Look, I Wrote This Before The Russia Thing, OK?

« May 2017 »

Memo to political discourse: YOU ARE DUMB.

The biggest danger of white supremacist Nazi Richard Spencer is that he's a white supremacist Nazi. But the second biggest danger is that he makes the political discourse somehow dumber

For example, when Richard Spencer got punched on live TV and we all shared the GIF of it like a million times and laughed, there was a very stupid debate about how assault is a crime and freedom of speech and all that pretending that somehow celebrating an incident was a universal acceptance of a tactic and ignored exactly how big an asshole Richard Spencer is vs. the level of harm he actually suffered. It was super dumb.

More recently, Spencer's appearance on CNN's "United Shades of America" sparked a brief online debate about normalization and the granting of platforms that completely misses the point about normalization and the granting of platforms.

The following exhange is representative of normalization and the granting of platforms. You may recognize it from cable news or the many times Jon Stewart did this on The Daily Show.

GUEST: I think poor people should be harvested for their organs.

HOST: I don't think poor people should be harvested for their organs. Well, that's all the time we have! Thanks for sitting down and having a reasonable conversation with me about whether or not poor people should be harvested for their organs.

And here's what United Shades did:

GUEST: White people are better than filthy brown people.

HOST: This person is wrong and here's why they're wrong.

Now, as a cynic, I can have my doubts about the effectiveness of the latter approach, but I can still see clearly that it's not the same as the former.

And over the weekend, that same Richard Spencer led a few dozen white supremacists in a torch-wielding march through Charlottesburg, Virginia to protest the removal of Confederate memorials because they're racists and the Confederacy was racist.

When it was pointed out that all these white people carrying fire were treated much more deferentially that similar groups of black people wielding nothing but bare hands and walking peacefully, people on Twitter responded by citing freedom of assembly, which misses the point. The point is that there is CORRECT treatment and there is EQUAL treatment, and we don't have either. And if we can't have correct treatment of everybody, we should at least get to watch SWAT teams water-cannon a bunch of torch-wielding Nazis.

I would love to live in a country where peaceful protests of all kinds, even the ones I disagree with, weren't met with a militarized police force with action-movie fantasies, power boners, and a desire to use all the toys in their locker. But if I can't have that, I'd at least like all the protests to be equally treated incorrectly, because first, it might make America's closet authoritarians a bit less eager to crawl under the thumb of the state if they know they'll get squished too, and second, NAZIS WITH TORCHES WOULD GET WATER-CANNONED. But that'll never happen, because because the ultimate expression of white privilege is white supremacist privilege.