sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 3, 2016

#Deplorables Please Follow Jello’s Instructions

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:46 pm

Over at a hipster deplorable altRight publication called Taki, Steve Sailer updated his following of the exploits of the rootless cosmopolitans:

Hillary was hanging out in Steven Spielberg’s guesthouse in the Hamptons, going to fund-raisers with the Rothschilds, and emerging mostly to denounce the “alt-right.”

In the same essay he attempts to create a mystique around himself and his comrades:

If you can remember back four decades, it might strike you that the alt-right phenomenon of 2016 is basically political punk rock: loud, abrasive, hostile, white, back to basics, and fun.

His description of Punk is rather self-serving because the whiteness of the genre is not prescriptive.  Even though it originated in New York and London, the appeal of Punk Rock knows no borders.  From the altRight point of view it’s not descriptive either because so many key personalities were Jewish and the altRight doesn’t necessarily consider Jews white.

I have to admit, it’s tempting to think of Trump as a political three-chord wonder.  He can be funny, he knows how to please his fan base, but has no clue how to appeal to anyone else.  He’s decidedly low-brow: no, he’s not going to cram for the next debate.  Yet neither he nor his altRight champions are Punk rock because abrasiveness is necessary but not sufficient for this rock-n-roll subgenre. Malcolm McLaren didn’t invent rudeness after all.

I once wrote about Andrew Breitbart as a Punk Rock situationist, and James Parker’s essay Donald Trump, Sex Pistol is more to my liking:

Donald Trump is not Igor Stravinsky. And although, yes, he boasted about the size of his ding-dong in the middle of a televised debate (kick in that screen!), he’s not a Sex Pistol either. Nonetheless, with his followers—about whom one should not generalize, except to say that most of them would rather be waterboarded than sit through an episode of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!—he has co-created a space in American politics that is uniquely transgressive, volatile, carnivalesque, and (from a certain angle) punk rock.

This is an interesting argument, but I’m afraid Parker is giving too much credit to #EmperorHiroCheeto and his flock.  Trump is reality TV, not Punk.  There isn’t a hint of ironic distance between Trump’s performance at campaign events and Trumpkins’ expectations. More about it later.

In response to these two pieces Mark Judge noted that when it comes to women altRight is very much anti-Punk:

Women aspire to be—and are—journalists, doctors, musicians and scientists, and it is anything but punk to deny them these roles. Punk has always been about more than just giving offense—it has been about the ability to “become what you are.” That phrase was once sung by punk-inspired musician Juliana Hatfield, who came to music in the 1970s, when a babysitter introduced her to the great Los Angeles punk band X. The lead singer for X is Exene Cervenka, a poet and political conservative who recently moved to Texas because California has become “a liberal oppressive police state.” Punk music would be far less rich had Exene done what Gavin McInnes advises—stayed home and had children. Ditto the women in the punk bands Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. Of course, it’s also possible to be a working female musician and have a family.

One last point is worth noting. One of the most infamous moments in punk history was the live 1976 interview the Sex Pistols did with British journalist Bill Grundy. The Pistols cussed on the show, dropping S-bombs and F-bombs, and the appearance became a sensation. Most rock and roll fans know the story, citing it as a flashpoint of punk nihilism, but few remember what actually set the band off. In the Pistols’ entourage was a nineteen-year-old woman named Siouxsie Sioux, who told Grundy, an established, middle-aged man who goaded the Pistols throughout the entire interview, that she’d “always wanted to meet you.” Grundy replied they could “meet after” the show. The Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones called Grundy a “dirty old sod” and a “dirty bastard” and a “f***ing rotter.” Siouxsie Sioux would go on to become one of the most talented and accomplished songwriters to come out of the punk movement.

So a pivotal punk rock moment was not about louche rebellion and senseless anarchy, but defending a talented woman, an artist, against a leering old man with views about women that belong in another age. Trump and the Alt-Right should get that story right, and think about its implications, before calling themselves punk.

Trump and Trumpkins are wholly at odds with what every Punk rocker knows about gender.  In Punk Rock, wearing a tiara is an ironic statement and Melania Trump is the very bimbo stereotype against which the young women rebelled. Yet for Donald Trump crowning a beauty queen is a life’s achievement, especially if he gets to humiliate her in the process.

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The Donuld’s aesthetic sensibility, or whatever passes for it, is as un-Punk as it gets.  The man made a name for himself erecting unironically flashy skyscrapers.  Not only did he built the costly monstrosities, it turns out he was wholly unappreciative of an effort to make anything artistic out of them — he failed to buy Andy Warhol’s paintings of his marquee property. Andy Warhol’s!  The only people who don’t know that the Trumpster has crappy taste are Russian mobsters and Donald Trump.

This excess earnestness does not stop with gold-plated nurseries; it is characteristic of the entire Trump public life.  While it’s true that, as Parker points out, Trump creates a carnivalesque atmosphere at his rallies, I think it’s wrong to reduce them to mere performance.  Sure, to Parker it’s a spectacle, to white college grads who will probably cast the decisive votes in this election it’s a spectacle, but for the participants it’s not.  They actually believe that Mexico will pay for the wall and that Trump “fulfill every single wish and every single promise”:

Punk rock brought egalitarianism and can-do attitude — equality between the bands and the audience and the DIY ethic. Trumpkins have idol worship, and their idol lives in the above-mentioned opulent towers and manufactures his ties in China.  They might live on the margins of the society, masturbating to Anime in their mothers’ basements, but altRight internet memes are financed by a near-billionaire.  Generally, their creative energy is what you’d think it is and what it’s always been: their darling frog Pepe is the work of a Hillary voter.

Sailer recalls that early Punks, we are talking 1970’s-early 80’s, wore swastikas.  That much is true.  Why they did so is well-known: they attempted to shock and to create a picture of human depravity.  And how did that end?

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Siouxsie Sioux (center) was a first-rate moron in her first youth. The singer’s shtick was to piss off WWII vets.  One of the main reasons I don’t really enjoy her song Israel is because, as my husband likes to say, that was her doing community service

Nazis across the Atlantic saw an opportunity. UK’s National Front started recruiting from the punk scene, neoNazis adopted the hard mod look of shaved heads and leather boots.  The American scene was always less political, but in Southern California neo-Nazis showed up at the shows and beat up people.  That’s why Rock Against Racism festivals became necessary, Siouxsie Sioux wrote “Israel”, Jello Biafra wrote “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and every European squat has the graphic of a stick figure throwing swastika into a garbage can.  Nazi chic is most certainly out.

By the early 90’s Nazi Punks, or, in contemporary lore, #Deplorables, were run out of the Punk scene.  They still exist, though, ghettoized into their own subcultures.  Far from legitimizing Nazism, Punks first embracing and then rejecting the Fascist paraphernalia became that dreaded (for the altRight, anyway) moment in history of the West when profanity, for which Punks never apologized, came to be viewed as a mild transgression and racism, for which they atoned, became the ultimate taboo.

There is something Punk rock in some Trump’s supporters’ embrace of the term deplorables levied on them by Hillary Clinton.  It’s the elevation of the depraved and the perverse pleasure taken in the process.  On substance, however, altRight ideology has been explicitly rejected.

What is not at all rock-n-roll in spirit is pretending that Hillary’s attack on Trumpkins is somehow anti-working class or not grounded in substance. No, the deplorables are real, and while they are certainly less than “half” of Trump’s constituency, they clearly command an outsize influenced.  To insist otherwise is either dishonest or manipulative.

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A common meme of the Don gassing an altRigh nemesis, a Jewish one in this case.

One can pretend that the AltRight is simply having “trolly fun” – I believe this is Milo Yiannopoulos’s description. But if they are merely posting memes of their political opponents in gas chambers to get a rise out of us, how come their friends espouse alleged black genetic inferiority and Holocaust denial?

And even if it is just “trolly fun”? Every society has taboos, every society has villains. Our greatest villains are the Nazis.  I’m very comfortable with organizing our society this way. Yes, Hitler was the most evil person to ever walk this earth (I know about Stalin and Mao).  I would like for our country to remain the outpost for individual rights, something that is anathema to Nazism.

I noticed people on social media added the word “deplorable” to their profiles. I don’t believe most of them are neoNazis; I believe they are wrong in doing so.  Dislike for the Democratic nominee is one thing, embrace of racial supremacy is another.  For a “normie”, which is what me and you are to altRight, to call himself a deplorable is to give legitimacy to them: see we, ordinary Americans, don’t mind at all being lumped together with David Duke and Alex Jones.  In this case David and Alex become so much more acceptable. The fact is, ordinary voters are being played, and they are being played not by Hillary but by Eric Trump and the white nationalists who wasted no time distributing deplorable memes.

Part of altRight’s pitch to conservatives is that liberals don’t make a distinction between conservatives and neoNazis, that to them we are all the same.  Unfortunately, to a large extent this is true.  However, simply because the left is bigoted, doesn’t mean that we need to act out their fantasy of evil racist conservatives.  Their name-calling should not force anyone to join the KKK.  We are more disciplined, more measured, more thoughtful, more moral than that.  (Did I say “moral”? According to altRight I’m “virtue signaling”.  Or maybe I’m just a cunning Jewess.) It’s up to us to run Trumpkins out of the conservative movement and the Republican Party — just like punk rockers did thirty years ago.

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