James Wolcott: “Why the Alt-Left is a Problem, Too”

In Vanity Fair, James Wolcott writes a screed against the percolating Alt-Left (“Why the Alt-Left is a Problem, Too”). “Much of the media spotlight has been on the “alt-right,”, the byline reads, “But the “alt-left” provides a mirror image distortion: the same loathing of Clinton, rejection of “identity politics,” and itch for a reckoning.”

Wolcott appears to be off his meds here:

The alt-right receives the meatiest share of attention in the media, as it should. It’s powerful, vicious, steeped in neo-Nazi ideology, nativist white supremacy, men’s-rights misogyny, and Ayn Rand capitalist übermensch mythos, and it heralds a conquering hero in the White House in President Donald J. Trump, while the former executive chairman of the venereally right-wing Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, functions as despot whisperer, trickling Iago-ish poison into Trump’s receptive skull. The alt-left can’t match that for strength, malignancy, or tentacled reach, but its dude-bros and “purity progressives” exert a powerful reality-distortion field online and foster factionalism on the lib-left. Its outlets include not only Jacobin but also the Intercept, one of whose co-founders is the inexhaustible Glenn Greenwald, lawyer, author, journalist, and crucial conduit for Edward Snowden’s stolen N.S.A. data to The Guardian; Web sites such as Truthdig, Consortiumnews, and Naked Capitalism; and anomalous apostates such as Mickey Kaus, a former contributor to liberal percolators of ideas and opinions such as Washington Monthly, the New RepublicHarper’s, and Slate, who migrated sideways and down to the right-wing Daily Caller, did a temporary hitch as a columnist for the Breitbart bughouse in 2016, and serves as a tweeting defender of Trump’s proposed wall. Other busy beavers on Twitter include Michael Tracey, Freddie deBoer, Mark Ames, Connor Kilpatrick (a Jacobin contributor), Jeremy Scahill (journalist and Intercept co-founder), and similar fun guys. A Tumblr site devoted to “Trumpian Leftism” captures the intellectual flavor of their temperaments. One of the alt-left’s political darlings is Tulsi Gabbard, a progressive congresswoman from Hawaii who met with then president-elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower and was rumored to be under consideration for a Cabinet position, and its quixotic preacher-man and noble leper is Cornel West, once an orator at every social-justice convocation who got so uncoiled by his rancorous contempt for Obama and cast adrift into the hazy fringes of the alt-left—see Michael Eric Dyson’s definitive autopsy, “The Ghost of Cornel West,” the New Republic, April 19, 2015—that in 2016 he supported the Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein, that stellar mind.


Calm down, James.

Have a cream soda.

Make a sandwich.

Do some-f*cking thing.

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