To the Far Right and Back Again

An overriding message from the last few months of protests is that it’s not enough not to be racist. Rather, one must be explicitly anti-racist. It’s not enough to support the peaceful demonstrations going on around the country. “Silence is violence” is the new mantra. 

That has led to such harrowing scenes as we saw this week, with protesters threateningly confronting white diners at D.C. restaurants and trying to goad them into raising their fists in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s likely that this race-centric messaging will generate a backlash.

Take, for example, working class white men who keep hearing not only that their racial identity is their defining trait, but that it makes them inherently blameworthy. In a timely new book, Monster of Their Own Making: How the Far Left, the Media, and Politicians are Creating Far-Right Extremists Jack Buckby explains not only how those arguments sound to working class white men, but also why the elevation of a radical leftist view of race could result in more recruits for the far right.

Buckby, now a 27-year-old counter-extremism author, intersperses his personal story with a larger look at contemporary British and American politics, explaining how a teenager from an apolitical family found his way to the political fringe, attaching himself to the far-right British National Party (BNP). Along the way, the book also fills out Peggy Noonan’s “protected versus the unprotected” framing, with Buckby offering a view from the latter.

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  • I resent constantly being told by right wing extremists that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman congressman from a poor, working class neighborhood represents me and the Democratic party. Please stop. Its not only ridiculous its stupid and lazy. Why don't you talk about Biden's views?

    1. Yeah, and I am especially sick of everyone worrying so much about the poor "right winger". How about you right wingers start worrying about the "poor left winger". His needs, his concerns.

      Good grief. Learn to code.

  • "That has led to such harrowing scenes as we saw this week, with protesters threateningly confronting white diners at D.C. restaurants and trying to goad them into raising their fists in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement." I'm sure that is an isolated incident. btw Are restaurants even open in DC?

    When I go out I see people of different races and ethnic groups. No problems. You can't take the worst and most extreme and say that represents everyone.

    In Charlottesville. White guys chanted Jews will not replace us and one person drive his car ito a group of people. From thst should I extrapolate that Republicans are anti semites and murderers?

  • It is an interesting proposition that people moving to the far left drives people to the far right. But then one wonders how "of the right" these people really are. If they were, there is simply no way they would embrace the calls of the "far-right" for the usage of state compulsion and coercive powers to change society and "punish" the "enemies" of civilization. The "far-right" wants to use power for social issues as well as economic issues. That is not "of the right".

    1. The vocabulary of "left" and "right" as they were originally constituted* is pretty much useless in the modern era. If you get past the slogans the various players mouth without understanding their meaning, it's hard to find a consistent definition. In other words, the terms are simply tribal markers now, not connected to any real set of ideas. Trump and his transformation of the Republican party (which was driven by *voters*) has shown that there's virtually no constituency in the USA for anything beyond the general status quo from an economic standpoint.

      The "far right" parties of Europe are essentially Bernie Sanders with racism, for instance.

      What we have are two *coalitions* in the USA each with a disconnected hodgepodge of policy positions, and *all* of which are interchangeable with each other. The Democrats could be the anti-abortion anti-immigration party and their coalition would still hold together just fine (in other words the opposite of those coalitions would move to the other party).

      Today we have two populist coalitions, each with different make-ups. These coalitions have hardened into polarized *tribes* wherein the members of the respective coalitions profess loyalty to the other members of their coalition *and* the rhetoric behind their policy goals even if they don't actually care about them--because their policy desires are *compatible* with their own.

      So in short, it's best not to think about this too hard :-). Our nomenclature at this point in our history is a mess...

      1. That seems like a good enough summary of the definitions.

  • This book was written by a front-line soldier who has no clue about how he fits into a wider war fought by the generals.

    Extremists groups have been around since our country began, and have taken many forms from the KKK to the John Birch Society (i.e. violent and non-violent and everything in between).

    The question is, what does the *leadership* of our key power structures think of these outliers? Are the a thorn in their side, or are they a key ingredient to their power?

    Trump's White House recently stated that the riots will *help Trump get reelected*. That is not just an official blessing, that is a call to action for *anybody*, including those who want to shoot people, to raise the stakes of the violence occurring on a few of our city blocks within a few of our large cities. The more violence, they are told, the better it is for Trump. (Incidentally, they are wrong, but that's what they say they think).

    Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have condemned the violence and have repeatedly called for calm, and for protests, peaceful ones. (Again, even though escalating violence is libel to help Biden and hurt Trump).

    But for a deeper connection to extremists, you need to look at demographics and the shift of white college-educated voters moving to Democrats now. And you need to look at the *ideology* of the GOP versus the Democrats.

    Latent Trump-supporter Kevin Williamson recently said the GOP should be renamed, "The Nationalist Farmer-Labor Party". That describes the *reality* of the shifting demographic base of the GOP, rather than just being some snark about his unhappiness with this policy or that. It's clear that the GOP is shifting heavily away from its original base among the business elite and well-to-do suburbanites.

    Hence, just like 100 years ago when the KKK was part of the Democratic party's power structure, the "militia groups" are part of that of the Republicans now.

    On the flip side, if BLM and antiFA disappeared tomorrow, it would be *better* for the Democrats' election chances. Joe Biden's appeal--although they won't say this aloud--is that he will be the guy to *put the genie back in the bottle* when it comes to police injustice. He will take us back to the time of *Obama* when all of these problems were... dealt with relatively quietly.

    Trump on the other hand wants everything *loud*. And it's not just because of his personality: a key part of the Republican base consider themselves to be *desperate*--up against an overwhelming majority of Americans who do not want the society they want.

    100 years ago the writer of that book could have superimposed himself in a major political party that was the reverse of what it is today. He's a good marine who fights whatever battle his instigators tell him are the ones who carry the blame for his problems. People like himself will always exist like a loaded gun in your top dresser drawer. The question is whether somebody will pick it up and use it to win an election.

    1. Correct. And right now, Trump is using them to try to maintain power. He will encourage violence to maintain power. Like the nazis, he will try to blame the violence on the left.

      The GOP is no longer the party of conservatives, it has not been such for a long time. Grievance politics has brought it low. It thrives on the grievances of people, and pushes and enlarges them to maintain power. Ever since Reagan went to the Neshoba county fair and played to the grievances of white working class men, this has been coming.

      I find it hilarious and sad that the Republicans see themselves as up against an "overwhelming majority of Americans who do not want the society they want". UH, isn't that what democracy is supposed to be about? If the majority want something and you stand in the way, that is really rule by a hostile minority. Very UNdemocratic.

      What do authoritarian regimes have in common? THEY HATE DEMOCRACY.

      That is the Republican party today.

      1. As for democracy, the founders feared it greatly. That is why they have the Bill of Rights and the requirement for super majorities in many cases.

      2. Fact is with Trump I've thought the Republicans have started acting like Democrats. Democrats have always built a coalition around paying back their voters with social benefits. Now Trump has targeted part of their demographic. Blue collar workers who want "protected" from foreign competition which to me is no different than welfare. So now it is the Republicans offering to provide social benefits to select groups. It's all terribly disgusting to a person like myself who just wants the government mostly out of my life.

      3. All this is true, no question. But how did they get there?

        Reagan had his problems, but he and his Republican party loved democracy. Since his time, though, the left wing of the Democratic party has slowly pushed America towards supporting a politics that sounds desirable but doesn't work. They have treated Americans like children who want dessert first and no vegetables...and Americans, by and large, have acted the part.

        I do not condone what the Republican party has become, but they are in an impossible position, trying to impose justice on a Democratic America that wants injustice.

        1. Yes, all true, no question. No question indeed.

    2. SDS, Weathermen, Antigua.

      1. Totally. Hermitage Bay ftw.

        1. Heh. I had to look that up.

  • Interesting read, thanks. I can understand a lot of the points of view raised by the author. At the same time, right and left wing fringe groups have been around for a long time.

    It seems to me that now we have a president who not only refuses to condemn a lot of the behavior on the far right but also winks at it approvingly during press interviews (e.g. good people on both sides of the Charlottesville fiasco). I’m inclined to agree with the author in general that having a left wing hardened in this weird, and fanatical, cancel culture illiberal groupthink is only exacerbating the problem. Generally speaking, I think the inmates are running the asylum for both parties these days.

  • I strongly disagree with the framing of this review as ‘did you make me hit you.’ No one but themselves is responsible for their actions and choices despite their motivations, influences, or reasons. You can explain and explore your motivations but you can’t pass the buck on your personal responsibility.

  • The current predominant sentiment among social justice proponents is that being white, and especially being a white male, makes you irretrievably racist and a white supremacist. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that being told you have no value, and must be punished for your race and gender will inevitably cause people to turn against those making those statement and send them right into the waiting arms of the real white supremacists and neo-nazis who will welcome them with open arms.

    It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that segregation and Klan marches make it much easier for the race baiters of the left to rally people around their flag. When a poor black kid grows up being told they are a victim of the white man who will never give them a fair chance, and then you have idiots like David Duke and Richard Spencer giving credence to those ideas, you can't blame them for becoming militant.

    The problem we have here is that the far right has never been the dominant voice of the Republican party or the conservative movement, while the far left is working very hard to become the mainstream voice of the Democrat party and the liberal movement. Every time the racism of Ibram Kendi's ridiculous "anti-racist" screed is celebrated, you not only create one more far left racist, but you also create one more far right racist.

    Both the far left and the far right have been itching for a race war for decades. We are closer to that now than we have ever been before. We need reason and sanity on both sides to start carrying the day or we are going to see more bloodshed.

  • Accusing opponents of sexual misconduct is an effective political strategy that was described by Cicero. Sexual exploitation is found in all (sexist and patriarchal) cultures. It would be reasonable for readers of Buckby's book to want to interrogate claims that "grooming" is a uniquely Asian-immigrant thing. Don't white men without college education who are drawn to racial politics ever engage in sexual exploitation of "white girls," or is that ok because Buckby's cohorts are white too? See, reading Cicero shows how easy it is to hurl back an effective accusation.

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