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Reading & Roasting #1: Dave Rubin's RNC Cash Grab
And the time Dave definitely DID NOT masturbate to a condemned puppy.
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Welcome to Reading & Roasting Part 1. Today we’re looking at the Introduction and Chapter 1 of Dave Rubin’s Don’t Burn this Country: Surviving and Thriving in Our Woke Dystopia. (If you’re unfamiliar with Dave, check out Part 0 here.)
Before embarking on this journey, I viewed Rubin as a fringe figure, circulating the outer rim of the Conservative galaxy in hopes of capturing loose clicks not taken by the more “respectable” thought centers, such as The Wall Street Journal and National Review. But about 60 pages in, I can see that was foolish of me.
Dave Rubin is not a fringe figure. This book is frequently featured on National Review’s The Editors podcast, and Dave is in tight with prominent Conservative voices. His show is part of Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV, and he’s close friends with the Trumps. (Dave assures us Trump isn’t homophobic, as the former President told him “I don’t give a shit if you’re gay.” Very accepting!)
Don’t Burn this Country eliminates any remaining doubt that Dave’s journey from Leftist to Conservative was motivated by anything other than clicks and clout, as this book is an obvious attempt at an RNC cash-grab. (The RNC is known to mass-purchases Conservative books to get them on the NYT Bestseller list.) I say that because Dave is really trying to hit the word count here. A good portion of the text is either copy-pasting paragraphs from the works of people like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson, or literal retweets — on several occasions Dave writes out Tweets, word for word.
But that isn’t to say there’s nothing for us to see here. Rubin’s lack of coherence and inability to make an argument serves as a good indication of what the Right is all about. While Mitch McConnell appoints “abolish the EPA-type” judges to the courts, Dave Rubin and Co. are front and center, spamming terms like “woke mob” and “regressive left.” After all, the “laissez-faire” message was never popular, but Owning the Libs got a Republican Supreme Court. So why wouldn’t the Right run with it?
Introduction: Dave DID NOT Masturbate to A Condemned Puppy
The book’s intro starts with the onset of COVID in March 2020. For someone who says the Left is too soft, Dave really views himself as the real victim of the pandemic. In just a few short pages, Dave claims:
Chris Pratt would play him in a movie about his life,
He bought a gun,
COVID “experts” are lying to us,
Masks on children are part of our “totalitarian nightmare,” and
Clarifies he definitely DID NOT masturbate to a soon-to-be-euthanized puppy.
After running through the right-wing gripe list, Dave clarifies he’s left “liberalism” and now identifies as a “Conservative.” The call-to-action for the reader is to “start a movement dedicate to dismantling and resisting the oppressive woke machine and Washington oligarchy,” which, of course, is conveniently outlined in this book.
At first, I didn’t think there was much here, but the more I think about it, the more I realize this is a perfect introduction to 2022 Conservatism. It puts the U.S.’s minimalist COVID protocols on par with the burning of the Reichstag, imagines a Leftist to get mad at, claims “this is the last chance to defend America from tyranny,” and relentlessly advertises the author’s books and YouTube channel as the only way to save the country (for the low price $29.95, of course).
Complaining, no coherent ideology, and grifting. Sounds like the modern Conservative project to me.
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Chapter 1: There Are No Other Letters in “I”
(I think this is a play in “There’s no ‘I’ in team”?)
This chapter really should have been part of the intro, as it repeats the “need” for the book and the “problem” it solves. But Dave finally does give us somewhat of a thesis, claiming most of America’s issues stem from a departure from “individualism.”
Dave defines individualism as “to believe that each person is of more value than any single role or function in society. — that each is a unique, living, breathing, thinking human being — and as long as one person’s freedom doesn’t directly infringe upon someone else’s, then you’re good to go.”
I want to examine the middle of that statement, as it represents the chasm between what the Right thinks it is, and what the Right actually is. In short, Conservatives believe: “I have the right to wave my hand around, but I don’t have the right to hit you in the face.” But no matter how many times they say this, they never consider it in material terms.
Dave’s introduction claimed COVID mask mandates were “tyranny,” yet such initiatives don’t conflict with Dave’s definition. If Dave refused to wear a mask in the grocery store, that would directly infringe upon someone else’s freedom by increasing the likelihood they get sick. The same could be said about business regulations (the “freedom” to dump industrial waste where I please), LGBT issues (the “freedom” to deny services to gay people), and reproductive issues (supporting the Hyde Amendment, which protects the “freedom” to prevent abortions for those on Medicaid). It’s shocking how Conservatives will continue to preach this mantra without admitting how their politics are in direct violation of it.
The rest of the chapter focuses on the “Leftist alternative” to individualism, something Dave calls “The Collective.” (He immediately contradicts himself by stating The Collective doesn’t exist, so I’m not really sure what he’s scared of.)
Allegedly, the Left is dedicated to “The Collective” (which may or may not exist) which is why people are “punished” (ratioed) for “exercising free speech” (tweeting).
As examples, Dave cites criticism of J.K. Rowling’s transphobia, AOC refusing to buy potato chips from the pro-Trump Goya Foods, and a made-up story of the time Yeonmi Park was told to “stop being racist” as she cried for help mid-mugging.
Another interesting insight lies in Dave’s complaint about the Goya Foods affair. (Some people called for a boycott after Goya Foods supported Trump.) The Right used to say: “If you don’t like a company’s politics, don’t buy their products!” But that doesn’t work anymore. Because the Conservative movement has absorbed its once-fringe fascist elements into its mainstream, Conservatives need fascism’s victimhood myth to keep the blood flowing. So, now it’s actually tyranny when you refuse to buy pork rinds from a billion-dollar company. Dave writes: “Of course, everyone has every right to buy or not buy a product based on whatever reason he or she wants… That’s just rational self-interest and laissez-faire capitalism doing what it does best. But this isn’t laissez-faire. This is just not fair.”
And, there it is. “This is just not fair.” A perfect window into the mind of right-wingers. For a book claiming about how the Left is too caught up in identity and feelings, Dave (and fellow Conservatives) fail to see that their main problem with the Left is that we just don’t like their ideas. That makes them sad, so they write books about how it isn’t fair they get roasted through the computer.
Reading this book is roasting my brain, so my next post is going to be more thoughtful, examing what a moneyless society could look like. Subscribe if so you don’t miss it, or future segments of the Reading & Roasting: Dave Rubin series.
What do you think of Dave’s (and Conservative’s) nonsensical complaining? Let me know in the comments below.