It’s been a snowy February here in the Northeast. But that’s not why snowflakes are on my mind.
It’s because I’m puzzled by the pejorative use of the word by the Alt-Right to describe Liberals (or Libtards, as some of them like to say). How did snowflakes come to have this alt-meaning?
In Missouri in the early 1860s, a “Snowflake” was a person who was opposed to the abolition of slavery and who valued white people over all others. You’d think that our Aryans of today would then be inclined to embrace the term.
But like the current President and the news sources he finds credible, history’s realities seem to be of little interest to our Alt-Right brethren. So they’re not making this obvious connection to the etymology of snowflake.
And I fear that they will also be deeply offended by my use of an elitist word like etymology, so for that I want to apologize right up front and supply the definition.
Etymology: the origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning.
The Urban Dictionary has a lengthy and inconclusive definition of snowflakes. Sounds like the term is used by the left to insult the right and by the right to insult the left. In both cases, it seems intended to describe a person who is seen as overly sensitive and fragile. A far, far uglier connotation, and one with roots in the Alt-Right, is of the ash falling from the sky above the concentration camps in Nazi Germany.
I have been called a snowflake and a libtard by several people on Twitter, and a quick check of their profiles was chilling. Seething with hatred, they were definitely in the Alt-Right camp. In all cases, I couldn’t resist one pithy (to my mind) retort. Then I blocked them, because it definitely seemed the safe and sensible thing to do.
But reflecting on the word snowflake as it might apply to the Alt-Right, I do see a kind of fragility there. I’m not saying that they aren’t terribly dangerous people. But they really seem to be, fundamentally, emasculated males, howling with hurt and fury.
They construct an alternative world in which they are powerful alpha types. Then any threat to that flimsy construct is met with viciously attacking energy (along with alt-facts to back it all up).
Donald Trump is a pathetic-yet-powerful (for now) example of this. It’s fascinating to me that his masculine prowess was so blatantly questioned during the GOP debates. I mean, Little Marco really zeroed in on Donald’s Achilles Heel. And Donald, snowflake that he is, couldn’t take it — couldn’t let it be.
The theme (size and prowess) continues, as he is compelled to inflate the size of his crowds, his ‘victory,’ his deals. And his core constituency pretty much lives and breathes in the same fragile, alternative reality as Donald does. They enthusiastically agree about the size of his whatever, and in exchange he promises them a return of the lost greatness that they feel they deserve — a place where they are powerful, too.
He frames it like it’s the American Dream. But it isn’t. It’s a cheap, dark, facsimile — an Alt-American Dream, if you will. And basically, Donald is ripping off all the snowflakes who trust him. It would be sad — I’d actually feel bad for all these duped snowflakes — if the hatefulness they condone weren’t so intolerable. But it is, and I don’t.
So, today it was warm. There’s a feeling that spring is coming. Snowflakes are melting away. In a few weeks, we’ll start seeing the ground again – start seeing what’s underneath. Alt-reality gives way to reality. It has to. It’s not sustainable over the long haul. Snowflakes melt and spring comes. It’s just the way it works.