How the Online Left Fuels the Right

Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times:

I think I know what it feels like to be “red-pilled,” the alt-right’s preferred metaphor for losing one’s faith in received assumptions and turning toward ideas that once seemed dangerous.

For me, it happened over several visits to the West Bank. I’d inherited, without really thinking about it, a set of default liberal Zionist beliefs about Israel as the good guy in its confrontation with the Palestinians, whose hostility I understood to be atavistic and irrational. This view collapsed the first time I walked down Shuhada Street in Hebron, in a part of the city where more than 30,000 Palestinians live under Israeli military control for the benefit of 1,000 or so Israeli settlers. Palestinians whose homes are on Shuhada Street aren’t allowed to walk out their own front doors, because the street, constantly patrolled by Israeli troops, is reserved for Jews.

Going there, I felt a transformation not unlike the one my colleague Bari Weiss described in her recent article on what’s been called the “Intellectual Dark Web,” a group of iconoclastic thinkers, many on the right, joined together by their confrontations with, and rejections of, social justice ideology. “The metaphors for this experience vary: going through the phantom tollbooth; deviating from the narrative; falling into the rabbit hole,” wrote Weiss. “But almost everyone can point to a particular episode where they came in as one thing and emerged as something quite different.”

For my own part, I didn’t emerge an anti-Zionist, exactly, but anti-Zionist arguments I’d previously dismissed began to make sense.

More here.