Person

Amber A’Lee Frost

Amber A’Lee Frost is a socialist writer and co-host of the podcast Chapo Trap House. She is the one who coined the phrase “dirtbag left” which describes a more vulgar opposition to not just conservatives but to more establishment left-of-center types. Frost is also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Her most notable written work is a 2016 op-ed in Current Affairs that argued for a more vulgar politics on the left. She compared vulgar opposition to the upper class and other opponents of the socialist left to slanderous pamphlets mocking the French royal family before and during the French Revolution. She also noted that the rise of Donald Trump on the right was due to his vulgar rhetoric and his blunt style. She called for the left to reclaim vulgarity “from the Trumps of the world.” [1]

Frost was a supporter of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). In 2019, Frost had a pro-Bernie article she wrote pulled from The Baffler after the publication became worried that a pro-Bernie op-ed would jeopardize its 501(c)(3) non-profit status. [2] Frost even went so far to make an attack on the sexual orientation of one of Sanders’s 2020 primary rivals, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at a Chapo Trap House event. [3]

Frost has also clashed with the more woke left in the past. She views her politics as more based on class and not identity, unlike many on the left. Although she got into politics through feminist organizing, she does not identify with modern feminism because of its lack of focus on the issues of working class women. [4]

Early Life

Amber A’Lee Frost was born in Indiana. [5] She is a writer, professor at NYU, and musician who currently lives in Brooklyn. She contributed to the books Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton. [6]

She joined the socialist podcast Chapo Trap House as a co-host after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. When she joined the podcast, she was the roommate of Chapo founder Felix Biederman. [7]

Birth of the “Dirtbag Left”

Frost is credited as the creator of the phrase “dirtbag left.” In a 2016 article in Current Affairs, which did not use the phrase, Frost wrote a defense of vulgarity in politics that has become a characteristic of the “dirtbag left.” [8]

Frost began by describing the history of the use of vulgarity as a means to criticizing the powerful. She described the use of slanderous pamphlets and gossip before and during the French Revolution as a means of attacking the French royal family and the upper classes. Frost points out that the revolutionaries use vulgar and obscene images and word play to attack their opponents. [9]

Frost then also talked about how Donald Trump had used vulgarity and a blunt mannerism as a way to undermine his political opponents. She described Trump’s vulgarity as “appealing precisely because it exposes political truths.” [10]

She then said there were times when vulgarity was necessary to deliver the passion of messaging. She cited many of the arguments used against the Vietnam War and some of the “gangsta rap” lyrics that attacked the police in 1980s and 1990s. [11]

She concluded that vulgarity, while it should be the exception and not the rule, should be in the toolbox of the left. She also described it as the “language of the people” and warned if the left did not embrace vulgarity that it would be handicapped by civility. [12]

Opposition To the Woke Left

Frost is a proponent of single-payer healthcare and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. She clashed with the DSA’s disability caucus over their criticisms of the campaign. She said that her critics were trying to sabotage the movement with their “pathological anti-social behavior.” Her critics viewed those remarks as an attack on those suffering with autism and a petition that was signed by several dozen DSA members called for her to be removed from the healthcare campaign. [13]

In a 2019 interview, she described her politics as more motivated by class than by identity. Although she first came into politics through the feminist movement, she does not support the modern feminist movement because it is too focused on the needs of middle-class women instead of the working class. She also urged the left to focus on the working class. [14]

2020 U.S. Presidential Election

In the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, Frost supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). She wrote an op-ed for The Baffler in 2019 that endorsed Bernie Sanders. The Baffler later unpublished the op-ed claiming that the endorsement could threaten the publication’s nonprofit status. She later republished the op-ed in Jacobin magazine and the op-ed was also printed in full by the website Common Dreams. [15]

In 2020 at a Chapo Trap House event held before the Iowa Caucuses, Frost attacked Sanders’s then-rival, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. While her co-hosts called Buttigieg a “bloodless asexual”, Frost went further in attacks on his sexual identity. “The gayest thing about him is he descends from an ethnic group that’s like a little toy dog,” Frost said. [16]

References

  1.    Frost, Amber A Lee. 2016. “The Necessity Of Political Vulgarity”. Current Affairs. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/05/the-necessity-of-political-vulgarity. ^
  2.    Johnson, Jake. 2019. “Here’s The Pro-Bernie Sanders 2020 Op-Ed The Baffler Decided Its Readers Should No Longer See”. Common Dreams. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/01/23/heres-pro-bernie-sanders-2020-op-ed-baffler-decided-its-readers-should-no-longer-see. ^
  3. “The Pied Pipers Of The Dirtbag Left Want To Lead Everyone To Bernie Sanders”. 2020. Lipstick Alley. https://www.lipstickalley.com/threads/the-pied-pipers-of-the-dirtbag-left-want-to-lead-everyone-to-bernie-sanders.3312863/#:~:text=The%20Pied%20Pipers%20of%20the%20Dirtbag%20Left%20Want,Trap%20House%E2%80%D%20wanted%20them%20to%20stay%20that%20way. ^
  4. Myers, Fraser. 2019. “Meet The Anti-Woke Left”. Spiked. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/07/04/meet-the-anti-woke-left/. ^
  5.             Myers, Fraser. 2019. “Meet The Anti-Woke Left”. Spiked. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/07/04/meet-the-anti-woke-left/. ^
  6. Frost, Amber A’Lee. 2016. “Confession Booth”. The Baffler. https://thebaffler.com/salvos/confession-booth-frost.[/note]

    Frost became a member of the Democratic Socialists of America sometime before 2015 and eventually became a supporter of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. She wrote an article for Salon criticizing U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) from the left in that year. [note]Frost, Amber A’ Lee. 2015. “”Screwing With The Democratic Party”: Fear And Loathing On Champagne Trail As A Bernie Sanders Admirer Travels To Elizabeth Warren Utopia”. Salon. https://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/screwing_with_the_democratic_party_fear_and_loathing_on_champagne_trail_as_a_bernie_sanders_admirer_travels_to_elizabeth_warren_utopia/. ^

  7.           Tolentino, Jia. 2016. “What Will Become Of The Dirtbag Left?”. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/what-will-become-of-the-dirtbag-left. ^
  8.             Frost, Amber A Lee. 2016. “The Necessity Of Political Vulgarity”. Current Affairs. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/05/the-necessity-of-political-vulgarity. ^
  9.         Frost, Amber A Lee. 2016. “The Necessity Of Political Vulgarity”. Current Affairs. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/05/the-necessity-of-political-vulgarity. ^
  10.   Frost, Amber A Lee. 2016. “The Necessity Of Political Vulgarity”. Current Affairs. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/05/the-necessity-of-political-vulgarity. ^
  11.    Frost, Amber A Lee. 2016. “The Necessity Of Political Vulgarity”. Current Affairs. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/05/the-necessity-of-political-vulgarity. ^
  12.            Frost, Amber A Lee. 2016. “The Necessity Of Political Vulgarity”. Current Affairs. https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/05/the-necessity-of-political-vulgarity. ^
  13.    Soave, Robby. 2019. “At The Democratic Socialists Of America Convention, Clapping, Chatter, And Gendered Language Are Considered Triggering”. Reason. https://reason.com/2019/08/05/at-the-democratic-socialists-of-america-convention-clapping-chatter-and-gendered-language-are-considered-triggering/. ^
  14.             Myers, Fraser. 2019. “Meet The Anti-Woke Left”. Spiked. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/07/04/meet-the-anti-woke-left/. ^
  15.             Johnson, Jake. 2019. “Here’s The Pro-Bernie Sanders 2020 Op-Ed The Baffler Decided Its Readers Should No Longer See”. Common Dreams. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/01/23/heres-pro-bernie-sanders-2020-op-ed-baffler-decided-its-readers-should-no-longer-see. ^
  16.            “The Pied Pipers Of The Dirtbag Left Want To Lead Everyone To Bernie Sanders”. 2020. Lipstick Alley. https://www.lipstickalley.com/threads/the-pied-pipers-of-the-dirtbag-left-want-to-lead-everyone-to-bernie-sanders.3312863/#:~:text=The%20Pied%20Pipers%20of%20the%20Dirtbag%20Left%20Want,Trap%20House%E2%80%9D%20wanted%20them%20to%20stay%20that%20way. ^
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