It's about me and my issues. It's not about the world or politics. I own my issues and choose to start by changing myself.
Let me just get right to the errors I see in myself. Otherwise, I'll bloviate for paragraphs. I'll put my personal sharing at the end.
Let's just say I have plenty. Once someone called me a hypocrite and I replied "you don't know the half of it, man..." If you want to point out that I am contradictory and duplicitous, I'm way ahead of you. However, I am picking a big specific one for this post.
Recent events in Charlottsville really put a fine point on my errors.
L to R: Allum Bokhari, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jeremie Lederman
In March of 2016, I was in LA with my freinds Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari. We just met in Milo's office in the Breitbart Headquarters.
They were discussing a huge article that was underway that they wanted an illustration for. In March of 2016, very few people had heard the term 'alt-right' and the article's stated goal was to shine a light on how diverse the movement was.
This article was going to be one of the first to try and put it all in once place. As someone that was partially present at the inception process, I can attest to the fact that Milo and Allum believed everything they were doing. I mean that in positive terms. The stated intention was to try and illuminate how multi-faceted the alt-right was so as to avoid confusion and stereotypes.
When Steve Bannon called Breitbart the platform of the alt-right, I think he was under the same impression... but I don't know for sure.
I admit that I was not fully knowledgeable of the Alt-Right's history beforehand. I knew all about Pepe the Frog's multiple personas on 4CHAN, the growing anti-Republican sentiment, and a few other issues.
My illustration was meant as a multi-dimensional prod at the many subjects surrounding this larger topic.
I suggested it would be funny to use Pepe the Frog as the Ghost of Christmas Future telling the GOP establishment that they had better deal with reality of they were headed for the grave. Pepe has already been used by the racists and white nationalists by that point. Pepe was also the source material for memes and subjugation by nearly everyone else as well.
The inside joke of using Pepe was prophetic irony it would seem.
Our discussion around how the media paints everything conservative as racist would be embodied by Pepe. I was also embedding the idea that if the GOP didn't deal with it's own 'Pepe' it was going to face a grim future. Turns out, Pepe ( a.k.a the alt-right ) WAS nothing more than a hive of racist assholes.
I'll save you the long story. I was WRONG about the Alt-Right. It's the spawn of racist assholes. It WAS the creation of racists and white nationalists like Richard Spencer, David Duke, Steve Sailer, and Vox Day. It is NOT a multi-faceted movement.
I want NOTHING to do with people like this. The idea that something I created could in ANY way give support to people like this makes me ill.
Here's what they have to say about the Alt-Right:
Spencer “Our dream is a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans. It would be a new society based on very different ideals than, say, the Declaration of Independence”
Sailer "Since Jewish predilections play such a massive role in the media, it’s crucial to understand these biases”
What I didn't know then, I know now. I am very conflicted over this illustrations' impact.
The article itself has been mentioned in Hillary Clinton's speech about the alt-right, it has been discussed recently in every news outlet, and recently discussed by Ben Shapiro.
I would never have guessed that my illustration would eventually force Pepe the Frog out into the open and ostensibly lead society into Kekistan...I'm not sure how I part ways with my own work.
My knowledge of the time ( or ignorance of the facts ) was not to endorse the alt-right. I went on to work with Milo until the end of 2016. I designed the wrap for his "Dangerous Faggot" Tour Bus, and almost designed the jacket for his book "Dangerous"
My primary motivation in working with Milo was to endorse the efforts to pry open sacred cows, call out terrible thinking, and help fight the battle on behalf of free speech.
I still consider Milo and Allum my friends. That's who I am. Despite my faults, I love my friends; warts and all. I am a loyal friend in return. I recently did a graphic for Allum to support his articles about the recent Google controversy and the firing of James Damore.
While many have asked me where I stand with Milo on many other things, I want to be clear that I am primarily ONLY addressing this article and what it means to me.
This leads me to other issues I had had to face.
My biggest issue is a lack of empathy and listening. What sits behind this is self-doubt, fear, and pride. I battle with feeling like I don't matter, so having an opportunity to express myself on such a stage is awesome. I fear that if I don't address what I fear, the future will be overrun by things I hate.
I don't disavow my convictions, but I don't honor them by steamrolling through my biases and reactionary posting. Everything I am facing stems from this.
A lack of empathy and listening means that I didn't try and be the other person.
Trump's election was claimed to have emboldened the racist and radicals. I quietly refused to accept this. The left has always painted anything conservative as racist. Most of the time it's political bluster and identity politics. I was able to convince myself that it was so manufactured, that any truth to their claims were likely minute.
The 'grievance culture' as they call it is defined by the easily offended 'snowflakes' that find anything disagreeable as intolerable. While I am in no way endorsing this victim culture's efforts to magnify everything they discuss, I cannot blatantly dismiss individual's experiences.
Women who were deeply hurt by "Grab her by the Pussy" had every right to be.
People of Color who felt anger and fear after the election had every right to.
I could go on...
I am not dismissing the abuses of the political left to use racism, feminism, equality, white privilege, 'punching a nazi' and other topic issues as bait. I will always fight for free speech and equality.
CHANGE OF COURSE (Change, of course)
In 2017, I was deep in a personal and existential battle. I was battling a bout of depression and awkwardly stumbling through a deliberate process to become 'woke.'
After my divorce in 2015, I began attending the Mankind Project's iGroups. I was no stranger to recovery and counseling, but this was very different. After I initiated with MKP in 2016, all the doors to my own issues began to open.
The effects of my communication on my lifelong friends was suddenly very clear. The way that I tried to communicate my convictions were understandably confusing. I'd wager that nobody who knows me personally would ever accuse me of being a bigot or lacking empathy. None the less, the way I approached expressing myself was clearly biting, sarcastic, judgmental, and often poorly researched.
I claim all of this as my responsibility. While trying to build a better world, I was contributing to the opposite.
I hate racism, I hate individual people being subjected to suffering or struggle because of their unique characteristics. I have come to blows with skinheads many times in my life, and I would stand with anyone against such hate and evil.
I am committing to be the kind of man that would rather have people at my table than to table their experiences. I will always fight the battle as a constitutional conservative with very socially liberal egalitarianism...
We can disagree. I don't care about disagreements. I care about YOU. I'd rather we find a way live in peace together even as we practice our divergent convictions.
I admit I wasn't listening. That is something I can actually change.