First They Ignore You, Then You Laugh At Them, Then You Win: How The “Cuckservative” Meme Is Undermining Conservatism Inc.
Gandhi probably never uttered his most quoted aphorism: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” but many dissident movements–both before and after the misquote—have adopted it to describe their hoped-for trajectory from marginalization to victory. [The 10 most famous things never actually said, by Eoin O’Carroll, Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 2011]
For the past several years, Conservatism Inc. and the Main Stream Media have effectively ignored the Dissident Right and all other heretical thinkers on race. In fact, the only time groups like American Renaissance or VDARE.com typically receive any attention is when the Left tries to tie them tenuously to Conservatism Inc. and/or nutjobs like Dylann Roof.
Well, now, the Establishment. Left and Right, is paying attention to race realists—but they aren’t laughing at us, we’re laughing at them. Over the past few months, snarky right wingers have popularized the term “cuckservative”—a portmanteau of cuckold and conservative—on social media and message boards, most notably the website and Facebook group, The Right Stuff, My Posting Career, and twitter accounts like @Cuckservative and Snark Enlightenment. [VDARE.com note: This marks the first time the term has appeared on VDARE.com, because of Editor Peter Brimelow’s notorious prudishness]
Some of these memes were vulgar and even more Politically Incorrect than sites like VDARE and American Renaissance. Yet many were original, funny, and struck at the truth of the Republican Party and Conservatism Inc.’s failure to actually conserve the people who created and support it. A couple of examples:
- “Cuckservatives… A person who wishes for America’ return to 1950’s values/strength, without admitting the nation was 90% white then”
- White children need to become a minority and the USA a third world country through LEGAL, not illegal immigration
- “Immigration isn’t a winning issue, let’s talk about tax cuts for corporations with rainbow avatars instead.” –
[Important: Roundup of #Cuckservative articles and memes, Occam’s Razor Mag, July 26, 2015]
While most of this was tongue-in-cheek, Alfred Clark published a serious definition of it on Radix Journal: a white conservative or libertarian “who thinks he’s promoting his own interests but really isn’t.” He further noted that the cuckservative will try to attack the Left by calling Democrats “the real racists” or by suggesting that abortion is “racist” because blacks and Hispanics disproportionately choose to have the procedure. And in contrast to opposition to abortion or strident support for Israel,
…the cuckservative feels uncomfortable about issues like immigration. If the cuckservative is not an outright open-borders shill, he will only give lip service about “securing the border” or “opposing illegal but favoring legal immigration” but he will never talk about immigration very much. After all, immigration has very serious implications for Western Civilization, so it doesn’t concern the cuckservative.
[“Cuckservative,” A Definition, July 16, 2015]
After inquiring why people called him a “cuckservative,” RedState’s Erick Erickson stumbled upon the Radix Journal article and described it as “a slur against Christian voters coined by white-supremacists.” Erickson doubled down on this interpretation without finding a single quote from anti-cuckservative activists critical of Christianity. Instead he cited various quotes like “anyone voting to destroy Christian lands by importing or breeding a horde of hostile minorities is a cuckold” and “you’re like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of pottage” as proof of anti-Christian animus. [“Cuckservative” is a Racist Slur and an Attack on Evangelical Christians, July 29, 2015]
The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis was at least capable of looking up cuckold on Wikipedia and wrote,
A cuckold, of course, is a legitimate word for the husband of an adulterous wife — but that doesn’t really do justice to what they’re suggesting here, either. The people who throw this term around are most likely referencing a type of pornography whereby a (usually, white) man is “humiliated” (or ironically thrilled) by being forced to watch his wife having sex with another (usually, black) man.
Lewis argued that his critics believed that “by supporting immigration reform, criminal justice reform, etc., a white conservative is therefore surrendering his honor and masculinity (and it won’t be long before his women folk are compromised, as well!).” [What’s Behind The ‘Cuckservative’ Slur?, July 23, 2015]
This prompted the same Leftists who enthusiastically embraced much more vulgar terms like “Teabagger” pompously to psychoanalyze the supposed sexual insecurities of “white supremacists”. For example, Buzzfeed noted that the point was to allude “to a genre of porn in which passive white husbands watch their wives have sex with black men, it casts its targets as impotent defenders of white people in America.” [Joseph Bernstein, Behind The Racist Hashtag That Is Blowing Up Twitter, July 27, 2015] Mediaite said the users of the word were both “racist” and “sexually anxious.” [Trump Fans Target ‘Mike Cuckabee’ for Being a ‘Cuckservative,’ By Tommy Christopher, July 29, 2015] The New Republic did the most psychoanalyzing of the joke:
the term cuckservative is popular because it pushes psycho-sexual hot buttons. Racism and sexism have always been connected, with one of the prime justifications for racial hierarchy being the supposed need to protect white women from black men and also, more implicitly, to keep black women sexually submissive to white men. A cuckservative thus conjures up one of the supreme nightmares of the white supremacist imagination, the fear that white men will assume a submissive role (or position) in the sexual hierarchy.
Conservatives Are Holding a Conversation About Race, By Jeet Heer, July 26, 2015
Meanwhile, Matt Lewis became completely unhinged in the Daily Beast, describing his twitter antagonists as “evil and primitive.” Even worse, many of them “have Confederate flag avatars”! After this preening, Lewis got to his point.
I think it’s fair to say that we on the center-right have been defending ourselves and our movement against charges of racism for so long that we’ve forgotten that, well, our side has some racists…whereas they were once confined to the nether regions of the Internet, now Twitter allows them to spread their pernicious message, and Trump has given them a candidate to get behind.
Lewis then declared his goal to purge them: “I can’t police the left, but my hope in writing this is to sound the alarm on the right.” [Twitter’s Right-Wing Civil War, July 28, 2015].
Yet unlike the past victims of would-be right wing excommunicators, Lewis’s targets are largely anonymous and independent. Rather than marginalizing the Dissident Right, he and his other cuckservative allies have merely given it more attention.
And not all the attention has been un-objective. Dave Weigel of the Washington Post just published a piece that gave Radix Journal Editor Richard Spencer an opportunity to explain the insult in an intelligent and reasonable manner:
The ‘cuck’ slur is vulgar, yes, but then piercingly accurate. It is the cuckold who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, loses control of his future. This is an apt psychological portrait of white ‘conservatives,’ whose only identity is comprised of vague, abstract ‘values,’ and who are participating in the displacement of European Americans — their own children.
[‘Cuckservative’ — the conservative insult of the month, explained, July 29, 2015]
Weigel also linked (!) to an American Renaissance article that explained: “While cuckservatives claim to adhere to abstract principles, wiser men and women understand that ideology is often the echo of racial, cultural, and ethnic interests. And since cuckservatives no longer bother concealing they care nothing for their own white supporters, frustrated whites are looking for alternatives.” [What is a Cuckservative? by Gregory Hood, July 24, 2015]
Moreover, not all mainstream conservative outlets are following Lewis and Erickson’s lead. While distancing himself from more of its extreme proponents, Milo Yiannopoulos defended the term in a lead Breitbart.com Op Ed, noting that
cuckservative memes are about GOP spinelessness on immigration, lies the political left tells about racism in America today, or simple frustration with the perceived limp-wristedness of the right-wing Establishment in the face of the vast left-wing smear machine.
Instead of marginalizing the Dissident Right, the cuckservatives have exposed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of conservatives to intelligently-expressed heterodox opinions that undermine Conservatism Inc.’s basic premises and conceptualize it as a problem. The comment threads suggest this is resonating.
P.J. O’Rourke once said that “Satire doesn’t effect change.” and is just about blowing off steam. [The New Statesman Interview — P.J. O’Rourke, by Samira Shackle, January 9, 2012]. This may be true when O’Rourke just makes a few jokes in a Cato Institute amicus brief. Yet the Dissident Right has been so marginalized that it has taken satire for it to get noticed.
Of course, it is premature to call a few mentions in the Daily Beast and Washington Post meaningful change. But it’s a lot more than I would expect from a few internet trolls.
Alexander Hart (email him) is a conservative journalist.