There’s a particularly enticing conservative group that is currently having its moment in the sun: the right-wing anti-snowflake. We know of them through sizeable Twitter accounts, popular YouTube channels, and the odd dabble in politics, before they inevitably take their place on the sofa of a news studio somewhere to offer the “conservative” perspective on whatever “mad”, “outrageous” or “half-sourced” story of wokeness has grabbed the attention that day.
They constitute a cringe fest to many people; a daily dose of relatability to others. The “anti-snowflake” pundit has captivated the hearts of many with “edgy” humour, controversial takes; positing themselves as ostensibly highbrow, only to start seal-clapping when one of them decides to identify as a lawnmower to make a point in the transgender debate. “The ‘tolerant’ left won’t like this,” they say of opponents who never tune in. This style of right-winger is not ubiquitous, but boy do they get airtime; they’re controversial, rage-baiting and have branded themselves as the people who “say the quiet part out loud”. And they are the variety of right-wing figureheads most likely to prompt social scorn – and yet, they habitually cry “cancel culture” when faced with criticism.
They are by no means new, but the faces are never stagnant. In the UK, no one encapsulates this better than Laurence Fox, a former actor who rose to political fame following a BBC Question Time TV appearance in 2020 (yes, it really was just two years ago), during which an audience member labelled him a “white privileged male”. Fox went viral as he was castigated by left-wingers and applauded on the right for his “common sense”, “anti-woke” rhetoric. His fame following the programme has ostensibly driven him into intentional contrarianism and outrage antics intended to “trigger” left-wing critics. His most recent controversy came at the end of Pride Month as Fox sparked uproar on Twitter by changing his profile photo to a swastika comprised of Pride flags.
Fox later excused – but continued to stand by – his “joke” as a genuine political statement, comparing the use of pride flags in London to Nazi banners, and then following up his photo with the statement “if you stand for child genital mutilation, I’m against you”. Ironically for Fox, who often partakes in the “facts don’t care about your feelings” style of rhetorical debate, a quick google would have shown that gender reassignment surgery on children is not legal in the UK. Though, of course, why would he? He says these things for rage clicks.
On the other side of the pond, the clinical psychologist and author Jordan Peterson released a statement on his YouTube channel in which he directly addressed the “woke folks” of Twitter who suspended his account for violating their “rules against hateful conduct” – which came after a tweet he wrote about the transgender actor Elliot (formerly Ellen) Page. Peterson, who recently joined Ben Shapiro’s conservative outlet Daily Wire, detailed that his suspension would be lifted if he deleted the tweet in question, to which he – quite dramatically – responded he would “rather die” than do. The video proceeded to be just as awkward and forced as it had begun, with Peterson purposely getting Page’s name wrong with forced fumbling and incorrect pronouns, calling his Twitter suspenders “sons of bitches”, “woke moralists” and persisting with a rant so parodic it could have been taken from a sketch show.
Peterson’s fall from grace is unfortunate for so talented a clinician, but not surprising: so many who follow this path end up burned.
Fox, Peterson and countless others start down their controversial career deviations because they feel they have a cause. But they stick around for the fame and profit that can be attained with “anti-snowflake” contrarianism. If there is anything these people prove, it is that they are equally as impulsive, dramatic and over-sensitive as the people they lambast. Every snowflake may be unique – but in a flurry, it’s hard to tell whether they fly from left, right or centre.