New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, a seemingly inexhaustible source of uninformed opinions, titled her most recent tirade “We’re All Fascists Now,” a sarcastic dig against political correctness, campus politics, and The Intolerant Left. Unwittingly, it begins by defending a public figure who has appeared on an explicitly ethnocentric radio show.
Christina Hoff Sommers—whose name comprises the first three words of Weiss’s latest column—has built her brand largely by claiming to be a feminist while attempting to undermine its attempts at social progress. It shows in her frequent defense of the most vile of mens rights and anti-diversity movements like GamerGate. And more vividly, it’s apparent in who she associates with.
Beyond the typical right-wing fare of Megyn Kelly and Tucker Carlson, Sommers has appeared alongside anti-feminist Steven Crowder, and on at least two occasions, has shared a stage with Milo Yiannopoulos, a troll so utterly unfocused in his need to annoy opponents that he’s become toxic even to his allies. Her full-throated defense of America’s Most Misunderstood Group (white men, often straight, often gamers) has earned her the name “based mom” among the internet’s far-right.
Weiss of course sets about in her column arguing that those who hold controversial opinions are fatuously and unfairly labeled “fascists” by hysterical leftists, or something. Isn’t this proof Weiss is right? Well, no. Among Sommers’ appearances is an hour-long interview from January of 2016 on Radio 3Fourteen, a name likely unfamiliar to most (for good reason).
Radio 3Fourteen is part of the Red Ice Radio Network, and is hosted by Lana Lokteff, wife of Red Ice founder Henrik Palmgren. While touting itself as “covering politics and social issues from a pro-European perspective,” their venture is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be a “white nationalist media group,” and Palmgren was in talks with Richard Spencer to run a joint media project. Interviewees include David Duke, videos frequently center on the “Jewish Question” and Holocaust denial, and posts on Red Ice have urged readers, among other things, to support the legal fund of Andrew Anglin, the founder of neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer.
More enlightening than Sommers’ rambling interview is the top comment on Red Ice’s upload of the interview (emphasis ours):
I think it’s awesome y’all had CHS on! She’s a wonderful way to educate people about feminism and she easily appeals to Leftists who otherwise wouldn’t listen to the arguments. I love seeing how you will listen to and respect many points of view in an effort to increase knowledge and truth. Thank you Lana and Heinrich for what you do!
At least among her far-right fans, Sommers’ claim feminism is a trojan horse used to dupe those to the left of white supremacists into listening. Who could fall for such an obvious ideological smokescreen? The same New York Times columnist who was duped by phony anitfa Twitter accounts in the very same piece.
Weiss may be correct that the discourse of our age leads our arguments towards needless extremes. One can’t help but wonder if Weiss’s point wouldn’t be more deeply felt if it didn’t hinge on apologia for a fascist sympathizer.