Ideological and cultural alienation of conservatives in our society has effects that go beyond personal frustration. One of its vilest effects is the rise of alternative voices that pushes for extreme beliefs more openly than ever before.
People who feel estranged by a world that is becoming more and more liberal each day do not trust mainstream media anymore. They certainly do not trust liberal media, which is seen by a growing minority as a tool for left wing propaganda, set to silence anyone who speaks against ‘the agenda’. There is also strong distrust in mainstream conservative media and individuals. They are seen by this same minority as either being censored by or having ‘sold-out’ to the infamous liberal agenda. To quote the controversial conservative columnist & former senior e1ditor of Breitbart Milo Yiannopoulos:
‘[The GOP] disrespects and betrays its own base […] it deserves to be ripped in two’
One of the scary aspects of this lack of trust is the alternative. The people who either represent the Alt-Right (the right which rejects mainstream conservatism) or are simply disgusted by mainstream media still need to express themselves. Twitter used to be the vessel of their ideology, however Twitter being ‘overwhelmed’ by liberal voices, according to them, is no longer fit for purpose. The California based company is being deserted by the more intense conservatives (either voluntarily, or in the case of Milo Yiannopoulos, because of a lifetime ban for racial abuse). The question then became: where can you go other than Twitter?
The Alt-Right’s response to that question was to create its very own platform: Gab. The idea for Gab is certainly very interesting, and even admirable. It is, to use its own slogan: ‘the people first social network’. It was created as a response to censorship and lack of freedom of expression in social media. The major event which influenced its creation was the banning of Milo from twitter this summer. The motives are understandable, yet the lack of moderation in its user base has caused something which was not the original goal of its creators, yet was fairly predictable: It was taken over by the far-right. While officially open to all ideologies, I have yet to meet a single Bernie or Hillary supporter on gab.ai. What one can expect from visiting this site is an unhealthy amount of confederate flags, and friendly reminders that ‘God, Guns and Guts made us the greatest nation on earth’ (that’s from the more tame accounts). Whether it is through social media or with news agencies like Breitbart, the Alt-Right has built a growing media force, where it seems racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and any other forms of extremism can be unchained and unable to be countered by liberals and more moderate conservatives.
Being free to make outrageous claims about ethnic groups online gives this Alt-Right confidence and comforts their already established views. Racism and intolerance are not a dirty secret for them anymore. It is much less scary nowadays to out yourself as anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim. And we can see this all around us with the rise of populism, Donald Trump, Katie Hopkins, UKIP or the French National Front; the most recent notable example would be model & TV personality Vogue Williams calling for internment of ‘Muslim extremists’ in Britain in her column for the Sunday World. All of this came from groups who are tired of being stigmatised and muted. Groups who decided to take matters into their own hands. The establishment media and us, moderate liberals, refuse to understand their concerns. We should be responding to them with sensible ideas, not stigma and censorship.