“I just feel like I had my best girlfriend break up with me,” Alex Jones declared in a live rant last month during the American bombing of Syria. “I will tell Trump that you really betrayed your family and your name, and everything you stood for with this horse manure.”
Jones’ comments were, as is his wont, more than a little ridiculous. But they weren’t isolated. Many people on the right and far right, including Fox hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, opposed the Syria airstrikes and criticized President Donald Trump for launching them. The impassioned dissent from the right was in sharp contrast to statements by Democratic Senate leaders. Charles Schumer (New York) and Dick Durbin (Illinois) were mildly critical of Trump for not consulting Congress, but praised the bombing for being a “measured response” to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people.
Given the contrasting reactions of Jones and Durbin, some on the left have begun to see the right as a more promising anti-imperial partner than the Democratic Party. The appeal of a new politics to end the American empire is understandable. But it’s also dangerous—not least because it won’t actually end empire. The right-wing fever swamp doesn’t lead to peace. It leads to fascism. The Democratic Party, despite its serious flaws and past failures, remains, at the moment, the best possibility for restraining war.
For many on the left, this idea is counterintuitive: If right-wing figures are willing to oppose war, why not work with them? The Intercept founder and dedicated anti-war journalist Glenn Greenwald, for example, appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show to condemn the bombing of Syria. Vanessa Beeley, the editor of the conspiracy-theory-mongering 21st Century Wire and a vocal opponent of war in Syria, is a frequent guest on Jones’ Infowars.
Beeley is an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights, a position that is generally viewed as leftist. But she’s also a climate change denier—a position associated with the right. This ideological confusion is part of the danger of anti-war flirtations with the right, according to Alexander Reid Ross, author of Against the Fascist Creep. Ross explains to me by phone that part of the goal of fascism is to create “this new man, this new figure, that is neither left nor right.” The old, hidebound establishment is cast aside as ideologies are reborn and rebuilt. [Continue reading…]