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In a remarkably predictable turn of events, the paranoid conspiracy theorists at The Atlantic have just re-labeled liberal “hippie culture” as right-wing extremism and declare it’s the new gateway into the KKK.
That’s right, if you eat healthy, own a lot of land, and use cloth diapers, the folks at The Atlantic want you to know you’re one compost-heap away from becoming the Grand Poobah of your local white nationalist chapter.
It’s called being “Crunchy,” and according to scarymommy.com the movement is actually more about liberal privilege than white power:
Socioeconomic is the main kind of privilege that allows a person to be “crunchy.” For many, when they think of what it means to live a crunchy lifestyle—eating only organic food, growing their own food, composting, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, biking etc.
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However, Atlantic writer Kathleen Belew won’t let pesky facts stand in her way. She says the “Crunchy” movement has been hijacked by garden-loving, fruit-canning skinheads.
In her recent laugh-out-loud article, titled “The Crunchy-to-Alt-Right Pipeline”, Kathleen twists herself into a crunchy pretzel trying to connect the dots between this natural lifestyle and right-wing “Neo-Nazis.”
Katheleen points out that liberals on Twitter and TikTok are nervous that conservatives are eating way too healthy and respecting the planet a bit too much:
On twitter and tiktok over the past few weeks, scores of users have become alarmed about the uncomfortable coziness between the natural-food-and-body community and white-power and militant-right online spaces—the “crunchy-to-alt-right pipeline.”
Kathleen has conjured up an entire “history” of crunchy racists:
In the 1970s and ’80s, women in the emergent white-power movement, which gathered Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, skinheads, Christian Identity members, tax resisters, and other militant-right activists, deployed what we would now call “crunchy” issues as part of a wider articulation of cultural identity.
Apparently magazines like “Better Homes and White Power,” and “Women’s Nazi Journal” are pushing this healthy, earth-friendly lifestyle:
These bits of crunchiness included organic farming, a macrobiotic diet, neo-paganism, anti-fluoridation, and traditional midwifery. All of these are often thought of as leftist or “hippie” issues, but they appeared regularly in the robust outpouring of women’s publications in the white-power movement.
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Kathleen seems anxious the right and left might stop fighting and find common ground, like they did back in the 70s. Of course, Katheleen refers to anyone on the right as a white supremacist:
In the 1980s, for instance, white-supremacist compounds and hippie communes could exist in the same rural communities. Consider Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the home of the white-separatist compound Aryan Nations. Coeur d’Alene also attracted other survivalists and people who wanted distance from the state, as well as environmentally inclined leftists attracted to the scenic lakes and mountains. Scholars have spent ample time on other alliances between neighbors in this period—such as the way the white-power movement radicalized its rural neighbors affected by the farm crisis of the 1970s.
And if you don’t allow some perverted, non-binary teacher to baptize your 2nd grade child into the LGBTQ religion, Kathleen says you’re a crunchy bigot:
Homeschooling, for instance, could be used in the white-power movement and as part of an intentional community or cult on the left.
And don’t even think about hiring a midwife instead of entrusting the birth of your child to a dancing nurse doing the “SexyBack” on TikTok:
Midwifery might be powered by anti-feminism and strict gender divides on the right, or by women’s liberation and ideas of empowerment on the left. Anti-technology might be only selectively applied in a right-wing compound, such as the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, whose residents eschewed modern conveniences but manufactured land mines and automatic weapons in their remote Ozarks compound.
Kathleen probably can’t wait for the government to add COVID boosters to the water… Take that, crunchy Nazis!
Another part of the Venn diagram is anti-fluoridation, the movement to oppose the government’s addition of fluoride to drinking water to reduce dental decay.
This cause was taken up from an individual-rights perspective by libertarians, who argued that public-infrastructure needs should not outweigh people’s ability to make decisions about their own dental health. It was also treated by members of the right-wing John Birch Society as a communist conspiracy to undermine American public health. This alliance—between anti-communists and libertarians—is well documented in the history of American conservatism, and one can easily imagine how these two concerns could also be translated to social conservatives and survivalist evangelicals, to name a few other right-wing constituencies.
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Soon, liberals will identify “racists” by their low-fluoride teeth:
In the white-power movement, anti-fluoridation and the fear that the state would contaminate the water (or allow communists to do so) is particularly significant, given that they were also interested in water contamination as a warfare strategy. In the early 1980s, one white-power group planned to poison Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.’s water supply with 30 gallons of cyanide in order to foment revolution. By making this nightmare about fouled water come true, these activists believed, they could awaken the public, revealing the state as the enemy and bringing people to the cause.
In closing, Kathleen wants you to know that this alt-right pipeline she’s dreamt up is 100 percent real, and any woman who’s making her own earth-friendly cleaning solutions or canning healthy, inexpensive food for her family is actually an undercover white power maniac:
The pipeline is real; individual people are indeed being recruited into the militant right. Some of them make this journey through “crunchy” online spaces into white-power content, as the sociologist Cynthia Miller-Idriss has documented in Hate in the Homeland.
But the crunchy-to-alt-right-pipeline conversation gives us a chance to see something crucial that is often lost in depictions of right-wing formations. The white-power movement is not just men marching in the street. It’s also women sharing cultural materials through social networks. Women, and the cultural materials upon which they exert their most intense influence, are where we can see that this is a social movement.
So if you come across “crunchy” content that clicks through to “trad wives,” for instance—women who appear to simply be canning and making their own cleaning supplies, but who embrace “trad” (traditional aesthetics) as part of a broader white-power ideology and quickly move you along to more radical content—you’re encountering both a fluidity of belief and opportunism.
Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you: The Atlantic has done it again.
The full cringeworthy piece can be read here.