A modest proposal to No Depression readers:
If you’re like me, you’re deeply offended by the proliferation of the term “alt-right” to refer to the hate speech of the likes of Steve Bannon, The Breitbart Report and Richard Spencer. I know Spencer’s worse, but they’re all swimming in the same swamp, speaking of swamps.
I spent a fair amount of time over the last few months making calls on behalf of Hillary Clinton, and chipping in some bucks to try to avoid this national catastrophe. More time before that trying to persuade my friends on the Left that she was not an actual Wall Street loving, “corrupt” she-devil, or that even if they felt that way, she was far preferable to the president elect who will not be named,
But here we are.
It’s just one piece of an unacceptable whole, but the cooptation of the “alt-right” term is one that directly relates to this community. Alt.country, however imprecise a term, is about the outlaw spirit, uniting the social conscience of Woody Guthrie with the kick-ass sounds of Waylon Jennings, Kristofferson and too many of their younger successors to begin to name. (I’d include Leon Russell just for the hell of it, but the Master of Time and Space lives on in a timeless category of his own).
It may seem minor, and semantic, but words matter. With all the talk about cultural appropriation, we shouldn’t allow others, including the mainstream media, to steal our words in a perverse and cynical re-branding exercise.
Pardon my French, but there’s no fucking way that Steve Earle and Steve Bannon are playing on the same team.
So here’s my proposal: write to the editors of your local newspaper – I just did – and urge them to eliminate this blatantly dishonest label. There are a lot of other things to be done, of course. I joined the Facebook horde in sending a letter protesting Bannon’s appointnent, but the petition was addressed to Ryan and McConnell so I’m not holding my breath.
But a grass roots movement from the far flung No Depression community might actually have an effect, or at the very least, cause the editors and editorial page editors to think about it.
Anyhow, that’s my hope.
If we can’t “make America great again,” we can at least insist that we call a dangerous “movement” by its proper name – “far right,” or even “far, far right” is more informative, even if it is still far too polite. This is not a question of being politically correct, but of simple accuracy. The “alt-right” label is as offensive as it is inaccurate.
I hope you will consider letting your voices be heard. And even if it’s just one small battle, I hope this is one we can win.