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By Benjamin Hitzig
In an age where the world seems to continuously get more strange, where polarizing viewpoints, which at one point seemed fringe, are now gaining traction, it is important to recognize that this is happening and to try to figure out why.
On the far fringes of the Right, there are Facebook pages and 4chan forums, cloaked in anonymity, who share hateful rhetoric and distort memes to fit a pseudo-nazi image. Some of these people are young pranksters who try to get a rise out of people. And one may make the argument that this is the majority of people posting on reddit and 4chan. However, there is a darker element looming on the fringes of the internet that praises Hitler, hates all who aren’t white, and believes that a genocide is necessary. These individuals have been around for years, but in recent times, they have been given a platform to speak on. There are many who would claim that the rise of Donald Trump was part of this new born platform, but there is another angle. Maybe, it was actually the rise of a more violent left accidentally did it for them.
During the last few years, the left has taken a more progressive turn. The rhetoric of Bill Clinton sounds mild and almost makes the former President sound right-wing, compared to the voices of today. After the Occupy Democrat movement, it became obvious the progressives were coming to power. Politicians like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren became figureheads of a movement that blamed society’s problems on the 1%, and without fully saying it, threw the average white cis male under the bus. More radical movements like the protests, turned riots, inspired by certain events in 2015 alienated the moderate wing of Democrats who felt like their party was turning on them. In these moments, race baiting on both sides became a major talking point. Which sprouted larger polarization.
When the protests and riots caused by the far left begin, a counter-reaction occurs in that some people, who aren’t actually radically right wing, feel marginalized themselves and begin to identify with that fringe. Most of the time these people don’t become Fascist or Nazi themselves, but people like the Mosque Shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, show that some people react to the media differently than others. According to an article by CNN, Bissonnette became interested after hearing a speech by Far-Right French Nationalist Marine Le Pen. This is obviously the exception and not the rule, but it has to be noted that some people react to the media more violently then others, and this occurs on both sides of the spectrum.
A similarity with people on both fringes happens to be that they use race, social engineering, and identity politics as major talking points. The rise of the Anti-Fascist movement (Antifa), a hypocritical movement that claims to be fighting against fascists but are actually fascists themselves, is a prime example of Leftist identity politics. These individuals use any force necessary to take down the “patriarchy”, which is a code word for straight white men. Ignoring the fact that most of these people are straight white men themselves, their use of violent protest and rioting to shut down events such as Milo Yiannopoulos’ event at Berkeley is key to their game plan, which is basically to shut down everyone they don’t like. Using the cause of marginalized people, these individuals riot and cause violence wherever they go.
At the end of the day, the platforms that have been given to the far right and far left such as the Nazi’s and Antifa movement shine a light on a day and age that has become so divisive that polarization is considered normal. Viewpoints that ten years ago were considered fringe or underground have now boiled to the surface. Whether or not the trend of polarization will continue is unknown, but knowing what causes it could potentially put a halt to it. Once we as individuals understand that counter reactions have caused nothing but divisive and collective gang mentalities, we can look back at the power of individuality and realize that only we ourselves can stop this from getting to the point of no return.