Milo and Tribal Politics

Jonah Goldberg, of the National Review, writes on the Milo/CPAC dust-up:

We are in a particularly tribal moment in American politics in which “the enemy of my enemy is my ally” is the most powerful argument around.

Evolutionary psychologist John Tooby recently wrote that if he could explain one scientific concept to the public, it would be the “coalitional instinct.” In our natural habitat, to be alone was to be vulnerable. If “you had no coalition, you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, pre-existing and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership,” Tooby wrote on Edge.org. “This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird.”

We overlook the hypocrisies and shortcomings within our coalition out of a desire to protect ourselves from our enemies.

. . . Countless conservatives defend Yiannopoulos (who admits he’s not a conservative) in much the same way Democrats defended the anti-Semitic “radio priest” Charles Coughlin as long as he supported the New Deal as “Christ’s Deal.” Conservatives cling to rationalizations to defend their champion. They say he “distanced” himself from the alt-right. Yiannopoulos did, cynically — only after “Daddy” (his term for Donald Trump) was elected. They credit Yiannopoulos’s claim that he can say anti-Semitic things because his grandmother was (supposedly) Jewish, and he can say racist things because he sleeps with black men.

These are the kinds of arguments a coalition accepts when it has lost its moral moorings and cares only about “winning.” Free expression was never the issue. If it were, he’d be at CPAC (and Breitbart), perhaps restating his case for ephebophilia. Apparently, conservatives still draw the line there, but not at anti-Semitism or racism. The tent, sad to say, is big enough for that.

The full piece is here.

 

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