Emilio Horner is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist.
There’s a demographic that I not only disagree with politically, but am actually deeply terrified of. This is the Internet Libertarian.
This person is usually a white male. He probably grew up in a nice neighborhood with his parents working well-paid jobs. Hell, they’re probably even Democrats. He perhaps even supported Obama in ’08 (that was before the Internet Libertarian learned the Gospel of Milton Friedman and the free market).
This person is probably an atheist. Obviously anyone, in the Internet Libertarian’s worldview, who believes in religion is an Islamic terrorist or Christian fundamentalist. There’s very little room for nuance within a one sentence forum post, and hey, instead of making a complex argument about problematic racist, sexist or classist issues, it’s much easier to just link a three minute Bill Maher clip.
The Internet Libertarian believes in freedom. Free markets, free speech, free healthcare. Whoops, not the last one. The Internet Libertarian believes their freedom is being co-opted by scary and evil people — groups like feminists, who of course hate men, hate free speech and look to push a radical lesbian agenda onto the world. The internet libertarian believes they’re entitled to sleep with whoever they want. They’re so much smarter than everyone else after all. They probably won’t say this out loud of course, because, you know, the politically correct “feminazis” would shut it down, but they usually sympathize with Men’s Rights Groups or Pick Up Artists. Catcalling, they’ll say, isn’t that just a compliment?
The Internet Libertarian thinks that all these “Social Justice Warriors” caring about race need to go back to Tumblr and stop whining. After all, they know it’s easier for minorities to get into college than the white man nowadays. Clearly reverse racism is happening as Comrade Obama spreads his radical black socialist agenda onto America’s heartland. Sure, racism was a big deal like 100 years ago or something, but why would that still be relevant today? It’s not like the actions of the past impact the social realities of the present or anything.
The Internet Libertarian spreads its gospel over a series of Internet forums and chat rooms to likeminded individuals. Why have a discussion in person when you can just post a meme and call it a day? Political theory is so TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read), it’s not like historical background, in-depth analysis, or varying perspectives matter at all. Just post a picture of Ayn Rand superimposed over a cat playing the piano and call it a political statement. It’s funny after all, and hey, no one wants to get suckered into reading some liberal-media Elizabeth Warren vegetarian propaganda.
The Internet Libertarian believes that they need guns. Guns can help fight off the oppressive armies of minorities, feminists and government bureaucrats that are coming to take away their freedom. And hey, why shouldn’t people who are entitled, sexist, racist and believe in the unfettered free market have access to large amounts of guns? What could ever go wrong? Who knows? Maybe the Internet Libertarian is right, maybe the black supremacist communist matriarchy has taken over.
This could all be nonsense. In fact it is nonsense, but it becomes incredibly dangerous when Internet Libertarians impact the way we view feminist issues, race issues or class issues. This happens when we start to actually believe the stuff we see people posting online. Even if we don’t think that we are agreeing, often times the Internet Libertarian is supporting dominant and hegemonic ways of interpreting the world that have been repackaged for the white male millennial audience. Therefore, beliefs get internalized without us being aware.
Furthermore, these horrible views are resonating with people because even a reasonably hardworking white man in today’s society is no longer guaranteed a middle class lifestyle. In fact, at the end of the day, it’s much easier to blame minorities, women or the lower class for a lack of economic opportunity than it is to point out structural economic harms that have come from a neo-liberal approach to economics.
In fact, a number of studies have shown that white people largely believe the problem of racial bias against blacks is an issue of the past. This is empirically false when blacks have worse outcomes than whites when it comes to income levels, health costs, employment rates and home ownership. Only 37 percent of white people in the U.S., according to a Harvard University study, believe that blacks make less money than whites and a majority actually believed that income was about the same. When the beliefs held by the population are this contrary to the socioeconomic reality, we have a problem.
This need for victimization by the white man in a nation in which the legacies of Jim Crow still impact us is depressing. And it can lead to violence.
Elliot Rodgers believed he was entitled to women’s bodies. Dylann Roof believed we should have a white supremacist society. In Chapel Hill earlier this year, a white male atheist murdered three Muslims just because they practiced a different religion. These ideas don’t come out of no where. Did the Internet Libertarian cause these shootings? No. But did they contribute to a cultural context that influenced the shooter’s behavior? Probably yes. Did I over simplify the identity of the Internet Libertarian? Also, probably yes. But at the end of the day, we know there are people who believe in the horrible beliefs I pointed out the absurdities of. And this is a problem.
The solution is not a clear one. We know we live in a culture of male violence. We know we live in a culture that values the white body over the black body. We know we live in a culture in which unregulated markets on a global scale have led to widespread wealth inequality. But if the millennials want a chance at solving these problems we need to stand up to the threat of the Internet Libertarian. A loss of total power does not make one a victim. Instead, let’s establish a society based on principles of equality, tolerance and respect as opposed to devastating irreverence.