A Pale Hysteria

It doesn’t happen often that both the editorial board of the New York Times and the National Review, courtesy of David French, mirror each other. The singularity has happened.

If one of the perpetrators of this weekend’s two mass shootings had adhered to the ideology of radical Islam, the resources of the American government and its international allies would mobilize without delay.

The awesome power of the state would work tirelessly to deny future terrorists access to weaponry, money and forums to spread their ideology. The movement would be infiltrated by spies and informants. Its financiers would face sanctions. Places of congregation would be surveilled. Those who gave aid or comfort to terrorists would be prosecuted. Programs would be established to de-radicalize former adherents.

And from the NRO side:

It’s time to face some dreadful, terrible facts. The United States is now facing a deadly challenge from a connected, radical, online-organizing community of vicious white-nationalist terrorists. They are every bit as evil as jihadists, and they radicalize in much the same way. And just like the ISIS terrorists our nation and our allies have confronted in the great cities of the West, they use the most modern of tools to advance the oldest of hatreds.

Substitute “jihadist” for “white supremacist” or “white nationalist” and then imagine how we’d act. Imagine how we’ve acted.

Both make the same call. French:

It’s time to declare war on white-nationalist terrorism. It’s time to be as wide awake about the dangers of online racist radicalization as we are about online jihadist inspiration. And it’s time to reject the public language and rhetoric that excites and inspires racist radicals. Just as we demanded from our Muslim allies a legal and cultural response to the hate in their midst, we should demand a legal and cultural response to the terrorists from our own land.

The Times:

Advertisers have a duty not to sponsor television programs that flirt with white nationalism or advocate it outright.

Banks have a duty not to help finance white nationalist organizations.

Religious leaders should feel called to denounce white nationalism from the pulpit.

Technology companies have a responsibility to de-platform white nationalist propaganda and communities as they did ISIS propaganda. And if the technology companies refuse to step up, law enforcement has a duty to vigilantly monitor and end the anonymity, via search warrants, of those who openly plot attacks in murky forums.

Those people who encourage terrorism anonymously online should be named.

In calm moments after 9/11, people ultimately came to realize how poorly and destructively we reacted. Innocent Muslims, as well as non-Muslims who kind of looked like they might be Muslim, were beaten. The USA Patriot Act was passed. Cries that constitutional rights had to give way to win against the terrorists were met with thunderous applause. Wars commenced over inflamed factless claims. We became a nation at war with shadows.

So let’s do it all over again, but worse.

Everyone who isn’t a white nationalist seems to be in lockstep that we must end white nationalism by any means necessary. Who is our enemy? If we thought Al Qaeda, a foreign group bent on jihad, was too amorphous to identify, even though there was an organization and structure, are we now ready to declare a non-group with no discernible definition, denominated “White Nationalists,” the new enemy combatants?

This is a pivotal moment in our modern history. Every wave of terror is dangerous, but waves of racist terror are particularly dangerous in a nation that was once torn to bloody shreds in large part because of its repugnant white supremacism.

Those are the words of David French, as inflammatory as they are empty, shrieking at the mob, whipping up hysteria, while pretending his dull scalpel can somehow distinguish the “good” conservatives from the undefined enemy to be pre-emptively locked up, stripped of rights, silenced or, perhaps, slaughtered. What arrogance makes French think he won’t have his throat slit when the peasants storm the NRO castle?

Who are “white nationalists”? No one has begun to consider how one distinguishes those bent on doing harm from those who harbor beliefs slightly right of the most extreme left. Am I joking? No.

Not that the analogy between 9/11 and today bears up to scrutiny, as if anyone cared to take the time, and take the chance, of disputing the mob, but it serves to create a false equivalency for the passionate and ignorant who use the comparison between our mobilization when planes were crashed into the Twin Towers by a sophisticated group of foreign radicals bent on undermining the fabric of western secular society and our newfound American terrorists.

The question isn’t whether we have a problem, whether these mass murders were horrifying, whether these disaffected, mentally unstable, armed people should be stopped. Of course they should. But how do we react without repeating the same mistakes made last time? How many thousands, millions of people will be stripped of rights, imprisoned, silenced, for holding less-than-progressive views?

Who are these dangerous “white nationalists”? Is every Trump supporter to be rounded up for the re-education camp? The New York Times would have Fox News taken off the air, the NRA denied banking, the views it deems hateful removed from the internet. And they have the blessing of The National Review.

It’s understandable that well-intended conservatives want no association with white supremacists, and seek to distinguish themselves by parroting the demands for rounding up the racists, eradicating constitutional rights for whose deemed unworthy and cheering the beating of anyone wearing a MAGA hat.

Not only have they, and we, learned nothing from our 9/11 excesses, but they now unleash the mob and its bludgeon on themselves and everyone who doesn’t toe the mob’s line. How can anyone believe this mindless hysteria will end better than the mindless hysteria before it? And who would be crazy enough to call for calm rather than outrage? Obviously, only a white nationalist, since all the good people are busy going hysterical.

32 thoughts on “A Pale Hysteria

  1. DaveL

    If there’s one prediction I can confidently make, it is this: That someday, our great-grandchildren will look back upon this time in our history, and learn absolutely nothing.

      1. Harvey A. Silverglate

        These are indeed the times that try men’s souls. The reason that Scott Greenfield sees where some of these (over)reactions will lead, is because criminal defense lawyers deal with law enforcement all the time and frequently see the dark side of The Force. The fact that the Left and the Right will now join in calling for a suspension of civil liberties means that constitutionalists need to speak up. Destroying liberty and due process is not produce more safety in the long run, but will destroy a nation of laws. Beware the calls for easy solutions.
        Harvey Silverglate, Cambridge, MA

    1. SHG Post author

      Ever wonder who’s going to pay for the revolution to be televised? Hit the donation button on the sidebar lately?

  2. Guitardave

    “No longer any room for nuance…” Right. Someone should tell that fascist Ms. Nuance left years ago.
    I wonder if this new level of foreboding I’m feeling is the same thing a rational German citizen felt in 1939.

    PS: I got an original tune that fits this post hand-in-glove…(if i can do a take where i don’t F it up to bad)..hopefully I’ll have it up shortly. I’m certain all the other wonderful SJ “cultural liaisons” can come up with some good stuff in the meantime.

    1. SHG Post author

      The problem with any German references is that since we know how that turned out, we know who was wrong. The problem here is that we don’t know which of the vicious authoritarians will prevail, so who should we fear most? Or does it matter, since either one takes us to the same authoritarian place?

      1. Guitardave

        True…but i wasn’t really picking a side, as both extremes are whack. The only “sides” i see are those who understand nuanced thinking, and those who don’t. The ones who don’t will be set against each other…..not getting pulled into the fight is the MAJOR problem for the sane and thoughtful. I was just trying to find a analogy for this nasty alien feeling in my gut.

        1. SHG Post author

          Not taking sides is one thing, but when the bullets are whizzing around us, getting “pulled in” to the fight is no longer a concern.

            1. Guitardave

              …and thank you, kind sir, for allowing another long overdue premier of one of my tunes on your blawg.

      2. Casual Lurker

        “The problem here is that we don’t know which of the vicious authoritarians will prevail, so who should we fear most? Or does it matter…”

        It doesn’t. If/when the “Revolution” comes, the only viable option presently available is the one employed by physicist and chemist Leo Szilard*, believed to be the last Jew out of Germany before all avenues of escape were cut off.

        From the time of Hitler’s rise to power, Szilard always slept on a cot, fully clothed, with two packed suitcases by his side. It turned out his skin-of-the-teeth timing was remarkably accurate. Some would even say “prescient”.

        *Szilard is the one who went to his friend, Albert Einstein, and told of the German work on developing a nuclear weapon, drafting a letter for Einstein’s signature, imploring him to warn the American authorities of the likely consequences.

        On his way to the U.S. he stopped in Switzerland to file two patents: One open, for nuclear power, one secret, for a nuclear bomb.

        1. paleo

          I’m in the “pox on both their houses” camp. The drone comment was intended as a sarcastic joke. Sorry I wasn’t clear enough.

  3. Lawrence Kaplan

    Great. Now we have a war on white nationalist terrorism. Because our previous wars on terror and drugs turned out so great and accomplished their goals without endangering any individual liberties , resulting in mass incarceration, etc. Right.

  4. B. McLeod

    All over social media, anti-Trumpists are pushing that same declaration that “all of Trump’s supporters” are white supremacists and terrorists. This hyperbolic idiocy is the very same type of divisive rhetoric for which they blame Trump, but they are too stupid or fanatical (or both) to see that.

  5. CLS

    So the woke finally revealed their game plan.

    1. Get someone labeled a white nationalist.
    2. Deplatform them.
    3. Cut off access to financial institutions.
    4. Expel them from their preferred places of worship.
    5. Dox friends and family.

    The American Experiment was nice while it lasted.

    1. Dan

      They continue to overlook (or simply ignore) that the folks they accuse of being so violent are also the ones with all the guns. Starting a fight against an opponent who has you vastly outgunned isn’t exactly sound decision-making. It might be if you outnumber them by orders of magnitude, but that isn’t the case either.

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