The first time I saw Noam Chomsky speak was in the summer of 1986 at Princeton University. I was working that summer in an AI lab called “HIP”, started by Professor George A. Miller. It is commonly said that Dr. Miller was the founder of Cognitive Science, and Chomsky was often mentioned as his partner in that context. I had read a couple of Chomsky’s political books by that point, and accepted George’s suggestion to see his former collaborator in action (with his admonition, “Noam is a brilliant man, but he is not a particularly honest man”).
In the Q&A session that followed the talk, someone asked Chomsky about being a “radical”. I will never forget his answer: “What does the word ‘radical’ even mean today? Our discourse has become so debased, it means nothing more than, “something we’re not supposed to like, something that should scare us.”
In the course of the generation and a half since then, the same has come to be true of the phrase, “right-wing”. At this point it is used with abandon, but with no more specificity than, “something we’re not supposed to like.”
Fine example of this tendency has been provided by the staff of Sarasota Magazine in their execrable article of March 1, 2020: “Bigwig Right-Wing Activists and Influencers Have Discovered Sarasota”. Though the phrase “right-wing” is used in the title (and “new right” in the subtitle), in the entire piece no attempt is made to explain what “right-wing” means and why it fits the people named in the article (of whom Mike Flynn, Doug Logan, and myself find ourselves).
So for the record:
Michael Flynn is a near-lifelong Democrat, an offspring of a classic Irish-Catholic family from the coast between Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts. He abandoned the Democratic Party during the Obama presidency, from which he was terminated for refusing to support to Congress the President’s contention that ISIS was “the JV squad”. General Flynn wrote a book and became an adviser to the outsider campaign of Donald Trump, and was briefly his National Security Adviser (before being set-up by the FBI: a later investigation by a retired judge working for the DOJ concluded that government’s fundamental Brady obligations had been neglected and the entire prosecution had been inappropriate). Mike Flynn’s social views are open, tolerant, and concerned with the welfare of the great mass of Americans rather than the elites. Mike believes that the November 2020 election was rigged.
Doug Logan is a man I know at a distance. I know Doug to be a superb full-stack cybersecurity expert with talents far beyond those of typical election “audits” (which are extraordinarily cursory). I know him to be a calm, rather mild fellow, that he has about a dozen children, and cares very much for the future of the United States. Doug also believes that the election of 2020 was rigged, and I am sure he would be just as enervated about that possibility no matter which side of the aisle was responsible for the rigging.
As for myself: I am a lifelong libertarian (note the small “l”) who has never voted Republican or Democrat for president in my life. The article correctly notes that I believe the election of November 2020 was rigged and that I funded some of Doug’s efforts.
So as far as I can tell, what qualifies we three for the epithet “right-wing” in the eyes of the (bravely unidentified) writers of this piece, is that we doubt the integrity of Election 2020. No attempt is made to explain why doubting election integrity makes one “right-wing”. Nor is note taken that only @ 25% of Americans will tell a pollster that they believe Joe Biden was elected President without fraud (the rest believe that fraud was “significant” or “very significant” or they are unsure). Thus, if Sarasota Magazine holds to its definition, they presumably believe that 75% of Americans are “right-wing”.
Other than its highly ideological use of the phrase “right-wing” to mean (as Chomsky put it) “something that we are not supposed to like,” I see no other content within the Sarasota Magazine article worth commenting upon. However, the article was well-organized and readable, so I will grant them a low but passing grade.