Recently, a member of the Progressive Left called Mike Rowe a “white nationalist.” This greatly clarified for me what “white nationalist” and its cousins “alt-right,” “white supremacist” and “Nazi” mean in contemporary parlance.
They mean nothing. They signify that a Progressive leftist hates you, but the words themselves have no intrinsic meaning. Leftists argue at the level of schoolchildren. Name-calling is their primary technique, and when a leftist (a word with a defined meaning) calls someone a “white nationalist” or “Nazi” it means no more than a six-year-old calling a grown-up a “poopyhead.”
And yet, their childish name-calling is curiously effective. It immediately compels many Republicans and conservatives to insist “I am not an alt-right nationalist.” They may as well be proclaiming “I am not a poopyhead” for all its worth. Worse, they think the way to prove they’re not a poopyhead is to concede some ground to the person calling them a poopyhead. (“And I strongly denounce poopyheads and their divisive culture of hate.”)
I don’t really get this reaction. “Oh, no! Someone who despises me, hates everything I value, and is utterly incapable of reasonable debate just called me a name. I must immediately deny that I am this name she called me and furthermore prove that I am not by conceding some of my beliefs in favor of hers.”
When a child throws a tantrum in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart, nobody wins by conceding to the tantrum. The mother can buy temporary piece by purchasing the colorful piece of formed plastic that the child demands, but that only teaches the child that tantrums are effective. The mother can walk out of the store dragging the screaming brat behind her, but not if she is afraid that the other people of Wal-Mart will think her cruel.
It’s a waste of time debating who’s a “white nationalist” or what is meant by “alt-right.” Those are just the left’s current epithets of choice. By the time their opponents have exhausted their energies defending themselves of the charge of “White Nationalism,” the left will have moved on to a new epithet. Any response other than, “Yeah, whatever you say, idiot with a bad dye-job” is wasted energy.