All that is wrong with alt-right



27, Nov 2016

The alt-right is extremely convenient a name for a movement that upholds white nationalism, racism and misogyny. Even as the tepidity of the term is being debated, the white educated males of this movement are increasingly making their presence felt. The movement went out of the way to exult in Trump’s victory and was condemned by him. This hasn’t deterred them from continuing to spread their hate-ridden propaganda.

What is the latest from the alt-right movement?

They welcomed the news of Trump’s victory at a conference. Richard Spencer, leader of the movement addressed the conference and at one point shouted Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory.” in response to which some members in the audience raised their hand in the Nazi salute.

  • In the video filmed by The Atlantic, Spencer says, “To be white is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer and a conqueror. We build, we produce, and we go upward.” He explains the reason Trump was elected does not have to do with a need to repeal Obamacare or some of the other notions; instead he was elected because he represented an identity for “us”.
  • A few from the conference revealed their rare excitement at Trump’s victory and how finally something real and relevant – replacement of white people who are forced to become minorities in their own country – was finally taking the centerstage.
  • Even as the conference went on inside, protestors against the movement gathered outside the building and made their case. One person who went to attend the conference stepped out to join the protestors.

Trump has condemned the alt-right group and denied any support or responsibility for it. Some members of the group – which has largely based its activism online so far – expressed dismay at Trump’s disavowal and some of his decisions.

Why do they identify with Trump?

His campaign’s messages are said to have resonated and re-energized the alt-right group of members who identify in one way or another with its ideology.

  • Some students from the University of California, Irvine, who attended a rally by Milo Yiannopoulos, one of alt-right’s key champions, seemed to suggest that their sense of isolation at being demonized for being young, white and male found an outlet through the alt-right movement and therefore they identified with it.
  • The populist rhetoric and anti-establishment and anti-mainstream media rants adopted by Trump throughout his campaign has been echoed fervently on alt-right message boards such as 4chan and 8chan, the latter of which has been deleted from Google’s search results.
  • Cartoonist Matt Furie whose character Pepe, a frog, has become the alt-right’s symbol much to Furie’s chagrin and dismay, accused Trump of inciting hatred among the alt-right group. Joanna Mendelson of the Anti-Defamation League told the BBC before the election, “The Republican presidential candidate's rhetoric and his embrace of an anti-globalisation, anti-immigrant, nationalist agenda "has certainly resonated with the alt-right.”
  • While Trump may have energized the movement, Yiannopoulos had said that there was no way a Trump defeat would mean the movement’s fall. Trump was victorious, and the alt-right movement takes it as a victory of their reasoning.

When do we see the reason for their existence?

They are able to build upon the fact that there exist like-minded people who believe in the components of their ideology – white nationalism, libertarianism, men’s rights, anti-feminism, cultural conservatism and populism. These people respond to the calls for a homogeneous, racially exclusive land for the whites.

  • Equally part of their ideology is said to be Islamophobia, antifeminism and anti-Semitism. The language they speak is still understood by people who have shown themselves susceptible to its influence. So some of their claims, irrespective of their glaring chauvinism – they say the high ratio of fertility rates among third world immigrants to fertility rates among white women can threaten the existence of the white race if left unchecked – are not only accepted but even endorsed by their followers.
  • There is diversity in the movement and this allows people to be a part of it even if they identify with only one aspect.

Frustration over immigration, national economic decline and political correctness (policies, language or measures that aim not to exclude any particular group in society and are considered by some as excessive) has a long history in the United States as it has elsewhere.

What is beginning to emerge is a culmination of these and more.

Where are the concerns?

They will become central players in mainstream politics.

Trump has appointed Steve Bannon – Breitbart News executive who declared his site the platform for the alt-right – as “Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President”. Immediate resistance to the appointment followed from various sections of representatives.

  • Conservatives and liberals, Muslims and Jews have united to express their alarm at his influence on Trump’s administration. Peter Wehner, who served in the last three Republican presidential administrations said, “The alt-right movement is something that has been on the fringes of American politics, and now it’s mainstreamed and it’s ugly and it’s angry and it’s nihilistic, and it shouldn’t have a home in the White House.” His words are echoed across a wide spectrum of representatives.
  • The Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are among the organizations who have appealed to Trump to reassess Bannon’s appointment.

Their presence is increasingly felt online and through media

  • Be it through forums like 4chan and 8chan, or the comments section of mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Post, the members of this yet to be formally well-defined movement are expressing their views and being noticed.
  • They have also nurtured new media outlets such as Infowars, Drudge Report and Breitbart to organize their views and compete in the mainstream manner.

Who are these people?

The movement has so far been an online presence and one therefore cannot estimate how many members it has.

What they (or their spokespersons) say

  • They trace the movement’s beginnings to ideas of thinkers Oswald Spengler, H.L Mencken, Julius Evola, Sam Francis, and the paleoconservative movement that supported Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaigns.
  • Masculinist principles were incorporated early and form a core part of the ideology as was rationally-driven anti-egalitarianism among this group of dangerously intelligent white men.
  • Mostly white, mostly male middle-American radicals who unabashedly seek to create and enforce a new identity politics that caters to the interests of those of their kind.
  • Young people are drawn to their freshness, boldness and sense of humor.

George Hawley, a university professor who has researched the movement told The Washington Post that the average followers would be white millennial men, either in college or with a college degree who are secular, perhaps atheist, and are "not interested in the conservative movement at all." The core cause is white nationalism – that can range from the feeling that the white race is superior to calls for a homogeneous nation of white people. In this instance it takes the form of the call for creation of one only white nation or only white nations in North America. He and Spencer opine that Bannon cannot be considered a member of the alt-right.

  • Observers concur that the movement aims to decrease the number of people of color in the US and establish a society of white Americans by and for white male Americans. Some experts disagree with the term alt-right as it offers a neutral mask that hides an extremist set of beliefs.
  • ThinkProgress among others has made it clear that a movement headed by a man who hails pro-Nazi propaganda, says that the United States should be a “white country” and that the Jewish media controls many political commentator puppets is racist in tone and substance and that any other term to label it would be a crafty concealment of what it really is. So it will not use the term alt-right. In their words, “You might wonder what, if anything, distinguishes the alt-right from more hidebound racist movements such as the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan. The answer is very little, except for a bit of savvy branding and a fondness for ironic Twitter memes. Spencer and his ilk are essentially standard-issue white supremacists who discovered a clever way to make themselves appear more innocuous — even a little hip.

How do they use trolling and how it may be dangerous?

They use the excuse of freedom of speech and expression to defend their hateful statements. But the slightest criticism has them bristling.Trolling provides them the badge of “acting mischievous” and getting away with the damage done.

  • They set about by creating an image as ‘trollers’ so that is how people still identify them; it is the first word that would come to mind when asked to describe the alt-right group.
  • Despite their rapid public celebration of neo-Nazi behavior, many people still dismiss the movement as a group of trollers.
  • Common sense dictates that fake news and trolling are better off ignored.But the extent of influence of both is shockingly high as the election 2016 proved. The advantage of trolling is the satirical façade allows it to get across propaganda effectively and the alt-right did just that.
  • The messages – such as a pro-Hitler meme or a sexist one – would set in. If they were opposed, the counter message would be that the trolls had proved their point – the liberals and feminists are whining nannies. If the meme was ignored, it would circulate and the harmful regressive core message would be glossed over till it had earned enough likes and shares to be taken seriously.

Behind this façade the core messages celebrated misogyny, sexism, racism and neo-Nazism. For the Alt-right proclaims their scorn of feminism proudly, “We believe in abolishing feminism and reestablishing traditional gender roles in society, a process which would involve sending women back to the home to produce and raise children, largely removing them from the workplace.” Such regressive messages would be put across in the name of humor and even receive applause.

  • Trolling allowed these racist sexist members to use the word “freedom” to rationalize and normalize their discrimination against gender identity, non-White races and sexual orientation. It enabled them to whine about ‘white genocide’ in their own language.

One would never imagine the terror these creatures inspired. They traumatized David French, an Army veteran and conservative columnist for National Review who had considered running for President. Among their threats were images of his daughter (an Ethiopian child adopted who was seven then) with her face in the gas chamber and Trump ready to switch it on, images of his daughter’s face photoshopped on slaves, name-calling, targeting his wife and family etc.

These trolls have finally begun to expose their bigoted beliefs in a more blatant manner. Letting them inch closer to their goals would be a horrible blow that vanquishes all forms of progress society has made over the decades.

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Tags | alt-right nationalism white nationalism