books book reviews

Even More Political Books

reviewed by T. Nelson



by Milo Yiannopoulos
Dangerous Books, 2017, 285 pages

Reviewed by T. Nelson

First let me get this out of my system: this book is faaaabulous. It might not be an example of deep political thinking, it may not be radical, and it may not be funny, but Milo is that rarest of beasts: a conservative who is not only flamboyant, optimistic, and good at inspiring young people, but also well-coiffed and a very snappy dresser.

Everybody called the boomers the Me Generation when they were kids, but it was unfair: all kids go through the Me phase. There were just more of them then. Milo Yiannopoulos is a perfect spokesman for reaching the ones we have today—the ones who routinely walk into telephone poles and sit in conference rooms reading their cell phones instead of talking to each other.

For one thing, every single chapter has ‘Me’ in the title, except the last one, which uses the word ‘My’. And he's gay. So he's transgressive, fashionable, and self-absorbed. And sure enough, they seem to be listening, or at least reading his Tweets (or they were before Twitter blacklisted him). Despite his age (he is 33) they relate to him.

Milo became famous for his Breitbart articles, including two criticizing feminism and a spectacularly well-publicized one that brought the alt-right to the world's attention. But, he says, he's not a member, and certainly not their leader, and anyway the alt-right was destroyed by the media and the old-school conservatives, who dishonestly labeled them racists, which caused real racists and neo-Nazis to flock to the alt-right, driving out the original honest dissident conservatives.

But I'm not so sure the alt-right is really dead. For one thing, the left calls everything racist, and young people just ignore the media. If it wasn't tweeted, then as far as they're concerned it didn't happen. The alt-right is a harbinger of the future the left is creating through identity politics. As Milo says:

I'd prefer we judged people according to reason, logic and evidence instead of barmy left-wing theories about “oppression.” But if you are going to divide everyone up, you have to accept that straight white men are going to want their own special party too. If we are to have identity politics, we must have identity politics for all.

Also, did I mention he's gay? Milo reminds us on almost every page how flamboyantly, fabulously gay he is. That gayness, along with his impeccable fashion sense, is what insulates him from being pegged as a homophobic, stodgy, get-off-my-lawn right-winger. It's remarkable how much mileage he gets out of it.

Conservatives don't hate gays, he says. They just hate being told what to think. But hatred, says Milo, has engulfed the Left. Socialists hate the rich, LGBT activists hate Christians, and, he says, fat people hate skinny people like him and Ann Coulter. Feminists hate him because he's a male and because he's got nicer hair. Plus, in case you forgot, he's gay.

Leftists hate their opponents because they're scared. They suppress free speech because they have no arguments. Milo's book is about two things: political correctness and Milo. Imagine being afraid of a well-coiffed, light in his loafers guy with Louis Vuitton accessories who wears a cravat and $300 sunglasses and calls himself a dangerous ******. That tells you how scared they are.

jul 22, 2017


The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote

by Sharyl Attkisson
Harper, 2017, 294 pages

Reviewed by T. Nelson

“Ideas put before us are usually put there for a reason,” says reporter Sharyl Attkisson. “Nothing happens by accident. What you need to ask yourself isn't so much Is this true, but Who wants me to believe it—and why?

Good reporters, says Sharyl Attkisson, hate what's happened to the news. If you're like me, your reaction was: What? There are good reporters? When did this happen? Or is it just more fake news?

Well, yes, there are a few of them. Attkisson is one. I've read dozens of political books, and I am in awe of Attkisson's ability to discover the truth. If you want to know what's going on at the intersection of news media and politics, you have to read this book. It's one of the most important political books of the decade.

Attkisson reveals the strategies of professional activist groups, like Media Matters, whose paid employees target opposition figures by amplifying quotes taken out of context and organizing astroturfing pressure campaigns against advertisers. She calls them “smear merchants” and she paints a grim picture of special interest groups, transactional reporting, and scandalmongers.

Anyone who deviates from their narrative, including Attkisson herself, will be subject to a smear campaign. Media Matters activists pore over every word any Republican or Independent says, waiting for a word or phrase that can be manufactured into a scandal.

The public has no idea of the extent to which news is influenced by smear merchants. They operate from a byzantine playbook to exploit today's weak-kneed and corporate-owned media. It's one reason why it's increasingly difficult to find fair, in-depth reporting at so many formerly hard-hitting news outlets. . . . [p.69]

Both sides, she says, are also guilty of planting news stories, as is the government, but those with the most contact with reporters have the best chance of controlling the narrative. That's why every newspaper and every reporter suddenly begins discussing the exact same scandal at exactly the same time using exactly the same words. It is a highly orchestrated campaign to stampede you into believing their message. She writes

They're all busily creating their own artificial reality, hoping to convince voters that it's the real world.

I used to think that the tsunami of biased reporting was a conspiracy designed to make us believe that all news is political and therefore suspect. If truth is drowned in an ocean of fake news, we become more ignorant and more easily led.

But now I suspect that fake news is part of a bigger conspiracy: to create a “problem” that can only be solved with suppression of freedom of speech. It can't be a coincidence that the stories about the need to censor “hate speech” are coming out at the same time as all those stories about fake news.

What will be the end result of all this? I think not much. We'll discover that the news media were not as important to democracy as we once thought. They will gradually disappear; future generations will ask what a newspaper was, and the world will do just fine without them.

oct 01, 2017