How I Started to Write for the Anti-Semitic, White Supremacist Far Right
…and What You Must Do to Keep that from Happening to a Whole Lot of Us
by Alexander Zubatov
On November 29, 2018, I published an article in Tablet on the subject of “cultural Marxism.” The purpose of the article was to disentangle real cultural Marxism — the kind that had been recognized for years by Marxists themselves and by sympathetic academic historians, as well as, more recently, by mainstream conservative and traditional liberal commentators, such as Jordan Peterson or David Brooks — from the anti-Semitic right-wing conspiracy version of cultural Marxism that distorts reality in the service of a noxious ideological agenda. The heart of the article was an engaged discussion of the ideas at the core of cultural Marxism and a rough mapping of their contemporary influence. And the article was well-received among many, including by Brooks himself:
Of course, as with any piece that tackles a controversial topic and generates a significant amount of discussion, the dumber segments of the Twitter mob, the ones with more dead time on their hands than live neurons in their heads, were also roused to action and set about their usual profanity, epithets and smears. One of these thugs even took the time to put together a decontextualized collage of a few of my tweets to make me look like some sort of crazed white supremacist:
Needless to say, any fair reading of the actual articles linked to in those tweets will reveal nothing substantially more alarming than the fact that I have a classical liberal (or MLK/Civil Rights Era) approach to race issues rather than the race-conscious view now in vogue (I’ll have more to say on that in a bit). The hit job, in other words, was annoying but not concerning.
What did concern me is when a number of people started to call me out for a few articles I had written for a publication called Republic Standard. I stand behind every word I wrote, and those who read the articles (not just the headlines) will find me espousing a view of race issues that is resolutely opposed to all identity politics and, consistently, never remotely white supremacist or anti-Semitic. The problem, however, was not my articles themselves but rather, the politics of the publication. In particular, several people pointed me to recent tweets like this:
There are many anti-Semitic, racist, white supremacist and generally nutty tweets where these came from. If I wasn’t actually an anti-Semite, racist and/or white supremacist — I find such views both repugnant and counterproductive — what was I doing publishing articles with people like this? My response to that question follows. It is a cautionary tale … but not in the way you might expect.
A few words about me are necessary to understand my political perspective and provide context for how it is I found myself in this situation. Far from a far right extremist, I do not think most people would even call me “conservative.” This is because I have a grab-bag of views spanning the entire political spectrum, a bunch of which are left or even far left of center. I think George W. Bush, with his needless and disastrous Iraq War, was the worst president in my lifetime. I supported Obama against the war-mongering neocon John McCain when Obama first ran in 2008. (He promptly lost my support when, soon after taking office, he started bailing out the same big banks responsible for the 2007 financial crisis, revealing himself to be a Democratic Party operative cut from the same cloth as Hillary Clinton and many others who engage in identity pandering to mask their one true allegiance to the big corporate overlords who fund their campaigns.) I support universal healthcare. I am generally pro-gun control. I am pro-choice. I am pro legalization of most currently illegal drugs, so that we can capture tax revenue from sales rather than letting it all flow into the arms of dealers and cartels. I am against the ongoing privatization of education and want a reform of higher education to make it free or minimally expensive for those who are qualified but cannot afford it. I am in favor of robust regulation of industry. I am in favor of sweeping campaign finance reform.
Where, however, I leave the liberal camp is on issues of identity politics, immigration, free speech, patriotism and nationalism. To me, our modern-day betrayal of the high-minded race-shouldn’t-matter vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Era by the SJWs and the regressive wing of the left under the spell of divisive black radicals such as Ta-Nehisi Coates (someone I believe has done more damage to race relations than anyone in contemporary America, Trump included) is one of the saddest and most galling wrong turns this nation has ever made. It’s as if we were chugging steadily but ever-more-rapidly down the long and arduous road toward a post-racial society when some people got impatient and made a sharp, screeching swerve in the exact opposite direction (for more on who the “some people” are or, at least, on the forces that influenced them, I recommend the cultural Marxism article I described above). Race consciousness predictably breeds more race consciousness. Black identity politics breed white identity politics. Ta-Nehisi Coates and the rich white liberal elites that lapped up and parroted his misdirected rage paved the way that leads straight towards Trump country, as I have argued here.
On the other issues where I lean right, such as immigration, patriotism and nationalism, my view is that in order to avoid the kinds of right-wing nationalist eruptions and left-wing identitarian hysteria that we are seeing all over the United States and Europe today, potentially explosive racial, ethnic and religious fault-lines must be addressed and smoothed over through the forging of a cohesive national identity. I am all for immigration from a diversity of nations (from Norway and Haiti alike, as it were), but such immigration must be undertaken slowly, cautiously, legally and on the basis of merit. Above all, we cannot allow the formation of impoverished and alienated immigrant ghettos of the sort now wreaking havoc all over Western Europe, such in the banlieues of Belgium and France. If we are to have immigration, robust programs of integration and, indeed, assimilation are crucial. For those who are interested, I have developed such arguments in greater detail here and here.
Another necessary contextual point I should make about myself is that I am not a full-time writer. I am not a journalist. I am not a credentialed academic with a comparatively easy route to publication in some relevant area of expertise. I am not someone with any particular connections in the media or the publishing industry. Rather, I am a busy, full-time commercial litigator working in a New York law firm, with all the responsibility that entails. For me, as for many part-time writers, the road to publication usually involves finding the time to research and write something that will compel the wandering eyes of editors who scan unsolicited submissions and slush piles and then spending my time sending out queries far and wide to dozens of publications, hoping one will bite. Anything that makes that process easier and less time-consuming is, therefore, a good thing.
So, from my vantage point, it was a good thing when, out of the blue, in March 2018 a guy responded to one of my self-published articles on Medium, praising what I had written and telling me that he had recently started a broad-tent conservative platform — he called it “Republic Standard” — and inviting me, in the future, to submit some of my work for publication. Because his old Medium profile has been deleted — whether as a result of his own actions or Medium’s I do not know — I have no access to his old posts, so that I see only my own responses and have to reconstruct the rest from context and memory. Based on both what I can see and what I recall, we had a brief exchange in which he showed me links to a few articles on his new site. I read them. I generally liked them, even if I found the rhetoric a bit too overheated in places. Of particular note is my reaction from March 10, 2018 to an article he had sent me on the subject of race (not having his post available, I cannot identify the article itself):
The article of mine that I linked him to, available here, is one in which I argue, marshaling studies and statistics, for the near-complete abandonment of racial categorizations of every sort. After explaining the dominant scientific consensus that race is “largely a sociological fiction” rather than a biological reality, I proceed to say this:
What is more, from craniology to pseudoscience about fixed intelligence to Nazi race theories, the notion of race has been used throughout history almost exclusively for the purpose of legitimating the status quo and asserting the superiority of some over others. Invariably, the “some” whose superiority is being asserted are the same “some” who are doing the asserting.
We have reached a juncture in our collective development as a civilization where we should feel confident leaving this pernicious concept in the historical dustbin and bravely proclaiming once and for all that race should have no place in our society.
(Boldface in original.) Completely belying the outlandish claims of those unaccountable Twitterers who recently tried to brand me a white supremacist, I was, in other words, here as in many places, arguing quite forcefully against all claims of racial superiority, or even race realism. What is also clear from this communication is that, based on whatever the Republic Standard editor had shown me from his publication (which, again, I cannot trace because his posts are no longer available), I understood him to have a similar position to my own.
I also remember checking out a few other articles from his site, as well as its mission statement. Although I cannot say for certain that it looked then the way it appears today, I believe it to be reasonably consistent. Among other things, it says the following:
- We are a broad-church, open door conservative platform. What this means is that while the editor has final say on what is and is not published, you will not be discriminated against for holding different opinions provided they are rooted in the conservative tradition. If you are an Alt-Righter, you are as welcome as the New Right. Hoppean Libertarians and Republicans, followers of Burke and acolytes of René Guénon. So long as your argument is reasoned and backed up with decent evidence, chances are you have a home at Republic Standard.
- In the spirit of the preservation of freedom of speech and the interchange of ideas, we offer right of reply to all- regardless of political stripe. If you are a leftist/progressive and you really think you can take apart the ideas espoused in this magazine, feel free to contribute a response. We will laugh at you, but we will print!
This arms-wide-open, even-liberals-allowed approach that the publication espoused was something rare in our polarized media landscape and something I was pleased to see. It fit my own unconventional assortment of beliefs. I understood full well that there would be those who would be publishing articles here with which I would likely disagree, but for what publication is that ever not the case? I also saw the “alt-right” reference, but I knew this term has largely lost whatever pernicious meaning it might have once had, with it now being regularly thrown at perfectly fine publications such as The American Conservative or at mainstream conservatives and/or liberals like Jordan Peterson, Bret Weinstein, Jonathan Haidt, Heather Mac Donald or Sam Harris. The bottom line for me was this: as long as the publication’s editorial perspective itself was thoroughly ecumenical (though, I understood, with a conservative bent) and open to anyone who could make a solid argument and back it up with evidence, I was satisfied.
And, indeed, I was satisfied. Not in the habit of suspecting that a publication’s mission statement might be inaccurate or even intended to deceive, I looked no further. I did not scour the publication’s Twitter history in large part because, as I explained above, I am not a full-time writer with lots of time for such undertakings. Apart from brief spurts of activity, I never touch Twitter, sometimes going weeks at a time without a single glance at my Twitter feed. Most commonly, I use it solely to tweet out some article I found interesting or to promote my own work. I usually keep my notifications disabled. When I do look at goings-on in the Twittersphere, I hardly ever scroll down past the first few tweets visible at top of my feed. I stay off of social media in general. I do not have a personal Facebook account, nor one on Instagram, Snapchat or anywhere else. I don’t, for that matter, even own a t.v. I am, you see, pathologically obsessed with not wasting time. That frees me up to pursue the kinds of issues I am actually interested in, which concern literature, literary and critical theory, philosophy, culture, politics and the like.
I submitted my first article to Republic Standard on March 22nd, shortly after my exchange with its editor. After that, I would submit and publish eight more, the latest one being on September 13th. I largely used Republic Standard for my essays on issues of race. And I did this for a very specific reason: these are issues on which it is particularly hard — especially for a not-thoroughly established white writer with an anti-identitarian perspective of these issues — to publish in larger publications, even in mainstream conservative publications, most of which, despite their ostensibly conservative, anti-P.C. pedigrees, appear to be frightened to death of a misstep that gets them called “racist” by the loud louts comprising the callout vanguard of the Twitter mob. My race articles, despite their often incendiary titles and images (some of which were provided by me, others by Republic Standard), are all consistent with my firmly held anti-race-realist, anti-identity politics and anti-racial-superiority positions. These articles, like others I have written on the issue of race, are, of course, directed largely against leftist identity politics. The reason for this is simple: while there are legions upon legions of writers and publications ready to pounce upon the slightest manifestation of white identity politics, the same is not true in the opposite direction, in large part because identity politics on the left have completely taken over media, academia, the entertainment industry and the many realms they dominate and influence. We are bitterly divided between, on the one hand, the identity-mongering extremists who have unfortunately gone mainstream on the regressive left and, on the other hand, the crazed identity-mongering extremists rising on the far fringes of the right, but there are increasingly few of us left to man the middle, to speak out against the racist left without falling into its mirror-image pathology.
In all my dealings with Republic Standard’s editor, he was unfailingly nice to me, never, even once, asked me to amend my anti-race-realist rhetoric or perspective in any way in order to fit into some other, more right-leaning, race-realist, ideology, with would have been an absolute deal-breaker, and at no point communicated to me anything that smacked of white supremacy, anti-Semitism or other unsavory creeds of this sort. Once, I noticed that an edited article of mine that had gone live in Republic Standard had capitalized the word “White” everywhere it appeared but had left the word “black” lowercase. I e-mailed the editor, saying as much: “I did notice that ‘White’ was capitalized everywhere while ‘black’ wasn’t. Not sure if this is intentional or not, but either way, it’s probably counterproductive for my purposes, so is it possible to make them consistent?” He promptly responded, “Sure thing, that’s an oversight. I forgot to find/replace black for Black. I’ll repair tonight.” I do not know, anymore, whether he was telling the truth about the reason for the discrepancy, but at the time, I took his words at face value. (I note, in this connection, that some people, such as the anti-white racist who introduced the destructive notion of intersectionality, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, make a regular practice of capitalizing “Black” but not “white,” offering only the pathetic excuse that, unlike “Black,” “white,” in her view, is not a specific cultural group. For the record, I do not think EITHER of these is a specific cultural group, as a “black” Ethiopian and a “black” multi-generational American descendant of slaves have next to nothing in common and certainly do not come from anything resembling the same “culture.”)
One aspect of publishing with Republic Standard that also attracted me was that they had no problem with my republishing the content on my Medium author platform, so long as I made use of Medium’s “import” feature that would automatically append some pro forma “Republic Standard” content at the top or bottom of the article. This way, I could maximize exposure by publishing both on Republic Standard and on Medium, with the latter, of course, allowing me to maintain full editorial control.
I recall a few times, especially in the last several months, when, in my rare forays onto Twitter, tweets from Republic Standard flashed by that, from a quick glance, seemed more questionable or inflammatory in their rhetoric. I thought little of it at the time, comfortable with the fact that I had already understood the site to be broad-tent conservative, such that, at times, I expected they would be saying things or publishing content with which I might disagree. As long as my own contributions were sound, I had no cause for concern.
It is only, as I have already said, in the aftermath of the publication of my Tablet article on cultural Marxism that I have had occasion to glimpse a much larger inkling of the anti-Semitic, racist, white supremacist and other downright pathetic, repulsive and idiotic positions that have been tweeted out and/or otherwise espoused by these guys. Seeing this stuff prompted me, in very short order, to dissociate myself and let the editor know (in a brief exchange on Twitter) that I wasn’t going to be writing for Republic Standard in the future. (In keeping my promise to Republic Standard, I have retained the Republic Standard identification on my articles on Medium that were initially published there.)
Should I, in retrospect, have been more careful and thorough in my vetting of the guy and his website from the very outset? Honestly, no. The expectations for the level of “due diligence” demanded of a part-time freelance writer cannot and should not be the same as those that would be reasonable for a publication or for a full-time journalist. It heartens me, moreover, to know that I was apparently not alone in having missed the obvious. Among all my friends, acquaintances, readers and followers who are generally familiar with my ideas and my politics and who saw my content on Republic Standard (or on Medium, bearing the Republic Standard logo), not a single one, at any point, commented or contacted me to say, in words or substance, “What the heck are you doing publishing with these anti-Semitic, white supremacist far right goons?” We all missed it.
To this day, I do not know whether Republic Standard’s editor had intentionally misled me about the nature of the publication in the hopes of getting me to lend my voice to his publication or whether, as I suspect, he himself became more virulently, or at least openly, far-right-wing over time. Ultimately, it does not matter to me one way or the other, and I have no desire to waste time figuring it out. The moral of this story remains the same, and it is this: I was inadvertently and unwittingly driven into the open arms of the far right because, while I can publish other things in a variety of mainstream publications, on issues of race, classical liberal and conservative publications have, by and large, abandoned us, letting their leftist counterparts dominate the airwaves while they themselves let out no more than a small, unsteady trickle. They are, as I have already said, deathly afraid of speaking out broadly, loudly and clearly in favor of what should be obvious, universally held truths: judging people, whether black, white or neither, on the basis of their race is not okay. Throwing around racially coded derogatory labels deployed against white people — “white privilege,” “white fragility,” “whiteness” — is not okay any more than it would be okay to go around trumpeting notions of “black criminality,” “black welfare queens” or “black entitlement.” Distinguishable in some respects though these anti-white and anti-black labels may be, the reality is that they always come packaged together, tightly bubble-wrapped in a layer of all-around animosity. You cannot have one without the other. Similarly, it is not okay to keep telling poor white people they are deplorable, disposable racist scum that, in retribution for the real and perceived historical sins of their ancestors, must now go to the back of the line. That strategy might make a virtue-signaling wealthy white liberal feel awesome, but it doesn’t change anyone’s mind. What it does is make us all angrier, pettier and, in the end, more reactionary.
While a majority of Americans of all races do not appreciate many aspects of our growing race-consciousness — for instance, consistent with other, earlier polling, a recent PBS poll found that 72 percent (including a majority of black, Asian and Hispanic people) opposed affirmative action in college admissions — majorities of moderates and about three-quarters of conservatives self-censor to avoid P.C. crackdowns. But if traditional liberal, moderate and mainstream conservative publications and individuals — that means you — do not get over their fear of the reprisals of the Twitter mob and do not start speaking out as unequivocally and persistently as they can in support of what should be the obvious truth that judging people on the basis of race is wrong, we are all going to find ourselves, in one way or another, whether intentionally or unwittingly, ferried to a narrow pass where we will be left to choose between Scylla and Charybdis, the many-headed hydra of the far left or the soul-crushing vortex of the far right. Those of us in the center are already treading water, waiting for our rescue boats. If they do not come for us soon, we may be forced to jump on the first seaworthy vessel that comes along, no matter the ultimate direction in which it may carry us.
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Alexander Zubatov is a practicing attorney specializing in general commercial litigation. He is also a practicing writer specializing in general non-commercial poetry, fiction, drama, essays and polemics. In the words of one of his intellectual heroes, José Ortega y Gasset, biography is “a system in which the contradictions of a human life are unified.”
Some of his articles have appeared in The Federalist, Tablet, Times Higher Education, Quillette, The Imaginative Conservative, Chronicles, The Independent Journal Review, Acculturated, PopMatters, The Hedgehog Review, Mercatornet, The Montreal Review, The Fortnightly Review, New English Review, Culture Wars and nthposition.
He makes occasional, unscheduled appearances on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Zoobahtov).