An Old, Old Story
On Tuesday, Breitbart published an exposé of Chronicles politics editor Pedro Gonzalez entitled “Rising Conservative Influencer Pedro Gonzalez Regularly Espoused Racist and Anti-Semitic Sentiments in Private Messages.” Now, if you’ve ever read Gonzalez’s tweets, this is not surprising: what he said in public was a barely-veiled version of the kinds of messages he was sending to confidants. But there are a few notable things about this story that I think deserve comment: —
First off, there’s the outlet. Breitbart of all places putting someone on blast for racism? What’s going on there? This is the opening salvos of an internecine war between DeSantis and Trump supporters within the conservative movement. Breitbart is Trump-aligned and Gonzalez is backing DeSantis. I would expect some more of this in the coming months. God knows there are Trump supporters that have said as bad shit as Gonzalez.
Second, Gonzalez works for Chronicles, the premier paleoconservative magazine. Chronicles, and the paleo movement in general, is sort of the clearinghouse where extreme right views get converted into something approaching respectability So, again, it is not at all surprising that a writer there would be an obsessive antisemite. The magazine and its writers are a major focus of my book on the early 90s and it’s apparently performing the same function as it did 30 years ago. Chronicles editor in chief is Paul Gottfried, the man who invented both the terms “Alt-Right” and “paleoconservative.” Mr. Gottfried is Jewish. I actually interviewed Gottfried for my book, since he had close relationships with many of the figures I am discussing. He was very proud of his “young Mexican-American editor” — presumably this was Gonzalez; I doubt Chronicles employs too many other Latinos. I wonder what he thinks now? Of course, Gottfried has a record of close proximity to unsavory figures: he was mentor to Richard Spencer, who became a Nazi, and he was a good friend of Chronicles contributor Sam Francis, who was fired from his job at the Washington Times for addressing the American Renaissance White Nationalist conference. Gottfried was also friendly with and campaigned for Pat Buchanan, whose record of antisemitic commentary is well-known. It’s likely that Gottfried will chalk this up to “cancel culture” and “wokeness;” phenomena that he believes are more totalitarian than Soviet Communism. But he must wonder why this keeps happening: his friends keep turning out to be fascists.
In general, this keeps happening! Some member of the conservative movement is outed as a full-on Nazi. This pattern goes back at least to National Review editor Revilo P. Oliver.
This entire episode is a perfect example of the newer phenomenon I’ve called “groyperfication:” the heavy suffusion of fascist and protofascist propaganda, memes, and attitudes in the junior ranks of the Right. It’s my thesis that the Right is absolutely lousy with Pedro Gonzalezes: young men who privately espouse hardcore Nazi views and openly espouse a lighter version of it. They may not consciously self-identify as Nazis or fascists, at all. This is made possible by the variegated propaganda available: they can call themselves “Traditionalists,” or “Conservative Revolutionaries,” or “Paleoconservatives,” or what have you without having to take on the stigma of the F- or N-words. This is harder and harder to do as fan favorites like “Bronze Age Pervert” openly identify as fascists.
Now, this is where I start to get a little pissed off. Once again, this gives the lie to the insistence among some people —on both the left and right—that inquiries into “fascism” and “Nazism” are irrelevant to the study of the contemporary right. It also gives the lie to the claim, made by Shadi Hamid, that it is simply hysteria and delusion to suggest that there was anything pathological or authoritarian going on with DeSantis. Apparently, the far right thinks he’s a close enough to be useful! Conservative wunderkind Nate Hochman, who works for DeSantis now, openly admitted that Trump admin staffers were reading fascist propaganda and then professed to being totally baffled why anyone would throw around the term. And, remember this question-begging statement of Daniel Bessner’s: “No self-identified fascist is taken seriously in American society. There are no genuinely fascist op-ed columnists, no fascist TV commentators, no fascist celebrities, no fascist elected officials. You’re unlikely to find people reading actual fascists outside of European history courses.” Bessner and the like insist, despite a wealth of mounting evidence, that fascism is “not a living ideology” in America. The only way you can write such a thing is by studiously not paying attention to what the contemporary Right says, reads, and does. At some point, as you enter the realm of pure denial, a lack of intellectual curiosity tips into a lack of intellectual honesty. No matter how much evidence you can provide, they constantly shift the goalposts: these examples are merely “rhetorical,” they aren’t "structural,” these figures are “minor,” and so on and so forth. Enough of this bullshit already.