Thoughts on the Alt-Right and Online Trolls, while listening to Bob Dylan’s ‘Only a Pawn in Their Game’

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
’Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ’neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

I would like to make something clear and direct, now, in my late night, post night-shift period of reflection, relaxation and moderate whiskey drinking. A period in which I listen to music that encourages me to reflect, read poems or articles about the world’s state of affairs that drive my own thinking.

I detest the alt-right. Online trolls disgust me. I don’t mean because you (and yes, this is directed at you) revel in offending, revel in breaking taboos. I can get behind that, in certain ways. In many ways. It’s certainly not the source of my contempt, my absolute revulsion at your content, your methods, your style, your tactics, your selves.

No, what provides me with this complete rejection of your essential claim to existence – that you are waging some kind of war against orthodoxy – is the absolute laziness which underpins your attempt to prosecute this pathetic little rear-guard action. You have read no history, though you claim to have studied it.

You understand no philosophy, though you claim to be driven by the highest (mutilated) ideals of the Enlightenment.

You appear, most often, to have not even a basic grasp of the English language, competency in which you wield against immigrant others, to keep them from becoming a part of societies to which they will undoubtedly make incalculably greater contributions than your own laughably small, manifestly self-centered offerings of reactionary wrench-throwing.

If Bob Dylan, himself such a fluxing and tension-ridden figure, could scope out the basic premise of your position 50 years ago – that you are pawns in the game of people who care not a shred about your little selves, because what they care about is power, that you have been fundamentally misled, and have misled yourselves in this endeavor – well, if he could do that 50 years ago, then I really think it’s time for you to grow a pair, to wake up, to acknowledge your place in this world . . . or, really, to just quit.

Quit this whole circus.

Because you aren’t offering anything new, anything provocative, anything original or even interesting. And though it ain’t you to blame, ultimately, the fact remains you’re offering nothing but pathetic self-pity, and hatred, and tedious repetition of an insufferably boring, tiresome premise.


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