This weekend our reporter Faith Goldy covered the alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. She also covered the leftist response to it, and was reporting from the midst of a leftist counter-protest at the moment someone rammed their car into the crowd.
You can see her livestreaming video here, with the attack at about 2:30 minutes in.
The events in Charlottesville, and our coverage of them, have become fodder for our critics, who are desperate to paint us as racist or even neo-Nazi.
It’s bizarre — I’m a proud Jew myself, and we have people of a variety of races and backgrounds working with us.
Simply covering controversial figures doesn’t mean we agree with those controversial figures. It means we’re covering the news, not just covering Justin Trudeau’s socks.
When I first heard of the alt-right a year ago, I thought it simply meant the insurgent right, the politically incorrect right, the grassroots right, the nationalistic right, the right that was a counterweight to the establishment of the GOP, the right that backed Trump and his "Make America Great Again" style over Jeb Bush and the swamp. It was unashamed right-wingedness, with a sense of humour.
Prominent alt-right personalities back then included the outrageous but loveable Milo Yiannopoulos, who just happened to be a half-Jewish gay man who preferred black men. I remember when Hillary Clinton made her bizarre campaign speech attacking the alt-right, and it sounded no different than any of her other “deplorables” insults, so that made me even more interested.
But the alt-right has changed into something new, especially since Trump’s election. Now the leading figure — at least in terms of media attention — is Richard Spencer, and other white nationalists. By that, I mean people whose central organizing political principle is race.
And that’s the starting point; there are also white supremacists, and even some neo-Nazis. There were actually some Nazi swastika flags in Charlottesville. Whether or not they were being genuinely carried, or carried by agents provocateurs trying to embarrass the alt-right isn’t even important. They were there — and Spencer’s torch-lit walk had other Nazi symbology, including the "Sieg Heil" arm salute, and the chant of “blood and soil” — which was a slogan popularized by the Nazis.
Sorry, that’s not conservative, that's just racist, and I think it’s unpatriotic to mimic one of America’s greatest historical enemies. Spencer released an explicitly racist manifesto in Charlottesville. If pressed, Spencer positively admits he is not conservative; he does not believe in individualism; he is a communalist, an economic socialist, but most importantly, someone who believes your race is your key characteristic.
We disagree. We believe that character and ideas and actions are more important than skin colour, or for that matter sex or sexual orientation. You can be a smart, thoughtful conservative who is black, gay, Jewish, whatever — and you can be a foolish, unethical, violent Communist who is white. In fact, there are quite a lot of them.
We will still report on what the alt-right says and does, and we will surely report more accurately than the mainstream media does. We can stand up for their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and oppose censorship — like the ACLU courageously did in Charlottesville. We can stand up for the rule of law, especially when police seem to stand down to allow Antifa leftists do violence as they did in Charlottesville and Berkeley and other places.
And of course we can point out the differences with which extremist black, gay, Muslim or feminist identity politics are treated by the establishment, as opposed to how white identity politics are treated.
That’s really what the alt-right is, in my mind — the mirror image of Black Lives Matter, or perhaps more accurately Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam black separatists.
Until this weekend, I would have said that the alt-right doesn’t tend towards violence — they walked through Charlottesville with torches, but didn’t torch anything, unlike many BLM riots. But of course the murder of a leftist by an alt-right activist changes that.
So let me sum up our position:
1. We are not alt-right. That term now effectively means racism, anti-Semitism and tolerance of neo-Nazism.
2. We are conservatives (as opposed to socialists); we are nationalists (as opposed to globalists); we believe in having borders (as opposed to Merkel- and Trudeau-style migration); we are opposed to identity politics inherent in state multiculturalism and affirmative action (and we do not support countervailing white nationalism as a response). So we are different from the alt-right in many ways.
3. Finally, we are aware that the alt-right, as it it now constituted and led, is an obscure, small, ineffective movement. Their Charlottesville march, that had national media coverage for weeks in advance, mustered fewer than 500 people altogether. They hold no elected office, hold no prominent positions in academia, media, or any other institution. Their chief political utility is to the left: to prove the leftist narrative that the “true threat” in America is actually from “right wing white guys”, as opposed to, say, Muslim extremism or Latin American drug gangs. And to the Soros-funded street gangs of the left, the alt-right is a justification of violence — it’s an excuse for more chaos and fear that are Antifa’s signature.
The alt-right is not effective at promoting conservative ideas; it doesn’t even claim to be. But after this weekend, the media certainly sees the alt-right as effective at discrediting conservative ideas.
That’s our approach to the alt-right: the same way we approach the alt-left.
As in: we’re the most honest reporters out there. Which is why everyone from NBC to CBS to Reuters has asked us for permission to use our footage this weekend.