Links Roundup: February 20th-March 4th, 2017

Another half-month, and some more links. Some of these have longer commentary than the last links roundup because I’m commentating as I find them now, instead of doing it all at once.


Everyone Who Enabled Milo Yiannopoulos Should’ve Seen This Coming

I’m honestly sick of talking about Milo, and I hope he has now fallen into obscurity forever, but this article is, I think, an important and necessary postmortem on Milo. Also, it feels good to say, “I told you so.”

“Mirroring” is the name I gave to a troll tactic that draws on rather old agitprop techniques: Accuse your opponent of that which you are guilty. GamerGaters became quite adept at it, turning all the adjectives used to describe them back on both their critics and their victims. In their first month, they had not a care in the world for the issue of online harassment. But once the media widely reported that they were a harassment campaign, GamerGaters suddenly began posing as victims of online abuse and accusing their very victims of perpetrating it against them. To an outside observer, it looked like two equally squalid factions going “no you!” at each other, and the smokescreen had its intended effect: making powerful people throw up their hands and dismiss the campaign being directed at women, people of color, and queer folks in game journalism and development as “just another flame war on the internet.”

It’s honestly scary to me how GamerGate has managed to legitimize itself in mainstream society. Back when it was happening, the collective response from the mainstream was to denounce GG (at least, from what I can see in my sphere of influence), but now it seems an enormous amount of people have jumped to its defense (now that basically all those involved have jumped ship to become the alt-right) with cries of “free speech!” And even when we, who were within the gaming community when GG happened, tried to warn these people, “No! It’s not about free speech! These people incite violence!” (see: Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, etc.), most of our cries went unlistened — unless it was being contested on the grounds of how Sarkeesian and Quinn were both “terrible people” (hello, blatant misogyny). Of course, it’s only when white boys are threatened that news outlets and universities start taking notice.

And — this is important — these news outlets must understand that Milo advocating pedophilia is not a one-off in the alt-right movement. It is not something unique or shocking. The alt-right is full of these people.

This is not to say that all GamerGaters were pedophiles, but the movement was so fixated on their hatred of feminists in videogames that this was something they were willing to tolerate.

And if you doubt this, just check out the hashtag #StandWithMilo. Pedophilia and rape apologists abound. It is a dumpster fire.

But, what is scariest to me in this article, and what Cross very aptly notes is —

That was always the saddest thing about Yiannopoulos: his interchangeability. He was a mass-produced YouTube-comment-made-flesh who had no original thoughts and whose public persona was simply a copy of the depersonalized, collective nihilism found on 4chan. If he doesn’t succeed in a Hail Mary pass to save his career, he’ll simply be replaced.


Can the Left Win By Talking Like the Right?

The answer, of course, is a resounding, “No,” but I’m glad someone else wrote it so I don’t have to. Also, there are some really neat analogies in this thing.

In the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump’s nightmare waddle to victory, some sectors of the media became suddenly very excited by a simple psychological trick that could have prevented it all from happening. In the same way that one mom’s incredible discovery could end all the hassle of dieting and exercise, after a long election year of acrimonious political squabbles with maddeningly intransigent relatives or terrifyingly angry strangers on the internet, this trick would allow you to miraculously persuade people to agree with you about politics.

See what I mean? The snark is great with this one.

Conservative values don’t just emerge spontaneously from the individual; they’re an ideological support structure that props up theft and bloodshed and avarice.

What this means is that the one weird trick for winning political arguments really succeeds only in conceding ground to the right. […] Cloaking your ideas in right-wing signifiers might help you win a Facebook argument. But do it too much, and you can lose the world. Just ask Tony Blair.

And, nailed it.


Appropriating Audre: On the Need to Locate the Oppressor Within Us

Yes, I’m always up for some intersectional feminism!

Their responses speak to a larger problem in the appropriation of Audre Lorde by white feminists (and also non-Black and non-indigenous feminists of color), who find resonance in Lorde’s feminist framework, but fail (or refuse) to recognize that Lorde’s politics revolve around the importance of staying cognizant of racial difference in feminist movements. A lot of Lorde’s writing is about her personal experience as a Black, lesbian, feminist, and hence captures the lived reality of a specific community who is racialized, sexualized, and gendered in a certain way. But in many of her speeches and essays such as “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism,” Lorde is speaking to white women, asking them to explore how they contribute to the erasure, tokenization, and dehumanization of Black women.

I enjoy how she doesn’t let non-black women of color off the hook either — especially when non-black women of color include herself.


Get Out: the film that dares to reveal the horror of liberal racism in America

All these great reviews about Get Out is really making me want to watch it, even though I’m a super squeamish horror movie watcher. But a horror movie that’s not based on ableist stereotypes and that’s actually masquerading as an incisive critique of white liberal racism? I am so, so in.

The villains here aren’t southern rednecks or neo-Nazi skinheads, or the so-called “alt-right”. They’re middle-class white liberals. The kind of people who read this website. The kind of people who shop at Trader Joe’s, donate to the ACLU and would have voted for Obama a third time if they could. Good people. Nice people. Your parents, probably. The thing Get Out does so well – and the thing that will rankle with some viewers – is to show how, however unintentionally, these same people can make life so hard and uncomfortable for black people. It exposes a liberal ignorance and hubris that has been allowed to fester. It’s an attitude, an arrogance which in the film leads to a horrific final solution, but in reality leads to a complacency that is just as dangerous.

The only thing this bit gets wrong is that my parents are not middle-class white liberals, but rather middle-class Asian conservatives. But the kind of “good” middle-class conservatives who claim that they’re not antiblack because they have a black friend — y’know the type. Would be libertarian if they believed third party voting actually worked, kind of people. So, yes, basically exactly what this writer is describing.


I’ve had enough of Laurie Penny’s sympathy for white supremacy

This one’s a response to Penny’s “Lost Boys” article that has been circulating in the wake of the Milo protests at Berkeley. It pretty aptly covers why I felt so off when I read that article.

The children in the video from Anaheim this week weren’t dragged from cars — they’re not even old enough to drive. They weren’t shot in the street, although the off-duty officer did fire his weapon. Still, Lorde’s words, delivered nearly 40 years ago, serve to haunt white feminism. The reasons children of color of Anaheim (and across the United States) are the disproportionate targets of vigilante violence include what scholar Lisa Marie Cacho calls social death — a criminalized existence for people of color. Social death, writes Cacho, can only be present within a system that relies on the social value of whiteness in order to exist.

Nowhere, this week, is the market value of whiteness as lionized as it is in Penny’s article titled “On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right,” which is set around the time that protestors at U.C. Berkeley stopped Milo from speaking at the school. Despite the fact that Penny is profiling adult men, she insists on calling them Lost Boys. Penny infantilizes these men and their behavior, and goes as far as to call herself Wendy — in reference to the Peter Pan character that mothered the Lost Boys. She asserts that these men have little conception of right and wrong. Penny assumed the same innocence in these white men that’s always assumed in them. It’s the same innocence that the white cop in the Anaheim video is widely afforded: he can’t possibly understand the consequences of his behavior.

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