The Field Negro education series continues.
“A political movement most Americans have never heard of is suddenly in the spotlight, thanks to Donald Trump — who has hired one of its leading spokesmen to run his campaign — and Hillary Clinton, whose speech planned for Thursday afternoon is expected to denounce it.
It’s the “alt-right,” a loose aggregation of bloggers, radio hosts, think tanks and activists that emerged from the “white nationalist” movement of the 1980s and 1990s. It occupies positions on the far right of American politics, but it is not primarily about the issues that motivate mainstream conservatives, such as taxes or government spending. Instead, it postulates that the culture of white America is under attack, and sees itself as its defender.
Trump has for much of his campaign flirted with “alt-right” themes, mostly through retweets, some of which he later disavowed. When former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — a major figure in the “alt-right” world — urged his supporters to back Trump, the candidate maintained, implausibly, he didn’t know anything about Duke before grudgingly disavowing the support.
But with the hiring of Breitbart Media chairman Steve Bannon as CEO of his campaign, Trump has embraced someone at the heart of the movement, who boasted of turning Breitbart.com into “the platform of the alt-right.” Duke himself celebrated the hiring with the boast: “We’ve taken over the Republican Party,” although presumably the party’s mainstream leadership would disagree.
There are, of course, many strains of thinking under the “alt-right” umbrella. Some factions are preoccupied with a return to “traditional values,” while others espouse a philosophy called “Human Biodiversity”: the belief that there are significant biological differences between people of different races, which justifies treating them differently. (The other name for this is “scientific racism.”) Anti-Semitism is common, in various forms, ranging from Holocaust denial to full-bore denunciations of Jews as agents of the collapse of white Christian society. Bannon, personally, has not been accused of anti-Semitism, however.
The common thread, however, that connects members of these different factions is a shared desire to protect Western civilization from what many refer to as “white genocide.” This manifests in opposition to things like immigration and multiculturalism, as well as a steadfast aversion to political correctness and to establishment politics of all kinds, including Republican.
The term “alt-right” was coined in 2008 by Richard Spencer, who runs the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank. Spencer founded the influential Alternative Right blog in 2010 to define the movement’s core principles.
The term represented a “shallow rebranding” of white nationalism, according to Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. “They don’t want to be identified as white nationalists anymore,” she said. “People associate that with white supremacy, which is what it is, so instead they changed it to ‘alt-right.’”
And with that, Beirich said, the movement quickly made its way from the fringe “into right-wing politics.”
“They’re self-mainstreaming,” she said. “But it should be called out for what it is, which is just pure racism.”
Spencer’s own reasons for supporting Trump seem to directly reflect the alt-right’s central “white genocide” fears.
Asked by a reporter at the Republican National Convention about the possibility that some of Trump’s policy proposals, such as banning Muslims from entering the country or abolishing birthright citizenship, might be unconstitutional, Spencer replied, “Who cares? The whole point is that we’ve got to survive.” [More]
Mr Spencer, your savior has arrived.