First off let me make it exceptionally clear I don’t think the left’s rhetoric ALONE is enough to push someone to become a far right bigot.
Think about it for a second: if you’re a person who isn’t inherently hateful and can think for yourself, while you may take issue with being wrongly labelled a bigot unless you somewhat agree with the rhetoric on the far right the chances of you becoming exactly what you’ve been labelled are slim.
It’s the ‘if you label me a sexist racist bigot I’ll have no choice but to become one’ argument that I take fault with. At most you’ll align yourself with centrists and liberal minded people calling out the regressive left in their misplaced attacks. However that’s not the full picture.
However where the left fails to capture those sitting on the fence or those already far gone is exactly where the right excells: winning debates, freely discussing topics considered politically incorrect, managing to remain calm for a favorable public image, giving endless resources and time to teach about their views.
That gap is exactly where the left’s tactics feed into far right bigotry. While the left is unwilling to teach, the alt right is willing to fill that void with propaganda. While the left refuses to debate or debates poorly the right has speakers who can work a debate even when they are factually incorrect. While the left continually rejects even their closest allies for the smallest missteps, the right welcomes even those who were formerly on the left but shifted politics with open arms.
While some of these tactics may be questionable they undoubtedly work in growing a movement. Even when the left takes a hit at the right it’s not generally in a way that would dissade the average person from them because the targets are wrong.
Take the recent attacks on Tommy Robinson from the left for example; a man tackling a controversial issue that many have been waiting for someone to even consider addressing.
Rather than address the issue in a way they deem appropriate they attack the messenger for addressing an issue they left a gaping hole to form in.
The same can be said for the farm attacks in South Africa, the terror attacks across Europe, the way the Democratic party has been failing the very people they claim to support and the list goes on. Areas the right can capitalize on where the left refuses to in a productive way.
While we can’t reasonably expect everyone on the left to be articulate leaders as I’d argue there are just as many unhinged figures on the right that seem to acquire an audience from the volume of their voice rather than the substance of their argument. A few central figures that can relate to the larger public is exactly what the left needs.
However I am optimistic. While the left at large has refused to improve optics despite the results of the 2016 election showing abundantly clear what was working before no longer does, many leftists and left leaning liberals are filling that gap.
Look at how leftist figures like the YouTuber Contrapoints debunk large right wing figures without the unnecessary jargon that creates a gap between the left’s intended message and what is received and the unproductive droning of ‘racist’ ‘sexist’ ‘bigot’. Even if you don’t agree with their final conclusions, a leftist who actually tackles the right in a logical measured way is like a breath of fresh air.
Contrary to popular belief many in the Alt Right are extremely smart articulate figures. Hitler himself was brilliant with words without taking from the great destruction he caused. The battle cries of racist and sexist are no longer enough to deter (convince) those who are already far gone.
If you want to combat the far right you have to use their own tactics against them, you have to be smarter than them and you have to identify them correctly or you risk shooting others in the crossfire. I’ve found most on the left don’t even know what an alt righter is, let alone what their arguments consist of.
How exactly can you defeat an enemy you refuse to accurately define, learn about and combat? You can’t.