Ben Shapiro on how the alt-right will take advantage of its newfound prominence

In an interview with Slate, former Breitbart editor-at-large, Ben Shapiro, says: What the alt-right is trying to do, and what they’ve been trying to do now ever since Donald Trump came to prominence, is a couple of things. One is they’ve been broadening the definition of alt-right; I just wrote this piece for National Review for the print edition this week. They’ve been trying to broaden the definition of alt-right so they can suck people into believing they’re alt-right even though they don’t believe the central tenets of the alt-right. So they’ll say things like, “Well if you just don’t like Paul Ryan, that means you’re alt-right,” or “If you just like memes, that means that you’re alt-right,” or “If you think that the Republicans are too weak-kneed, that means you’re alt-right.” No, that doesn’t mean that you’re alt-right; it means that you’re not an establishment Republican. I’m not a big Paul Ryan fan, per se, but that doesn’t make me alt-right. I’m their No. 1 target, according to the Anti-Defamation League, this year.

So they’ve tried to broaden the definition so they can suck people into believing they’re alt-right, and then make themselves seem indispensable by saying, “Look at all these alt-right people. They’re all out here, and if the Republican Party pushes them to the side, then they’re going to pay an electoral price for that.” And then you have people winking and nodding at them because they think they’re an important constituency. So it’s a couple-step process, and glomming onto Trump has been part of that because Trump, I don’t think, is alt-right. I don’t think that Trump is particularly racist. I think he’s an ignoramus. I think that more than anything, Trump is willing to pay heed to and wink at anybody who provides him even a shred of good coverage. So if the alt-right, which worships at the altar of Trump — if they provide him good coverage, he’s willing to wink and nod at them and not wreck them.

How much does Steve Bannon subscribe to those notions of European centrism? At what point will he stop?

I think that Steve will stop if it becomes politically convenient for him to stop. Steve is not a deeply principled guy on politics; it’s not like he’s coming in with this ramrod agenda. He’s coming in and he’s talking about big government spending. He’s talking about trillion-dollar infrastructure packages. If you had to peg Steve down on ideology or philosophy, you’d say he’s sort of like a European far-right leader. He’s more like Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage than he is like a constitutional conservative. He doesn’t like constitutional conservatism; he thinks that it’s an obstacle in the way of building this new Third Way movement, this independent political movement that is focused on heavy spending—even some redistribution inside the country—but closed borders and tariffs for everybody outside. He calls himself an economic nationalist. They say, “Are you a white nationalist?” and he says, “No, I’m an economic nationalist.” And then when he’s asked about white nationalism and its effect on the far-right in Europe, he says that will sort of fade away as time goes on, and they’ll legitimize. I don’t think so. I’ve never seen a bad movement or a bad person, yet, given power and they become better people.

So you think that Bannon is using the alt-right to get his agenda passed? But do you think that the alt-right thinks it’s using Bannon to get its agenda through?

Yes, and they’ll say it openly — they’ll say, “Bannon isn’t one of us. Breitbart isn’t us. Trump isn’t one of us. But they’re the most useful tool we’ve ever found.”

And they’re not doing that just to distract attention to the media? They really don’t think that Trump is one of them, but he’s a useful idiot?

I think that’s right. I don’t think that they sit around thinking Donald Trump reads Jared Taylor. I mean, I don’t think they think Donald Trump reads books, right? They think that Donald Trump has positions. Those positions are sufficiently warm toward their positions. He’s not throwing them out of the tent. And because he won’t throw them out of the tent, that makes him their best ally. [Continue reading…]

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