My Lucky Escape From The Clutches Of The Alt-Right

On one occasion I even, I am ashamed to admit…

Even what..? Where might this suspenseful construction be leading?

…assaulted an Anglican vicar?

…ran over a guide dog and set fire to Oxfam?

Here’s the full sentence:

On one occasion I even, I am ashamed to admit, very diplomatically expressed negative sentiments on Islam to my wife.

Oh. My. God. The horror.

Can you imagine expressing negative sentiments about a religion? I mean, the Catholics are fair game, obviously. And the Church of England too, all fuzzy and liberal, yeah, fire away at them.

But Islam? The one with the Sharia Law, and the human rights offenses, and the radical offshoots that keep engaging in acts of unspeakable violence? Oh no, you keep your “diplomatically expressed negative sentiments” to yourself.

If you’re wondering where that sentence was plucked from, it’s part of an absurdist Guardian article titled

Alt-right online poison nearly turned me into a racist

In many ways the article is a masterpiece. It encapsulates everything that is so wrong with the regressive left, head-in-the-sand, intolerant ‘liberal’ outlook. It appears to have been written for children, and it manages to passive aggressively slur a widely respected, best-selling author.

The anonymous writer opens with a glorious parade of not just his own impeccable virtue, but that of everyone he knows too:

All my friends are very liberal or left leaning centrists. I have always voted Liberal Democrat or Green. I voted Remain in the referendum. The thought of racism in any form has always been abhorrent to me.

How I aspire to be as ethically spotless as this. Not only does he explicitly declare that he’s not racist, but he proves it too, by being neither a verminous Tory nor a despicable Leave voter, and by not knowing anyone who has different opinions. He’s a model progressive, unblemished and pure.

But there lies something dangerous within him: curiosity.

The poor, flawed sod, why didn’t he just stick with the people who all think in precisely the same way as him? They’re obviously the good guys.

Alas though,

I was curious as to the motives of Leave voters. Surely they were not all racist, bigoted or hateful?

What does he mean? Of course we’re all racist, bigoted and hateful—that’s why we voted Leave! I mean, if we weren’t we would have voted Remain like him. The bloody idiot.

And so begins his descent, as after watching some videos on YouTube, a Machiavellian, evil Leaver tells him to listen to Sam Harris. Now, you may have thought that Sam Harris was well-informed and considerate. A man concerned with facts, who bends over backwards to avoid expressing anything resembling bigotry around controversial subjects. Because he obviously isn’t bigoted.

To the narrator though, Sam Harris is not simply a man, he’s a sinister, ideological gateway drug. After being “shocked” by the entirely calm and rational Harris, the writer finds himself sliding out of control along an oily, sinful snake:

YouTube’s “suggested videos” can lead you down a rabbit hole. Moving on from Harris, I unlocked the Pandora’s box of “It’s not racist to criticise Islam!” content. Eventually I was introduced, by YouTube algorithms, to Milo Yiannopoulos and various “anti-SJW” videos

Yes, after being made aware of the entirely obvious fact that “It’s not racist to criticise Islam”, he was led to a miscreant even more treacherous than Harris, the fascinating character known often just as Milo. And the writer’s reaction to Milo’s videos?

They were shocking at first

This guy is easily shocked. First Sam Harris and now Milo. It’s as if he spent his whole life locked in a cuddly university safe space drawing pictures of unicorns, and has only just been released into the community.

Just to be clear about what’s shocking him, it’s other people opinions. On YouTube. That he can turn off, or disregard, or laugh at, or do whatever he wants with.

Somehow though, despite the bewildering emotional cataclysm of listening to some ideas, he continues along the grisly path to damnation:

the anti-SJW stuff also moved on to anti-feminism, men’s rights activists – all that stuff. I followed a lot of these people on Twitter, but never shared any of it. I just passively consumed it, because, deep down, I knew I was ashamed of what I was doing.

Oh god, the shame. The sacrilege of questioning third wave feminism. It’s a wonder the guilt itself didn’t destroy him, burning his guts and rotting his angelic, liberal heart until he simply fell down dead, face down at his desk with a frog meme flickering mockingly on the monitor before him.

It’s at this point that he criticses Islam to his wife, and she gets a bit snooty, asking:

Isn’t that a bit… rightwing?

That’s his ellipsis, by the way, indicating the pause during which his wife mentally scrolled through possible adjectives to describe her hubby’s views: fascist… literally Hitler… chaotic evil… oh, I know–right wing!

He replies:

Well, I’m more a left-leaning centrist. PC culture has gone too far, we should be able to discuss these things without shutting down the conversation by calling people racist, or bigots.

A solid comeback, he gets it at last! Finally, the story has a happy ending. Oh, but wait, he then blows it completely by narrating retrospectively:

The indoctrination was complete.

That’s the indoctrination of opening yourself to new ideas, allowing yourself to be challenged, realising that there are alternative ways to view the world, and that much of what you previously believed was inaccurate?

This is exactly like a cult. What am I doing? I’m turning into an arsehole.

Arsehole.

I unsubscribed and unfollowed from everything, and told myself outright: “You’re becoming a racist. What you’re doing is turning you into a terrible, hateful person.” Until that moment I hadn’t even realised that “alt-right” was what I was becoming; I just thought I was a more open-minded person for tolerating these views.

So, vote Leave, disagree with the social justice movement, question feminist theory, criticise Islam, even just listen to Sam Harris, and you’ll turn into “a terrible, hateful person”, you might be joining “a cult”, and you’re certainly well on your way to becoming a member of the alt-right.

While the penitent writer has bravely redeemed himself, if you should lean toward conservatism or stray from the liberal progressive agenda, then you are, as is always the case now, a bigot, a racist, and dangerously prone to extremism.

Just the usual slurs and insults then, but slightly repackaged. Unable to issue a straight ‘you’re racist’, because it’s been overused, we instead get a warped little pretend confession: My lucky escape from the clutches of the alt-right.

Here are the final couple of lines, just because they’re so remarkably over the top and impossible to take seriously:

I didn’t think this could happen to me. But it did and it will haunt me for a long time to come.

That’s right, his flirtation with some ideas he doesn’t agree with has left him in a state of profound existential discord. So be careful out there, heed the warnings and stay on-message… or it might happen to you too.

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