Newsweek and The New York Times quickly tied Charles Manson to right-wing politics after the murderous cult leader’s death on Sunday.
A Newsweek piece by Melissa Matthews compared the charismatic nature of Manson to President Donald Trump, noting that both men used language to gain followers — a common characteristic of most politicians.
The piece explains that psychoanalyst Mark Smaller, past president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, sees similarities in the way that Manson and Trump are able to talk to people who feel “marginalized or alienated.” Smaller is clear that he doesn’t think they share any beliefs, but the comparison paints a different picture for the readers.
Additionaly, Dr. Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, flat out says in the piece that she worries about people who can “get swept up in radical personalities.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times tied Manson to the extreme elements of right-wing politics, asserting that rather than being an offshoot of the 1960s counterculture, Manson was the first wave of the “far right” or “alt-right.”
Charles Manson wasn’t the inevitable outgrowth of the Sixties. If anything, he was a harbinger of today’s far right. https://t.co/k64W9lay6l
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) November 21, 2017
“Mr. Manson, who spent much of his life in prison with a swastika carved into his head, had more in common ideologically with far-right groups like the John Birch Society than he did with the anarchic leftism of, say, the Yippies,” Baynard Woods writes. “If anything, he was a backlash against the civil rights movement and a harbinger of white supremacist race warriors like Dylann Roof, the lunatic fringe of the alt-right.”
While the beginning of the piece stays focused on extremists like Dylann Roof, it quickly pivots to lump Manson in with people are are concerned about the violent tendencies of leftist groups like Antifa. Those views are blamed on “far-right” websites like Gateway Pundit and Infowars.
“In recent months, the far-right media have become fixated on the idea that left-wing “antifa” activists will spark a new civil war,” Woods states. “Gateway Pundit, a far-right website, claimed that ‘millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead white parents,’ and Alex Jones, the conspiracy enthusiast who runs the website Infowars, predicted that the antifa activists would lose such a war.”
The NYT piece ignores that the Manson family was considered a part of the counterculture hippie movement because of its focus on free love and drug use. As David Smith,who had multiple encounters with Manson, writes in The Washington Post, Manson’s ideas of a “race war” were probably developed while he was on methamphetamines.