Stuart K. Hayashi
NOTE: On February 18, 2017, I made some significant changes to this essay upon learning that in 2006, Milo Yiannopoulos had been walking around in public with Nazi paraphernalia. This includes his wearing a Nazi Iron Cross necklace. One might make the excuse that Milo Yiannopoulos had adopted the Nazi persona in his early twenties just to be “edgy,” but that is still pathological and not to be encouraged. I am sad to say that I have known people who, in their twenties, repeatedly “joked” about admiring Nazis or wishing they could have been Nazis. Without exception, all of these people had — and still have — self-hatred issues. Even if we try to be charitable and try to assume that Yiannopoulos’s Nazi persona from his twenties was just some poorly-though-out youthful indiscretion and not done out of malice, it’s still a horribly unhealthy sign. And that, as of this writing, Yiannopoulos is still whitewashing neo-Nazis such as Richard Spencer, indicates that the pathology is not “long passed.”
In an earlier draft, I said that Yiannopoulos was “Alt Lite,” meaning that he whitewashes white supremacists but does not go as far as saying that he is one of them himself. Upon learning about Yiannopoulos actually going around praising Hitler and Naziism — even allegedly in jest — I have to revise that. Yiannopoulos might not merely be alt-lite; he might be in the same category as Richard Spencer after all.
No, Dummy, It’s Not OK to Punch Richard Spencer Over His Racist Speech
Richard Spencer is the neo-Nazi who famously coined alt-right. You may recall that in January, as Spencer was being recorded on video, some terribly misguided vigilante punched him as he was speaking. For the record, that was wrong and the hooligan should face assault charges. Spencer’s propaganda is vicious — indeed, evil — but, as of this writing, it is still no more than speech. No matter how evil someone is — even if people acting on his advocacy does great harm — violence against that person cannot be justified until and unless that person himself is behaving violently.
The reason is that even if someone advocates something truly evil, such as racism, through his speech, people are still free to avoid him or counter him by using their own speech to expose what is wrong with what he advocates. Conversely, if someone is imposing his will through violence, then he is at the point where you cannot reason with him and you cannot simply avoid him; as long as someone chooses to act violently he can only be answered with force in kind.
One should not be “rationalist” about this and assume that I am saying that you cannot strike a violent party until and unless it has landed the first blow. If a party demonstrates a long-term plan to enact violence upon you, you are right to call the police to apprehend that party prior to any blow being landed. If, for example, someone like Charles Manson were plotting your murder, you would right to call police upon that party before any physical altercation broke out.
Richard Spencer indeed poses a threat to the republic in advocating his racism, but as long as that remains speech, the threat Spencer poses remains an indirect one. On the contrary, when that vigilante punched him, that vigilante gave everyone probable cause to be concerned that that same vigilante might direct similar violence upon them; by throwing that punch, the vigilante made a concrete demonstration of how physically dangerous he is, and thus poses a more direct threat upon others. Violence against those who advocate Richard Spencer’s brand of neo-Nazism cannot be justified until there is concrete evidence that those neo-Nazis are planning an act of violence upon person or private property, or if one has proof that they are already engaging in such violence. At that point, one is called upon to bring such evidence to the police (here is my explanation why a free republic requires that citizens leave retaliatory force to the police and do not become vigilantes).
The same principle applies to scheduled speeches that are supposedly to be delivered by Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos’s sleazy antics did not justify the riots and vandalism at Berkeley; and those who riot out of purported protest against him are behaving as fascists.
Yes, Stefan Molyneux Fans, Richard Spencer Is a Neo-Nazi
Now that I have made that clear, it’s important to acknowledge that Richard Spencer really is a neo-Nazi and that, to the extent that people swallow his propaganda, he indeed poses a danger. As a matter of course, people act upon their beliefs. If they believe what Richard Spencer espouses, they will ultimately call for governmental initiations of the use of force upon innocent people — the likeliest innocent victims will be of dark-skinned “races.”
In the very video where Richard Spencer gets punched, right before the fist lands on his face, he is in the middle of denying that he is a neo-Nazi. “Neo-Nazis hate me,” he insists. Later on Twitter, however, he tweeted this out. Under the guise of being tongue-in-cheek (as if a white member of an anti-immigration circle calling him- or herself a Nazi is sooo amusing), he is implicitly acknowledging the association of him with neo-Nazism:
If you want to see for yourself the sort of racism that Richard Spencer promotes, you can go to the white nationalist propaganda website he owns and operates, called Radix Journal. It has some mentions of Ayn Rand you might find interesting. One of them is a piece titled “Ayn Rand’s Curious Bloodlust,” which goes out of its way to denounce the Ayn Rand Institute and, of course, Jews in general. It bemoans, “Faith, racial pride and even loyalty to one’s family if it isn’t based on selfishness were also judged harshly by Rand.” Interesting how it threw in “racial pride” between “faith” and “loyalty to one’s family” as if it’s equally uncontroversial, is it not?
You can also check out “What’s Wrong with Libertarianism?” authored by Richard Spencer himself. In that piece, he heaps hostility upon Gary Johnson while, of course, praising Murray N. Rothbard, Hans Hermann Hoppe, and Lew Rockwell. More interesting than that, though, is what you find in the comments section from Spencer’s alt-right fan base. “Albionic American” uses the triple-parentheses (((echo)))) for “Ayn Rand” at least twice, and proclaims the need to “restrict women’s franchise and sexual freedom, and instead enforce a benevolent but strict patriarchy.”
That is Richard Spencer and the ideological company he keeps.
Milo Yiannopoulos: Open Scorn for the Left, Respect for Richard Spencer’s Sleaziness
It is concerning that some people who call themselves Objectivists express admiration for Milo Yiannopoulos. From the summer of 2015 to January 2016, I would have told you that I thought Yiannopoulos was not exactly in the alt-right, as being alt-right means going as far as Richard Spencer and Stefan Molyneux: stating explicitly that different “races” have biologically innate behavioral differences and therefore the State must intervene to keep them apart. I would have told you that instead Yiannopoulos is a leading figure in what is called the alt-lite: people who do not state explicit agreement with the eugenics but go out of their way to provide a moral sanction to the alt-right, treating the alt-right as just another opinion and admonishing people to respect it as a legitimate hypothesis worthy of consideration and respect in a pluralistic republic. While members of the alt-lite aren’t the ones fervent enough to stick their necks out and say all the racist rhetoric bluntly, they remain fellow travelers who provide encouragement to the more explicit racists and reinforce their antics.
Yet, upon learning on February 18, 2017, that Yiannopoulos actually has a history, going back over ten years, of hinting to people of some sort of sympathy for Naziism, Yiannopoulos might not be just alt-lite; he might really be alt-right and in the same camp as Richard Spencer.
As “proof” of Yiannopoulos opposing the alt-right, some of his fans quote him saying, “White nationalism is not the answer” and his saying that he doesn’t agree with how white nationalists are trying to counter the political Left’s collectivism with their own. But this gesture is merely perfunctory on his part. You can tell someone’s real priorities by his actions. Looking at Yiannopoulos’s actions — as I have done since the autumn of 2014, back when I was following the Gamergate controversy and when Yiannopoulos was then well-known only among those who knew about Gamergate — allows one to see that while Yiannopoulos heaps nothing but disrespect upon anyone and anything he misconstrues as leftist (such as free-marketers who stand up for the transgendered), he presumes that the alt-right’s racism must be paid respect and that its central tenets can only be, at worst, and as-of-yet-unproven hypothesis.
Yiannopoulos came out as the preeminent alt-lite apologist for the alt-right with the essay “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” which Yiannopoulos’s former friend Cathy Young accurately describes as “a whitewash, full of far-fetched arguments and misleading claims that consistently downplay this movement’s ugly bigotry.” “Establishment Conservative’s Guide” introduces Richard Spencer and the alt-right as follows:
There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. . . . The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright. . . .
The media empire of the modern-day alternative right coalesced around Richard Spencer during his editorship of Taki’s Magazine. In 2012, Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com, which would become a center of alt-right thought.Alongside other nodes like Steve Sailer’s blog, VDARE and American Renaissance, AlternativeRight.com became a gathering point for an eclectic mix of renegades who objected to the established political consensus in some form or another. All of these websites have been accused of racism.
Note the question-begging presumptions that Yiannopoulos has in those paragraphs: the large group of people who disagree with the alt-right’s members — which he misidentifies as “Left” — “hates them so much” for no better reason than that the alt-right figures are “smarter.” If you compare Richard Spencer and his alt-right cronies to skinheads — which makes sense, given that white supremacism, and their support for the idea of having a government separate “races” by force, are what the two categories share in common — then Yiannopoulos is quick to dismiss you as behaving “idiotically.” By contrast, Yiannopoulos has no sharper barb for Spencer and his alt-right cronies than “All of these websites have been accused of racism,” which is a far cry from Yiannopoulos admitting the obvious: these websites “have been accused of racism” for a solid reason: a reading of these websites demonstrates that these websites blatantly advocate racism.
After a quick and perfunctory admission, “Anything associated as closely with racism and bigotry as the alternative right will inevitably attract real racists and bigots,” he goes on to attempt to minimize this. What Yiannopoulos would have us believe are the very few true racists and bigots in the alt-right “are the people that the alt-right’s opponents [merely] wish constituted the entire movement” (emphasis added). He disingenuously assures readers “there’s just not very many” real racists in the alt-right, “no-one [in the alt-right, definitely not Richard Spencer] really likes them, and they’re unlikely to achieve anything significant in the alt-right.”
Were it the case that it was unlikely for real racists to achieve anything in the alt-right, then it would have been unlikely for Richard Spencer to achieve anything in the alt-right. Yet Yiannopoulos already identified Richard Spencer as the alt-right’s thought leader.
He gave a “speech” that simply amounted to the arbitrary sentence “Feminism is cancer.” There was no equivalent “The alt-right cancer.” He told one left-wing student, “Fuck your feelings.” He did not say “fuck” to the feelings of Richard Spencer’s ilk (and the racist pseudoscience promoted by Richard Spencer and Stefan Molyneux end up amounting to nothing more than a sprawling rationalization for their own feelings, those feelings being prejudices and unproductive hostility). The implication of Milo Yiannopoulos’s public antics has consistently been that he regards Richard Spencer and the alt-right as having the moral high ground over anyone they consider “Left,” including moderate Democrats and even Yiannopoulos’s former friend, Reason magazine writer Cathy Young.
Yiannopoulos’s apologia for Richard Spencer and the alt-right is not some new affectation he adopted to sell books. It goes back at least as far as 2006, when he was in his early twenties. Back then, Milo was calling himself “Milo Andreas Wagner.” He wore a Nazi Iron Cross necklace out in public.
In 2009, Yiannopoulos uploaded this image — supposedly “jokingly,” of course.
I learned about those images from this blog post, which chronicles still other instances — all taking place prior to 2014 — of Yiannopoulos expressing some sort of anti-Semitism, often rationalizing that being Jewish precludes him from being anti-Jewish.
The main excuse for Yiannopoulos, naturally, is that all of these were mere “jokes” in crude taste. For an explanation as to why that excuse fails to mitigate concerns over the pathology of the crude “joker,” read this blog post of mine.
Of course, if we find that Yiannopoulos is at least as favorable to white supremacism as Richard Spencer is, that would still not exonerate the Berkeley riots from moral condemnation. What I said about violence still applies: if Yiannopoulos has yet to initiate the use of actual physical violence, then those who rioted against him demonstrate themselves to be a greater direct physical threat to others than does Yiannopoulos himself.
Now, to the degree that Yiannopoulos remains ambiguous about whether or not he realizes that Richard Spencer is a real racist — and, remember, Yiannopoulos mendaciously asserts that real racists are rare in the alt-right — that gives Yiannopoulos some weaselly wiggle room whereby he can maintain some plausible deniability about whether he condones Richard Spencer’s propaganda specifically. But Stefan Molyneux — with whom Yiannopoulos exchanged accolades in an online video interview — is less ambiguous: Molyneux’s apologia and whitewashing of Richard Spencer’s racism advocacy is much more direct.
Stefan Molyneux’s Excuses for Richard Spencer’s “White Homeland” to Exclude Nonwhites
Since the autumn of 2015, Stefan Molyneux — once most famous as the leader of a cult that was purportedly about anarchy — has become most famous as an online apologist and propagandist for Donald Trump (it does not appear that the cult has disbanded, though). You might have seen my prior critiques of Molyneux’s advocacy of eugenics, white supremacism, and government-enforced racial segregation. As an apologist for Trump, Molyneux has also found it necessary to make excuses for some of the unsavory characters who have been manipulating Trump (sometimes even Vladimir Putin). For that reason, Molyneux took it upon himself to make an entire video to rationalize, as purely justified, various disturbing behaviors on the part of Trump’s chief strategist, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon. To his credit, conservative commentator Glenn Beck has remained critical of Trump, Bannon, Breitbart News, and the alt-right. Beck pointed out that by catering to the alt-right, Steve Bannon and Breitbart News were elevating and reinforcing the white supremacist agenda of Richard Spencer. On this point, Molyneux decided that defending Steve Bannon against Glenn Beck naturally compelled him to defend Richard Spencer as well. The result is Molyneux delivering mind-bending rationalizations for Richard Spencer’s racism.
First, Molyneux approvingly cites Richard Spencer’s dishonest comparison of his own agenda to the establishment of Israel. Richard Spencer says that his desire for purely white countries — which block nonwhites from entry — is simply to have an “ethno-state” that is to white Christians what Israel is to Jews, and therefore what he promotes is no more objectionable than is present-day Israel. Molyneux announces that he shares in that evaluation completely. As I’ve explained before, that comparison is misleading. More than a fifth of Israel’s population is gentile; this includes Arabs. Over 16 percent of Israel’s population is Muslim. According to Israeli law, these non-Jews are to be treated with the same rights and freedom as Jewish citizens. And, yes, as of this writing Israel is accepting orphaned child refugees from Syria.
Secondly, Molyneux resorts to pedantry to distract his audience from the fact that the general thrust of Glenn Beck’s criticism of Richard Spencer remains correct. Glenn Beck faults Richard Spencer for advocating that the State intrude upon people’s private decisions on whether to have children or not; Beck is concerned about white supremacists calling for the compulsory sterilization of nonwhites. Molyneux replies that Richard Spencer is not calling for compulsory sterilization but is only advocating that tax money be spent to subsidize upper-middle-class whites to have more children, which means that Richard Spencer is benign and that governmental intrusion upon private families’ choices is OK. (And this same Stefan Molyneux still calls himself an anarchist.😑 )
Here is the essay of Richard Spencer’s that Stefan Molyneux quotes and defends. Richard Spencer says,
We are undergoing a sad process of degeneration. We will need to reverse it using the state and the government. You incentivize people with higher intelligence, you incentivize people who are healthy to have children [Spencer is demanding that the State do this ‘incentivization,’ and Molyneux approves] . . . .
Today, contraception and birth control are nothing less than a curse [when used by upper-middle-class white couples]! Those with the foresight to engage in ‘family planning’ [he means upper-middle-class white couples] are exactly the kind of responsible, intelligent people who should be reproducing. And increasingly, middle-class White families are so over-burdened with taxation and the rising costs of housing, healthcare, and education that they don’t feel they can afford children [you see? –S.H.]. This is not only a dysgenic catastrophe but a moral one as well.
On the other hand, individuals with low innate intelligence or even criminal personalities [Spencer means blacks and Latinos] — those who should be limiting their reproduction — can’t be bothered to purchase a condom.
Molyneux approvingly quotes Richard Spencer as saying that because nonwhites are out-competing the white population in terms of out-breeding whites, the solution is for Western governments to manipulate white citizens into having more children as a means of catching up to nonwhites and matching them (as if this is some contest). Molyneux would then have his audience believe that this is not racist; this self-proclaimed anarchist does not even acknowledge how statist an intrusion that is. (This fretting over how white people in rich countries are not having enough children, in competition with nonwhites in poor countries, was started by the first eugenicists in the late 1800s, and this scare was revived in the 1990s. A moderate version of it is called “demographic winter” and the more fanatical version involves the alt-right screaming about “white genocide” in the West. For my deconstruction of this nonsense, read this post.)
Molyneux says of Richard Spencer, “He is making an argument based on facts. And you can agree or disagree.” If you don’t approve of this, “you would need to find arguments or counter-facts; Richard Spencer would be open to any counterfactual arguments that came his way [lie].” Molyneux’s ultimate assessment of Spencer’s white nationalism is, “It’s not racism if you’re pointing out empirical facts about ethnic differences. It’s just facts. You hate facts, I guess, if you’re on the Left [translation: by ‘Left,’ Molyneux means everyone who doesn’t swallow his rhetoric on race].”
Below, you can watch the excerpt from Molyneux’s Steve Bannon apologia that makes excuses for Richard Spencer:
Stefan Molyneux Floats Proposition That “This Battle Has Moved Beyond Words”; Richard Spencer Approves
Richard Spencer apparently recognizes an ideological ally when he sees one, as he has taken to retweeting Stefan Molyneux’s propaganda.
This is one I find quite noteworthy:
That tweet contains an excerpt from the ending of Stefan Molyneux’s video “Anti-Milo Yiannopoulos Rioters Burn UC Berkeley | True News,” FDR Podcast 3581. The video purports to be about the riots of misguided people in Berkeley to shut down one of Milo Yiannopoulos’s “speeches.” Molyneux turns on the crocodile tears and talks as if the Berkeley rioters are representative of everyone in the country who disagrees with the racial fanaticism he preaches. The Americans who disagree with Stefan Molyneux’s fanaticism and his calls for State-imposed racial segregation, by means of immigration bans based on IQ and race, number in the hundreds of millions, vastly outnumbering the Berkeley rioters. But Molyneux talks to his audience as if the Berkeley riot is the fundamental essence of the entire rest of the world, the big bad world that rejects his cultish doctrine. For that reason, between crocodile tears, Molyneux almost-whispers,
Maybe the time for arguments is passed. Maybe this battle has moved beyond words. Perhaps my job is over. Perhaps I have failed or the world has failed. Perhaps I am done. For ten years I’ve been saying ‘[That’s] not an argument’ [to anyone who disagrees, even when — especially when — they do give real counterarguments]. Tonight, perhaps, it has been made clear there are no more arguments to be made.
It would be great if, by that, Molyneux meant he was finally folding up this dishonest operation, taking all his propaganda off the Web, and finally making a living off of some work that is actually constructive and psychologically healthy. But Molyneux is not giving up. What, then, does he mean that “there are no more arguments to be made”? Since he is not giving up on trying to push his racial separatism, what is meant by “the time for arguments is passed” and “this battle has moved beyond words”? To what is he referring?
Ayn Rand — the same Ayn Rand whom Stefan Molyneux’s pal, Richard Spencer, despises — gave some insight. The same Leonard Peikoff denounced in Radix Journal explains in The Ominous Parallels, “There are only two fundamental methods by which men can deal with one another: by reason or by force, by intellectual persuasion or by physical coercion, by directing to an opponent’s brain an argument — or a bullet.” Molyneux is floating the idea to his cult audience that his making persuasive appeals (that is, trying to convince people by reason that his racism is correct 😑) is no longer a viable option, and, therefore, if his cult audience is to have its way, it must have some other recourse. But what other recourse is left? Ayn Rand — the one Richard Spencer reviles — notes in “The Comprachicos,” “When men abandon reason, physical force becomes their only means of dealing with one another and of settling disagreements.”
Molyneux is floating the proposition to his cult audience that maybe he should stop with trying to reason other people into, well, his thoroughly irrational racial segregationism. If Molyneux and his audience come to conclude that that is the case, then pushing their own agenda, their own cause, would require that they go through with that one other recourse. Richard Spencer retweeted that monologue because that is the exact direction that he would push the Molyneux cult toward. And should the day come when Richard Spencer and the Molyneux cult decide that “this battle has moved beyond words” and that they will fight with their fists, then, yes, you will be justified in punching them back.
Yes, Richard Spencer is a neo-Nazi. Yes, Milo Yiannopoulos has done his part to normalize Richard Spencer’s bigotry and to demonstrate his own pathological obsession with Nazi iconography. And Stefan Molyneux has made an unambiguous apologia for that bigotry; one cannot pretend that Molyneux is “only joking” about this.