Time was when decent people went in fear of being labeled with epithets like “racist,” “bigot,” “white nationalist,” “nativist,” or the left’s of-the-moment, total-hotness, all-purpose slur, “populist.”
Good people who know they aren’t these things could once be made defensive and uncomfortable by being accused of such sympathies.
But that hand has been terminally overplayed now.
There are different kinds of situations in which it no longer has the power to daunt and silence innocent people. In one of the most common, anything the left doesn’t like is simply called by one or more of these names, no matter how manifestly idiotic it is.
Such a situation has erupted with sexual assault victim Anne-Marie Waters. Ms. Waters, a one-time left-wing activist, is an LGBT feminist and women’s rights campaigner. She’s gay. In October 2015, she wrote a post published at Breitbart, “Europe’s Rape Epidemic: Western Women Will Be Sacrificed At The Altar Of Mass Migration.” In it, she wrote about “her own experiences with sexually aggressive migrants, as well as using statistics from Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom.”
For nearly a year, there doesn’t seem to have been a lot of notice given her article by the mainstream media.
Then, on Tuesday morning, 20 September 2016, Donald Trump, Jr. mentioned the Waters article in a tweet.
And suddenly, according to the Guardian, Anne-Marie Waters had become a “white nationalist” who had perpetrated this horrific affront:
[A] tourist’s out-of-nowhere description of a made-up gang-rape epidemic in Europe…not only openly, wildy racist, describing a continental crisis of white European women under assault by “Middle Eastern-looking men” – the racist Breitbart piece is also breathtakingly unhinged from reality.
As Raheem Kassam points out at Breitbart London, Guardian itself has done extensive reporting on the sexual grooming and rape rings, run by South Asian Muslim men, that preyed for years on underage girls in Rotherham, UK.
Kassam also points out the incontrovertible, documented reality of soaring rape and sexual assault crimes committed by migrants in countries like Germany and Sweden – crimes including the wave of assaults this past New Year’s Eve in cities across Germany.
Waters made use of the governments’ own crime statistics in her 2015 article. But none of that mattered this morning, once Donald Trump, Jr. had tweeted out her piece.
The Guardian pounced. Instantly, Waters was a “white nationalist” retailing “made-up, wildly racist” propaganda. Politico’s Ben White thought it was so bad, Trump, Jr. needed to have his phone taken away from him. Talking Points Memo chimed in with the allegation that Trump, Jr. was “tweeting straight-up white nationalist propaganda now.”
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) September 20, 2016
This is too often the backstory on the supposed epidemic of “white nationalist propaganda,” and its partially denatured handmaiden, “populism.” The actual content bears no relation to any sensible definition of white nationalist propaganda. You could wander the earth swinging a lantern for 40 years and not pin down a coherent definition of “populism,” and what’s so bad about it, other than that it’s “whatever I don’t like.”
And that’s why I just don’t care anymore who calls whom a “racist white nationalist nativist populist bigot” – or a homophobe or Islamophobe or much of anything else, for that matter.
Has there been a problem over the years with spillover between unsavory nativists and Nazis in Europe? Yes. I’m as wary as I ever was about watching for anti-Semitism. And unlike the clubby left, I recognize anti-Semitism as readily coming from Islam and left-wing ideology as I do from Europe’s particular brand of nativists, and its Nazis.
But when the nature of the political landscape changes – as it has, and dramatically, in just the last five years – you don’t keep being jerked on the chain of outdated definitions. You especially don’t do it when it’s so obvious the old definitions are being exploited and used deceptively for the convenience of one particular narrative.
No more. Accusations from the left-wing media, activists, and politicians have lost their credibility, and for good reason. You don’t even have to be a Trump supporter (as I’m not) to see that clearly, and say it. (You can appreciate the Trump candidacy – as I do – for how it has exposed and sometimes laughably neutralized many of the left’s most prized tactics.)
Our civilization is dissolving inexorably into component parts today – parts that leave us adrift from old social alliances. We are compelled at each new turn to do what’s right, what has integrity, rather than what is reflexively conventional. There might have been a time when I assumed I was on the same side as anyone who excoriated “white nationalism.” But that was before the Guardian, TPM, and a hundred others started lying through their teeth, merely for effect, about who is a “white nationalist.”
I do excoriate white nationalism – real white nationalism. But Anne-Marie Waters is quite obviously not a white nationalist, nor is her 2015 article a bigoted white nationalist screed. Partisans simply use the words as a lying smear now, and doing so puts them on the wrong side of everything. That relieves me of any further obligation to care what they say.