What Is the Alt-Right Part One
Updated: Mar 4, 2021
The “Alt-Right” is a term that many Americans have been familiar with over the past few years, especially during the Trump administration. Though subscribers of this ideology have a well established presence online, many Americans are still unfamiliar with what the term means and why the movement has become so popular in the United States and Europe.
In this series, I will dive into the politics of the Alt-Right, their methods of extremism, what it means for antiracist movements like Black Lives Matter, and more. But before we get into all of these topics, I must answer the question of what the term exactly means and why it has become so popular in this past decade.
The term “Alt-Right” was coined by the president of the National Policy Institute and avowed White Nationalist Richard Spencer, a name many may recognize because of his endorsement of Donald Trump in the 2016 election and of course for being punched in the face during a protest in DC, in 2008.
The “Alt-Right” or “Alternative-Right” is described as a set of far-right ideologies, groups, and individuals whose core belief is that “White identity is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The term “Alt-Right” was created as a euphemism for “white supremacy” or “white nationalism” that makes it more palatable to a majority white audience. In other words, the goal of the creation of this term was to assuage the guilt of white people who voted for or supported a racist candidate or a politician with racist policies.
Unfortunately, with the rise of “Alt-Right” groups and organizations in America and across the globe over the past ten years, their goal is being achieved. It has even gotten to the point where white nationalism has slowly integrated itself into American conservatism and is currently making its way into the Republican Party.
At the core of the Alt-Right is a separation from the style of conservativism of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan that instead favors experimentation with Catholic Traditionalism, the French New Right, and right-libertarian ideals, like anarcho-capitalism.
It is a sort of “rebranding” of conservatism that makes it more appealing to mostly white male millennials and even members of Gen-Z. Those who subscribe to this ideology oftentimes believe that modern-day conservatism has “sold out” and in turn has become useless in a “hyper-radicalized” world.
The biggest reason why the “Alt-Right” and their fringe groups have gained so much popularity during these past five years is because these groups have very sneaky and highly effective ways of communicating with young people on the internet.
The general population of the “Alt-right” is composed of young white men who were exposed to far right ideals through anonymous online message boards like 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit; news organizations like Breitbart, #NotAllMen, #WhiteGenocide, and #AllLivesMatter tags on social media; anti-feminist and rape apologist YouTubers or YouTube channels; and even social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
The Alt-Right markets themselves on these platforms mainly through memes and reactionary commentary, but their movement is not just limited to the internet. From “Unite the Right” rallies to coat-and-tie style gatherings, these groups mobilize in every form you may believe possible both online and offline.
So what does all of this mean for Black Lives Matter and other antiracist movements across the US, and what can we do to combat this epidemic that is happening in our own backyard? What do we do if we encounter a member of the “Alt-Right” online?
Well, in part two, we will be going more in depth about these concerns and more. But for now, stay safe, stay informed, and continue to fight against extremism.