Doublethink: ‘The acceptance of contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination.’
The staggering hypocrisy of modern political discourse has been laid bare by a series of tumultuous events over the Christmas period, blighting my ability to gleefully tear the wrapping paper off of yet another Lynx Africa wash-set. The world appears to have turned on its head overnight. If the early encounters are anything to go by, 2017 is giving 2016 a run for its money.
Supposed ‘left liberals’ on the internet led calls on publishing house, Simon and Schuster, to cancel a book deal handed to controversial journalist and self-confessed provocateur Milo Yiannopolous. This is doublethink – liberals traditionally tolerated diversity and plurality in society. How can you stand for freedom of expression, yet censor a book that hasn’t even been written yet? The general rule nowadays seems to be that so-called liberals will tolerate free speech, only insofar as it overlaps directly with their own ideology. If you are unwilling to even hear the opinion of someone who disagrees with you, were you ever that sure in your own opinions to begin with?
Mr Yiannopolous is no angel. He was banned from Twitter for likening African-American comedienne Leslie Jones to a ‘hot black guy’. Though he maintains this was a joke, the Breitbart vice-editor was immediately branded a white supremacist in a trial-by-internet of unprecedented proportions. This kind of impertinence is far from out of character for Milo, who thrives on prodding the easily offended. For example, he bills himself as ‘The Dangerous Faggot’ while touring college campuses in the US. Clearly no joke is off limits for this self-professed ‘free speech fundamentalist.’ And so, USA Today were forced to publish a correction order, apologising for falsely stating that he was a white supremacist.
As an openly homosexual man of Jewish extraction, Yiannopolous has become the unlikely picture boy for the ‘alt-right’, a loosely-connected subculture of irreverent online political commentators who have continually been labelled racist, homophobic and misogynistic in equal measure by oh-so-tolerant ‘liberals’.
Let me be clear, the alt-right does have racist elements. That being said, it is a loose umbrella organisation without a central authority. Therefore, painting all of its proponents with the same brush is somewhat problematic.
This incessant labelling is precisely what led to the ascent of President Trump. It’s time we cut it out and started actually listening to what people are saying.
While it may be hard to agree with anything Yiannopolous says, it is fair to say he can be viewed as somewhat of a natural correction. His foolhardy, insulting nature is a direct counterbalance against the hypersensitivity of many on the left. He is symptomatic of a wider problem in modern society, where young white men have been marginalised and spurned online for having ‘privilege’ that does not reflect their true circumstances. A knee-jerk reaction was bound to happen, and it has been manifested in the shiny, foul-mouthed personage of Milo Yiannopolous.
The doublethink and hypocrisy of the left has also been displayed regarding Trump. There has been a lack of respect displayed for the next President of the free world. Can you imagine the reaction if Hillary won the election, and article after article condemned her appearance and undermined her competence? Calls of misogyny would ring from the furthest reaches of the internet. The very crowd who consistently show up in the comment section of news websites to mock Trump’s ‘tiny hands’, a thinly-veiled elusion to a supposedly diminished manhood, are the very folk who create hour-long vlogs condemning the fat-shaming of Khloe Kardashian. Either all of it is okay, or none of it is – the hypocrisy needs to end in order for open debate to flourish once more.
Hot Press journalist Olaf Tyaransen once told me: ‘If you ever find yourself siding with a loud majority, take a step back and re-evaluate your position.’ The internet seems to have spawned a new era of Orwellian groupthink – angry mobs find it easier to congregate online. Comment sections are no longer a place of individual expression, they have become extremely polarised.
At the outset, Trump seemed cartoonish. Then he seemed dangerous. And now he seems like he is trying to get on with the job he has been chosen by a majority of states to do. So can we just let him?
At the time of Trump’s election, my timelines were awash in self-satisfied statuses, offering help to those who felt personally victimised by the ramblings of a would-be demagogue who will likely be impeached before his term is out. Students here at NUI Galway even put up a ‘Wall of Empathy’ to show their support for the minority groups Trump had insulted, and while well-intentioned, the fact is Trump’s decisions have no impact on anyone in this country, so putting up such a show of solidarity isn’t offering any real help to people in need.
Moreover, if you honestly think Congress, the military, the intelligence community and all of the other instruments of power in the US would comply with any order that is prejudicial against these communities, you’ve been spending too much time in your online echo chamber. He said those things to get elected. It’s a sad fact that it worked, but it’s time to move on from that and judge him on the here and now.
Since 2015, hate crimes in America towards minorities have increased by 6%. The Twitterati were steadfast in their certainty that countless more hate crimes would be perpetrated against minorities with Trump’s victory. Yet was anyone expecting as harrowing an event as the recent attack on a Trump supporter? Four black students lured a mentally-disabled young white man into a house by claiming to be his friend. He was held for 48 hours. His kidnappers beat and cut him, all the while tormenting him with racial slurs. The horrifying attack was broadcast live on Facebook, where the poor young man could be seen cuffed and gagged in the corner of a decrepit apartment, while his off-camera tormentors threatened to kill him. Thankfully, the young man escaped – elsewise I could well have been writing his obituary.
My timeline geniuses were right, Trump’s election has been accompanied by a rise in hate crime. However, the sickening brutality of the Chicago kidnapping does not fit their agenda, so my timelines have been silent. White males aren’t allowed to be victims nowadays. Who knows, perhaps this young man left his white privilege at home, or maybe it ran out of battery?
Closer to home, Irish Times columnist Una Mullally wrote an op-ed condemning her employer for publishing an explanatory article on the so-called alt-right movement. In a meandering column almost as poorly-focused as this one, she accuses the writer, Nicholas Pell, again of being a ‘white supremacist’. That seems to be the go-to slogan if you find yourself in need of censoring an opinion of someone you disagree with. If you want to ban the ideas of those who offer a different ideology to your own, were you convicted in your worldview to begin with? Can we please end the hypocrisy and start finding common ground? We all remember what happened to the last crowd who were in favour of banning books.
A majority of today’s youth are disgusted by the hatred and vitriol of the right, and equally disgusted by the smug ‘holier than thou’ attitude of the left. Most millenials will continue to firmly straddle the fence until such time as we prove ourselves mature enough to have issue-driven, topical debate online without descending into name-calling.
Please feel free to exercise your constitutionally-protected free speech and hurl abuse my way on Twitter @Mollybeure.
-By Eoin Molloy.