On June 28, the actor whose turn as Captain Kirk made him the icon of geekdom for generations tweeted in response to Reddit being momentarily down: “@Reddit is down! The cyber world has fallen!” But that was not what the language police zeroed in on.
When William Shatner followed up saying that he was “up on kek,” a term the Southern Poverty Law Center has stated is an online venue for “white nationalists,” leftists declared that him uttering the term meant he was not only deeply familiar with hard-right websites, but was also a fervent supporter of such causes.
For his part, Shatner has declared he is apolitical; that he is by no means a Republican let alone a Trump supporter. He has supported gay marriage and environmental causes, once attacking conservative radio host Glenn Beck for disputing the reality of climate change.
So why is he being targeted by leftist millennials? It isn’t because Shatner doesn’t share the politics of his cast mates on “Star Trek,” who signed a document supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and denouncing Trump’s “bigotry.” Or that — ye gods — he has proclaimed his “love” for America. No, he’s under attack because he dared to attack the bloated pretentiousness of leftist millennials.
(In August 2017 he mocked their claims that they were following in the footsteps of the 1960s generation: “Why is it that SJW’s think they can align themselves with those that demanded social reform in the ’60s?”)
The reaction was predictable. Many asserted that Shatner was an “alt-right fascist.” Writer Matt Novak’s attack on Shatner displayed a photo of Shatner dressed as a Nazi in a “Star Trek” episode critical of the Third Reich.
Moreover, Novak asserted that Shatner had always been a fascist. “William Shatner going fascist is probably the least surprising thing of 2017,” he tweeted. Trekkie writer Manu Saadia accused Shatner of betraying the progressive politics of the original “Star Trek.” Luke O’Neil tweeted to Shatner, “Eat Sh-t Old Man.”
Unlike other non-liberals in Hollywood who often cave when confronted by the politically correct, Shatner refused to back down. He schooled a tweeter who proclaimed that his fellow millennial leftists were the descendants of the Civil Rights Movement: “And this is your failure of logic. SJWs stand for inequality, where they are superior to any one else.”
True to form, millennials used their cherished term of “alt-right fascist” against the combative actor. Again, Shatner fired back, attacking the leftist online magazine Salon as engaging in “New Media Yellow Journalism.”
Using a guilt-by-association-vocabulary is nothing new. Sen. Joseph McCarthy used the same strategy. When one of his battered witnesses dared to use the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, McCarthy asserted that automatically meant said witness was a “communist.” From this, McCarthy bequeathed to political discourse the buzzword “Fifth Amendment Communist.”
The controversy surrounding Shatner exposes the blemishes the Left has always possessed: moral vanity and a tendency to accuse anyone who opposes them of being a fascist. The behavior of these leftist tweeters shows that it isn’t the noble Civil Rights Movement (whose members gave their lives trying to register African-Americans to vote) that they are emulating, but the totalitarian left, whose heresy-hunting made the 20th century such a bloody one.
The chief difference is that leftist critics of Shatner thankfully do not have the levers of government power at their disposal.