What Is the Alt-Right Part Two: How the Average Person Can Help Win the Fight Against Extremism
Updated: May 26, 2021
We can all agree that many major events have taken place since the start of the new year. From the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 and anti-Trump politicians (from the Democratic and Republican party alike) receiving threats of death and violence against themselves and their families, to the first woman of color becoming vice president being inaugurated on the exact same steps far-right terrorists fought police officers on exactly two weeks before.
January 2021 will be known as the month where our fight against domestic extremism reached its level of absolute urgency. Unfortunately, in order to win the fight against alt-right terrorism, we have to realize that there is a long and hard fight against Alt-Right extremism facing us, and that it will take so much more than petitions and Instagram infographics to help get to the root of this problem (though they can be helpful).
Now with that being said, how can the average person help fight Alt-Right terrorism, and how can we protect ourselves from the Alt-Right if we ever encounter a subscriber to the ideology online or even in person? Here are a few tips that will help you gain some insight on how to fight against extremism safely.
If you want to take action against the Alt-Right, I STRONGLY DISCOURAGE you from interacting with Alt-Right members and groups both online and in-person, especially if you are a woman, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, someone who does not identify as Catholic, or a person who identifies as Jewish. Not only will you be wasting your time, by interacting with Alt-Right members online you run the risk of being doxxed, cyberbullied or harassed, or in extreme cases, potentially become a victim of a hate crime. Engaging with far-right extremists online, whether it be a clap back to a racist tweet or an accidental like or follow, can be potentially detrimental to your safety online and in your personal life, so I strongly encourage all of you to be careful. Now with that being said, here are a few steps you can take to win the fight against the rise of the far-right.
Step One: Focus on Converting Moderates and Centrists
In preventing the spread of far-right propaganda and advancing quality education on topics such as race, it is important to shift the focus towards centrists and moderates, as they are the most susceptible to being exposed to Alt-Right content and propaganda online.
As the disclaimer previously stated, trying to educate people who have already become radicalized by the far right is a waste of time (and extremely dangerous), as most of these people have already become so ingrained in their ideology that nothing much can be done to bring them out of it.
In the fight against the far-right, moderate Democrats and even moderate Republicans, as well as those in the center, are going to be your best friends. Continue to direct educational resources to those groups instead of attempting to deradicalize white supremacists.
Step Two: Stop Telling People to Simply “Educate Themselves”
I think most of us are guilty of saying the phrase "educate yourself” to someone online or someone we’ve encountered in person. Though I understand that the phrase does not seem harmful, it is actually quite the opposite. To put it simply, telling people to “educate themselves” without offering any additional context or resources can put someone at risk of exposing themselves to far-right propaganda, which in turn makes it even harder for us to push our message to the right people.
To give a scenario, if someone on the internet or in your daily life asks you, “what is systemic racism” for example, briefly explain to them what it means and offer them websites, videos, and books as additional resources. That way, the person can see a general overview of your argument and follow up with reputable and well-informed resources.
If instead, you told someone who wanted to know what systemic racism was to “educate yourself,” sure that person could just Google it, but instead of finding proper resources, they might be exposed to videos such as “Systemic Racism Debunked” and articles titled “BLM is a lie,” which can potentially make them believe that our message is a hoax. When discussing these issues, draw people in, don’t push them out.
Step Three: Learn to Debunk Myths About Antiracist Issues
This step is optional, but it can be extremely useful in the fight against the spread of misinformation and propaganda. Many videos and articles that spread lies about our movement frequently go viral on social media platforms, and in order to counteract the spread of lies and hate, we must learn how to debunk far-right propaganda.
Not only is learning how to properly challenge disinformation about our movement useful online, but it is also a very useful skill to incorporate into your daily life as well as someone you know might intentionally or unintentionally regurgitate the same lies they have probably seen scrolling through their social media pages.
Step Four: Be Consistent, Be Diligent, and Be Compassionate
My final word of advice is this: be consistent, be diligent, and come from a place of compassion. Fighting against the Alt-Right is a huge responsibility, and it comes with a lot of stress and hard work, but in my personal experience, seeing people who were once going down the path of extremism to now protesting next to us is incredibly rewarding.
Be consistent in your messaging, and never back down against the fight. Work hard, and stand up for causes you believe in. And most importantly, always come from a place of compassion for those you want to help educate.
If you made it this far into this article, I thank you. As someone who has helped deradicalize dozens of people online and in my daily life, I am so fortunate to have you join me in my fight against the rise of extremism. Remember to stay safe, stay educated, and continue to fight the good fight.