take a look at this truly preposterous story from last week (via The Independent):
White Americans who practice yoga are perpetuating the “continuation of white supremacy and colonialism”, a Michigan State University professor has claimed.
Religious studies professor Shreena Gandhi argued yoga has “flourished” in the US from the “cultural void of white society, intimately mixed with white supremacy, capitalism, and globalisation”.
She said the “misappropriation” of yoga did not constitute “life-threatening racism”, but urged “white people who practice yoga” to consider the history of the practice in the US and its supposed links with “larger forces of white supremacy”.
She made the arguments in a report, titled “Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation”, co-authored with Lillie Wolff, an “antiracist white Jewish organiser, facilitator, and healer”.
Whatever small truth there may be to Gandhi and Wolff’s assertions, tying the practice of Yoga to White Supremacy immediately discounts whatever valuable insights they may have into the art’s historic roots and its evolution in the West. White Supremacist movements in the west have killed Jews, gays, blacks and transgendered people. Yogis engage in stretching and breathing exercises to promote good health and relieve stress. There are no ties between White Supremacy and Yoga. Not in any way, shape or form, period. Ghandi and Wolff should be utterly ashamed of themselves for not only trying to destroy an enjoyable pastime millions of Americans derive huge benefit from, but making an appalling comparison that has no basis in reality. Their paper is little more than an act of intellectual violence that actively damages the cause they claim to support. While the West is certainly guilty of coopting other cultures with giving due credit, associating it with racial hatred and genocide is simply outrageous.
The identity politics left have turned college campuses in America into hotbeds of intellectual insanity. On top of demanding ‘safe spaces’ stacked with cuddly toys and pillows to protect them from opinions they don’t like, activist are demanding new gender pronouns be written into law, the exclusion of right wing speakers on campus, and the resignation of college professors for grievous crimes like telling them to take responsibility for their own halloween costumes.
As long as the far left continues its march towards identity politics madness, the Alt Right will always have an enemy to beat up on and rally its supporters around. I don’t subscribe to the notion that the identity politics left is as dangerous to society as the Alt Right (gender pronoun advocates are not driving cars into peaceful demonstrations), but it is nevertheless a catalyst for more division and more unnecessary hatred. The identity politics of the far left have nothing to do with freedom or liberalism. They have everything to do with promoting victimhood and silly linguistic games that are designed to split people into never ending subdivisions of gender, ethnic and religious identities. It is a toxic scourge on Western intellectual culture, and the sooner it disappears, the better.
There is a real war going on for the soul of the West, and with the rise of ethno-nationalism in Europe and America, forces must gather to prevent them from taking more power. Those stuck on the fringes of intellectual culture insisting the world conform to their distorted mental projections are not just holding us up, they are actively damaging the fight for the liberal society they claim to support.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.