Monday, April 11, 2016

Check out the latest Chapo Trap House y'all

The problematic bros at Chapo Trap House were kind enough to invite me on their latest podcast to talk about right-wing militants. Will Menaker, Matt Christman, and Felix Biederman are easily three of the funniest guys on the internet right now, and CTH is an insanely good forum for their riffs on the news, politics, media, and so on. It already has a central place on my podcast rotation, right up there with Steve Austin Unleashed and The Mark Levin Show; if you aren't listening to it already, subscribe, ya dopes!



Right-wing militancy is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented political phenomena in America today. I wrote on this at length here, but the gist of the point is that the radical right isn't a reserve army of Jason Bournes and Solid Snakes - demographically, they tend to be aging doughy pampered suburbanites. And while the right likes to imagine leftists as hapless peacenik Pajama Boys, we in fact count among our ranks a growing number of police, military, union thugs, people of color who live under siege by violent cops, and (like me) working class radicals who grew up around guns.

One point we didn't get to on CTH, but that I'd like to touch on here, is how these misconceptions also get promoted by liberals. These are the people who, out of sheer contempt, like to portray the right as a movement of barbarians - and who like to glamorize themselves as besieged guardians of civilization holding the line against the brute savagery of the mouthbreathing rubes. They exaggerate the danger posed by the right as a way of flattering their own valor and courage.

And worse still, even as they do this, liberals routinely endorse right-wing stereotypes directed at their own left-flank. Thus, we get garbage like this from Michelle Goldberg:
It’s certainly possible that a Trump presidency could lead to violent political conflict. If it comes to that, however, my money is on the side with all the gun fetishists, not subscribers to Jacobin.
This burn only makes sense, of course, given the subtext that radical Jacobin subscribers don't have guns and wouldn't be able to defend themselves from right-wing militants. It's an obvious dog whistle to Republicans and liberals who like to think of leftists as sheltered white college communists; and it clearly revels in the implicit dependence of radicals on the magnanimous political alliance of centrist Democrats. "It'd be a real shame if the fascists were to take power and mow you down like the powerless fringe that you are," they gloat - "so are you going to vote for Hillary, or not?"

In its crass red-baiting, its factual naivete, its sad self-flattery, and its implicit leveraging of the threat of violence for political advantage, this genre of liberal rhetoric isn't particularly distinct from anything the #MolonLabe types have to say. When you listen to the latest Chapo Trap House, bear that in mind: the major difference between Republican militants and left-punching liberals is often just a matter of decades.