FAQ for people who @ me on Twitter

If you’re reading this, you probably tweeted me a question, maybe you thought you were the first person to ask that question, but you were probably something like three hundred and twenty first. I try and engage in good faith discussion with people, but as my reach has grown its become unsustainable to do so with everyone who wants to, sometimes there are multiple threads of discussion going on at the same time, and it would be more productive for me to spend an hour reading a book or editing a video essay than answering the same questions over and over. So without further ado, the FAQ:

1. What makes this person/group far-right?
Far-right isn’t an ideology. Its a description based on the distance a person is from the political centre. I use the Merriam Webster dictionary definition: “the group of people whose political views are the most conservative”

2. So everyone you disagree with is far-right then?
No, don’t be stupid.

3. What makes this person/group alt-right?
Alt-right is a bit more specific than far-right, and more debated, but a commonly accepted defintion is “an ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.”

4. What the hell is alt-lite?
Since this term isn’t widely used in New Zealand, I mostly avoid it. Sometimes it’s useful to be able to differentiate between overt white nationalist groups, and others on the far-right who reject mainstream conservatism (in the New Zealand context, that might mean folks who think the National Party is too left wing, but wouldn’t join a white nationalist group like Action Zealandia either). According to Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League, the alt-lite “operates in the orbit of the alt right”, and it sometimes may not be possible to tell the difference between the groupings as there is significant cross-over.

5. Aren’t those people just conservatives?
Yes, specifically they are the most conservative (see 1.). We can use “conservative” to describe the political right but it’s a broad term incoroporating (in the New Zealand context) National, ACT, New Conservative Party, Vision New Zealand, and a few other small groupings. It’s useful to be able to differentiate between them.

6. But this person/group calls themself centre-right?
I can call myself an ice cream truck and it doesn’t make it true. If I’ve labelled a group alt-light, alt-right, or far-right, it’s based on their actions and professed views.

7. Can you provide any proof this person/group is far-right?
I probably already did. If you think the screenshot or link I shared isn’t “proof” of someone being far-right, then having a discussion about it is likely going to result in you shifting the goal posts until you claim someone can’t be far-right unless I can show evidence of them waving a Nazi flag and calling for a white ethonostate. Which isn’t what far-right or alt-right means (see 1. and 3.)

8. You made a statement in a public forum, you have to defend it
Thats not a question, sealion. You need to be reasonable with your expectations. Being an activist isn’t my day job and I can’t spend all my time answering questions from strangers on Twitter. Particularly when most of the time these questions aren’t being asked in good faith and result in shifting the goal posts (see 7.)

9. I’m not a troll, the far-right are terrible, but by talking about them you’re just giving them oxygen and actually promoting them further

I get a comment like this every now and again when one of my tweets reaches beyond my usual audience and I have to respectfully disagree with this approach. In the late 2010’s the far-right expanded while we just looked the other way so as not to “give them oxygen” then in 2019 the Christchurch shooting happened and we couldn’t -or at least we shouldn’t- ignore the problem anymore. Not paying attention to the far-right is like ignoring a cancerous growth, hoping if we forget about it it will go aware, meanwhile it gets bigger and bigger until it kills us.

10. You know you’re a disgusting fat SJW, right?