My statement was actually prompted by a mass shooting in Denver last week. The shooter interacted with several alt-right “manosphere” authors on Twitter. One name that stood out to me was Jack Murphy, who used to go by the name John Goldman. He was briefly in the news a few years ago, after he was fired for writing some crazy misogynistic stuff like “feminists need rape.”
Murphy believes he’s been canceled, but he has spent the past year as a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. Claremont used to be a highly respected conservative intellectual institution, but now it’s Flight-93 all the time—and worse.
In addition to holding this once-prestigious fellowship, this trad Chad also runs a $99-a-month “private” men-only community “the Liminal Order” whose members supposedly teach each other how to be stronger, richer, and more masculine. It offers dubious advice like: “The world always needs a villain and today, that villain is the white straight male who knows what he wants and is unafraid to get it. Be the villain. Embrace it.”
Embrace it, he has! While he isn’t responsible for the revenge killings that a fan of his committed, salacious revelations about Murphy’s life resurfaced in the aftermath after those killings, including something he wrote in 2015 about sharing his “hot young girlfriend” with a “stranger from Tinder.” Just before Christmas, Sydney Watson asked Murphy about it on Blaze TV, and it did not go well. He cursed her and attempted to intimidate her for bringing up the incident.
It is interesting and ironic that the same types of macho “alpha” males who call other people “cucks” keep turning out to be literal cuckolds.
Murphy also apparently took part in a low-budget porn film. According to conservative writer Rod Dreher, the film includes “a sequence in which the super-masculine Murphy impales himself with a plastic phallus, while simultaneously pleasuring himself. This is not a rumor, alas; I stumbled across the image online, and can’t unsee it.”
I also can’t unread it.
Look, I’m not here to be a prude, or even to play psychologist, but as recently as a decade ago the conservative movement was (with a few notable exceptions) decidedly square, wonky, and straitlaced to a fault (admittedly, with some weird stuff happening below the radar).
My experience, coming of age in the 1980s and ’90s, was that almost all of the eccentric weirdos and hippies were on the left. They were the ones railing about the establishment. They were the anti-vaxxers. They were, shall we say, more publicly profane and libertine. This was almost by default, since they sure as heck weren’t going to join the right’s Christian Coalition—or the more stodgy country-club Republican establishment.
Donald Trump essentially destroyed both wings, for better and for worse, by flooding the GOP’s ranks with numerous erstwhile (and apolitical) Democrats. Call it the Roseanne Barr vote. Many of these folks felt aggrieved, left behind, and emasculated. I don’t think it’s entirely a coincidence that Murphy’s book is titled Democrat to Deplorable. This may be the perfect title.
If conservative libertines were hypocrites before, now they’re reveling in deplorable behavior. Murphy’s mess is not the result of private footage or of texts being hacked or leaked for revenge. I’m writing about things that he published and filmed. Whether we’re discussing Murphy, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Matt Gaetz, or Marjorie Taylor Greene, we can be assured they are proudly letting their freak flags fly. This is decidedly not your father’s Republican Party.
“All the institutions that gave us meaning and information fell. They have been infiltrated, corrupted, demoralized,” Murphy rants while selling his $99-a-month “Liminal Order” as a “network to replace those fallen institutions” since “without such a network, you are alone in enemy territory.”
A conservative railing against institutions—all of them!—makes as much sense as an “alpha” “cuck” but here we are.
Because conservatism now sees itself as under siege, there are few standards for joining the cause. Because it distrusts information and media reports, it is allergic to vetting. And because Trump has flouted moral conventions, anyone attempting to police the right or impose standards is seen as being un-Trumpy and, thus, unconservative.
This probably explains why all those august conservative leaders and institutions—you know, the folks who hold all those meetings, own all those buildings, and write all those self-important memos—aren’t asking Claremont how this guy won their prestigious fellowship. For that matter, where is Claremont? Is this the kind of person they want representing them? Or did they make a mistake in failing to read (or watch) things he has said or done in the past? (I have reached out to their media team but have not gotten a response.)
This family values stuff may have been window dressing for many, but a lot of us still believe that traditional family values—even when we fail to fully live up to them—are best for individual human flourishing, as well as a strong nation. By elevating people who don’t even aspire to these standards, conservative institutions are sending a message that these values really don’t matter. This, of course, is a natural byproduct of having Trump (whom Murphy calls “unabashedly masculine”) as the head of your movement.
Now, I’m still a conservative because of important issues like the right to life, the size and scope of government, and the necessity of a strong national defense—particularly as China becomes more provocative. And I’m not going to let people who are not conservative force me to redefine my worldview. What is unfortunate is that the so-called “leaders” within the conservative movement’s institutional infrastructure are allowing their brand to be co-opted. What is obvious is that they are more interested in attracting people like Murphy than keeping people like me.
“There are people who have been in this movement for decades, have proven their conservative cred, live conservative lives, and deserve large platforms—but never get them,” writes Megan Fox (no, not THAT Megan Fox) at the conservative PJ Media.
“Instead, the ‘conservative influencers’ latch onto people like Murphy—fly-by-night scammers who end up embarrassing all of us. Why is that? Why is there no basic desire to check into someone’s background? A simple Google search on Murphy’s past articles would have found this. He wrote them in 2015! It wasn’t hidden; no one cared to even look! And the end result is that conservatives end up looking like stupid fools.”
The Republican party is full of red-pilled freaks, clowns, carnies, scoundrels, perverts, and weirdos. Conservatism has taken on an identity similar to the old Oakland Raiders. The only question that remains is whether Murphy gets cut—or ends up starting next week.