So there I was, perusing through my Facebook feed like the good little Xennial narcissist that I am, and I came upon a post that I wasn’t expecting. It was from a voluntaryist group that I belong to but almost never visit, partly because the dialogue was never supremely interesting in that one, but also because I have largely given up on libertarian FB groups. This post, however, was a zinger.
Some of you may remember Christopher Cantwell, made famous for his role in the Charlottesville Unite the Right march. He got slapped with the “crying Nazi” moniker when he got arrested for using tear gas on someone or something along those lines. Basically, he looked like a complete tool, which he obviously is.
Unfortunately, Cantwell used to be an anarcho-capitalist. I actually don’t know if he still considers himself such, and although he could be, it is not his main claim to fame these days for obvious reasons. Still, it’s an unfortunate association for ancaps and one that has been trotted out more than one by people who aren’t keen on libertarian philosophy.
Anyway, this post was about a new product that Cantwell has rolled out just in time for the holiday season. You can download it direct from his website, and let me tell you, it’s fun for the whole family. Get ready, ‘cuz here comes the video game runaway hit of the year: Angry Goy II! Just when you thought the goyim weren’t quite pissed off enough at their gay, Jewish overlords, this game is here to prove you wrong! The goyim are angry, and they are coming to light it up! And I’m not talking about Bubbie’s menorah!
You can play the game as either Cantwell or Richard Spencer. President Trump has been kidnapped by a band of leftist activists, and the player has to shoot up a gay nightclub, a synagogue, and murder some journalists to get Trump back. No, I’m not making this up. There is a Newsweek article about it, and I went to Cantwell’s website just to confirm that this was actually real. To be really honest, I felt gross just poking around in there, although I didn’t have to poke far at all to find Angry Goy II. It is the current lead article on the site, proudly displayed for all visitors to see.
Cantwell’s site, Radical Agenda, lets us see an example of an actual white supremacist who has a sincere hate-on for people who are not of the Aryan persuasion. I’m not exaggerating that because of my particular sympathies, either. The guy is clearly a bigot of the worst sort.
In a lot of ways, what bothers me more than Cantwell’s crap is the fact that I just read through a thread of some length with people, ostensible libertarians, who didn’t seem to care. Now, I understand that creating an offensive video game doesn’t violate the NAP. I don’t think that video games turn otherwise reasonable people into active shooters. The kind of people who are fucked enough in the head to do that were already motivated. What baffles me is the seeming inability of a shocking number of libertarian types to condemn this kind of behavior.
“Well, he hasn’t violated the NAP! Move along!”
“You’re just a snowflake, offended by everything!”
These weren’t directed at me, although I frankly don’t feel like it’s snowflake behavior to stand up and say, “You know what, that’s a fucking shitty thing to do. This man holds abhorrent opinions, and decent people should be unafraid to condemn those opinions outright.” What is difficult about that?
I realize that there is a tremendous amount of exhaustion in conservative and libertarian circles regarding callout culture and the tendency of the left to see racism everywhere. It gets tiresome, and it has gone way too far in a lot of cases. The transgressions of the left, however, do not excuse turning a blind eye towards this sort of shitty behavior.
I know that I have hammered on about this before, but it remains a real problem in the liberty movement. Libertarians have a problem excising anyone from the movement, even people who are actively harming it. Although I certainly admire adherence to principle, at what point does a person say, “Enough! This is intolerable, and I do not wish to be associated with you!” Libertarianism is all about free association.
When you have the one or two dissenters among the crowd on these forums, the refrain from the main body of the group nearly always sounds like, “They haven’t aggressed against anyone. Words don’t harm. Leave it alone and move on.” It’s like nobody wants to talk about this thing that is right in front of us. It’s like the story Jordan Peterson used to illustrate the point about ignoring problems, the dragon in the house. The little girl in the story wakes up to a dragon in her room, and her mom tells her, “Honey, dragons aren’t real.” But the dragon keeps growing, and everyone keeps denying it’s real until it consumes the entire house.
First and foremost, I am unwilling to cede my image as a libertarian to a bunch of braindead fuckwads like Cantwell and his ilk. I refuse. The best public figures realize that you have to have control over your public image. That is part of your brand, and it is what you are selling. Like it or not, in this age of Instagram filters, hot takes on Twitter, and email marketing, your image and your brand does matter, and it is absolutely stupid to neglect it.
If you want to persuade people, taking and holding the moral high ground is just good sense. Sure, there are guys out there like Trump that can get away with playing dirty, but most of us aren’t like Trump. You should take the moral high ground where you can, and if you can’t take the moral high ground, you should at least be on equal footing with your competitors. The general unwillingness of the libertarian community to say, “Look, these guys are fucking dicks, and we don’t want them around, either,” baffles me.
A second question that I would assume broader swaths of people care about is the issue of whether or not a video game like Angry Goy II encourages violence. With events like the shooting at Pulse Nightclub and the Tree of Life synagogue, it is doubtless disquieting to some members of the LGBT and Jewish communities. And honestly, I don’t think it’s snowflake-ish to worry about one’s safety when you’re gathered together in a place with other members of your in-group, whether it’s at a house of worship, a bar, or a concert. The truth is that being a certain way seems to increase your risk of being the victim of physical violence. It makes sense to feel concerned about that.
I have this gay friend whom I have known since we were in college. He’s a really sweet person, and he’s quite bright. He has a great job, a nice partner, a beautiful house, and he loves to garden. When we were still in school, a bunch of rednecks followed him home one night, grabbed him, and beat the crap out of him just steps away from his front door. When I went back to my college town for my best friend’s wedding, a friend of ours was, oddly enough, staying at an AirBnB in his old apartment.
My friend did not deserve what happened to him. He did nothing wrong. He reported it to the local police, who promptly did jack shit. They were more interested in playing road pirates than in tracking down a gang of violent thugs, but hey, that was the police department in that town. They were never known for their outstanding bravery or excellent morality.
The shooting in Pittsburgh happened a mere two weeks ago. Eleven people died. Eleven Jewish people. Jews are on the receiving end of the majority of crimes that are motivated by the victim’s religious beliefs, and Catholics come in second. Again, I think it makes good sense for Jews to be concerned about the uptick in anti-Semitic statements and behaviors.
At the end of the day, I’m not advocating for anyone here to go and dox Chris Cantwell or even visit his site, actually. Again, I did it so you don’t have to. All I want is for more libertarians to just say, “This is shitty, and I am not interested in being associated with this person or anyone else who holds bigoted beliefs. I believe this person has a right to his/her opinion, and I believe that they have the right of free association. Similarly, I have the right to completely dissociate myself from them.”
For me, libertarianism springs from freedom and a love of the individual. That means that we get to hang out with the people that we like, but it also means that the people who are unlike us get to do what they want. You can say amazingly shitty things, and I will defend your right to say it until the day I die. I will also stand up and say that the thinking of people like Cantwell is ultimately un-libertarian, just like violent leftist speech and thinking is un-libertarian. They are extremely similar modes of thinking, and they both spring from places of insecurity, fear, hatred, and (self?) loathing. Any feeling that motivates a person to do violent things is against liberty. People like this would harm the things that they despise, and liberty is, in my mind, an exaltation of things that are fundamentally good.
So if you were looking for a good Hanukkah gift for me this year – I know you were, don’t lie – feel free to miss me with this “Angry Goy II” shit. What I do wish for Hanukkah is that people like Cantwell will eventually find love and peace within themselves. I hope they will see how misguided and wrongheaded their thinking is. I also hope that libertarians will take a stronger stand against it, in the meantime.
Happy early Turkey Day!