The Phony-Tough and Crazy-Brave

Violence, masculinity, and American politics.

Writing at The Atlantic, David French examines “The New Right’s Strange and Dangerous Cult of Toughness.” After a setup about someone I’ve never heard of deriding the Reagan-era alliance among economic conservatives, social conservatives, and defense hawks as “inherently effete, limp, and . . . unmasculine,” French observes that, aside from the substance of the claim being bizarre,

How is that claim a part of an allegedly serious ideological argument? The critique, however, helps illuminate the emerging culture of the right—a culture that idolizes a twisted version of “toughness” as the highest ideal and despises a false version of “weakness” as the lowest vice.

Claims of cowardice have particular purchase among Trump’s followers. Coward is a one-word rebuttal that not only attempts to end an argument, but also aims to discredit the person who made it. Who wants to listen to a coward? Who wants to be known as a coward?

French offers the obvious follow-up:

What makes the claims of toughness and weakness especially curious and dangerous is the way in which they’re tied to the person of Donald Trump. Although “toughness” has long been a populist virtue—especially in the South—the age of Trump transformed the right’s definitions of strength and courage by reference to the man himself. And what are Trump’s alleged strong, masculine virtues?

In the Azerrad essay that Hammer cited, Azerrad explains that Trump’s strength is “not that of a soldier who risks his life in combat or of a general who leads men into battle.” (Trump used an alleged diagnosis of bone spurs to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.) So in that sense, Trump “isn’t as manly as” General Jim Mattis, Azerrad concedes. But Trump is more manly than Mattis in a different way, he explains: “Trump’s manliness is that of a man who is not afraid to say out loud what others only whisper and to incur the wrath of the ruling class for doing so.”

This is a curious definition of manliness. Saying what you think or what others seem afraid to say isn’t inherently “manly.” Speaking your mind isn’t even inherently virtuous, much less inherently masculine. Trump has said many false and harmful things, and the fact that other people might whisper them does not mean that they should be shouted from the presidential bully pulpit.

Now, this is weird in so many ways. But, having been immersed in that culture for a long time, I sort of get it.

Toward the beginning of Stan Kubrick’s classic Full Metal Jacket, the scene is set: “Parris Island, South Carolina. The Marine Corps Training Depot. An eight-week college for the phony-tough and the crazy-brave.”

That memorable phrase apparently derives from a 1973 column by Newsweek‘s Stewart Alsop regarding the Watergate hearings in which he tried to answer the question, “How could people who were clearly not morons have been such goddam fools?”

His answer:

I have come up with a theory to answer that question, which I herewith offer with due modesty. My theory derives from the peculiar relationship between two minority categories of the human race—the crazy-brave and the phony-tough. Most people who have been in a war, and a lot of people who haven’t, have come across specimens of both breeds.

The crazy-brave, who are a lot rarer than the phony-tough, are always doing crazy things that ought to get them
killed, or at least maimed, but nothing ever seems to happen to them. They also exercise a kind of hex or double
whammy on the phony-tough, and they keep getting the phony-tough into terrible trouble.

He noted that the phony-tough can be identified by their crude language, which often uses military-style language and violent connotations but without any intent of follow-through.

Phony-tough talk always shares the same basic characteristic—it is talk designed to show the toughness of the
talker, but requiring no painful or dangerous action on his part. This is why the crazy-brave have a hex on the
phony-tough—the crazy-brave challenge the phony-tough to translate tough talk into dangerous action.

French observes,

And what of the “strength” of Trumpism? Because the movement is centered on and modeled after Trump himself, many of these displays of “strength” are deliberately cruel (see, for example, Adam Serwer’s seminal essay, “The Cruelty Is the Point“) and deliberately defy moral norms. Indeed, the cruelty itself is an act of defiance—decency is what “they” demand, and one cannot comply with “their” demands.

Trump said things that people in polite society aren’t supposed to say and said them in a way that decent folks aren’t supposed to say them. But he not only got away with it, he was rewarded for it. And he was therefore a hero to people who thought those things but were too cowardly to say them themselves and face the consequences. But, of course, Trump was largely insulated from consequence because he’s rich and famous.

But Trump and most of his supporters are merely phony-tough. A handful are crazy-brave.

This defiance of moral norms means that Trumpist “toughness” was never, and could never have been, truly confined to online spaces or even to tough rhetoric. Boundaries are for the weak. So while Trump’s new-right allies and successors often treat Twitter as their Omaha Beach and angry tweets and vicious insults as the online equivalent of attacking a German pillbox with rifle fire and grenades, others know that becoming a keyboard warrior is hardly the highest masculine ideal.

Indeed, the logic of the movement presses toward direct action. If you tell enough people that the future of the country is at stake, that their political opponents have corrupted democracy, and that only the truly tough have what it takes to save the nation, then speeches about unmanly ideologies will never be enough. Trolling on Twitter will, ironically, come to look like a hollow remedy, itself a form of weakness.

Thus we see the increased prevalence of open-carried AR-15s at public protests, the increased number of unlawful threats hurled at political opponents, and outbreaks of actual political violence, including the large-scale violence of January 6.

There are limits to the Alsopian analogy, which he noted applied to a small subset of the human race. It was a device used to argue that G. Gordon Liddy was crazy-brave and bullied a lot of phony-toughs in the Nixon White House to go along with his nonsense because they were afraid of looking weak.

Carrying an AR-15 to a rally may not fit into either category. But I strongly suspect most are trying to look tough, not be tough. It’s cosplay, not civil war. But, obviously, normalizing warlike actions and rhetoric will bring out the crazy-brave. Or just make the crazies brave.

One of the most dangerous developments in our contentious times has been a growth in radical ideologies bolstered by radical intellectuals who often treat decency and even peace as impediments to justice. The riots that ripped through American cities were inexcusable expressions of political fury (and sometimes pure nihilism) that were too often rationalized, excused, and sometimes even celebrated. The author and academic Freddie deBoer has compiled a depressing list of articles, essays, and interviews in prominent publications excusing and justifying violent civil unrest.

The right-wing cult of toughness, in its distinctly Trumpist version, is no exception to this trend. When it is drained of limiting principles and tied to a man who would rather seek to upend our nation’s constitutional order than relinquish power, then the threat to the republic is plain. That threat will remain until the supposedly weak classical liberals on the left and the right do what they’ve always done at their best—rally in defense of liberty, the rule of law, and the American order itself.

French’s column ends there but it’s not exactly clear how it is that he envisions the “rally” taking place. The vast majority of Americans—and would imagine most Trump voters, given that there were 65 million of them—broadly support liberty, the rule of law, and American order.

The problem is, one side has been consistently losing the culture war even while it frequently wins elections. And, with the help of a media complex that depends on stoking their outrage—and, more recently, Trump and other politicians doing their part—too many seem to genuinely believe wildly implausible conspiracy theories about electoral theft, vaccines, and all the rest. They see their country being taken away from them and have been conditioned to think that, like the patriots who came before them, they’re being called upon to take up arms against tyranny.

Again, though, I think the overwhelming number of them are just phony-tough. They’re willing to talk a big game but not willing to take a lot of personal risk in pursuit of their goals. But, within 65 million, it doesn’t take too many outliers to spark violence.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Society
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Honestly, this is no surprise in the week in which a majority of the Supreme Court wondered if women were really people. There is a cult of masculinity in this country that is actively harmful to both men and women. It erupted in the person of Donald Trump. One of its characteristics is no consequences for white men, just dump them on everyone else.

    Watch it play out now that the parents of Ethan Crumbley have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

    21
  2. reid says:

    Interesting post and article. Where does this trajectory we’re on take us? It just seems to be getting worse. Writing about what’s happening is fine and may help to some small degree, but what can really be done about it? God help us if Trump wins the presidency in ’24 and/or GOP takes one or both houses of Congress. They obviously have no desire to do anything about it (and that’s just one of so many disturbing issues with those outcomes coming to pass).

    1
  3. CSK says:

    French makes an excellent point:

    “When Trump’s supporters claim that he is tough and manly, though, they’re often trying to flatter themselves by implying that they share his virtues.”

    Exactly. They’ve merged their identities with his, just as they did earlier with Sarah Palin.

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  4. Scott says:

    This describes my Congressman (Chip Roy, TX-21) to a tee. He regularly talks about “saddling up” and “manning up” as if he has the stones to actually do something other than get on radio and TV talk shows (of course, he’s afraid to meet his constituents). He faked not wearing a mask, won’t say he’s vaccinated, regularly goes to the border to have photos taken gazing out over the Rio Grande, rails against the bill that will register women for the draft (of course he never served), rails about the budget deficit and the welfare state (product of a completely taxpayer subsidized education, and didn’t hesitate to have the taxpayer pay for his cancer treatments), and on and on. Him and Ted Cruz a quite a pair. Of course, he will get reelected.

    Phony tough guy indeed.

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  5. Modulo Myself says:

    A) The law and order south always had a paramilitary component upholding the ‘real’ law and order. They weren’t outliers or extremists. They were necessary members of southern society. We are, right now, falling back on an old, upstanding American tradition.

    B) The left has lots of idiots who think that throwing a brick through a window is awesome. But the left also composes the majority of mental health workers, teachers, social workers, and non-profit workers. Whatever you may think of these fields, they are connected with reality and real people. Most social workers spend their time dealing with the grind of life, not writing manifestos about rebellion. The conservative movement is more like the art world. Essentially they make ‘work’ that ‘subverts the capitalist patriarchy’ and then sells it for 100K at a Chinatown gallery. The only difference is that the art world is very insular and all of the proceeds end up going to into social climbing, cocaine, and ketamine, whereas the conservative ‘art world’ has a much different audience.

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  6. Modulo Myself says:

    Also, I was outside my coastal elite bubble over the Thanksgiving in a place with a television and aside from a few small aspects of inclusion, American pop culture is entirely the same as it always was. Commercials of happy families, college football rivalries, JD Power telling you what truck to buy. To read any of these conservatives you would think they’re showing Warhol’s Factory work and denouncements of white men and Thanksgiving instead of sports and the holiday cheer.

    4
  7. Andy says:

    I don’t spend much time in far-right spaces, but for several years I’ve noticed the tendency described. Often this is put in terms of “Alpha male” vs “Beta Males.” Trump, in particular, is viewed as the quintessential alpha male.

    I always thought the “alpha” and “beta” dichotomy was dumb, but my view is that anyone who loudly self-proclaims they are an “alfa male” almost certainly isn’t. Most of these guys are merely bullies, and not very good ones.

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  8. Scott F. says:

    But I strongly suspect most are trying to look tough, not be tough. It’s cosplay, not civil war.

    Of course, all it takes for a cosplayer to become murderously violent is for another cosplayer to come at them wielding a skateboard in an attempt to take away the military prop element of their costume. The insincerity of the toughness becomes immediately irrelevant.

    5
  9. Gustopher says:

    Again, though, I think the overwhelming number of them are just phony-tough. They’re willing to talk a big game but not willing to take a lot of personal risk in pursuit of their goals.

    Or they will get cornered and scared and then lash out.

    That’s Kyle Rittenhouse, although after avoiding any consequences, and being idolized, I expect he will either start acting like crazy-brave by putting himself in increasingly volatile situations, or surround himself with with enough of his fanboys that they are basically his body guards as he does stupid shit.

    The phony-tough don’t need the crazy-brave to start getting violent. Peer-pressure and ineptitude will get them there at some point. The crazy-brave are just a catalyst.

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  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    But I strongly suspect most are trying to look tough, not be tough.

    I think that many of them, perhaps a majority, don’t actually know which they are. But they are afraid that they don’t measure up to some standard that is important to them, and that they see as a gateway to becoming a member of a group they admire.

    As it turns out, this is one of the most valuable roles a martial arts instructor can have with young men – we can oversee a process by which they feel they can be brave and competent and yet be socially useful in a quite broad way, you know, without always having to feel like they need to “prove it”.

    I don’t understand the “crazy-brave” very well, so I’m not going to comment.

    I am certain that is true of Kyle Rittenhouse, or was true. I think he was trying to measure up to some standard posed to him by his subculture, maybe even his mother. Now he may veer into crazy-brave OR decide that killing people is not a thing he wants to dedicate his life to.

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  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    I’m always reminded of the irony of how many people strangely idolize John Wayne as the epitome of manliness: a guy who, when the most of decision came, watched many of his peers head off to fight in a real war while he stayed home and became famous for pretending to be a soldier, and then after the war used his fame to attack the patriotism of the ones who were actual vets for political reasons.

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  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t understand the “crazy-brave” very well, so I’m not going to comment.

    By “crazy-brave” I think French was thinking of someone like Desmond Doss.

    1
  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    Speaking of courage, my sister is a retired social worker. In her job, she was sometimes called upon to separate a child from their parents by action of the court. That is pretty badass, if you ask me. It’s real. It’s down to earth.

    I once asked her how she did it, and she said, “I just have to keep my focus on what’s best for that child”.

    Very, very often when I read about people doing brave things, they say something like that. “I was just doing my job” or “I was doing something that needed to be done and I think most people would do the same”. I’m not so sure about that, but that’s how they understand themselves and courage.

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  14. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Let me clarify. I know the category he’s describing. I’ve read a lot about Gordon Liddy, for instance.

    What I don’t know is what makes them tick.

  15. Scott says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I thought of John Wayne also. I had a boss that decorated his office with all kinds of John Wayne stuff (posters, sayings,etc.). My reaction was OK…. a little weird but harmless. Refrained from saying “You know he was an actor, right?”

    Just don’t get it.

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  16. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Stormy Dragon: True. Among others, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Walter Matthau, and Henry Fonda all got closer to the action than The Duke ever did. Hell, even Bing Crosby and Marlene Dietrich did. Ronald Reagan fought the war from a Hollywood soundstage, while my father-in-law (two years older than him, and with a family to support) went from Normandy to Dachau. It’s all in the optics.

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  17. de stijl says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I have friends in the art world.

    Most everybody has day jobs. If they are good enough and lucky enough to get a gallery showing that is a potential career maker. It literally changes their life path.

    Artists need to pay rent and buy groceries just like everybody else. In fact, it is more painful to them because they know they could be doing something much more meaningful and productive with their time right now rather processing a retail purchase exchange pleasantly.

    Your retail clerk is often a genius. Needs must.

    2
  18. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Everyday courage is as brave as anything seen in bombastic movies. We are surrounded by people who display everyday courage routinely.

    Those people get paid crap and are implicitly mocked as do-gooders. No one got rich doing that. The American Dream tm more than suggests that monetary success is life success.

    We are conditioned to be half-assed people chasing the shiny.

    3
  19. Scott says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Yes. Here’s a story of everyday courage. Heard it from my wife who’s a school counselor in a Title I elementary school. Woman marries a guy who brings a child into the marriage. Child’s real mother has disappeared. Then the guy leaves and disappears leaving his child with the woman. She carries on trying the best she can (no money, etc.) to raise a child that’s not hers. To me that is real courage.

    I hear stories like that everyday.

    13
  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Scott:

    It’s not just that Wayne was an actor to me. It’s specifically that every account of what he was like “off screen” suggests his true nature was the exact opposite of the characters he tended to get cast as, and yet he deliberately used the aura of those characters to pursue rather unsavory ends.

    4
  21. de stijl says:

    Btw, Joyner picked a perfect picture to illustrate this article.

    Full Metal Jacket is the poster for the stupidity of crazy-brave and phony-tough.

    Good pick. Well done, sir.

    3
  22. Just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I think what makes them tick is the notion that you only die once.

  23. Tim D. says:

    Yeah ‘phony tough’ is the perfect description of Trump. When I think of people I’ve met who are *actually* tough, who have dealt with genuine tragedy or setbacks or who have gone through something difficult, they are almost never egotistical braggarts about it. All of Trump’s never-ending tough guy act just made me think he was someone who had genuinely never struggled or accomplished anything of consequence.

    But I do think Trump had that hard-to-pin-down star-quality that transformed everything he did or said. He had the mystery of celebrity, just like a movie star has that undefinable “something” in a screen test that most people don’t.

    It makes me think that none of the little mini-Trumps in the GOP will ever replicate his success.

    5
  24. dazedandconfused says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t understand the “crazy-brave” very well, so I’m not going to comment.

    AKA the “foolhardy”.

    1
  25. gVOR08 says:

    “How could people who were clearly not morons have been such goddam fools?”

    David Halberstam’s

    The Best and the Brightest

    asked the same question of Johnson’s cabinet during the Vietnam War. They really were the best and brightest, but given the pressure to appear tough, nobody at the table had the courage to be the first to raise his hand and say, “No, this is wrong.”

    3
  26. MarkedMan says:

    Like many of us here, I spend a lot of time trying to put myself in the mindset of trumpers, Republican loyalists, Jim Crow apologists, etc, but there is one place I can’t get to, one thing I just can’t fathom. I look at Trump and he just repulses me in every way. And, if I admit it, part of that is that he is such (to use an offensive and outdated term) an obvious pansy pretending to be tough. Not “pansy” in the old fashioned gay sense, but in the sense of being unsuited and unfit for any kind of physical challenge. That alone doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but rather the phony blowhard preening act that he pairs with it, where he pretends to be the tough guy. He so obviously wants to be the bully can only really punch down on his wife and kids. He hires bullies to do his dirty work for them, and practically fawns over actual tough guys like Putin. The idea that anyone finds him to be the icon of toughness and masculinity… I’m just dumbfounded. It’s as if you told me that there were people who watched Steve Martin’s and Will Ferrel’s “Wild and Crazy Guys” sketches and came away thinking, “hey, those are two suave dudes!”. Or who looked at Iggy and Squiggy from “Laverne and Shirley” and came away thinking, “Man, those are two guys who have it together!”. To me Trump is easily that much of a phony, so laughable that you would have to think he’s shooting for some kind of bizarre performance art.

    17
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: That calls to mind this little gem...

    1
  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Tim D.:

    But I do think Trump had that hard-to-pin-down star-quality that transformed everything he did or said

    There is truth in that. But another thing that makes it hard to replicate Trump’s act is his almost complete lack of self awareness. At some point even your average Jim Crow Republican is going to be caught in a situation just too humiliating for them to keep the front up. Trump does not have enough self-awareness to ever be embarrassed and so he never slips, he never quavers in his phony toughness. He is a loser who pissed away billions of dollars (in today’s dollars) of inherited money, and has, as far as I know never succeeded at any real business deal. He’s a loser and a con-man, but even in that he’s extremely limited. He can con exactly one type of mark, and everyone else sees through him in seconds. He’s been incredibly fortunate that a) there are plenty of those types of marks available, and b) that there are plenty of Russian mobsters that need an errand boy to launder their money.

    4
  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ll expand the category and be a Gamma male. I despise the self-anointed Alphas who seldom are any such thing, and, TBH, I sneer a bit at the Betas. I tend to see the world in terms of power dynamics, but real power not just the perceived or advertised variety. What power do you actually have after I tell you your title and position and money don’t mean anything? What have you got then? Basically it goes back to ancient warrior code: you want to know who will stand next to you in the shield wall, and who’ll break. Which of course goes back further to hunter/gatherer times. Are you going to put a spear in that charging water buffalo so we can barbecue? Or are you going to run away and leave me eating bugs again?

    Boardroom tough is what most so-called Alphas are. Tough because of position, of financial leverage over others. The kind of guys who make sure they have the tallest chair and sit in a power position balls forward. I am not confrontational usually, I generally prefer to deflect and just ghost the annoying person. But those assholes, the ones in some sort of hierarchy, I love getting into it with those assholes.

    As for the MAGAts, if you’re walking down a street in Washington DC, and you feel the need for body armor, bear spray, a helmet, jackboots, a knife and a gun, guess what? You’re a pussy, and the unarmed and unarmored person across the street calling you a fascist, is way closer to true Alpha.

    12
  30. gVOR08 says:

    I happened to be looking at some old notes a minute ago and came across a tweet from a James K. A. Smith that I think is a better explanation of Trump’s hold on the base.

    Trump supporters are far from the machinations of power, so government seems like magic to them. In Trump they’ve found *their* magician.

    I think that’s right. The base voters really don’t understand how any of this works. I started saying in 2015 that Trump was the perfect candidate for people who had no idea what the president does, which included Trump. And after four years as prez he still didn’t understand. And since he never understood it, he could promise that he’d build a wall and it would magically stop all the illegals. And since the base understand none of this stuff, they weren’t likely to ask how a wall was going to stop people from overstaying visas.

    2
  31. sam says:

    @Scott:

    I had a boss that decorated his office with all kinds of John Wayne stuff (posters, sayings,etc.).

    When I was in the Marines, a common insult was to call someone a “John Wayne”.

    5
  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Or who looked at Iggy and Squiggy from “Laverne and Shirley”…

    WA! I love it. FG’s hairstyle is the old DA from the 50s without the brilliantine in it. The other thing he left out was Squiggy’s little forehead curl.

    1
  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: It was worse than wrong. It was futile.

    1
  34. Tony W says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I never had the physique to take on the strong kids on the playground – but I had smarts. I could persuade them to be my ally all day long. Same with my career. I was never close to the best technical engineer, but I was somebody the whole team asked about direction and purpose. I seem to be chosen as jury foreman every time I serve, although that’s likely because I am gullible enough to enjoy the attention – and I have a strong desire to keep the conversation productive, moving forward.

    TLDR: If we are “self-made” (meaning we didn’t get our money the old-fashioned way), money and power derive from whatever we have inside of us – and you can’t take that away. Muscles fade and beauty wrinkles, but leadership remains.

    2
  35. ImProPer says:

    We have been relatively fortunate in that the phony tough makes up the vast majority of our modern right wing. That their chief propagandists are so cartoonish, they make tailgunner joe seem like an intellectual, is perhaps why there has been little activity by the would be crazy brave. It is common to make the mistake that Trump supporters are some kind of true believers, rather than frustrated reactionaries that have difficulty dealing with the relatively more sophisticated drivel of the far left. While it’s propaganda is more rife with purported noble goals, it can be mistaken as a path better future, rather than an attempted power grab, by a malevolent force arguably more dangerous than Trumpism.

    “One of the most dangerous developments in our contentious times has been a growth in radical ideologies bolstered by radical intellectuals who often treat decency and even peace as impediments to justice.”

    Is that you, Rip van Winkle? If there has been any growth in radical ideologies, they have been drowned out by the banal ones that make up our modern political discourse. Radical ideologies is what we are currently lacking. Our preoccupation of teaching our youth of what, rather than how to think, has so far kept us safe from the horror of any future intellectual movements.
    For those that truly seek progess in our society it is important to remember true justice is a natural bane, rather than a goal, for those addicted to the narcotic of outrage, and self-righteousness indignation. Arguably our largest impediment, exasperated by thier ability to blend in with liberals.

    “The riots that ripped through American cities were inexcusable expressions of political fury (and sometimes pure nihilism) that were too often rationalized, excused, and sometimes even celebrated. The author and academic Freddie deBoer has compiled a depressing list of articles, essays, and interviews in prominent publications excusing and justifying violent civil unrest.”

    That the purported goal of the rioters was an astonishing success due in large part by peaceful protesters long before the riots, is telling. Riots in the quest for social justice, are nowadays merely sources of narcissistic supply. As any sentient being knows, for better or worse, there is no longer such a thing as the unheard in our digital world. That poorly reasoned political thought is met with silence, is actually wisdom in action, rather than apathy. A frequent misdiagnosis of today’s oisterous psuedo radicals.

    1
  36. @Modulo Myself:

    American pop culture is entirely the same as it always was. Commercials of happy families, college football rivalries, JD Power telling you what truck to buy. To read any of these conservatives you would think they’re showing Warhol’s Factory work and denouncements of white men and Thanksgiving instead of sports and the holiday cheer.

    Indeed. This is why I find it hard to accept when people like Douthat carry on about how the left controls culture in America. It just isn’t the case.

    3
  37. Kathy says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Also, I was outside my coastal elite bubble over the Thanksgiving in a place with a television and aside from a few small aspects of inclusion, American pop culture is entirely the same as it always was.

    I think it’s any aspects of inclusion, especially when there’s real inclusion, that signals to the crazy brave tough snowflakes that the culture has been taken over by the commies and socialists.

  38. de stijl says:

    @ImProPer:

    You alluded to De Boer’s idiocy and complicity.

    I will state it loud: Freddie De Boer is a moron who claims to be a socialist, but his entire schtick is to be quoted by reactionaries as “proof” that the Left believe x.

    I am of the left sorta. I want nothing to do with De Boer at all. Leave me out of his nonsense. He does not speak for me or the left. That man is an idiot.

    He is in the Greenwald, Taibbi camp. We hate those guys.

    (I had the brains to not trust Greenwald even back in the mid aughts when arguably he was of the left. Even back then way too many warning signs of extremely thin skin and a propensity to out-group everyone who mildly disagreed with his take. I find that behavior just foul. Never trusted him to tell the truth. Just a bad guy all around.)

    Asking De Boer to opine on the left is akin to asking Steve Schmidt to talk about the right.

    4
  39. ImProPer says:

    @de stijl:

    To be honest, I’m not familiar with De Boer, he was just in the middle of the quote I was commenting on. While maybe not apparent in my more bellicose than intended quote, I am not in no way anti left, at least in the classic form. I’m to old and slow to keep up with the zeitgeist, but when I am ranting about the left, it is actually about what should be seen as a more mertritious section of the right-wing. Just mislabeled as the left imo.
    Will occasionally read Taibbi, his audience from what I gather is libertarian, a seemingly natural ally of the political left, rathervthan the right. Just put off by a loud minority in Democrat party, gleefully amplified by the reactionary right. The types that we need to attract to make sure that the former guy stays the former guy.

    1
  40. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ll expand the category and be a Gamma male. I despise the self-anointed Alphas who seldom are any such thing, and, TBH, I sneer a bit at the Betas.

    Cool to know MR’s up to date on all the latest alt-right slang.

    3
  41. de stijl says:

    @ImProPer:

    Sorry we are at crossed signals. My comment was about De Boer only.

    Your politics are yours and not my business. Unless you share and we can have a conversation, but whatever. Not an issue.

    I sincerely apologize if you felt I was criticizing you. I was not.

    I was making sure that everyone knows De Boer is not an innocent. He has an agenda. His schtick is very well known. He does it everytime. He is the very definition of false friend. It is his MO.

    Sorry again for the cock up. I should have been clearer. My apologies.

    1
  42. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’m a pi male.

    I like pie. I had a slice of banana cream earlier tonight. Store bought, but pretty damn good, still.

    Plus the greek symbol for pi is super cool.

    2
  43. Ken_L says:

    The National Review crowd like French never acknowledge or even seem to understand their own responsibility for the Trump culture they now profess to find so repugnant.

    Chris Kyle, the “American sniper”, wrote a book in which he bragged about the number of “Muslim terrorists” (i.e. Iraqis resisting US occupation) he’d shot in cold blood, and wishing he’d been able to get even more. French wrote of his pride that his 12 year-old son had put a poster of Kyle up in his room. He devoutly hoped the boy would grow up to be the kind of brave, patriotic American typified by Kyle.

    It’s not a long step from that kind of one-eyed glorification of the military to the love of violence that characterises Trumpism. But people like French don’t seem to see it.

    2
  44. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I tried my hand at it. Took a few drawing classes. It was fun even though I sucked. I really enjoyed it. I could draw hands decently which a lot of folks can’t. Fun but frustrating.

    One art appreciation class – that was really cool. Picked up my moniker.

    Left to my own devices without an assignment, I truly suck. I can do representational semi-adequately, but it doesn’t say anything at all. A tiny slice of time that coneys nothing.

    If I try non-representational I find I have nothing to say and no feel for how to say it.

    I decided it was better to look rather than flail and fail. I am a better critic than a doer of it.

    I enjoy looking.

    Ooh! I forgot – stained glass. I did two classes at the local community college. That was a blast. I did Mondrian style pieces for some of my windows at my last house.

    De Stijl Piet Mondrian pieces are the absolute easiest, simplest things you can do in stained glass, but it was my thing I really wanted to do absolutely. I was a rectilinear primary color fiend.

    A couple turned out pretty okay. Hugely derivative and basically a copy of original work, but doing it made me very happy. It is a process even I could wrap my head around. And I can barely paint a wall. Met some cool folks too.

    By far my favorite piece of art I made myself was a copy.

  45. ImProPer says:

    @de stijl:

    No worries, and even though I don’t feel criticized, I always welcome it. I am pretty regular reader of otb, but rarely have the time to comment. Due to the fast and changing nature of the blog, I often don’t have time to post, and defend or elaborate on a position, if called to. Lord knows, we have enough hit and run trolls lol.

  46. Kingdaddy says:

    For more on this topic, see Jesus and John Wayne about the fetishization of this version of “toughness” and “masculinity” among evangelicals.

    1
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Don’t imagine that I’m as intellectually dependent as you clearly are. Some of us actually form our own thoughts.

  48. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    I always thought the “alpha” and “beta” dichotomy was dumb, but my view is that anyone who loudly self-proclaims they are an “alfa male” almost certainly isn’t. Most of these guys are merely bullies, and not very good ones.

    It’s also based on a flawed conception of alpha. They think of the largest, strongest chimp physically dominating the rest of the troop. But that’s not how it works in nature nor how it works in human society. It’s no wonder they just spend their energy throwing shit at the walls.

  49. Kurtz says:

    @ImProPer:

    Will occasionally read Taibbi, his audience from what I gather is libertarian, a seemingly natural ally of the political left, rathervthan the right. Just put off by a loud minority in Democrat party, gleefully amplified by the reactionary right. The types that we need to attract to make sure that the former guy stays the former guy.

    Sure, libertarians should be a more natural ally to the left. But it hasn’t played out that way in American politics.

    1
  50. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sure! You just happened to come up with a slang term for yourself that’s just happened to become real popular with the alt-right recently and your slang term for yourself just happens to have the exact same meaning for you that it does for the alt-right.

    Complete coincidence!

    1
  51. ImProPer says:

    @Kurtz:

    The strange bedfellows that are made in our diverse and complex society.