Posted on September 7, 2016

On the Intellectual and Ethical Flabbiness of Alt-Right: The Truth About a Misguided Movement

Carrie Sheffield, Salon, September 6, 2016

While there are various strains and heterogenous thought leaders, generally speaking the alt-right, or alternative right, thumbs its nose at “mainstream” or “establishment” conservatism, embraces  nationalism and believes that immigration and multiculturalism are threats to white identity. Many of these alt-right activists are intellectually, historically and ethically incoherent and misguided. While their underlying concern may be valid–e.g. the decline of Western civilization–their solutions, expressions and their anti-Semitic, anti-women, racist smearing are truly deplorable.


Many alt-right individuals are channeling the disturbing Malcom X narrative on gender and race, albeit from a white perspective and from Malcom X’s earlier message–he grew out of the narrow, racialist tribalism that characterized his work with the Nation of Islam (NOI). After he was ousted by NOI, Malcom X traveled abroad and learned to embrace people at a human level first before looking at the world through a racial lens. In his late life, just prior to his assassination by NOI, he embraced a globalist perspective, one that alt-right people eschew. Indeed, the label of “globalist” is far from a slur, despite alt-right activists trying to paint it otherwise. If these alt-right individuals truly understood American heritage they’d see that we have always been a globalist nation.

If the alt-right wants to preserve what’s right about America’s founding, they would see that America’s amazingly successful democratic capitalism is a result of free trade, not the Trump Brand of big-government trade protectionism and heavy-handed authoritarianism. The neo-Nazism embraced by some in the alt-right is a slap in the face to the greatest American generation that fought to preserve our country from the most despotic globalist order. That’s the irony of their philosophy; in their denouncing globalists, the alt-right harks back to the most vicious and authoritarian globalism of World War II.

Many Trump supporters are furious with Never Trumpers, calling us turncoats and traitors to the GOP. Yet it was actually angry, shortsighted people, some with alt-right proclivities, who destroyed Republicans like John Boehner, Eric Cantor and propped up non-viable GOP candidates like Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Christine O’Donnell. Yes, the “establishment” leaders had grown unresponsive to the needs of the populist activists, yet the alt-right is an unhealthy, irrational and nonviable path forward.