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2Kevins With Grace & Steel: A Talk With Kevin MacDonald on Trump and the AltRight; The Bonfire of the Pundits, etc.
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June 22, 2016, 10:53 AM
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Episode 41 of my podcast is now posted here (with copious links). In Part 1, I speak with Kevin MacDonald, professor emeritus of psychology at California State University-Long Beach, editor of the Occidental Observer and author of the Culture of Critique series on Jewish evolutionary strategies. He begins by confessing his astonishment at the difference one year can make. In 2015, Jewish influence—political, social, cultural, financial—was a no-go zone for all but the bravest of commentators (such as MacDonald). Today, the Anti-Defamation League is in a panic, while Jewish Twitter users have taken to self-parenthesizing (putting ((( before and ))) after their names, so that it “echoes”).

So why did the world go 180 in 12 months? Two interrelated reasons. The first is the candidacy of Donald Trump, and the second is the Rise of the Twitter Trolls. MacDonald is keen on the first and ambivalent about the second. Like me, he was thrilled by The Donald’s “America First” speech and impressed that Trump has doubled down on this theme, despite hysterical opposition and the usual slanderous drivel that the America First movement of the 1930s was America’s own Adolf Hitler Fan Club.

MacDonald said that he didn’t know whether his work had influenced the AltRight. My own investigations have persuaded me that it has. In any event, he admits to being rather horrified by the fashy memes and low humor that characterizes so much of this nascent movement. I’m horrified as well (genuinely so, not merely pro forma) but must acknowledge that they have succeeded where the genteel have failed. “The extreme always seems to make an impression,” as J.D. says in the wonderful, prescient Heathers. In the Internet Age it would appear that the extreme is the only thing that makes an impression.

I conclude my talk with MacDonald with a joke from Seinfeld, one of my favorite TV shows and, I suspect, one of his as well. To wit, Hillary Clinton’s use of the “Uncle Leo” defense to accusations of criminal behavior with regard to her illicit email server: “I'm an old woman. I'm confused. What’s my name? Will you take me home?”

In Part 2, we discuss the Bonfire of the Pundits. They’re wrong about everything, but there’s more of them than ever. Why are they so wrong? The great Canadian Marshall McLuhan knew why. When admirers said he could see into the future, he corrected them. Where he had the advantage over others was his ability to recognize the present, unlike almost all rivals who persisted in extrapolating from the recent past. This also explains why the pundits still don’t understand the reason for Trump’s popularity. It’s not because he’s a blowhard reality TV star. Instead, Trump has elucidated positions that voters didn’t know they supported until they heard him speak.

Much of Part 2 is a gloss on Paul Farhi’s Washington Post piece, “We Have Reached Peak Punditry.” Perhaps for self-preservation, Farhi has buried his lede, which is that punditry is now female-occupied territory. Which means out with analysis and in with “Muh feels.” Also “muh boobs.” This new breed of pundit loves to show them and to row about them. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before these ladies take to dashing wine in each other’s faces, the universally recognized reality-TV signifier of disapproval.

Years ago, I had something of a broadcast punditry career myself and was even paid for it. Here are some tips for those seeking to join the pundit class. You should sit on your jacket to prevent it from bunching up around your chin. If you must look around, do so with your head and not just your eyes. The key to winning any encounter is simply to talk the most. But the secret is to interrupt and talk over your adversaries without seeming a bully. Finally, never agree to take part in a panel from a remote location. This engenders such powerful physical and psychological alienation that everyone watching you will point and ask, “Who’s the stiff?”