Sunday, April 14, 2019

Interview: Ted Rall says the alt-right is, unfortunately, "not going away soon"

Editor's note: This interview was originally published in February 2017.

This is the second of three articles spanning my discussion with Ted Rall. The first part of our conversation is available here. 
Story by Joseph Ford Cotto 
People say a lot about political correctness, yet nothing at all.
It is one of those subjects that generates passionate controversy from both sides. Surely, most of us have heard debates on the matter which ramble into pointlessness. Indeed, one can hardly make a point about the key aspects of political correctness because these are deemed unsuitable for polite conversation. 
This is the saving grace for PC proponents.  
Opposing viewpoints are called “bigoted”, “unenlightened”, “intolerant”, “outdated”, or, the mother of them all, “racist”. Those who support unorthodox ideas are viciously attacked and vilified so that others are strong-armed to a state of perennial submission.
Ted Rall is not the sort to submit -- quite the opposite, in fact.
He is a left-leaning columnist and cartoonist whose work gets international syndication; a true mark of accomplishment in age where newspapers are going to their great reward in record number. Well, bankruptcy is hardly a reward, but you get the point. For years, Rall has provided keen insight about the follies of American political life; irrespective of whether this irritates leftists, rightists, or even centrists.
I have read his work for quite awhile and developed the sinking suspicion that he really has it out for the oh-so-urbane pearl-clutchers in that last group. 
As the author of The Anti-American Manifesto and The Book of Obama: From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt, it is easy to see why Rall engenders controversy from a broad range of perspectives. While his blunt honesty repels some, others of us appreciate his wit and no-nonsense delivery -- even if we do not agree with him on most issues.
Rall recently spoke with me about many issues pertinent to the politics of today. Some of our discussion is included below.


Joseph Ford Cotto: A band of disparate rightists banded together in support of Donald Trump's candidacy. These individuals, opposed to contemporary American conservative orthodoxy, came to be known as the 'alt-right'. Since Donald Trump's election, 'alt-rightism' has splintered prolifically. Beyond anything else, why is this?

Ted Rall: Since I don't hang around with a lot of racists, I don't have a lot of insight into this. However, it looks a lot like the problems that afflict the left. The alt-right is an alliance of convenience more than a unified movement. There are too many fissures, too many conflicting priorities, for them to get together and stay together beyond the most recent election.

Cotto: Richard Spencer's now-infamous speech -- in which he hailed Trump and some audience members responded with a Nazi-like salute -- is said to have been the driving force behind the alt-right's disintegration. While this is undeniably true to some extent, could it be said that the alt-right was destined to fracture as it was a loosely-bound coalition to begin with?

Rall: As I replied in my answer to the question, yes, I think that it's a matter of too many different kinds of hateful people coming together. If you are an anti-Semite, are you really going to set aside your Jew-hating to help out your racist allies with their black-hating? So much hatred, so little time…

Cotto: Insofar as the foreseeable future of American conservatism is concerned, do you believe that the 'alt-right' brand is damaged beyond the level of repair necessary for serious influence over public policy?

Rall: No, I don't think the brand is hurting at all. They have one of their own as a top White House advisor right now. They are getting interviewed on cable news channels all the time. The clock has definitely not run out on this particular brand. Plus there's another election coming up next year. Naturally, Trump legitimizes these people. Regrettably, they're not going away soon.

Cotto: The social justice warrior left and the alt-right have found success in spreading their ideas via Internet memes. Why has this method of politicking proven so effective?

Rall: Because they're entertaining and easy to understand. Whether you are spreading those ideas or just simple Internet jokes, it comes down to the same thing: what engaging and easy and fun and fast to read will cross the world in a second.