Some readers might respond to my question with a question: Why am I surprised? The right has always been infested with racists and bigots, you might argue. Yet while I freely acknowledge that there was more racism on the right than I was willing or able to see before the rise of Trump, there has been a distinct change in young right-wing culture. It is dramatically different from what it was when I was in college, in law school and starting my legal career.

As I survey the right — especially the young, so-called new right — I see a movement in the grip of some rather simple but powerful cultural forces. Hatred, combined with masculine insecurity and cowardice, is herding young right-wing men into outright bigotry and prejudice. Contrary to their self-conception, they’re not strong or tough or courageous. They’re timid sheep in wolves’ clothing, moving exactly where the loudest and most aggressive voices tell them to.

To understand the cultural dynamic, I want to introduce you to an obscure online concept, no enemies to the right. A tiny fringe adopts this mind-set as a conscious ethos, but for a much larger group, it is simply their cultural reality. In their minds, the left is so evil — and represents such an existential threat — that any accommodation of it (or any criticism of the right) undermines the forces of light in their great battle against the forces of darkness. Attack the left in the most searing terms, and you’ll enjoy the thunderous applause of your peers. Criticize the new right, and you can experience a vicious backlash. The result is a relentless pull to the extremes.

In fact, one of their prime reproofs of what they might call the zombie right, the Reagan right of their parents’ generation, is that it was simply too accommodating. As they see it, classical liberal politics, which preserve free speech and robust debate as a priority, emboldened and empowered the left. Compromise, in their view, ran only one way, and conservatism conserved nothing. The left, in their mind, is winning the culture war in a rout.

And here’s where masculine insecurity enters the equation. To the new right, their opposition to the left is so obviously correct that only moral cowardice or financial opportunism (“grifting”) can explain any compromise. To fight on the right — mainly by trolling on social media or embracing authoritarianism as the based alternative to weak-kneed classical liberalism — is seen as strong, courageous and cool. It’s a sign of a fierce and independent mind.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *