James Kirchick and the Radical Alt-Left

Jack Kerwick
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Posted: Dec 28, 2016 1:31 PM
James Kirchick and the Radical Alt-Left

James Kirchick’s latest article at The Daily Beast—“The Jews Begging to Join the Alt-Right”—is a ramshackle assemblage of non sequiturs, ad hominem attacks, and strawman fallacies that Kirchick, himself a Jew, tries to pass off as a reasoned argument.

The first thing of which to take note is that at the core of Kirchick’s propagandist piece is an intractable contradiction. The “alt-right,” he tells us, is a “nebulous” phenomenon. The Oxford Dictionary informs us that the nebulous is that which is “indistinct,” “unclear,” “ill-defined.” Thus, if he was intellectually honest, Kirchick would, at the very least, proceed with caution and humility while treating his subject matter.

This, though, is decidedly not the course that Kirchick takes. Rather, he purports to know all that there is to know about the nebulous object of his contempt.

Kirchick identifies “leaders” and assures us that “alt-righters” must consent to be “contemptuous of mainstream conservatism.” They must agree to “politicize whiteness.” Those wishing to become members of the “alt-right” must oppose those “hordes of Muslims, Black Lives Matter activists, and campus totalitarians” that are resolved to “destroy” “Western civilization.”

Oh yeah, and anyone who wants to be in the “alt-right” must subscribe to “anti-Semitism.”

Despite this, though, Kirchick informs us that there are “self-hating” Jews who “are lining up” to join the “alt-right” and “shout ‘Seig Heil’ and ‘Hail, Donald’” (Kirchick’s use of the argument ad Hitlerium, though all too predictable, should not go unnoticed here).

The “alt-right” is nebulous and not nebulous, to hear Kirchick tell it.

Second, Kirchick speculates that those legions of Jews aching to ally themselves with “an explicitly racist” movement that “explicitly embraces an exclusionary white identity” and “that frankly doesn’t want them” may be inclined to do so because of Paul Gottfried, “one of the alt-right’s founders [.]”

Gottfried, you see, is Jewish.

He is also a Jew whose family had to flee the Nazis.

Beyond this, Gottfried is hardly the “the crank” that Kirchick would have us think. He is a scholar of European and American intellectual history and retired professor who has authored numerous highly acclaimed books and articles over his illustrious career. He was an adviser in the Reagan administration and became friendly with a retired Richard Nixon after the former President publicly expressed his affection for one of Gottfried’s more philosophical works. Professor Gottfried was also friends with William F. Buckley and, in fact, wrote for the latter’s National Review—a publication for which Kirchick now writes.

In 2008, when Gottfried first used the term “alternative right” at a conference over which he was presiding, he did so in order to distinguish himself and the attendees from those who had, quite wrongly, become associated with “the right” in popular media.

Gottfried, in other words, presented the movement of sorts that was coalescing around him as an alternative to the movement of GOP-friendly apparatchiks, the scribblers and talking heads whose names and faces had become synonymous with “conservatism” and “the right.”

Gottfried’s alternative right, however, had nothing to do with “exclusionary white identity,” “racism,” and whatever other “isms” and “phobias” Kirchick wants to pull from his Politically Correct arsenal in his quest to demonize his opponents.

Rather, Gottfried is a conservative liberal, a classical conservative with libertarian impulses who is much more at home in the tradition of Edmund Burke than in the communist and socialist milieus from which Kirchick’s ilk hail.

This brings us to our third point.

“Alternative right” is a misleading moniker insofar as it implies that there is a right to which it is an alternative. Yet as Gottfried (and others) have insisted, the so-called “right” in America today is no right at all. Politically, ideologically, and culturally, the official “right” in contemporary America is predominately a neoconservative “right,” another version of the left.

This is why I refer to it as the “alt-left.”

A final word: Even when he is making his case that “Jews need not apply” to the “alt-right,” Kirchick can’t cite anyone except for anonymous commenters who have made genuinely disparaging, deplorable remarks about Jews. And as for those who send memes of Jews being gassed in ovens, a meme that Kirchick claims to have received, the decent have no use.

This being said, it is telling that neither Kirchick nor anyone else can identify a single rally or article, much less a video, featuring any instances of “alt-righters” visiting violence, or even calling for violence, against anyone.

Take as a prime example those “hordes of Muslims” that Kirchick derides the “alt-right” for (allegedly) detesting. With missionary zeal, the neocon alt-left led the charge for the democratization of the Islamic world in the Middle East, wars of aggression that left hordes of Muslims—well over a million—including women and children, dead. Many, many more have been displaced and maimed, and hundreds of thousands of children have been orphaned. Ancient Christian communities and those of other religious minorities have been decimated.

In glaring contrast, Paul Gottfried and some others with whom the Kirchicks of the world would associate the “alt-right” stringently opposed the alt-left’s neo-imperialist wars of aggression. For this, they were vilified by such alt-leftists as David Frum for being “unpatriotic.”

The alt-left strains out the gnat while letting in the camel.

I am neither a member of the “alt-right” nor a Jew. I am simply an independent-minded, conservative-leaning, Roman Catholic Christian who despises injustice in all of its forms.

And it is unjust indeed for alt-leftist neoconservatives like James Kirchick to spoil the well of discourse by taking cheap shots at folks, particularly fellow Jews like Paul Gottfried, while remaining as blind as a bat to their own glaring vices.