Learnings From A Right-Wing Rabbit Hole

Now, let us stray a bit off the beaten path and say first off that I am no more immune to propaganda than the next guy, we all have the things, people and places that for us invest more significance, and are more easily led astray by when these elements appear in concert with something we had previously just shelved as wrongheaded; well, at first. Maybe not even led astray as much as lured in like a fish by whatever it is that gives their words more power than they may otherwise have had.

For me, I guess it would be intellectuals having long-winded conversations, opened minds or minds opened, that is generally my carrot.

I’m the one at the party sitting on the sofa deep in some conversation or other about who knows what, or at least that’s my preference. Often at the end of the night who I came with will be all “do you believe what happened?”… and I was oblivious cause I was off in a bubble of deep thoughts – my happy place.

I think it’s probably because by the time I figured this out, that I was not like the pack and didn’t want the same things, that my brain worked differently and that in truth I just wanted to explore knowledge and ideas, that I wanted to wander through history, ponder philosophies, but by the time I realized all that it was too late to go the conventional route.

Well, and for a while, a few years, I assumed it was too late and what good would some BA in History or whatnot give me anyways? Seriously? Not like I have unlimited funding to be throwing money at something that’s only ROI is knowledge tied up in a prison of debt.

Having the practical and grounded upbringing I did, surrounded by those wise women that ruled my world, well, and not being financially able to pursue crazy desires willy-nilly like I would if I could, I just thought it was lost to me, and that I’d have to just deal.

Yeah, so, sitting here today I have come to realize that in fact, although I didn’t take the conventional route, I have done the things I desired, I just don’t have the little piece of paper to show for it.

What I have learned has not been acquired via institutional thinking, not mired in the groupthink, not limited to one way, or another way, just found it my way, in the wild. Well, and when I did go the conventional route it was for library and information sciences tech, which has benefited me in numerous ways, not the least of which is how to not just find and store information, but how to filter it.

This blog has really become a sort of an ongoing master thesis if a kind of a wild and long-winded one.

Which is why I suppose I do find that Intellectual Dark Web of characters (or some of them) intriguing, even still.

{Gasp} I even actually watched one of the YouTuber talk show hosts associated with this group who had as a guest Tucker Carlson, and man, I tell ya, up till almost the end I was intrigued, rather stunned at his normalcy. Until the last, em, 5 minutes or so, and then he said something, can’t recall what, but the hackles went up and the spidey senses kicked in, and I decided I needed to do a bit more digging.

So I decided to go down the rabbit hole and see what there was to see, and this is what I learned.

Now I know that even the most irrational can at times seem to be rational, I mean, in order to sway someone’s point of view it stands to reason you need to sound reasonable. Well, and some of these dark web thinkers, let’s be honest, it is exactly what they are paid to do. That I guess is the first takeaway.

This group of intellectuals that make up the IDW are a sordid bunch, of leaning to the right or left, some progressive or regressive, they run the gamut. They all talk about freedom of speech and how some left the left cause they had been overtaken by the Social Justice Warriors, of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements (for instance), and that their ideas, theories, whatever those may be, have been smothered by lefty propaganda. They feel they are or have been, shunned, fired unjustly, or otherwise had their ideas turned into something evil or vile, something that cannot be voiced, using words like Nazi, Orwellian, authoritarian. Sound familiar?

But that was not at first apparent until I read the comments under these videos, which I kind of ignored at first, until I saw the pattern, and thought, hypocrite much?

That was my first inkling that all was not as it seemed, or not how they wanted it to seem. The idea is that they are just saying their piece, and why should their truth be any less of value? Why should their opinions be shunned and why are their voices being silenced? Some have resigned from tenured teaching jobs, some have been viciously trolled and been criticized for racist ideas when in their mind they are merely exercising their right to free speech.

Point taken. Whoever these days have the biggest megaphone gets the attention, and I see that myself in this new world of instantaneous access and a platform for the many to voice every nonsensical idea they may have. It is the wild world web, the ok corral of discourse and dialogue on crack.

These are the days that try our souls, and everybody seems to have some axe to grind.

There are certainly those who take a heavy judgemental stand and woe be to those who may think otherwise, or have a different truth, based on empirical knowledge, on research, on whatever. To this dark web of thinkers, the left has become this authoritarian mob whose mission is to silence their freedom of speech, their ideas, and brainwash the many into marching to their drum, and only their drum.

If that were their sole motivation, to speak the uncomfortable truths or ideas, frankly I’d be completely on board. If their sole objective were to bridge the gap between the left and right, well, I mean, that is right up my alley.

However, if that is what they’re trying to do, based on the comment section of the discussions I watched, on Ben Shapiro, The Ruben Report, I don’t really see a whole lot of Kumbayah happenin’, quite the opposite.

There does seem to be a few things missing from their narrative, the first is an intentional or otherwise oversight, but was not the very founding of America by individuals who were themselves social justice warriors, fighting literally on the battlefield against an overlord who treated the nation as mere servants, taxation without representation?

Well, and, one little question, who gave them the notion that freedom of speech was easy? An American right, yes, but no one ever said it was going to be easy to speak against the historical grain or societal norms.

I mean, aside from pure hate speech that advocates violence against another, have at’er.

If you are willing to go against the grain than one must also be willing to take the hits that those ideas are going to generate, put up or shut up.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Bret Weinstein is one of the IDW and this was his experience as a tenured Professor who voiced his ideas and was forced to resign.

Once a year, Evergreen State University (located just outside of Seattle), allows the students of colour to take a day of absence, so that their importance and contribution is felt at the University. Bret Weinstein, as a progressive, was and has been on board for this for a long time.

A year ago, they flipped the logic. Rather than telling people of colour to stay away for the day, they told white people that they are not welcome on campus for a day. Absence wasn’t compulsory, but highly recommended.

Weinstein thought this wasn’t quite the same ethical and political message as the former option.

MEDIUM | The Controversy of Bret Weinstein Explained — The Evergreen Scandal | by Jakub Ferencik , Jan 8, 2018

This article slants in favour of Weinstein just so you know, and why I used it. In the video of this incident that went viral, it suggests that the students were angry solely for voicing his disagreement of the day of absence and that he felt it was what he terms Black Supremacy, and therefore no better. Well, in fact, there was more to the incident than that.

Basically, it makes it look like the students just jumped on him and dumped him into the right-wing hate group because he disagreed. Not so. There was a bit more to this incident;

In May 2015 two young African American brothers were shot by police in Olympia, not far from campus, after they allegedly shoplifted beer from a grocery store and assaulted a police officer with a skateboard. One man is paralyzed for life and both were sentenced to prison, while the officer was exonerated. This incident brought the message of the Black Lives Matter movement home to Evergreen in a particularly urgent way. Some students had participated in the Black Lives Matter movement before arriving at Evergreen, while others joined a community group that provided support to the wounded men. The event and its troubling aftermath focused community attention on problematic behavior by campus police, student conduct officers, and faculty.

In spring 2016 African American students and their allies brought their concerns about racism to the administration. The administration responded by forming the Equity Council and pledging to focus institutional resources on dismantling institutional barriers. In fall 2016 African-American students challenged a Convocation speaker to once again call attention to their concerns about institutional racism. In winter 2017 students objected to disciplinary action against black trans students, protested for equal pay for student employees who work in the diversity office and denounced the behavior of campus police who responded to a complaint against two Black students by rousting them from their beds and confining them in the police station for hours. A proposal to address Latinx student recruitment and retention resulted in promises but little action. Many students of color felt disrespected and not listened to. Bret Weinstein came to symbolize a dismissive attitude that was being enacted in multiple areas of the college. By the time students disrupted Weinstein’s class, in May 2017, they had been waiting for over a year — more than a quarter of their time at the college — to see their concerns addressed.

Huffington Post | Another Side Of The Evergreen State College Story |
by Anne Fischel, Zoltán Grossman, Lin Nelson, [faculty, The Evergreen State College]

In the video that went viral, he walks out into the hall to confront those students, he chooses to, to go against an angry group of young people intent on having THEIR voices heard?

So my question to him would be, what exactly did he think was going to happen? I mean, he’s the evolutionary theorist, he’s the biologist, though apparently no historian.

Ask Marie Antoinette, all she said was let them eat cake, and OFF with her head.

Advice – when you need to speak a difficult truth, the controversial idea, timing is important, as well as the stage you decide to present it on.

Crazy times we are living through, everyone can agree on that I imagine.

Yet, there are those with a vested interest in keeping us plebs fighting amongst ourselves, and this crew of dark web thinkers while they advertise themselves as the guardians of free speech I am not entirely convinced that is, in fact, their objective. Well, if it is the goal to bring the left and the right together they kinda suck at it.

In fact, with a bit of digging around it to my mind looks a lot more like it is the profit in their alternate points of view and they are merely capitalizing on it.

There is an absence on the right of intellectual discourse, and to that end, they are aptly suited to intrigue those, such as myself, who do not advocate for one right way to be, think, act, and who believe that free speech is essential to finding common ground, to knowledge and change and all that.

The problem though, and this is the rub, there would appear to be some, um, stinky characters, and if they are not themselves, sorry, but that stink rubs off. Case in point;

Manafort’s plea agreement contained numerous details that could be pivotal to Mueller’s investigation.

But one incident in particular, outlined in court documents, was largely overlooked before it was spotted by the Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman: Manafort convinced conservative provocateur Ben Shapiro to support his political work in Ukraine.

THINKPROGRESS | Paul Manafort got Ben Shapiro to push his pro-Russia propaganda | by Frank Dale, Sept 17th, 2018

This incident happened in the late fall of 2012 when Manafort was a campaign manager sort for the Ukrainian candidate favoured by Russia. Many of the IDW crew have gone on Shapiro’s show, and frankly, while they themselves may not be in the pocket of right-wing wealth, their message of inclusion and free speech has a disingenuous smell by association.

Another intellectual with a fainter smell, but still a bit stinky, is Bret’s older brother Eric Weinstein. Now Eric is the Managing Director for Thiel Capital, which is in Peter Thiel who was an aide to Trump during the transition in early 2017. Some of Thiel’s aides even went on to positions in the administration, both of whom worked for Thiel Capital.

Peter Thiel is known for his big bets in Facebook, PayPal and Palantir. But perhaps his most audacious wager last year was his support for Donald Trump — a decision that has paid dividends for one of Silicon Valley’s most well-known, and controversial, venture capitalists.

RECODE.NET | Peter Thiel, the Valley’s most controversial investor, is also its best positioned in the Trump years | by Tony Romm, Dec 6, 2017

Now, that doesn’t mean that Eric Weinstein is necessarily in the pocket of right-wing wealthy backers, but he’s got a little poo-poo smell.

Anywho, I admit that for about 24 hours I was taken in by words that had the ring of truth, and when these big minds sit down with one another great things can come from their intellectual mouths, and I am very attracted by that, even inspired. How easy it is to be led off into the shrubbery of their logic and reason though, and become a bit blinded by certain realities. Such as, there is always two sides, well, maybe three – their side, our side, and the murky middle.

A rule of thumb, if they doth protest too much, methinks they may be a wee bit insincere, dramatizing their concerns to the nth degree, and how this constitutes bridge building is beyond me.

So, still looking. Still seeking those who are sincerely trying to build those bridges, cause it is that fine web of difficult discourse that will in time put America back together again.

Yet, poo poo smell or not, it is important to listen, and learn, and keep one’s mind open with a healthy dose of skepticism at the ready. ಠ‿↼

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .” 

Sun Tzu, The Art of War
featured photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

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