Posted on August 29, 2016

The Alt-Right, Explained in Its Own Words

Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, August 29, 2016

A whole lot has been written lately about the alt-right, that insurgent, Internet-born identity movement that seems dead-set on swallowing the Republican party whole. The mainstream press has tried to define it. The alt-right press has tried to defend it.

But over the past five days or so, we’ve also heard from a different demographic all together: The ordinary Internet foot soldiers of the alt-right are attempting to explain themselves to normies on Twitter. (Normie, for you normies in the audience, is derogatory image-board slang for safe, mainstream people–presumably, the exact sorts who haven’t embraced the movement.)

Since August 24, more than 50,000 tweets have been sent on the hashtag #AltRightMeans, according to the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University. {snip}

There isn’t a cohesive or overarching philosophy here–we’re talking tens of thousands of tweets. But the most popular tweets, the ones that have been shared hundreds or thousands of times, tend to repeat three related themes. There’s an overwhelming frustration with concepts like feminism, multiculturalism, political correctness and (especially) white guilt/privilege, which members of the alt-right describe as having jeopardized their own identity or social standing.

There is, very similarly, an enormous annoyance that anyone would conclude such a belief is racist, misogynistic, or otherwise problematic; such criticisms are generally framed as hysterical responses to the alt-right’s “logic.”


An analysis of the network around the #AltRightMeans hashtag, which maps the users who were most influential on the hashtag, turns up handles like @Cernovich, @PrisonPlanet, @JaredWyand and @magnifier661–all adult men with nary a Pepe avatar between them. And according to Demographics Pro–a firm that uses predictive analytics to infer the demographics of Twitter users–the vast majority of tweets on #AltRightMeans have come from married white men between 40 and 60 years old.

That’s not a definitive analysis, mind you–this is an inference, after all, and the hashtag has been picked up well outside the alt-right community–but it complicates the easy dismissal of alt-righters as disenfranchised, neckbeard teens. For better or worse, the alt-right’s ideas about race, gender and diversity would appear to resonate with a slightly more varied cross-section of the electorate than many imagine.