On the surface, rural West Virginia seems like an odd place to find a young male conservative. After all, only 68.7% of residents of the Mountain State went for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. By contrast, a robust 26.5% of voters went for Hillary Clinton. Apparently the allure of Clinton’s promise to put a lot of coal miners out of a job wasn’t strong enough to pull an impressionable young man, recently dropped out of college, into her sphere of support.
So perhaps in some strange universe, it makes sense that the young man, let’s call him Caleb, would find himself on right-wing YouTube viewing clips by conservative comedian Steven Crowder and right-wing Canadian activist Lauren Southern. As crazy as it sounds, the work of Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O’Donnell somehow failed to prevent this coal country Peter Cottontail from hopping down a right-wing bunny hole. But for how long?
Initially, Caleb resisted the pull of the left by immersing himself in the work of YouTube personalities like Stefan Molyneux, a Canadian talk show host, and Paul Joseph Watson, a right-wing conspiracy theorist. For a time, their message seemed to be a natural fit for the disillusioned young man. But then along came a new spider, emerging from a group that called itself the Intellectual Dark Web. “I started watching Joe Rogan,” says Caleb, “these IDW cats had me all mixed up. They were academics, journalists, scientists, philosophers, psychologists and business leaders. Some were on the right, some were on the left, and some crazy motherfuckers said they were non-ideological. Yeah right, I thought.”
Although Caleb didn’t know it at the time, it was this group of sinister minds that would serve as a catalyst for introducing the young man to a world of left-wing intersectional politics. A cursory glance at Caleb’s YouTube viewing habits over three years clearly shows an initial strong preference for conservative content, followed by a modest sampling of IDW videos, finally shifting into more left-wing identitarian content. Like boiling a lobster, YouTube had by degrees fully indoctrinated the mild-mannered mountaineer into a rabid progressive, gradually immersing Caleb in a left-wing Marxist maelstrom from which he would never emerge.
By June of 2019 the transformation was nearly complete. Sensing an opportunity to lock down a convert to their side, the New York Times soon came a calling. “After the NYT interview, I was fully on board with the far-left agenda,” says Caleb. “You could say I got gray pilled by the Gray Lady herself. I mean, Charles Blow was blowing my mind. Then I learned from Rachel Maddow and others the truth of how Trump had conspired with the Russians to swing the election in his favor. Also, I had no idea that Stacey Abrams was the actual Governor of Georgia because her election had been rigged. I never realized the left had its own menu of conspiracies. I had been asleep for so long, but now I was woke.”
Regrets, Caleb has a few, but overall he’s grateful that a group of elite journalists from New York City took pity on a poor old country boy and rescued him from his right-wing YouTube addiction. “Now all they have to do is radicalize another 150,000 just like me.”