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Hullabaloo


Saturday, February 25, 2017

 
Fascism is the latest cool new thing on campus

by digby

Yes, that's a Russian flag, provided by a prankster. The CPAC folks waved them proudly until the organizers finally caught on and confiscated them.






























It's not your daddy's CPAC anymore. This piece by Michelle Goldberg is chilling:
On Thursday, white nationalist Richard Spencer was thrown out of the Conservative Political Action Conference. As security escorted him to the door, a college junior in a blue blazer and fashy haircut followed him. “I’m representing the alt-right club at Penn State,” said James O’Mailia, who then invited Spencer to come and speak. “Please come!” he said. “We’ll host you and everything.” 
O’Mailia’s club, the Bull-Moose Party, was formed to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign; it made news last year for building a pro-Trump plywood wall around an American flag on campus. He says he grew up as a “George W. Bush conservative” and got into the alt-right, in part, through Breitbart. “It’s the new punk rock,” he said, meaning it’s edgy and subversive. 
O’Mailia was resentful that people on campus had called his group racist. “In this new social justice warrior–dominated society, people will look at someone waving the American flag as being a white supremacist,” he said. That may be, I replied, but he just invited Spencer, an actual white supremacist, to speak at his school. “I just think it’s a good idea to bring his opinion into it,” he shrugged. 
CPAC, the country’s largest annual conservative gathering, has long drawn energy from young people who are resentful about liberal hegemony on college campuses. Now, however, it’s flailing as it tries to establish its own moral boundaries on right-wing speech. Its trouble started when Matt Schlapp, CPAC’s chairman, invited professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos to give a keynote address, sparking a furious backlash from traditional conservatives, who dug up statements by Yiannopoulos justifying man-boy sex. That ultimately led to Yiannopoulos losing his book deal, as well as his CPAC slot, and resigning from his job at Breitbart. In the aftermath, CPAC is trying to distance itself from the alt-right. Yet top Trump aide Steve Bannon, who once boasted that his website, Breitbart, was the “platform of the alt-right,” still had a prime Thursday afternoon speaking slot. And many young people in attendance reveled in the alt-right’s rebellious frisson of fascism. 
Shortly after the conference began on Thursday, Dan Schneider, executive director of the American Conservative Union—the group that puts on CPAC—gave a speech denouncing the alt-right as left-wing infiltrators. “There is a sinister organization that is trying to worm its way into our ranks,” he said, arguing that the term “alt-right” had been “hijacked” by a “hate-filled left-wing fascist group.” 
Schneider referred specifically to the conference in November where Spencer, standing before a giddy crowd of clean-cut racists, gave a Nazi salute and said, “Heil Trump, heil our people, heil victory!” Schneider’s argument was similar to the one Jonah Goldberg made in his risible book Liberal Fascism: Fascists are inherently left-wing because they believe in government power. (Apparently this is true even when they’re hailing the government power to crush the left.) “Hateful left-wing fascists are not like anybody here,” Schneider said. 
Even if you accept his absurd framing, what he said was wrong. Spencer himself—who, far from hijacking the term alt-right, actually coined it—was there watching from a seat near the stage. And it was clear that there were fellow travelers in the crowd. “There are lots of people here that I know,” Spencer told me after Schneider’s speech. Soon he was mobbed by journalists as well as by eager young conference goers who wanted to pose with him for selfies. One young man called out “Praise Kek!”—an alt-right in-joke. A guy named J.P. Sheehan pulled a T-shirt saying RADIX—the name of Spencer’s online journal—out of his bag, happily flashing it toward Spencer. “I know a lot of people are afraid of him, but Richard Spencer is like, the coolest guy,” he said.
There's a lot more so read the whole thing. This really says it all, though:
Sheehan, 26, says he voted for Obama twice, but as Obama’s presidency progressed, he came to feel like minorities had become emboldened at his expense. He realized, he said, “This actually isn’t in my best interest, and I can do better for myself.” Eventually, Sheehan came to see his whiteness as a source of meaning. “The thing about racial identity and ethnic heritage is that it’s like your shadow,” he said. “It’s going to be with you everywhere you go, but it reminds you that the sun is shining on you. People think the alt-right is just simply about being mean to other people. It’s really not. The alt-right is simply identity politics for white people.”
Such sweet kids. She interviews the organizers who offer even more of their inane bullshit about this being left wing and denying that one of their keynote speakers, Steve bannon special adviser to the president, is the guy who said his websire what the platform for the "alt-right" after which he came up with the nonsensical explanation that "alt-right" had been hijacked by left wing fascists.

Sometimes I fell as if the right is going to win simply by gaslighting us all into a padded room.


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