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Hate and Chait
Jonathan Chait's whole purpose is to be ignorant and advance hateful garbage.
Jonathan Chait, centrist dipshit, just wrote another piece of centrist dipshitery, this one explaining why refusing health care for trans kids is okay if you’re an ignorant bigot like Jonathan Chait.
I’m not going to bother to link, but I thought I’d re-up this old piece from 2017 about an earlier Chait bit of centrist dipshitery. I feel like it’s maybe useful to be reminded that he has sucked for a long time, and shows no signs of stopping.
This was first published in my ebook on pundits who suck, for those interested.
Jonathan Chait wrote an already much-mocked post yesterday about the limits of white supremacy. In Chait’s view, white supremacy is a term which should only be used to describe extremists like David Duke. He fears that if everyday race baiters like Donald Trump are called white supremacists just because they call for the political marginalization and disempowerment of people of color, anti-fascists will physically assault mainstream Republicans willy-nilly, and the Republic will be lost.
Of course that’s all ridiculous. I’d like to highlight one particular silly passage though.
The emergence of the alt-right has created a bridge between conservatism and white supremacy. The term “alt-right” itself has become fuzzy, since actual white supremacists coopted it almost immediately, but it originally referred to a movement occupying the ideological space between Nazism and standard conservatism. The alt-right was more racist than traditional conservatism, but it still did not identify as white supremacist. In one interview, Steve Bannon said, “I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist.” In another, he called white supremacists “a bunch of clowns.”
The problem with this passage is that Chait has no idea what he’s talking about. The term “alt-right” was not developed as a way to dilute neo-Nazi ideas. It was created as a way to rebrand white nationalism, period. The creator of the term “alt-right”, Richard Spencer, is a white supremacist who believes the U.S. should be ethnically cleansed of people of color; he led a crowd in a Hitler salute following Trump’s inauguration. Steve Bannon has always been a little more cutesy about his alt-right affiliation; he’s “alt light” as the term goes.
Nobody can know everything, but a major columnist at a large scale venue weighing in authoritatively on the meaning of white supremacy has a minimal obligation to not just make up history in order to get his argument to look pretty. Chait is actually cosigning alt-right propaganda here. The whole purpose of the term “alt-right” was to convince clueless centrist pundits like Chait that Nazis were not really Nazis anymore. Chait swallows the bait like a bloated white flounder surfacing in a fountain of spray and free speech encomiums.
This isn’t just a minor point. Chait’s whole argument is that we risk destroying civil society if we label too many people white supremacists. But in his effort to circumscribe the term, he leaves out people who are indisputably white supremacists. What dangers result when people with heinous views are able to convince influential dipshits like Jon Chait to cover for them? For that matter, aren’t dog whistles expressly intended to trick dipshits like Jon Chait into running cover for people with truly heinous views?
Chait doesn’t ask those questions, much less answer them. If we don’t call hate by its name, he assures us, violence will diminish. To that end, he encourages his readers to cultivate ignorance. He even models it for them.
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