Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Medium That Regularly Espouses White Supremacism Shouldn't Be Promoted Approvingly Ever, Even on the Rare Occasion It Says Something Correct

Stuart K. Hayashi

In The Tracinski Letter I wrote about how, for the past year, Stefan Molyneux has made white supremacism and paranoid warnings about an imminent race war into the regular theme of his call-in podcast Freedomain Radio (FDR); it comes up on an almost daily basis (always at least once a week).

Stefan Molyneux's Week-Long Attempt to Rationalize Away the Allegations of Trump Committing Sexual Assault
Recently Molyneux has displayed another aspect of the pathology that Freedomain Radio perpetuates. You will recall that early this month, the media reported on audio recordings of Donald Trump boasting of groping women against their consent. This is not surprising; it is consistent with the lecherous image that Trump has cultivated over the years, and it corroborates accusations that already came out months ago, such as in the case of Jill Harth. All that is new in this instance is that the accusations against Trump come directly from Trump himself in his own words, as the behavior he describes matches what Jill Harth said about him.

As Molyneux has gained the reputation as the most intellectual apologist for Trump on the Web (hardly anyone mistakes Milo Yiannopoulos for an intellectual), he has spent much of last week trying to rationalize away any stigmata that might attach to Trump when it comes to the latest allegations.

On Saturday, October 8, Molyneux did a whole show about it with the lawyer Mike Cernovich.

Then on Sunday, October 9, Molyneux uploaded a video where he did a solo lecture on this, using the usual PowerPoint-style slides.

This is the sort of caliber of rationalization Molyneux provides: he mostly talks as if people are offended by Trump merely using a dirty word and not that Trump admitted to committing assault. Molyneux does indirectly let on that he knows that this is about assault though, by saying that expressing appreciation for The Fountainhead is a much more serious apologia for rape than is support for Trump. He says that Paul Ryan is a hypocrite for denouncing Trump because Paul Ryan likes Ayn Rand, and The Fountainhead is all about a man who takes a woman forcefully.

First off, that book was published in 1943; sensibilities were different then than they were in 2005. Much more importantly, it's fiction; Ayn Rand did not expect people to take everything in it literally (for instance, if some contractors reneged on their promise to an architect to erect a building exactly as he designed it, I doubt she would think it was necessarily a good idea for the architect to dynamite the completed structure). Also, Ayn Rand got really sick of people saying that Dominique did not consent. When it comes to fictional characters, you can get away with saying that consent was obvious. When you're talking about real people, of course you can't read their minds and offer the same latitude.

Then on Thursday, October 13, Molyneux talked about this again with Alex Jones's young minion Paul Joseph Watson.

The title for this one is "Donald Trump Will Not Be Stopped."

For Friday, October 14, Molyneux delivered another solo video, a PowerPoint-style lecture ironically pegged "The Truth About the Donald Trump Sexual Assault Allegations."

At last in this video Molyneux had to confront that it was the admission of assault that is causing the public disgust toward Trump. Here, Molyneux latches onto how one of Trump's accusers, Megan Twohey, said that Trump was "blond" when she met him. For the video, Molyneux shows a photograph of Trump next to Ronald Reagan from around that same time. In that light, Trump's hair looks ashen blond, as opposed to light blond. Then Molyneux says that because Trump's hair looks dark in that photo, this should cast doubt on Megan Twohey's account. These are the sort of reaches that Molyneux expects his audience to accept.

Then for Saturday, October 15, Molyneux did another ridiculous lecture: "More Donald Trump Sexual Assault Allegations."

I wrote in the Tracinski Letter piece, "As Donald Trump’s rhetoric energized the white nationalist movements — finally a presidential candidate said what they wanted to hear — it was natural for them to gravitate to someone who would repeatedly deliver rationalizations for Trump, even if these rationalizations were convincing to no one other than those already in Trump’s corner." That definitely applies here: Molyneux's attempts to discredit Trump's accusers and critics are convincing to no one but people who are already committed to voting for Trump.

It is as if Stefan Molyneux is an Aztec priest giving a long speech to Spanish conquistadors about how the world will end if a human is not sacrificed to the god Quetzalcoatl. Therefore, Molyneux is not changing minds here; he is merely helping committed Trump supporters rationalize to themselves that it is still morally acceptable — even laudatory — to cast their ballots for Trump.

For the alt-right, Donald Trump has become Attila — the brute they want in charge. Attila is not sophisticated enough to deliver convincing rationalizations that his brutal actions are morally right, however, and that is why the alt-right needs a witch doctor, arriving in the form of Molyneux, to conjure up the rationalizations for them. (Milo Yiannopoulos has shown that he lacks the intellectual sophistication for a project of that sort.)

Stefan Molyneux has turned himself into a vending machine that dispenses rationalizations to the alt-right. People from the alt-right insert money into the machine and then out pops some rationalizations for them.

If this sounds too disrespectful toward Molyneux for your taste — well, not much respect is to be granted to someone who has decided to build his public identity around white supremacism.

Boycott Freedomain Radio Completely Already
Molyneux's latest round of rape apologetics further exemplifies how Molyneux's brand is toxic. Sometimes a source of political opinion is so consistently hateful that, when it's correct on a rare occasion, even a statement of the "correct" position should not be promoted or shared in any manner that might be construed as tacit approval for that source of political opinion.

Yes, I have observed above that Molyneux is making himself less and less persuasive, and that he is getting to the point where you already have to agree with him, for the most part, to find most of what he says convincing. Given that, you might wonder why I care if you promote him. The answer is very simple. If you go around calling yourself an Objectivist or even a free-marketer, and then you promote Molyneux's work, you make Objectivists and free-marketers look really ridiculous.  You don't want Objectivism or free enterprise to be confused with Molyneux's white supremacism; you don't want teenagers and twenty-somethings, who are learning about these ideas for the first time, to mistake such ideas as being related to what Molyneux peddles. That will waste everyone's time.  Don't let any of the stench from Molyneux rub off on what are truly worthwhile ideas that merit consideration among the young.

Moyneux's works should not be shared or recommended or promoted at all, unless — as in the section above — it is to show that Molyneux and Freedomain Radio have rendered themselves as too toxic for anyone of decency to condone tacitly. If one posts a link to Freedomain Radio, it should be for no purpose other than to exhibit how Freedomain Radio has made itself worthless. One should not link to FDR as a springboard for offering Molyneux some "constructive criticism" whereby Molyneux can "improve" the program. Due to a year's worth of work, white supremacism is at the core of Freedomain Radio. The one way that FDR could improve would be to renounce the white supremacism and cultism completely — but that would be for FDR to be left with nothing, stripped of its identity completely. This is a wreck beyond salvaging.

Boycott it altogether, linking to it only when you need to show the fence-sitters why it deserves nothing friendlier than to be boycotted.

Aren't Objectivists Usually Too Harsh in Demanding That You Shun Something or Someone? Then Where Do You Draw the Line?
Of course, I understand that my saying this might be alarming. Many people — though self-described Objectivists seem to be especially prone to this behavior — too often err too much on the other side. For example, sometimes some people I really admire would do friendly interviews on the Glenn Beck Show. Therefore, on Facebook I would share those interviews. Then this pair of perpetually angry atheist guys would descend on me and harangue me, saying that I was an apologist for all sorts of atrocities committed in the name of Christianity for centuries. Of course, I told them that a few shares of Glenn Beck's material did not mean I condoned everything Glenn Beck said. I had my own issues with Beck that I think are much more serious than what the angry atheist duo squawked about — I had grave reservations about Beck's anti-immigrationism (you may have noticed that Bill O'Reilly and Breitbart News and several other rightists got medieval on Beck when Beck visibly softened his stand on this matter).

And I stand by that. I am not sorry about promoting Glenn Beck's interviews with Yaron Brook. I have issues with lots of people for their political opinions, but, to the extent that I go medieval on you for simple disagreement, that's wrong. But I do have to go ballistic on any approving share of Stefan Molyneux's material, even if it's on one of the rare occasions where Molyneux focuses on something like GMOs instead of his racism. Molyneux is very consistent in advocating white supremacism on an almost-daily basis. I have to draw a line in Molyneux's case because it is very obvious that if his policies were adopted, lots of people would die violently as a result.

In his white supremacism, Molyneux has entered the same territory as David Irving and David Duke. And when someone is in that territory, even when that person argues a viewpoint that is correct, that person should not be promoted as if he's just misunderstood and is actually respectable.

Stefan Molyneux got some friends of mine to go onto his show to criticize environmentalist misconceptions. And everything my friends said on Molyneux's podcast on those matters was accurate. But I absolutely refuse to promote my friends' performances on Molyneux's show, because I don't want to give the impression that there is anything respectable about Molyneux for as long as he's continuing to advocate white supremacism. And you're damn right that I told my friends that it was dangerous of them to appear on a white supremacist cult leader's podcast.

"What Should I Do When a White Supremacist Actually Makes a Good Point That I Want to Share on Facebook?"
People say to me, "Why shouldn't I share a video where Molyneux argues a viewpoint that is correct, such as when he defends nineteenth-century industrialists?" You don't have to worry about that. As is common with white supremacists, whenever Molyneux argues a point that is correct, he's just repeating a point made by a non-racist who made that point much more elegantly anyway.

My friends made elegant arguments against Greenpeace's propaganda on Molyneux's show. But you know what? Those people made those same points in essays they have put online — all independently of Molyneux. Therefore, just share those essays, which do not have the noxious fumes of Molyneux on them.

I'm told that Stefan Molyneux made a good defense of "the robber barons" on one of his episodes. Actually, I listened to that episode and, even then, Molyneux relied mostly on sarcasm and condescension to ridicule opinions opposed to his own. Very little of that episode was spent making a good case. And when he made points that were correct — which would have been delivered much more convincingly if they were delivered sans the sarcastic tone — the points were made much better in online writings by Andrew Bernstein. Therefore, just share online essays by Andrew Bernstein on this subject.

Where I Draw the Line and Consider Someone Unshareable
Since I think the angry atheists overreacted to my sharing Glenn Beck videos,and yet I have a zero-tolerance position on Molyneux, what's the difference? I draw the line when a medium cites pseudoscience to write off a whole group of people as unworthy of freedom (and therefore unworthy of life) based on something they cannot control, such as their genes. If one wants to debase oneself and one's professed philosophy in the most humiliating fashion possible, it is harder to think of a more excruciating way to do that to associate oneself  with a brazen white supremacist and to have such a great philosophy confused with the white supremacist's.

I also refuse to share any material from any media that repeatedly push agendas that are obviously fraudulent and physically dangerous. A case in point is the website Health Impact News, which relentlessly attempts to scare parents out of providing their kids HPV vaccinations based on the lie that HPV vaccines will make them sterile. If you find that a charlatan website such as that one will, once in a blue moon, argue a point that is correct, you will still find that that same point will be argued by a reliable source that is not regularly promoting snake oil. In that case, share the argument from the source that bothers to avoid all that snake oil.

And, again, link to such charlatans only in cases where you are exposing these unreliable media sources as charlatans.

Do not offer "constructive criticism" to brazen white supremacists, hoping that you can ease them out of this. Until they formally renounce the white supremacism, admit unequivocally that it was absolutely wrong, and show genuine remorse over the damage they have done, boycott the white supremacists entirely.

UPDATE from Monday, November 14, 2016: It turns out that Stefan Molyneux cites and repeats the conspiracy theories of Kevin MacDonald, a co-propagandist of David Duke's, who regularly comes as a guest onto David Duke's white supremacist podcast. See my blog post about that here.