Sunday, March 3, 2024

Old dogwhistles, new tricks: The rise of Andrew Tate and a re-branded alt-right pipeline

MosaicCreative ContentOld dogwhistles, new tricks: The rise of Andrew Tate and a re-branded alt-right pipeline

CADENCE ROY
Staff Writer





Andrew Tate, the self-proclaimed “king of toxic masculinity” said, “The matrix has attacked me,” as he was arrested on charges of rape and human trafficking. 

The Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) stated that six victims in the human trafficking case were surveilled and physically and mentally coerced into performing sex work for Tate’s adult webcam business – a service that he described as a “total scam.” Tate and his brother allegedly lured women into the service with promises of love and began pocketing most of the money that patrons paid.

As claims of abuse and evidence corroborate the violence of Andrew Tate’s online and offline behavior, his fanbase – largely consisting of young men and boys – remains devout. 

It is not Tate’s kickboxing career or controversial Big Brother stint that propelled him into internet infamy. A self-styled mentor and financial advisor, Tate amassed a following through his online course, “Hustlers University,” a service where prospective students can pay $49.99 to learn how to trade cryptocurrency, freelance and invest on a platform that is “Matrix Independent”, or, allegedly free from government surveillance and restrictions. 

The “Hustlers University” canon has little to do with financial literacy and more to do with what Tate believes should be the guiding principles of a successful man’s life: liberating yourself from the nine-to-five work day matrix, raising daughters that are “feminine and virtuous,” paying respect to your ancestors and maintaining a “pure” bloodline. 

This rhetoric, conspiratorial in nature with white supremacist subtext, is an obvious dog-whistle to two groups of people: those in opposition to fascism and those seeking a fascist echo chamber to interact within. Hustlers University has provided a space for the latter group, with message boards where Tate’s devotees ask what they should do to avenge him should he be killed by the matrix and how they should prepare for their “commander’s” return. 

While the trained eye can identify Tate’s dog-whistling, the young men and boys who idolize him may not. The messaging that he uses is intentionally subtle and hidden behind the facade of helping young men become financially prosperous, ergo socially powerful. 

Within Tate’s content, particularly the podcasts he is featured on, he spews misogynistic, violent rhetoric. As Tate instructs young men on how they can emulate him and obtain his wealth, he makes egregious statements such as that women should not drive, women are comparable to dogs and that women should “bear responsibility” if sexually assaulted. Tate is the personification of conventional success young men are told they should aspire to, which leads them to trust him and adopt his worldview. 

The radicalization of young men is not a new phenomenon. The recruitment of young, usually white men to the alt-right using digital media has been prevalent online in the past decade, though the content has changed slightly. The differences are the increasingly subtle tactics the far right uses for its recruitment.

Previously, content that nudged young people to the alt-right glorified conservatism. Conservative pundits like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Paul Joseph Watson were often included in videos perpetuating right-wing talking points, such as the equation of sex and gender, anti-choice rhetoric and the “destruction of social justice warriors.” These videos were unambiguously political. While this material still exists, the new pipeline features takes that are just as reactionary, but divorces it from its political origins and associations.

Andrew Tate and his contemporaries propagate this ideology, but repackage it as financial advice and a guide to men’s self-actualization. They capitalize on the insecurity and disillusionment young men experience in adolescence, teaching them to blame their loneliness and failures on feminism, the left and women–rather than the social institutions actually causing their pain. 

It should be noted, however, that the men being prodded toward the alt-right should be held accountable for their actions. While the pipeline may lure them in, they should not be stripped of responsibility for touting or tolerating fascist tenets.

This indoctrination has caused harm in the lives of those interacting with members of Tate’s fanbase, particularly middle and high school teachers. Teachers have taken to social media to condemn and warn other teachers about Andrew Tate’s influence on their students’ behavior. One teacher posted a video on TikTok describing how one Tate-obsessed student in her sixth-grade class degraded a female student, body-shaming her and saying that she uses men for money, “like every other girl in the world.” Another teacher aired grievances on Reddit, describing how several Tate fans in her classroom would make comments declaring that women are inferior to men. 

While the radicalization of young men to the alt-right usually happens online, this does not mean that it exists in an online vacuum. Classrooms are being disrupted, misogyny is becoming commonplace and the possibility of violence is heightened because of Andrew Tate and figures like him. This brainwashing has material consequences as the lines between the virtual and real worlds become blurred and almost nonexistent. As fringe beliefs move from margin to mainstream, on and off the web, our resistance to this shift must be just as multimodal.

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