The event started at 8pm. Stefan spoke first, then Lauren, followed by a Q&A.
Neither speaker shied away from the touchy subjects we all avoid at dinner parties. The whole thing felt like a two-hour ode to Western civilisation.
Lauren and Stefan are on the front line of what’s called the “culture war” — a series of disagreements over the West’s acceptance of political correctness, immigration, feminism, gender theory and multiculturalism.
Lauren believes the left has won this culture war. So she’s fighting back with an army behind her — a growing online movement of people who, like her, are sceptical of the entrenched conventional wisdom surrounding these cultural issues.
“The first rule of multiculturalism is that you can’t talk about multiculturalism,” she said.
Everyone likes to think they’re speaking truth to power nowadays. Lauren and her audience believe their voices have been marginalised by a left-wing political and media establishment that prioritises what “isn’t offensive” over what’s “true”.
To automatically dismiss this online movement as an epidemic-level revival of racism seems careless and overly simplistic. Lauren and Stefan are echoing the concerns of potentially millions of Australians. Censoring them from democratic debate could be devastating.
Feminism, Islam and multiculturalism aren’t beyond criticism. Most polls suggest that the majority of women don’t even identify as feminists. Are we not allowed to question why? Or is that yet another topic that’s off limits?
There’s a fundamentalist brand of social justice out there that takes values like equality, diversity and acceptance to their perverted extreme. Lauren’s $67,000 security bill is evidence of it.
I think this hits the nail on the head. It is because of the attempted closing down of debate on these issues, that people like Southern have become so popular.
But I’d like to warn Lauren against adopting the tactics of her adversaries.
It takes years of study to fully understand Islam, political philosophy, feminism and immigration. Yet somehow, a 23-year old college dropout seems to have figured them all out?
Lauren is entitled to her opinions, but to pretend she’s some kind of intellectual authority is ridiculous. She might not claim to be an expert, but she is certainly treated like one. I hope her audience doesn’t blindly accept everything she says.
Her critiques of multiculturalism were interesting and not completely outrageous. But for Lauren to be treated like an expert by more than her own fans, she first must understand the arts of expertise: nuance, balance and compromise.
A useful critique. Just because Southern is willing to speak up on these issues, doesn’t mean she is right on them.
Lauren spares no time for discussing the ugly side of Western civilisation, or the beautiful side of multiculturalism. Everything is either completely bad, or completely good.
I’m a fan of both. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. But I do think you need cultures that can integrate into “Western civilisation”, rather than be hostile to them.
The followers of this online right-wing movement have an astounding level of certainty in their ideology. Certainty is comforting for people who desperately want to understand the world.
Like her radical left-wing enemies, Lauren understands half the story of whatever she talks about (Islam, feminism, multiculturalism), and thinks it’s the whole story.
Nevertheless, Lauren represents a large number of Australians who feel they have no voice. There was a genuine feeling of persecution emanating from her audience.
Considering so far in 2018 there have been 1,184 Islamic terror attacks in 46 countries killing 7,158 people it is absolutely rational and reasonable that large numbers of people want to debate Islam. Telling them that you can’t do so, makes the problem worse.
Lauren, Stefan and their crew of right-wing internet commentators may not realise it, but they hold considerable power over a generation of young conservative contrarians.
They criticise the left for being intolerant towards differing opinions and yet, I saw that same intolerance in their own audience; the same dogmatism, anger and stubbornness displayed by Lauren’s supposed arch-enemies: the social justice warriors.
You can become that which you fight against.
She did manage to convince me about one thing: the Australian media is wrong to describe Lauren as “alt-right” — a mistake I myself have made.
Lauren has some very controversial opinions and she has engaged in some very provocative antics. But she simply doesn’t meet the criteria of alt-right. Associating Lauren with the alt-right makes a good headline, but it’s just not true.
The alt-right is a white nationalist movement with links to Neo-Nazism. The term “alt-right” was coined by a man named Richard Spencer, who is considered the movement’s leader.
Spencer supports the creation of a country exclusively for white people. He’s opposed to interracial relationships. And he supports abortion rights, partly because of their capacity to reduce the African population.
To lump Lauren in with Spencer is lazy and uncharitable. Whereas Spencer believes different races can’t coexist, Lauren believes different cultures can’t coexist. Spencer takes pride in the white race; Lauren takes pride in Western culture.
And culture is very different to race. You can’t choose your race. Race has an influence on culture but they are again very different things.
If you care about defeating the alt-right, don’t use the label as a cudgel to describe every right-winger on the internet. We should reserve the label for whom it actually applies.
Do we want to become the boy who cried alt-right?
I think the battle is almost lost. The bar for being called a Nazi now is so low, that it is meaningless.