Alt-right’s jocular façade attempt to deny responsibility: Southey, Proud Boys’ behaviour goofy, but hardly ‘deplorable’: Blatchford

Interesting contrast between Tabatha Southey’s description of the “Proud Boys” and Christie Blatchford’s.

Starting with Southey:

The Halifax incident made national headlines, as a story like this should, particularly as all the men involved – who later celebrated at a local Halifax pub, posting pictures of themselves making the “okay” symbol with one hand, a beer in the other – turned out to be members of Canada’s Armed Forces. As a nation, we are now forced to ask ourself the question “Who the hell are these jokers?” and, always anxious to serve, I present A Brief History of Slime, the story of the Proud Boys.

It’s best to think of the Proud Boys as a group of guys possessed of a seriously shaky grasp of history and a burning desire to wear the same shirt as the guy next to them, who want a white supremacist to tell them when they are allowed to masturbate.

It’s not a fetish I’ve encountered before, but were the Proud Boys not also a far-right group of self-described “Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world,” who are against “racial guilt” and who “venerate the housewife” and believe “that the last 50 years have been a disaster for women” (one doesn’t have to be Alan Turing to break thatcode), I wouldn’t kink-shame.

As it is, I have concerns.

The Proud Boys were launched and are headed by Gavin McInnes, Vice magazine co-founder (although they parted long ago) and current contributor to The Rebel Media, the right-wing website founded by Ezra Levant; and yes, a strict limit on masturbation is one of their many peculiarities.

They “believe that this energy,” the energy spent masturbating, “is better spent … getting married, and having children,” and I suppose that’s their call but I can’t help thinking that if you truly believe that by not masturbating you’ll be able to save enough energy to raise a child, you are doing one of these things very, very badly.

Some of you may remember Mr. McInnes as the man who made a bit of a splash with neo-Nazis in March when a number of videos he recorded on a recent trip to Israel were posted.

In these videos, one of which was called “10 things I Hate About the Jews,” Mr. McInnes variously put the word “Holocaust” in air quotes, complained that Jews, who he said “are ruining the world with their lies and their money and their hooked-nose, bagel-eating faces,” have a “whiny paranoid fear of Nazis.” He repeatedly spoke in a grotesque cartoon Jewish accent and said that people in Israel spit when they talk and that “Middle Easterners reek.”

Ensconced in his hotel room in Israel, which he believes was likely paid for, along with the rest of his “propaganda tour,” by private Israeli donors and the Israeli government, Mr. McInnes told viewers that while they “assume we’re going to listen to all this shit we get fed” it’s “having the reverse effect on me: I’m becoming anti-Semitic.”

“Well, we’re at the Holocaust museum, and we’re being told, ‘The Germans did this. The Germans are horrible people …’” he sulked, apparently irritated that Holocaust deniers might not be getting a fair hearing at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.

“Well, they never said it didn’t happen,” he said, in an attempt to remedy this perceived injustice. “What they’re saying is it was much less than six million and that they starved to death and they weren’t gassed …”

Mr. McInnes was quick to ask that the viewer not “take that clip out of context.” He’s not saying “it wasn’t gassing” – that’s just what the “far-right nuts are saying” and, being “sick of so much brainwashing,” he felt compelled to articulate the theories of said nuts.

Mr. McInnes worries that we’re too caught up on the Holocaust in general. “There’s been a lot of genocides,” he says, most notable to him being the Soviet Holodomor, of which he says, “I think it was 10 million Ukrainians who were killed. That was by Jews. That was by Marxist, Stalinist, left-wing, commie, socialist Jews.”

It seems that the major distinction between the alt-right and Mr. McInnes’s preferred “alt-light” is that the former are very concerned about “Judeo-Bolshevism,” the Nazi conspiracy theory that Jews were secretly behind the rise of communism; and the latter just wish to inform you that the Soviet Union (or at least the more genocidal aspects of it) was secretly run by Jews.

Jews have been very busy in the Proud Boy’s founder’s bizarre understanding of history. When not engineering the downfall of the Russian Czar, they were “disproportionately” influencing the Treaty of Versailles, forcing terribly unfair terms of surrender on Germany. The treaty “sucked and the Germans hated it” Mr. McInnes says, indicating that “Jewish intellectuals” were, at least in part, responsible for the Second World War, and the Holocaust, such as it was.

If this sounds extreme, anti-Semitic, or perhaps dangerous to you, it’s okay: Mr. McInnes chortles when he says these things, allowing his fans to assure us that it’s just harmless comedy.

If much of what you see on the alt-right side looks and sounds so ridiculous, such jocular goose-stepping, these days, that’s deliberate. Share a photograph of you and your be-polo-shirted buddies flashing the Nazi salute, and the popular discourse knows just what to do with you. Substitute the “okay” gesture – unofficially but lovingly adopted by this crowd – and anyone who points out the white-supremacist imagery is just a crazy leftist snowflake who probably thinks a cartoon frog is a hate symbol too.

What we’re seeing here, and in Halifax, is white supremacy painted over with a coat of irony, euphemism and plausible deniability. All of that just barely thick enough that Mr. McInnes still gets airtime on CBC’s Power & Politics. He used this airtime, speaking in his capacity as the Proud Boys’ founder and leader, to ask the host “Can you see why Cornwallis issued a bounty on Mi’kmaqs?” and spread, pretty much unchallenged, a number of hateful and damaging historical inaccuracies about the Mi’kmaqs. (The CBC has since apologized for the segment.)

Source: The alt-right’s jocular façade is an attempt to deny responsibility – The Globe and Mail

Blatchford’s alternative universe:

A small crowd was gathered around the statue, one of them carrying an upside-down Canadian flag with the word “decolonize” written on it, there to mark the various atrocities committed against Indigenous people while Chief Grizzly Mamma, who is originally from British Columbia, shaved her head.

According to what McInnes later told the CBC, the five were in a bar on July 1, heard rumours of an anti-Canada protest, and decided to go check it out.

Also for the record, the men were well-spoken, polite and respectful; they were met by a young woman, from the protesters, who was equally polite and respectful. The men explained they were curious and wanted to see what was going on; she said they’d be welcome to listen quietly if they didn’t disrupt things.

But a couple of other protesters were not similarly inclined.

One snarled, “This is a fucking genocide.” Someone else said, “This is Mi’kmaq territory, to which one of the Proud Boys replied, “This is Canada.” Members of each side tossed about historically inaccurate facts in the manner of the young and unschooled. Another young woman bristling with hostility kept moving closer to one of the men until she was practically touching him. “You don’t seem to like me standing so close,” she said. “You’re very close,” he replied calmly.

But then the Proud Boys left, having been chastised for their pronunciation of Mi’kmaq and for their disrespectful tone, or, as a protester put it, got “the —- out of here.”

There were no harsh words from the Proud Boys. There was even some humour; once, told by a protester to speak more softly, one of the men said, in effect, “What? This is a library now?” But he did as he was asked.

Not a blow was struck. Not a disrespectful word was uttered, unless, of course, one counts the mere questioning of Indigenous protest as disrespectful. Not a gram of cereal was consumed or thrown.

Source: Christie Blatchford: Proud Boys’ behaviour might be goofy, but is hardly ‘deplorable’


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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