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The Great Hitler Salute Crisis of 2016

By F. Roger Devlin — The spirited camaraderie and intellectual firepower of the recent National Policy Institute Conference will long be remembered by its 275 participants, but public perception will be dominated by The Atlantic’s video clip of the event’s last twenty seconds. This showed a small handful of the participants, with what Peter Brimelow aptly described as “juvenile bravado,” enthusiastically imitating the Hitlerian straight-armed salute. It is already well on its way to becoming the most overplayed video clip since Rodney King got his ass whooped by LA’s finest. As was the case throughout the Trump campaign, actions of a very small number of participants have been used by the media to tar the entire gathering.

Roman Salute

I am aware, of course, that the “Nazi salute” is really the ancient Roman salute, and that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. But any group which wishes to influence society at large cannot afford to disregard popular attitudes. The fact is that the salute is indelibly associated with National Socialism which is the ultimate political taboo of our time, and we on the Alt Right must make it clear that we are not endorsing National Socialism. Flaunting such disregard for popular attitudes (sometimes known as “purity signaling”) is in too many cases little more than one-upmanship, a play for status within the movement which disregards the best interests of the movement as a whole.

The correct formula for promoting an unpopular or widely misunderstood cause is the old Roman adage suaviter in modo, fortiter in re, meaning roughly: “gently in style, firmly in substance.” The scholars and thinkers at the heart of the Alt Right generally try to offer well-grounded analysis in calm prose in order to convince those able to consider matters rationally (while largely ignoring those who cannot).

But no political movement can remain limited to such activity. Our very success makes it inevitable that we shall be joined by an increasing number of young hotheads with little patience for careful argument or measured statement. Movement veterans should bear in mind that these younger men have lived their entire lives under the watchful eye of petty tyrants determined to encase them forever a mental straitjacket, with the ultimate goal of demoralizing and destroying their race. Is it any wonder that when such young men are finally brought to a truer understanding of their situation, their first instinct is to turn on those whose malicious tutelage they have finally escaped?

The behavior recorded in The Atlantic’s video clip is a figurative middle finger raised in defiance of today’s ideological enforcers—and these are, in many cases, truly contemptible people. Yet I hope the “Sieg-Heilers” will get mere defiance out of their system and go on to more constructive work. No serious activist can remain satisfied with playing the role his enemies have assigned him, which is what “Nazi LARPing” amounts to. The Alt Right needs foot soldiers, but even foot soldiers must be disciplined. If resistance to the nation-killing globalist system is to grow, it can only be by attracting curious outsiders disaffected with the dominant ideology but, inevitably, still partially programed with it. Some regard must be had for their sensibilities.

Still, the spread of the video clip in question is not an insurmountable catastrophe or cause for panic. It did not reduce years of patient spade work by careful scholars to naught in twenty seconds. To speak with the young, some people need to chill out. No group can be subjected to sustained vilification as we have been without eventually being provoked to self-defense, and this is now visibly happening. We ought to have enough faith in the solidity of our cause not to fear it can be defeated by the spread of a video clip of rowdy behavior on the part of a few overzealous and partially drunken young men.

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