Saturday, 13 October 2018

Deconstructing the Conservative Youth Movement

There has been a growing trend of young conservatives who position themselves as the leader of a young right-wing movement. The young usually lean left, and these new right-wingers hope to dispute this. As petty as it seems, a large part of this is being "cool."

The problem with marketing conservatism to young people is that they believe in traditional values-remaining a virgin until marriage and not cursing or deviating from social norms. That's kryptonite for young people. More importantly, being cool entails a sense of rebellion. By definition, conservatives are not rebels. They support the status quo and the people in power, including the military, the police, and business leaders. 

Finally, to start a movement you need a pressing issue, a great injustice. The right, especially now, has overwhelming control of the US government. So the right needed anything to latch on to, to make an issue out of. What's the one place conservatives aren't especially prominent? College campuses. That's where conservatives decided to focus.

Enter Ben Shapiro. Starting as a conservative columnist as young as high school, he had a talent for talking at a dizzying speed and being fast on his feet during debates. While he shares the social value of conservatives, like opposing gay marriage, he was smart to mostly shut up about them because they alienate young people. 

He understood one crucial aspect of coolness-- not caring or becoming emotional about anything. Ben Shapiro would invite leftists to argue with him. College leftists are very passionate but often aren't articulate. Ben Shapiro exploits this to create a dynamic where he seems like the untouchable epitome of coolness and logic, while the left comes off as emotional SJWs. His hyperbolically titled videos are shared online, contributing to the view counts on his show. His usage of the Internet, where entertaining soundbites gets the most views, is masterful. He preaches the message that the left is obsessed with victimhood and dominates the media, but he has a new message that abstains from identity politics and such self-pity. He has a sense of humor and gave his followers a feeling of collective identity. 

He has inspired a number of wannabes from Charlie Kirk, who has taken the extra step of founding College conservative group called Turning Point USA, to Steven Crowder, who hosts viral Change My Mind segments on college campuses, to the now irrelevant Milo Yiannapolous, who veered to far right for even mainstream conservatives. 

Next I will discuss the contradictions within their movement.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

New Law Should Prokove Bipartisan Outrage, Not Support

As international criticism of Israel mounts, the U.S. has continued to be their steadfast ally. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has accused the U.N. of antisemitism for disproportional targeting Israel and shifted blame to Hamas, the group that runs the West Bank and does engage in terrorism. Following the U.S. criticism of a U.N. resolution condemning Israel, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council. As a member of the all-powerful security council, the U.S. vetoed resolutions calling for the embargo and sanctions of Israel or its internationally disputed settlements.

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Nikki Haley speaks at the U.N.

The United States has as of late decided to crack down on BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), a group that calls for nonviolent boycotts as a way of pressuring Israel to stop engaging in human rights abuses. The FBI investigated and questioned members of BDS recently. This provoked outrage among left-wing and free-speech groups who accuse the FBI of chilling political speech and relying on right-wing outlets for information. 

The most bold iteration of the anti-BDS trend is a bill introduced in the Senate, The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and an equivalent bill in the house that would punish Americans who participate in and support boycotts of Israel. The bill goes further and says Americans who participate in boycotts of any U.S. allies could also face punishment. The language tries to mask its purpose, saying that this bill only applies to international government organizations propagating for a boycott, but many say it could still be used to punish individual Americans. The text in the bill tries to stay general, but it is clear that the organization they are targeting is B.D.S. and the U.S. ally they are protecting is Israel. Meeting public backlash, they have tried to amend the bill, but it's akin to putting lipstick on a pig: it's still a pig.

ACLU's Letter to Congress

The punishments range from a $20000 dollar fine to, at maximum, a $1 million fine and up to 20 years in prison. Before my Democrat-supporting friends jump in, the bill in the Senate is sponsored by Democratic senator Bill Cardin and supported by Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats. An equivalent bill in the House of Representatives is sponsored by dozens of Republicans and Democrats. 

It would also discriminate against businesses who do not work with Israel, as a matter of boycott or not, by denying their credit applications in the Export/Import bank, effectively cutting them off from the rest of the world.

Below is a list of members who support the bill. There are currently 55 Senators- enough to pass the Senate and 218 representatives- enough to pass the HOR. As it stands, the bill is very likely to pass. If your representative is a Democrat, he/she may be especially open to your thoughts. Especially if your congressmen is on it, or even if they aren't, I urge you to call, email, and write to them to tell them this bill is an affront to free speech.

Senate Members Who Support the Bill
House Members Who Support the Bill

Sunday, 18 March 2018

National Walkout

National Walkout

On March 14, at 10:00 everywhere, students across the country participated in a school walkout. Some faced suspension from angry school administrators, others had small numbers as they were in a conservative district, and still others risked themselves because of unsafe neighborhoods around their schools. They walked out for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland Florida. The march was one month after the shooting. They demanded gun reform and mental health reform, carried protest signs and chanted, and made sure gun reform stayed in the political conversation.

At our school amphitheater, we had speeches and held a moment of silence for the ones lost.

The school I go to is no exception. Including many of our teachers and me, nearly 2000 students turned out for the walkout. Our parents planned a rally alongside us.

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They gathered on the same day and time as us.

Conservative media did their best to fight back. They posted examples of conservative students who were anti-gun control and spread misleading reports of students who were punished for not walking out. First, the vast majority of young people support gun control. Second, the student who was punished for not walking out refused to go to the study hall where everyone else was because he was afraid that people wouldn't like him. He effectively ditched school and refused to listen to administrators, so his suspension was more than justified. Other conservatives said that kids are uninformed and that their opinions are worthless. In the spirit of this blog, I say exactly the opposite.

The rallies were a brilliant political move. It made sure guns stay in the national conversation. Gun control advocates note the media acts like a goldfish in a bowl, constantly changing the topic every week. This makes it nearly impossible to keep an issue in the public consciousness. When students planned these rallies, doing them simultaneously and loudly, they made sure gun control remained a topic of public discussion, putting pressure on right-wing congressmen who hoped the issue would go away before the midterms.