Liberty Expose: Everyone Is on the Far Right

Brett Stephens (top left), Ben Shapiro (top right),  Jordan Peterson (bottom left) and Jonah Goldberg (bottom right). 

Brett Stephens (top left), Ben Shapiro (top right),  Jordan Peterson (bottom left) and Jonah Goldberg (bottom right). 

Say, here’s an asinine statement: “Jordan Peterson, the controversial Canadian professor who has attracted a cult following of disaffected young men, and whose self-help philosophy has become something of a gateway drug for those flirting with the far right.” That showcase of ignorance comes from a recent piece in Vanity Fair attempting to explain why Kanye West supposedly defected to the Right.

The man attacked as a "gateway drug for those flirting with the far right" is a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of a new book titled 12 Rules for Life: An  Antidote for Chaos, which can be briefly summarized as a self-help book that gives a scientific and philosophical defense of virtue. Read it, and one might note that it deprived of anything someone on a extreme side of the political spectrum might say. That is because Jordan Peterson in no way resembles someone on the far/alt-right. That is what makes this hit piece so malicious - and what is even more disturbing is that Professor Peterson is not the only one attacked; a broad spectrum of right-leaning and conservative journalists are declared part of the far-right.

The article was long and expansive, so let’s ignore the topic of Ye swallowing the pill. Let’s even go beyond the mind-numbing logic of accusing someone of supporting identity politics because of their fierce opposition to identity politics. Let’s examine the article’s assault on the English language, and the truth associated with it.

The Vanity Fair piece has been updated in response to criticism of it being deeply intellectual dishonesty, but the initial article clumped in Bret Stephens and Jonah Goldberg with Milo Yiannopoulos. The author compared Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist who opposes the Second Amendment and is unparalleled in center-right opposition to Donald Trump to Milo Yiannopoulos. Jonah Goldberg, who recently wrote a book ridiculing the same identity politics the alt-right feeds on, and who was verbally attacked by then-candidate Donald Trump (“[Goldberg] can’t buy a pair of pants” – the future President of the United States, July 8th, 2015) was compared to Milo, troll-supreme of the alt-right expanded universe.

Lest we forget that many of the journalists featured in the article were the targets of brutal harassment by same people they are being categorized with. One of the featured conservatives, Ben Shapiro, was the number one target of anti-Semitic tweets during the 2016 election.

What happens when we continue to degrade language to the point to where language has no meaning anymore? When everybody becomes a fascist, nobody does. The reason why figures such as Jordan Peterson and Jonah Goldberg have so much widespread acclaim is because they present thought-provoking ideas, regardless of whether one agrees with them. When they are categorized as “far-right,” that brings actual far-right/alt-right leaders like Richard Spencer into the mainstream. The irony of those who wish to dehumanize and “other” people they agree with – and to label a reasonable person as “alt-right” is dehumanizing – they are just broadening the appeal of actual malicious actors. When admitted white nationalists come onto the scene, the danger of their ideas are mitigated by their comparisons to mainstream figures.

What happens to a society when those who are supposed to lead the debate are sabotaging it? There was a time when ridiculous name-calling and labeling were regulated only to the comment section. Evidently, comment section politics has become mainstream journalism.  One of the prerequisite for living in a free society is having the maturity and virtue to acknowledge that reasonable people of good intent can disagree. When a people can no longer extend this courtesy to one another and adopt the egotistical worldview of "you either agree with me or you're evil," then that society lacks the maturity to handle - or deserve - to live in a free society.