The Southern Poverty Law Center defines the alt-right 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.”
I define them as clueless, dangerous assholes.
In a sense, the alt-right are the most extreme members of an already extreme Trump support base. Consider for a moment that the movement shares a lot of its ethos and rhetoric—things like “white genocide” —with charming people like Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right terrorist that killed 77 people in Norway in 2011.
The alt-right movement also enjoys support from the unabashedly racist National Policy Institute, a group who amazingly thinks the GOP isn’t white enough and that the Grand Ole Party should double down (or triple, or quadruple down) on its already extremely white platform. The alt-right movement also finds many kindred spirits among Neo Nazi-centric sites like DailyStormer and StormFront, which have seen a large increase in traffic since Trump’s rise to political prominence—presumably because many of his supporters just found out about the internet and how to turn on the magic picture boxes known as computers.
And then there is Milo Yiannopoulos, a hateful clown of a man who seems to think being racist, misogynistic and anti-semitic is OK because he enjoys sex with men. (A gay Republican?! Banned from Twitter? Wow! How edgy! How modern!) It’s very telling that in Yiannopoulos’ March profile of the alt-right, the very first thing he does is state that the faction are definitely not skinheads. If your organization has to begin a mission statement by declaring that you are definitively not skinheads, perhaps your ethos needs tweaking. (Also, the alt-right movement is 100% something skinheads support.)
For all their talk of America and her lost greatness, what the alt-right seems to desire is to completely destroy American democracy and replace it with something far more fascist, or just straight up feudalism. Now there’s a fresh idea—feudalism! Serfs up, Milo!
At least the faction’s more articulate members are able to express what it is they want; the dateless, meme-making internet troll foot soldiers seem to be only concerned with the unfairness of their lot in life as poor, discriminated against white people in America (it has truly been a struggle for us white folk). These honorable citizens yearn for a return to a simpler time, one in which women knew their role as cleaning robots with built-in pleasure orifices, we put troublesome races in internment camps and those troublesome black people weren’t allowed to drink from the same water fountains as whites. You know—the good ole days! People like Yiannopoulos have also claimed that the alt-right just wants to “burn the whole thing (the political system) down,” but if that’s the case, why the hateful bigotry and sexism? It sounds to my ears as if they’d enjoy burning some crosses down along with the political system.
It’s easy (and tempting) to reduce these people to sad, angry possessors of tiny IQs that are simply afraid of the changing world—and it’s growing racial, sexual and gender equality—around them. But when one of the alt-right’s heroes, Stephen K. Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News, becomes the campaign manager of a presidential candidates’ run to the White House, it’s clear that the movement is making real headway.
For all its giggling at hateful memes and use of the ignorant and stupid to gain power for its more prominent members—the alt-right is perhaps best represented by the curious tale of Jewish writer Joshua Seidel. Seidel penned an op-ed for Foward.com recently in which he passionately and moronically defended the alt-right’s principles and beliefs by saying that, “I enjoy the nasty talk in the alt-right. I enjoy spending rhetorical time with people who might otherwise hate me. The alt-right has energy, it has vitality, it’s something NEW and creative, it’s honest and forthright.”
I am really, really glad Josh digs the “nasty talk” of the alt-right, because soon after his article was published, his alt-right brethren swooped into the comments section with a barrage of truly nasty sentiments. One congratulatory commenter and fellow proud alt-right member “creatively” told Seidel, “Since you’re versed in the alt-right I assume you’re going to put yourself in the oven?” while another let him know that “this time the Shoah will be real”—because, you see, the holocaust didn’t actually occur the first time. “Alt-right is explicitly white and jews are NOT white. You´re not welcome,” one of Seidel’s brothers-in-arms informed him, while another of his fellow honorable revolutionaries—this one helms a website with the charming title The Daily Shoah—blessed him with the knowledge that, “You are not part of the Alt-Right. You are not wanted. You are not welcome. If you’d like to help the Alt-Right, live out your days in Israel, convince as many of your people to go with you, and stay out of The West’s affairs.” There were many hundreds of these before Forward shut down the comments section.
No, Mr. Yiannopoulos, these are definitively not skinheads.
As with most people who don’t have a used Bonnaroo Port-A-Potty for a soul, I find watching confused pundits like Yiannopoulos and Seidel embarrass themselves by inexplicably siding with people who hate them to be enjoyable—until one is reminded how much steam this movement has gained. As pathetic and laughable as this movement may be to many of us—on both the left and right—it’s important that our laughter is tempered with the knowledge that the Trump campaign has emboldened many of these people to emerge proudly from their sad little holes, spewing their vitriol with acidic glee without fear of public reprisal. That sort of blatant hatred is not something to be laughed at—it’s something to be defeated.