Posted on August 25, 2016

What’s the Alt-Right? A Primer

David Weigel, Washington Post, August 24, 2016

On Thursday, with an unusual amount of fanfare, Hillary Clinton will give a speech denouncing the “alt-right” and delineating ways in which Donald Trump has inflamed racist sentiment. On the alt-right itself, the speech is being welcomed as a sort of coming-out party; alt-right figures are finding their phones and email boxes glowing with new messages, asking to explain who they are and what they think.


A portmanteau, from “cuckold” and “conservative,” used to troll people who call themselves conservative but support immigration reform and multiculturalism. The implication: A white American who allows mass immigration into his country is no different than a man allowing other men to sleep with his wife.

‘It’s the Current Year!’
A logical fallacy, popularized on 4chan and Reddit, in which an idea can be dismissed because “it’s 2016” (i.e., the world and history have moved on, and there is nothing left to discuss). It’s frequently identified with HBO’s John Oliver, whose commentaries (circulated widely on progressive news sites) often label ideas as ridiculous because, well, it’s 2016.

Jared Taylor
The founder of American Renaissance, a magazine, then conference, then website about white identity. Ever game to talk to media–though critical of the term “alt-right”–he’s used the publication and conference to encourage white nationalists to expand on their ideas.

Pepe the Frog
A cartoon that originated on MySpace but was adopted by Trump supporters and alt-right trolls, as reporter Olivia Nuzzi explained at length this year.

Peter Brimelow
The founder of VDare, a clearinghouse of news and opinion about immigration, which he founded after his immigration book “Alien Nation” became a taboo bestseller.

‘The Political Cesspool’
A white nationalist podcast and radio show that began in 2004 and grew its following during Barack Obama’s presidency, and became notorious after Donald Trump Jr. appeared to promote his father’s presidential campaign.


Richard Spencer
The president of the Virginia-based National Policy Institute and founder of the defunct website Alternative Right, which was “dedicated to heretical perspectives on society and culture–popular, high, and otherwise–particularly those informed by radical, traditionalist, and nationalist outlooks.” One of the most media-savvy thinkers in the movement, Spencer was an early supporter of what Trump’s campaign represented; before that, he helped find and promote young alt-right thinkers. In addition to shaping what “alt-right” meant, Spencer coined the term “identitarian” to distinguish white people who wanted to defend their culture but rejected the label of “racism.”

Sam Francis
An influential conservative thinker cast out of the movement’s mainstream–and fired from his Washington Times column–for speaking at the 1994 American Renaissance conference. Subsequently, he became a sort of martyr for nationalist writers and thinkers. Throughout his career, he argued that cultural liberalism was not as popular or inevitable as its promoters claimed.


Youth for Western Civilization
A now-defunct alliance of student groups, founded in 2008 by the alt-right activist Kevin DeAnna, with the hopes of capitalizing on young people’s support for Ron Paul by creating a revolutionary, anti-state, anti-multicultural movement.