Establishment Democrats Join Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, And The Far Right In Spreading The Myth Of The Alt-Left

Yesterday I pointed out how Donald Trump has falsely tried to blame “both sides” including the “alt-left” for the violence in Charlottesville, when in reality there is no equivalency between these white supremacists groups and those who came out to stand up to them. The alt-left is a concept created by the far right in order to create a false equivalency, and unfortunately many establishment Democrats have joined them in this bogus attack on the left.

The New York Times looked at the meaning of extremist language and had this to say about the alt-left:

Researchers who study extremist groups in the United States say there is no such thing as the “alt-left.” Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, said the word had been made up to create a false equivalence between the far right and “anything vaguely left-seeming that they didn’t like.”

Some centrist liberals have taken to using this term.

“It did not arise organically, and it refers to no actual group or movement or network,” Mr. Pitcavage said in an email. “It’s just a made-up epithet, similar to certain people calling any news they don’t like ‘fake news.’”

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said the “alt-left” was partly to blame for the Charlottesville violence, during which a counterprotester, Heather D. Heyer, was killed.

Of course there is noting comparable on the left to the white supremacist views of the alt-right, and only one side committed murder last weekend.

Many establishment Democrats are now ideologically much closer to traditional Republicans than to the left, and have taken up this fiction of an alt-left which is analogous to the alt-right. Sarah Jones at The New Republic has responded to this issue in an article entitled, Liberals Helped Create Trump’s New Bogeyman, the “Alt-Left.”

Unlike the term “alt-right,” which was coined by white supremacists to give their age-old movement a modern edge, the “alt-left” is an insult. As my colleague Clio Chang wrote in March of liberals who choose to use the term: “A graver sin is the adoption of a term that was created by conservatives to smear the left and discredit criticisms of the growing clout of the racist right.”

It should go without saying, but the left does not promote hate crimes or commit them. It does not strive for an ethno-state. It is explicitly anti-racist and feminist. It demands the redistribution of wealth. You may find that terrifying, but it’s not actually terrorism. And when a horde of white supremacists overran Charlottesville with their tiki torches and Confederate flags, the left was at the front lines, defending everyone else’s right to freedom. A member of the left died for those rights.

But if you pay attention to a number of prominent liberals and Democrats, you would think the American left poses some existential threat to the United States.

The author then presented several examples to prove her point, some from prominent Clinton supporters. She then concluded:

The function of the term “alt-left” is to collapse the distinction between the activist left and the racist right. That’s why reactionaries like Sean Hannity use it. That’s why Donald Trump has taken it up. We are likely to hear a lot more about the alt-left in the coming months and years—and if liberals continue to use it, they will be doing the right-wing’s work.

So it is time for the entire left to permanently retire the term. It insults the dead and the work the left is doing to stop the rise of fascism in our country. It serves the cause of the right wing, amplifying its noxious tactics of delegitimization. These liberals have invested a lot of energy in an effort to discredit anyone sitting to their left. They are so furious, so disturbed by the emergence of this invigorated movement, that they paint them with the brush of fascism—even while the very people they vilify are on the streets fighting the Ku Klux Klan. In so doing, they have served the purposes of Donald Trump and no one else.

I generally agree with this article except that I disagree with calling supporters of the Democratic establishment liberal. I do not consider Hillary Clinton or those who supported her to be liberal. I know many on the left have abandoned the term liberal because of its misuse, first by the right, and now by establishment Democrats. I have preferred to stick with the term due to his long standing historical meaning. Therefore I stood up for liberalism when the right distorted its meaning, and now do the same when establishment Democrats tarnish the word by misusing it to describe their conservative views.

Of course I do have some interest in preserving the honor of the term liberal, having had a blog with the term in the title for over a decade. Unfortunately the liberal values which this blog has defended from the start, generally from Republicans, are now under attack from the Democratic establishment.

Related Post:

Trump Backtracks And Blames Both Sides, Including Alt-Left, For Charlottesville Violence

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Chris says:

    The antifa exists, so "alt-left" isn't entirely fabricated to create a false equivalency.   Crowd pshychology being what it is, I think we know that at least a couple skirmishes over the weekend were started by the "left".  I don't mean to suggest an equivalency between murder and a fist fight. 

    I prefer to ditch the term liberal, as it no longer has any coherent meaning.  (If Hillary is a liberal, then up is down, black is white, slavery is freedom, etc.)     I prefer the terms Progressive and Republican-Lite to distinguish the Sanders wing from the Hillary wing.      

     

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The existence of Antifa still does not justify this false equivalency, but I am more concerned about its application to the left beyond Antifa. Peter Beinart has a good response re Antifa at The Atlantic:
    What Trump Gets Wrong About Antifa

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