FrumForum's latest attack on me and AlternativeRight, "Richard Spencer's Nordic Supermen," is notable in that its author, Alex Knepper, has moved beyond the ho-hum "guilt by association" accusations we've come to expect from such people. Earlier he had attempted "guilt by dramatization" and now has tried the exceedingly difficult "guilt by the recounting of an anecdote that reminds the author of the person he's trying to smear." Bold! Knepper's article makes SPLC tactics seem tame and boring in comparison.
The young Alex speaks of his fascination with the esoteric and the fringe, and tells a tale about how he attended a Nordic Pride festival (where, we're not told) and met some Odinists. These rough-and-tumble folks, who wore Thor's Hammers, discussed kith, kin, and bloodlines, and talked about rearing warriors, clearly offended Alex's delicate sensibilities. Alex hints that they're anti-Semitic, but the portrait he paints doesn't lead me to believe that these people have done anything wrong. Our world is full of groups that desire a sense of roots and "Us-ness" -- for proof, Alex might try to join the National Council of La Raza.
I don't have any problem with Pagans, but these people are supposed to be my Nordic Supermen? Really? For nowhere in the article does Alex claim that, say, I was there, that I'm a member of their group, that I even know any of these people, etc. etc. etc.
For further evidence (as if it were needed) of my Nordic supremacy, Alex cites the title of an AltRight article ... by Robert Weissberg, the good-natured, Manhattan-dwelling cosmopolitan who, I'm afraid, is about as far from "Odinic" as you can get. But wait, here's the kicker. Alex has been stalking my Facebook page, and he cites that I belong to the Facebook group IrminFolk Odinist Organization. This proves my embrace of primitivist nihilism -- dosn't it?
Well, the reason I'm a member of this group is that I'm interested in Paganism -- what child of the West wouldn't be after watching a video like this one made by Stephen McNallen? And I've written on the subject and commissioned articles on it as well. Alex easily could have cited these pieces -- in which I sign my name to opinions I guarantee he'd find offensive -- but the art of smear is better pursued by evoking colorful images of bearded Scandenavians drinking calf's blood.
Though I must confess, in the area of Paganism, I should be classified an interested novice; I'm not really connected with any Pagan movement in America, nor the IrminFolk due to the fact that I'm no longer based out of New York. And it's worth mentioning that a real-life Pagan, Dan Halloran of Queens, has recently been elected to the city council of New York. Halloran attended a recent debate I took part in with the Manhattan Project; we spoke afterwards, and I was very impressed by the man -- no signs of nihilism being immediately detectable.
Back to the attack. After revealing this Facebook bombshell, Alex moves on to a garbled discussion of how the AltRight is a bunch of tribalists who've misunderstood Nietzsche, or something like that ... pretty much standard fare for an undergraduate at American University.
What's of importance here again is this relatively new method of smearing people through their online social-networking -- a medium which, I'd add, is much more casual than publishing, and even email, and much more conducive to outrageous and snarky comments than face-to-face contact. (I imagine everyone who's on Facebook would agree.) I'm rather generous (that is, careless and haphazard) in accepting friend requests and various group invitations. Indeed, by selecting out various aspects of my profile, I'm sure I could be smeared in a variety of hilarious and contradictory ways. (For instance, I once took a Facebook quiz, "What Religion are you?" and discovered that I was a "Protestant Fundamentalist.")
Interestingly, just after that last attack went live on Sunday, as I was on a long, exhausting drive north, I began receiving some fascinating emails on my iPhone. Some AltRight readers out there had been snooping around Alex Knepper's own Facebook page, (which is public, by the way) and have detected some rather strange activity...
Young Alex is a member of, among other organizations, a group entitled "Fuck Christianity," along with "Fuck Mormonism" (I guess Alex doesn't share his employer's enthusiasm for Mitt Romney.) To round it out, he's also a member of one called "Fuck the Pope," and just to make sure he's understood, Alex uploaded of photoshoped image of the pontiff with the head of a duck.
From there it gets worse. Alex apparently supports Eugenics. Moreover, when the mayor of Moscow banned a Gay Pride Parade in his city and called it "Satanic," Alex announced on his page, "Fuck Yeah Satan." And Alex's interest in the Prince of Darkness doesn't stop there, as he's actually uploaded a well-known image of Beelzebub for his profile picture.
And Alex has been photographed alongside an even more obnoxious presence: click here, if you dare...
I've no idea how deep Alex's devotion to the Dark Side goes (and I don't really care.) Evidenced by his constant use of "collectivism" and "altruism" as cusswords, my guess is that Alex is really a devotee of a philosophy followed by many a 20-year-old, Ayn Randianism. (Most everyone I know was a Randian at some point during their undergraduate years. Thankfully, there was no David Frum around at the time to publish our embarrassing polemicizing.) And I don't think it's a coincidence that Alex's writings about me have taken the form of the typical Randian fantasy of the principled intellectual being persecuted by the irrational, violent mob.
Still, one does wonder what attracts Alex to FrumForum, for it is probably the least libertarian website on the right of center. My guess is that he views Frum as an important bulwark against the irrationalities of religious gentiles, and like many other Randians probably gets a thrill out of the idea of bombing Muslims (as one fascinating thing about the Rand Circle is that its overt philosophy of "individualism" barely concealed an intense ethno-centrism...)
As I mentioned above, the nature of Facebook makes it a rather poor measure of a man, so normally I'd never use it as a source for criticizing anyone. But it is, of course, Alex who has selected out a Facebook group from my profile as evidence that I'm some evil nihilistic tribalist. And it is Alex who, judged by the same methods, comes off much, much worse.
And so, alas, I'm forced to issue this open challenge to FrumForum:
Dear David (if I may),
I'm a rather lenient man, and so I'm inclined to look over young Alex's Facebook indiscretions (indeed, I just try to ignore people like this.) You, on the other hand, have dedicated most of your adult life to policing the Right and driving out various evildoers and reactionaries. The presence of a Satanic, anti-Catholic, eugenicist Mormon-basher would seem to be something that you of all people, David, simply could not tolerate at your website. At the very least, Alex doesn't seem particularly helpful in forging a "New Majority."
To be honest, David, I doubt you'll actually purge young Alex, as in your book, Satanic anti-Catholicism probably doesn't rank as high in unpatriotic-ness as opposing the Iraq war or criticizing Israeli settlements. But I'm rather excited to see how you explain away this one!