Posted on September 14, 2016

What Is the Alt-Right?

Jeff Nesbit, US News, September 12, 2016

The “alternative right” or “alt-right” entered the spotlight when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke at length about why the fringe movement is so important to her GOP opponent’s presidential run. “Donald Trump . . . is taking a hate movement mainstream,” Clinton said Aug. 25. “He’s brought it into his campaign.”

Though some insist the alt-right is merely trolling hate to get a rise out of people on social media, the movement has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. {snip}

But there’s more to the movement. It is also impervious to even routine science, facts and evidence that have traditionally moderated public discourse–which is why establishment leaders of the Republican Party should fear both its growing power and the fact that Trump and his campaign CEO, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, have seized control of the GOP.


So what is the alt-right? There are differing views, even among some of its self-appointed leaders, but there are a few core concepts.


First, and probably above all else, the alt-right is built around the belief that evolutionary biology shows that white people and black people are biologically and genetically different, and that this evolved over time.

Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer–the founders of two formerly obscure alt-right journals, American Renaissance and Radix Journal, which largely serve as the intellectual basis for this sort of belief–argue that science is wrong on the subject of race. Taylor calls his views “race realism.” Spencer calls his views “white racial consciousness.” Both views are nonsense scientifically, but nevertheless serve as the epicenter of the alt-right.


The second (and perhaps equally important) concept at the heart of the alt-right movement is the belief that America was, is and should be a nation for white people. It isn’t just “nationalist,” the fuzzy term that most political reporters use to describe Trump and his alt-right legion, or what Clinton was referring to when she undiplomatically described Trump’s “basket of deplorables.” It’s that white people must put America first–for white people.

Matt Forney, another star of the alt-right online world, helpfully described this core concept about white nationalism in a piece about what drives the alt-right movement.

“The single defining characteristic of the alt-right is . . . about putting your nation first,” Forney wrote. “It means that all people have the right to a land of their own: whites, blacks, Asians, you name it. For decades, globalists have sought to destroy white nations by flooding them with foreigners. Alt-righters fight for the continued existence of white nations and white people.”


The alt-right also embraces something of an opposition force to feminism best described as the “manosphere”–a network of forums, websites and social media that idealizes “alpha male” masculinity and caters to the so-called men’s rights movement, which is focused on the concerns of “heterosexual, masculine men.”


There are people within the alt-right movement who even extremists consider extreme. They’re known as “1488ers”–a reference to the “14 words” of neo-Nazism (“We Must Secure the Existence of Our People and a Future for White Children”) and the number 88 (for a doubling of the eighth letter of the alphabet, H, to represent “Heil Hitler”).

“It’s clear from the many conversations we’ve had with alt-righters that many would rather the 1488ers didn’t exist,” Yiannopoulos wrote last spring. “These are the people that the alt-right’s opponents wish constituted the entire movement.”

Yet, the 1488ers drive political conversations and, every so often, work their way into the mainstream via Breitbart News and social media. On occasion, their ideas have shown up in Trump’s Twitter feed (like the Hillary Clinton/Star-of-David debacle), which some decry–and others appreciate–as a “dog-whistle” appeal to white supremacists.


A frequent target of the alt-right is the conservative movement and the leadership of the national Republican Party. A favorite alt-right slur–“cuckservative”–takes dead aim at conservatives or GOP politicians who they consider weak or a sellout for opposing Trump.


The alt-right despises political correctness–another reason they admire Trump–and has developed its own lexicon on social media that gets right to the point. These are the phrases that tend to appear in hate trolling on Twitter. The website The Right Stuff has a page devoted to it. “Dindu nuffins,” sometimes shortened to “Dindu,” for instance, refers to “an obviously guilty black man”; according to The Right Stuff, it’s a “phonetic spelling of what it sounds like when a Basketball American attempts to say the phrase ‘He didn’t do nothing!'”


But one thing is clear: The alt-right ideology is now quite firmly in the spotlight. It is increasingly associated with the Republican Party, which finds itself at an inflection point. Only the GOP itself can deal with this now–either at the ballot box or in the public square.