The Shapiro Report

RED DENNIS & The Politics of Disrespect

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Eric Shapiro

May 13, 2020

RED DENNIS & The Politics of Disrespect

I was in Mountain View, toward the end of 2019, in front of a plain gray building awaiting the presence of The Ciardellas and The San Vicentes. My nerves were clawing me to pieces. I felt like, to paraphrase Martin Sheen’s character in “Apocalypse Now,” I’d split from the whole program. Gone rogue. Crossed some kind of line.

‘Cause I was about to sit among these couples and take in Candace Owens…

You likely know The Ciardellas and The San Vicentes: Larry and Christina, Victor and Pearla. Victor ran for State Senate in 2018. Larry’s the assistant Chief at Spring Valley Fire, and was a long-time Milpitas Planning Commissioner.

The five of us walked into a room full of Trumpers. Candace Owens, for the uninitiated, is the black leader of what she’s termed the Blexit movement, consisting of black people who’ve grown tired of the Democratic Party. Far be it from me to summarize Blexit’s positions, but they largely boil down to a version of “What have you done for me lately?” In other words, the Democratic Party, despite being vocally aligned to people of color, hasn’t been the provably more effective party at raising black people’s wages over the past several decades, or ensuring for them a more secure or fruitful way of life.

Owens is smart as a whip, fast as a lightning bolt, and charismatic as holy fire. If you’re on the left, as I am, and you can bear your political bubble being pierced for a moment, you can watch this brief video of Owens in action, schooling a pair of white women on the ground-level realities of white supremacy.

The video shows where we’ve arrived at, on the left: white people lecturing black people on how much they should fear white supremacy. And if a black person’s a Republican, forget it: she’s an apostate, a denial case, a pathetic Aunt Tom. Every word she fires back at the lecturer, no matter how compelling, can be denied on the basis of her unacceptable party affiliation.

The left is eating itself, it’s been said lately. This is because the left is insular and thus blind. I know no form of enjoyment more delicious than watching two lefties who largely agree with one another arguing over the tiny ways in which they disagree. I’ve not only witnessed this; I’ve been forced to partake in it. My Republican friends either nod respectfully upon hearing my views or avoid debating altogether. My Democrat friends swerve into paranoia and judgment if I diverge from them by 1% on any given issue. It makes sense, though: I mean, who else would they argue with? After all, they refuse to speak with, much less listen to, the opposition.

Speaking of which: Better still is what happens when insular Democrats are outright exposed to Republicans. They grow panic-stricken. Their blood turns to ice. Republicans are supposed to be “out there”—not “right here!”

This has become like a freaking cartoon.

I don’t want to be insular, much less blind. I want to know Ciardella. I want to know San Vicente. I don’t wish to be TRIGGERED. Nor do I wish to be surprised again, the way I was back in late 2016, when the Orange Man took it and I didn't sleep for half a week.

I’d prefer to know where my friends on the right are coming from. And I befriend them not as an anthropological experiment, but because (here’s the crux of it) in many ways I feel safer among them than I do among their left-wing counterparts…

Did I feel safe at the Candace Owens event? With no shortage of irony, Owens was pretty much the only black person in the room. And I meanwhile thought my thick, dark eyebrows were serving as a flashing sign that read “Hebrew.”

These were white people, all around me, the ones the left-wing media had long been warning me about. The privileged ones. The evil ones. And of course—the racist ones. And the ones whom it was OK to be racist toward, as their status as the oppressors of people of color made “reverse racism” definitively impossible.

The left started mainstreaming these sentiments in 2014, in the late Obama years. That was the point when the precepts of intersectional feminism, also known as intersectionality, started being spouted from many left-wingers’ lips. Bear in mind: I respect and value intersectionality. Per its framing, by way of systematic injustice, white people oppress people of color, straight people oppress LGBT+ people, and males oppress females, as well as those of other genders. Even a brief observation of how our government and economy tend to—in general—cultivate an easier and smoother path through life for white people, straight people, and male people (and most of all, naturally, those that check all three boxes) grants validity to the intersectional view of reality. My problem with intersectionality is not its grip on basic horrifying truths.

It is its readiness to wield the language of war rather than the language of peace.

Case in point: the word “oppressor.” As a straight white male, I’m told repeatedly that this is what I am. Painful to take in, since I hold no person under lock and key (except for my 5-year-old, but sometimes he runs out the front door!). Moreover, my wife’s half-black, half-Asian. Our children are black-Asian-Jewish (I’m mashing race, ethnicity, culture, and religion here in service of my broader points). Am I my wife’s oppressor or her partner? Can I possibly be both? Should she sneer at me when she passes by me in the hallway? What of my children? Are they half oppressed (their black-brown side) and half oppressor (their white-Jewish side)?

And what of Jews, in general? Some of my Jewish friends, citing the alarming violence against our people, refer to themselves as oppressed. Myself, citing how white privilege has largely afforded Jews a strong and stable position in the U.S. economy…I find the idea of oppressed American Jews to be melodramatic.

More to the point: I could have received intersectionality differently. Instead of quibbling with it, I could have conformed in full to the mindset of my left-wing comrades. Could have played up my multiracial household. Could have played up my Jewish upbringing and culture. Could have played up bisexual instances from my formative years. Could have even played up the joy I get from cross-dressing! My straightness, my whiteness, my maleness—all dealt with, all contextualized for and tailored to the left’s approval, all effectively apologized for.

To hell with that.

I reject the left’s simplistic, war-like, and undiplomatic insistence on framing every political discussion through an intersectional lens. I find it demeaning, dehumanizing, and disrespectful to hear my straightness, my whiteness, and my maleness blamed for all of society’s major ills, as though there’s a direct line from longstanding systemic evils to me sitting on my couch eating potato chips (i.e., just sitting around Being What I Was Born As).

The left deems Trump a symptom of our oppressive system: for them the man is Exhibit A. The right, meanwhile, deems Trump an effective pushback against and a perfect answer to the left’s emergent politics of disrespect.

What’s more difficult to understand and often too subtle to detect is that both things happen to be true at the exact same time.

I wrote a novel about this. It’s called RED DENNIS. It’s about a straight white male who gets radicalized as a result of being demonized. It’s not a left-wing book, much less a right-wing one. ‘Cause in my mind both the wings are melting, and sometimes there can just be a story about a guy (or can there…?).

Watching Owens, I had a panic attack. I felt like an undercover cop. When I panic, my stomach juts up into my chest, tightening everything and making me feel like my heart’s stopped beating. I panicked when she dished harsh truths (i.e., Trump’s tweets are a part of what keeps him in power). I panicked when she evaded harsh truths (i.e., landing punchlines regarding transgender people despite their sky-high suicide rate).

Most of all, I panicked ‘cause I’m a man without a functional political language, exhausted from speaking the language of the left (wherein constant reassurances that you despise Trump and Republicans are mandatory) and turned off by the priorities ascendant on the right (touting small government in a time of environmental and respiratory disrepair, preserving—I’m gonna say it!—white hegemony and majority status).

This doesn’t make me a moderate. I’m not in between. I lose sleep over climate change. I vote for women by default when I don’t know much about the candidates. I haven’t eaten meat in 18 years.

Yet there I go again—reciting my resume. Volunteering my qualifications so my lefty friends can trust me.

This game grows tired. Pandemic or no pandemic, Trump could win yet again. And if he does, the left, unseeing and unknowing, with their war-like language and their politics of disrespect, will have very much helped to keep him there.

After all, if not for the ills of the left, Candace Owens would not have a career right now. Like with Joe Rogan, or Jordan Peterson, or Dave Rubin, or Ben Shapiro, or Tim Pool, or so many others, so long as the left’s disrespect goes unchecked, the content pushing back against it won’t run out.

Speaking of which, here is more.

Steer clear if you get easily triggered. Or on second thought, jump right in.