Ian Danskin, (Danskin 2018)

This is an entry in the Alt-right Playbook.

Summary

Thoughts

Notes

[…] two of the most powerful tools for making any marginalized group less marginalized are Language and Visibility.

[…]

[…] as a fringe group becomes more visible, and their language becomes commonplace, their presence in society starts to seem normal. They become demystified. Some people who thought they were strange and threatening will start to warm up to them, though this does not happen across the board. Many who hated them when they were fringe will see their becoming mainstream as a kind of existential occupation of territory, as in “If this is normal now, what does that make me?”

[…] let’s not beat around the bush: Language and Visibility are tools of consolidating power. Visibility means having a sense of your numbers. Common language means forming alliances.

Culture is plastic. Any fringe group or idea can become normalized, regardless of its inherent worth. And, for a certain subset of extremely online people with fringe beliefs, who understand the ways mainstreaming has evolved in the attention economy, it can be a weapon.

Mainstreaming is not a wholly organic process, because usually the people who get mainstreamed are actively working to become so. But people usually have only so much control over how and how fast this happens: A group expands its language and visibility; if this leads to larger numbers and greater mainstream acceptance, the process repeats, this time with a bigger group and a bigger audience; so long as there is growth, each cycle is more impactful, as the bigger a group is the faster it gets even bigger and the more common language becomes the faster it proliferates.

By all rights, if your beliefs are wildly unpopular, this process shouldn’t work. Your language and visibility don’t expand because too many people don’t want to talk like you or about you. So what do you do then? Well, normally, you either give up or bide your time, but, if you have a lot of media literacy and no real moral compass, you get it done dirty.

If the media doesn’t want to cover you, make yourself newsworthy. Threaten to publicly out immigrants in front of a crowd. Start a hoax about white student unions. Lead a white power rally and leave the hoods at home. Do the kinds of things that journalists cannot, in good conscience, ignore. Once you’ve made yourself news, they’ll feel they can’t publish a condemnation without getting your side of the story, so, bam, you’ve got an interview. The more erratic and dangerous you seem, the more they’ll want to write a profile so people can figure you out; the article about how surprisingly normal you seem in person basically writes itself. If you want to spread a conspiracy theory, send it to a small, local news site that doesn’t have the resources to fact check you; once they publish something salacious, all the bigger news channels will have to talk about it, if only to debunk it. Put provocative stuff in front of politicians; anything they retweet has to be news. In a pinch, you can always piggyback off a famous activist by making takedown videos, or, if you’re really ambitious, harass someone at a conference.

Everyone’s desperate for clicks. If you can generate them, you’ll get your message out.

If nobody’s adopting your language, adopt it for them. Make sure you and all your friends each have half a dozen fake Twitter accounts spamming the same terminology at everyone who discusses race, gender, orientation, or ability. Put every Jewish name in parentheses until everyone on the internet knows what that means whether they want to or not. Hell, don’t even do it yourself: Russia’s not the only one who can make bots. Make thousands of bots. And make sure your real account, your fake accounts, and your bots all talk the same so no one can tell the difference anymore. Make hashtags and get them trending all by yourself, and, while you’re at it, spam all the hashtags for movements you hate with porn and gore so they can’t be used. And if your words and memes still aren’t popular? Just steal words and memes that are already popular. Just decide “this? this means white power now,” [Pepe the frog] “this is antifeminist now” [“triggered”]. Saturate the web with your new usage, always insisting that you’re doing it “ironically,” [For the lulz] while eroding confidence in anyone who uses these words in the original sense. And never stop insisting that most everyone would talk the same as you if there weren’t so much damn censorship.

And where Delany saw a group of 80 or 90 gay men reported in the papers as a group of 4 or 5, the Alt-Right wants to get reported as being much larger than it actually is. They want to draw attention to themselves by any means necessary, up to and including violence, but to ensure that, any time the cameras train on a violent act, there is a man in a suit ready to distance himself from it; to paint the picture that, but for a few bad actors, this is a peaceful movement of young, presentable intellectuals.

Much as we’d like to believe people are driven by morality, most people are driven by the desire to be normal [Bob Altemeyer | The Authoritarians]. And when the news is filled with images of swastikas, iron crosses, and tiki torches, the guy in the suit with the fashy haircut looks pretty normal by comparison. And that’s why he wears the suit.

References

Danskin, Ian. 2018. “Mainstreaming.” Tumblr. Innuendo Studios. https://innuendostudios.tumblr.com/post/172589201372/the-newest-installment-of-the-alt-right-playbook.