The recent controversy over “fake news” has somewhat reminded me how much closer I am to people in the rationalist / skeptic community than some elements (not all) of the AltRight on certain issues. If not for my skepticism of the prospects (or desirability) of multiculturalism in Western countries and the long term viability of “warm body” democracy in general, I would have much more in common with people like Amazing Atheist and Shoe0nhead than I would the average AltRight person. They’re not totally aligned with me across the board, but I find them to be a breath of fresh air sometimes. In fact, I wish there were more people like them because they approach topics logically and critically. Even though they may not reach the same ideological conclusions, the atheist/rationalist personalities often help to lead people down the path of skepticism and empiricism, which can be applied to all kinds of different issues relating to identity and the framework of our society.
There’s no question that the mainstream media is liberally using the “fake news” narrative in an attempt to discredit many legitimate news and opinion outlets, some of which are predominantly opinion sites to begin with (such as Unz.com) and deal mainly with commentary and analysis rather than news reporting to begin with. That’s why the establishment media’s “definitive lists” should be viewed as skeptically as the sites in question, since the lists themselves were ideologically constructed.
That being said, I actually *do* see tons people in the AltRight (and especially Alt-Lite) fall for obviously made up news stories. They’d frequently share tons of these stories on Facebook uncritically, even when a brief examination of the site or facts uncovered after a quick Google search would easily debunk whatever wild claims were being made. It’s fine to say the media lies, but it’s clear most people aren’t even curious/critical enough to do basic checking. To make matters worse, when people share these bogus news items, they usually accompany them with some kind of preachy triumphalist rant about something finally being exposed and confirming the essence of their worldview, with a lengthy comment thread filled with people spiraling into outrage and shock at the horror of the “news” story, until finally someone about 20 comments into the frenzy says “guys, that’s a fake news site.”
The Alt-Lite has been entirely consumed with propagating utterly bonkers conspiracies like “pizzagate” without a shred of credible evidence. For an example of the sort of thing which passes for proof for these people, watch a few of these videos which have thousands of upvotes and “believer” comments but contain absolutely nothing substantive. It’s all wild speculation, most of which doesn’t hold up to common sense scrutiny. Take this video of “screams” from Comet Ping Pong, that is somehow supposed to insinuate something horrific is taking places, but chances are if you’ve ever been to a Chuck E. Cheese in your life or any place where children are playing and going buck wild…you’ll here some yelling and screaming. To a person who thinks critically, none of this stuff is interesting at all except from a psychological perspective. It is horrifying only in the sense of witnessing seemingly normal people transform into an irrational lynch mob, whipped up into a frenzy over some of the flimsiest, rinkydink evidence ever concocted. There was a whole video talking about the logos used on these websites and how they were supposedly cryptic symbols for all kinds of nefarious sexual activity and demonry, but these were mostly just generic logos with hearts, triangles etc…the kind of basic bitch, stock clipart logos that you pay someone 5 dollars to make on Fiverr if you’re too lazy to spend a few minutes online creating them yourself. This is not to say that the allegations being made by these internet sleuths are definitively false. Maybe they’ll turn out to be true (by all means, investigate!) but the evidence presented so far has been underwhelming and not particularly persuasive enough to justify ruining innocent people’s lives and harming the reputations of seemingly banal local businesses.
With people like Cernovich and Paul Joseph Watson burning bridges with AltRight, hopefully they will take some of their loony conspiracy audience with them. The same people who are so squeamish they think jokingly giving Roman salutes poisons our movement, are somehow under the impression that InfoWars has a respectable reputation among ordinary educated people. This same crowd disavows some of us for daring to have racial in-group preferences…yet they think promoting Satanic panics, UFO conspiracies, Sandy Hook conspiracies, and pseudo-scientific health quackery won’t repel useful and intelligent people from their movement.
The epidemic of “fake news” itself isn’t a remarkable issue. It’s just blackhat internet marketers trying to make a quick buck with clickbait articles that easily go viral due to their outrageous bombshell claims. The astronomical number of people who appear to be susceptible to fabricated news items and circulate them uncritically is the real story. It’s more of an argument for why most people probably aren’t mentally equipped to vote than a case for news curation. That’s why I’m in favor of “fedora nationalism” (non-MRA variety) which given the available evidence of observable human behavior, is probably more of pipe dream than Calexit, the Northwest Territorial Imperative, or even the plot of Bionic Commando.
One last note…
For crying out loud, it’s *eminent* domain, not “imminent” domain! Sorry, I have been wanting to get that off my chest for a while.