Tagged: alt-right

Marc Alan Fishman: “Tales from the Multiverse: The Alt-Left”

With all the stupid that has recently infected our news feeds and such this past week, I’d be remiss to admit I didn’t at least try to find something comic-related to rant about today. I read about half of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s Kros: Hallowed Ground graphic novel – but wouldn’t have anything cathartic to say about it as I’m numb from the dumb. I learned how to make my own salad dressing – but I doubt you’d really care about it or Whole 30. I read all the articles about how Justice League was getting some nifty reshoots to fix errant tonal problems – but again I digress: why sit here and rant about a movie that isn’t out yet, when our glorious leader took to the press and created a new villain for our weary nation!

I won’t regurgitate the circumstances that led the mighty Twittler to coin the phrase “Alt-Left” this week; the odds are in my favor you couldn’t hide from the forthright gaff. Let’s just go in media res here, and talk about the elephant in the room.

Points to me, by the way, for using elephant in the room, as a punny turn of phrase for our Republican Fascist-In-Chief.

The Alt-Right movement, such as it is, is a grotesque that uses rope, leather, and chain to bind white nationalists, white supremacists, and vanilla-ice-cream-only lovers to slough across the land in hopes of finding a way to make it great again. For those playing at home? That was a killer reference to Kros: Hallowed Ground. The Alt-Right likes to postulate that our nation – the one founded by people seeking freedom to live as they saw fit in a religious system they preferred over the one they chose to flee from – is better off as an insular island of a single race and single religion.

Devoid of minorities (racially or religiously) the Alt-Right sees a prosperous and strong country with a rich celebrated history of capitalism and a mighty military. A place where you get rich because you pull yourself up from your boot straps, make a fortune, and only pay enough taxes to keep the lights on (or whatever). Other nations fear us, and do business with us because they fear us. This is their dream scenario. And now, they have an arch-nemesis.

The Alt-Left movement, such as it will now become, is a even-grotesquer that uses smugness, gay-loving, and NPR to bind progressives, LGBTQ folk, and only-artisanal-gelato lovers to slough across the land in hopes of finding a way to smite the Alt-Right. With their cat-ear hats, and pink-batons, they incite violence for those (who through legal channels) were peacefully protesting.

For you see, the Alt-Left interjected and caused the violent outbursts in Charlottesville; they didn’t understand that the Alt-Right legally had permits to encircle their counter protestors and shout hate-speech at them. They didn’t understand that the Alt-Right were there to use their freedom of speech, and promises of violence only ceremonially. The Alt-Left, of course, is known to use their fake news to circumvent these truths. You heard it here, folks. I’m telling the truth.

To date, there had never been a name for the Alt Left. President Trump has the best words though; Crooked Hilary, Lying Ted, Little Marco. His ability to deconstruct a foe and rebuild them with simple nomenclature is a thing of beauty. And let’s call a spade a spade: Hilary Clinton has a few dubious marks on her career. Ted Crux lies. A lot. And Marco Rubio is kinda short. I guess. Hence the naming of this previously-unknown beast has shown the light to the true villainy of this nation! The loquacious hydra that seeks to destroy the President who won so many more votes than literally any other candidate ever in the history of this nation!

But therein lies the problem, my friends. I went searching – yes, even on the dark web – and couldn’t find a single Breitbart-for-queers. There wasn’t a single hate-group built on the idea that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. And while I found plenty of very vicious t-shirts proclaiming how gay the occupant of the garment was… I didn’t see a single one with a gun or bomb, or language that implied the use of it was necessary on the opposition. Hell, I even found one company making a comics anthology for that one service that tries to help women. But not a single mention of a backer reward of a molotov cocktail to throw at white nationalist march.

If you spot the Alt Left in the wild, please let me know. Until then: Stay vigilant!

Martha Thomases: Of Milkshakes and Men

This column is not for the lactose-intolerant. Or for the anything-intolerant.

Last week Heather Antos, an editor at Marvel, went out with a bunch of her colleagues for milkshakes at a nearby Ben & Jerry’s and posted a selfie on Twitter. She said, “It’s the Marvel milkshake crew! #FabulousFlo.” The hashtag refers to Flo Steinberg, who had just died.

So, you know, a Friday after a long week, Heather and a group of her pals went out to remember a woman who was their friend and mentor. They didn’t go to a bar. They went for ice cream. They posted a photo on Twitter because that’s what the kids do these days. I don’t know what could be more wholesome.

Naturally, there was an upset. To some, this photo represented everything that was wrong with Marvel today. Women and people of color in editorial offices apparently is a menacing concept to them, and they menaced back. Ms. Antos received threats of rape and other kinds of physical violence. Others chimed in to say these women weren’t attractive enough to rape.

I feel like this shouldn’t be necessary, but I’ll say it anyway: The photograph does not contain any comic book images. It supports no candidate nor ideology. It is a group of women affectionately remembering their friend.

(In the 1990s, there were a group of us at DC who used to go to women’s night at the Russian Baths in the East Village to sauna and steam. I’m very glad that the Internet wasn’t a thing yet, or we would have probably made it nuke itself.)

The comic book community rallied in support, which makes me so happy. We are, in general, thoughtful folk, and we are frequently very funny about it. The hashtag#MakeMineMilkshake was trending all weekend.

I’m still entirely gobsmacked that this happened. I know we are a polarized country today, and a lot of us feel scared and threatened by people with whom we disagree. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good when things change, especially when these are things we love. We want someone to blame so we don’t have to take responsibility ourselves. I get this. Really. I’m still pissed that the Carnegie Deli is gone.

My inner two-year old wants to scream and yell and break things when the world doesn’t do what I want. Over the decades, I’ve learned that when I scream and yell and break things, nothing gets better and sometimes change so that I like it even less. It’s much more effective to use my words (and, when appropriate, my money) to try to change minds to agree with me, or at least take my feelings into consideration. That’s not what happened to Heather Antos. Instead, a bunch of two-year olds screamed and yelled and threatened to break things. We can disagree with each other without all this other dribble-dribble.

Writer Mike Baron

Mike Baron and Kyle Chapman announced they were making an alt-right comic and somehow, I have managed to control myself enough so that I haven’t publicly appraised their physical appearance or whether I think they should be stabbable.

I’ve been part of some horrified private conversations among people who disagree with Baron and Chapman. These are just that – private. No one taking part in these conversations said anything about committing physical violence against any of the creative talent. We mostly just said that the book didn’t sound like anything we would want to read.

Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe Chapman and Baron will create the next Maus and we’ll all be knocked out by their insight and artistry. I don’t think they will, but that’s my bias and I would love to be proven wrong.

And if they want to post a picture to Twitter of them having a milkshake or even (horrors!) a beer, I’m cool with that. I bet Heather Antos is, too.

Mike Gold: Face-Off At The Donut Shop!

This week’s heart-stopping controversy revolves around the question “is it ever okay to punch a Nazi in the face?” Such an occurrence happened during the Trump Coronation in Washington last Friday and of course it was captured by news outlets and smartphoners alike. And of course the footage went viral – much as the Nazis themselves did in the 1930s.

Comic books have been beating on Nazis since the invention of the staple, so one might think there wouldn’t be much controversy within our particular donut shop. During WWII, there was no greater Nazi-beater than Captain America – it pretty much was his raison d’être – so it is slightly surprising that the current writer of Captain America (indeed, both Captains America), Nick Spencer, said beating on Nazis is wrong. “… cheering violence against speech, even of the most detestable, disgusting variety, is not a look that will age well.”

Hmmm. That begs the question “is violence a form of free expression and, thus, entitled to First Amendment protection?” I think that’s a fascinating discussion, although I wouldn’t want to go to court on it. It’s definitely a “whose ox is being gored” affair.

On the other hand, we have writer Warren Ellis, no slouch when it comes to writing superheroes and a genuine clever bastard in the Ian Dury sense of the term. He said on his website “… yes, it is always correct to punch Nazis. They lost the right to not be punched in the face when they started spouting genocidal ideologies that in living memory killed millions upon millions of people. And anyone who stands up and respectfully applauds their perfect right to say these things should probably also be punched, because they are clearly surplus to human requirements. Nazis do not need a hug. Nazis do not need to be indulged. Their world doesn’t get better until you’ve been removed from it. Your false equivalences mean nothing. Their agenda is always, always, extermination. Nazis need a punch in the face.”

Far be it of me to paraphrase Mr. Ellis, but I think once you strip away the elegance what he’s saying is “They’re fucking Nazis, you morons!”

I see his point. And I agree with it. Yes, it’s illegal – hit somebody in the face and you risk going to prison. Some things are worth that risk, and if all you’re doing is punching a Nazi in the face, you just might be working for the greater good of humanity. Besides, a few generations ago we used to shoot them.

I don’t have to tell you everything the Nazis stand for, but to mention just a few items they stand for genocide, methodical elimination from society, torture, global domination and Fascism. Please note, I’m referring to Nazis and not to “radical Islamists.” The fact that today’s Nazis use their philosophies to justify anti-Islam activities is confusing, but Nazis lack perspective.

An important aside: We tend to conflate Nazism with Fascism. They are two different things. Whereas all Nazis are Fascists, not all Fascists are Nazis. Many Fascists do not engage in genocide and they seem to be of two minds about torture. They define global domination in strict business terms, and they are actively engaged in nation-running to benefit such domination. They particularly like to work from the “inside circle” of a charismatic government leader’s cabinet. Yesterday’s munitions maker just might be today’s casino operator.

I understand why some teenagers are attracted to Nazism. It’s simple, it’s tribal, it’s brutal (hey, there’s a difference between punching people in the face and hording them into gas chambers), and, damn, they do dress well. But lucky for us, if good art direction was what it took to win a war, we’d all be goose-stepping today.

Back in the 1970s we tried hitting assholes in the face with pies. It didn’t work: we still got Nixon and Reagan and Cheney and Trump. We were so wondrously naïve back then. Punching alt-right leaders in the face might not stem the tide of Fascism in the United States, but maybe it’s a start. It sure beats bullets and bombs.

Martha Thomases: alt-truth


The end of the year is a time to contemplate our lives, to count our blessings and enjoy the company of family and friends. It is a time to celebrate peace and goodwill.

It’s also a hell of a time to raise a ruckus.

Most of us here at ComicMix are passionate in our adoration of free speech and the First Amendment. At the same time, we revel in diversity and equal opportunity and think minority groups are worthy of respect.

Some people think these two impulses are mutually exclusive. These people are wrong. And it is more important than ever to say this.

Let’s take a rather frivolous example. There is currently some controversy about the use of the term “alt-right” to describe an assortment of racist and misogynist American nationalist groups. Some people find the label confusing, since it sounds remarkably like “alt-country,” a musical genre that emerged in the 1990s. Some people find it a whitewash (you should pardon the expression) of opinions that had previously been labeled “Neo-Nazi” or “white supremacist.”

In general, I believe it is polite to call people what they wish to be called. Just as one example, over the decades, I’ve called people of color “colored,” “Negro,” “Afro-American,” “black” and “African American,” depending on which term I thought was preferred at the time.

However, in this case, I think “alt-right” is deliberately misleading. Just as I can’t call people who favor the death penalty “pro-life” no matter what their views on reproductive rights, I can’t describe Steve Bannon with a term that shares its syllables with a kind of music made by Steve Earle. I also think “alt-right” is insulting to principled conservatives (and, yes, those people exist).

Clarity, in this case, is more important than good manners, especially when those who are using the term are journalists. In a perfect world, the media would only publish facts, along with opinions that are based on those facts. Since we live in an imperfect world, we use this ideal as something to which we aspire.

Which brings me to a more important and more complicated issue. In Germany, where there is no United States Constitution as law of the land, and therefore no First Amendment, they have laws that prohibit hate speech. We can have a discussion about whether or not this is a good thing, and I can take either side of that discussion, depending on what day it is.

In the link above you can read how Germany’s laws are difficult to enforce in this digital age. Neo-Nazis frequently use social media (in this case, Facebook) to spread their bigotry. In some cases they publish names, addresses and phone numbers of those people they consider too foreign for their tastes. Those people, in turn, get harassed and threatened.

The German government wants to hold Facebook liable for the content of this speech. Facebook doesn’t want to do that.

Personally, I don’t want Facebook to determine what is and isn’t hateful. We probably won’t agree. I also don’t want Facebook to act as some kind of police force, enforcing German laws in Germany. Just as we don’t prosecute cable companies if someone streams child pornography on a computer, Facebook, in this instance, is more the conduit than the content.

At the same time, Facebook is a private company and not a public utility. As a private company, it is entitled to enforce whatever code of conduct it chooses, as long as that code doesn’t break the law. It can also draft these rules according to the kind of business deals it wishes to make. People who want a social network that allows them to spew hate speech are welcome to find one, or create one.

My pal Mike Gold (who occupies this space each Wednesday) likes to say that he prefers it when people say racist, sexist, hateful things, because then he knows with whom he’s dealing. I get that. I also know that those on the receiving end of such bigotry can suffer from the cumulative effects of such speech, a death of a thousand cuts that ultimately inhibits their own ability to speak freely.

If you, like me, often use the end of the year as an opportunity to donate to worthwhile organizations as a way to celebrate, please consider the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for its commitment to free speech for everyone, and to Feminist Frequency for its commitment to encouraging diverse voices.

Because this holiday season, the truth is the gift that will be most needed in 2017.