Everyone’s talking about Charlottesville and white supremacists these days – or about the alt-right/alt-left phenomenon. One Canadian news outlet has even thought it appropriate to toss the ball in Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer’s court, wondering whether he should do and say more to distance his Canadian Conservatives from (American) racists.
Frankly, this is the wrong approach. Racism isn’t a left-versus-right thing. There are people who are racist, and others who aren’t. Simple as that. Conservatism, liberalism, socialism… none of this has anything to do with racism – a way of thinking that is the result, or may be the result, of an individual’s personal frustrations, problems and issues. You know, the type who feels cornered and believes the only solution is to assign blame (“scapegoating”).
Political groups and parties aren’t, or shouldn’t be, about assigning blame, but about crafting sensible solutions for the problems of the times.
Yes, there are also groups for whom racism is the driving force. They don’t care about lower taxes, better health care or education; instead, their focus is on blocking, marginalizing, ostracizing and destroying those they perceive to be enemies. If they decide to arrange themselves as a political party, they’ll be known as a single-issue party, and we all know where they end up eventually.
Conservatives aren’t, and mustn’t be held, accountable for what racist or white supremacist groups do. While there are some individuals of the conservative persuasion who sympathize with such thinking, it doesn’t mean at all that it’s a “conservative thing” or something for which all conservative parties must be called to account. There are also a lot of racists, say, among Canada’s Liberals (and I know what I’m talking about – in public they talk a great game, but when they’re alone or amongst themselves, they show their real faces and inclinations). So, why, then, aren’t the media demanding that the Liberals, NDP, etc. must do more to distance themselves from America’s white supremacists?
No political group or party is immune, a fact most prominently demonstrated by the original Nazis themselves. They were not conservatives or rightwingers, but socialists! So, when you call a conservative, republican or rightwinger a Nazi, you’re really calling him or her a follower, sympathizer or member of a socialist workers’ party (which is what the term Nazi actually stands for).
The reason why President Donald Trump is in hot water is that as the president of the entire country, it’s his moral responsibility, as Arnold Schwarzenegger has said, to denounce racists and white supremacists – not because he’s a Republican, but because he’s the freakin’ president!
By the same token, that duty falls on the prime minister in Canada and, if absolutely necessary, the leaders of the various opposition parties. In that capacity, Mr. Scheer has already said everything he needed to say, and the same is true of the NDP’s Tom Mulcair. Case closed.
One last observation: it has been suggested that there is no alt-left. In the sense that we attach “alt” to anything that is super-über-extreme (and prone to violence), yes, there is such a thing as the alt-left. We recently saw some of them laying waste to parts of Hamburg during the G20 summit meeting.
But over all, we might just as well dispense with “left” and “right” in an “alt” context. Extremists are extremists, and they must all be stopped and neutralized.