The term “red pill,” a well-known part of the alt-right vernacular, comes from the movie the Matrix, in which after choosing the red pill over the blue one, the protagonist learns that everything he had perceived to be reality was in fact only an elaborate deception. This term has become popular among alt-righters for a reason. We can relate.
Counter-factual ideas have been ingrained in us from our earliest years, reinforced in school, entertainment, and social policy. How often do you hear the following ideas expressed? There are no differences among races other than superficial physical characteristics. There are no differences in men and women other than reproductive organs. White people, white males especially, are uniquely evil and guilty of the exploitation of other races. Islam is a religion of peace. Diversity is our strength. All false.
Many in our society have absorbed these “facts,” and even those who know better only say so around carefully selected company. Anyone who suggests otherwise in public will face severe, possibly life-altering, social and financial consequences.
Cracks have slowly been forming in the veneer of societal lies for years. Problems inevitably arise when we base social policy on wishes rather than facts, and these problems have become more widespread and harder to deny. Donald Trump expedited the full collapse of the grand veneer by swinging his hefty sledgehammer against the narrative that was still being tenuously maintained by the media and political elite. Many more of us have been emboldened to chip away at its remains.
The knee-jerk tendency of leftists to declare words that they don’t like as proof of a character flaw on the part of the speaker reveals more about them than us. Most of us have noticed that leftists are quick to name-call and try to silence people who present them with information that makes them uncomfortable. (This is why we use of the tongue-in-cheek term “hate facts” to describe objectively factual information, such as demographically differentiated crime statistics, discussion of which inevitably evokes pointing, screeching, and accusations of “hate.”) The emotional reactions and denials occur because they are experiencing cognitive dissonance and a threat to their worldview. It’s human nature to protect oneself from these psychological threats.
Despite the constant accusations, I don’t believe most alt-righters are motivated by “hate,” “supremacy,” or any of the other common buzzwords. I believe they have realized that the stakes are too high to keep pretending that they don’t see what’s right in front of their eyes. When it becomes a matter of survival, truth is more important than etiquette.
For us, the necessity of free speech is written not just in the Constitution but in our DNA. The free flow of thoughts and ideas is vital for its own sake, but also essential for the pursuit of truth. For many leftists, it is anathema. Think of how often they try to control the expression of ideas they don’t like. “Ban hate speech!” “Jail climate deniers!” “Protest so the lecture will be cancelled!” It’s obvious that on some level, probably unconsciously, they know that they cannot defend the ideas they wish to believe.
As more members of our society become “red-pilled,” the social restraints on truth-telling are breaking down. We will sometimes embrace wrong ideas, get sidetracked, and make mistakes. The difference is that now, the exchange of thoughts and ideas is freer than it has been in decades. We can discover (or in some cases rediscover) the truth of the world around us, and maybe if we’re lucky, help each other discover ways to make things better.