Now I always try to respect other people’s opinions as best they can even if I don’t agree with them. And in this day in age, I have to put up with a lot of people in my life spouting crazy ideas that seem to contradict with all kinds of factual information such as climate change. However, there is a one kind of ideology in American society with a considerable political presence we shouldn’t tolerate under any circumstance. But now that Donald Trump is president, it’s a movement we can’t ignore for it’s one that poses a grave and present danger in our country as we speak. We need to talk about the Alt-Right.
Considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist ideology, the Alt-Right is a set of far-right ideologies, groups, and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. Known for heavy social media use and online memes, Alt-Righters reject mainstream American conservatism, skew young white men, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value. The Alt-Right has no formal organization and it’s not clear whether it can be considered a movement while occupying on the extreme ideological fringes of American conservativism. Given the nebulous nature of anonymous online communities such as websites like 4chan and 8chan, we’re not entirely sure who these people are and what motivates them. We also don’t know how much people write on these sites is serious or is intended to stir trouble. However, what we do know is that alt-righters use websites like Twitter and Brietbart to convey their message, post offensive memes, as well as harass people who disagree with them. Legions of anonymous Twitter users have used the hashtag #AltRight to proliferate their ideas, sometimes successfully pushing them into the mainstream. But more importantly, we know that they comprise of Donald Trump’s most steadfast supporters as well as played a pivotal role in bringing him to power. Now that former Brietbart CEO Steve Bannon has a high position of influence in Trump’s White House have made the Alt Right a major political force. Regardless what your political beliefs are, the fact a major Alt-Righter now occupies a major position of power should scare you. It’s perfectly clear the Alt-Right is a hate movement as exemplified by its founder Richard Spencer who’s often been accused of centering it on white nationalism to whitewash overt racism, white supremacism, and Neo-Nazism as well as frequently quoted from Nazi propaganda and spoke critically of the Jewish people. And it’s even scarier that the Alt-Right isn’t the kind of white nationalist movement that wears white hoods or swastikas. But one that sells white supremacy by trying to appeal to mainstream youth through a radicalization process involving skilled manipulation and pop culture. In short, they tend to be today’s Nazis by another name.
So where did the Alt-Right come from? It’s hard to say. Though the term was coined by leading alt-righter Richard Spencer while its members have a well-known online presence, its extremist white nationalist views have deep roots in American history because racism and nativism don’t really go away once they’re no longer acceptable. Nevertheless, mainstream American conservatism has always had a racist streak because our country was built on institutional racism as well as a suspicion on immigrants who don’t fit the WASP ideal. The Republican Party has often used racist dog whistles to win rural whites over for decades and have been very successful at it as you can see thanks to the Southern Strategy designed to convert Southern Democrats who left the party when LBJ signed a series of civil rights policies. And along with appealing to the Christian Right’s version of “traditional values,” racist dog whistles would continue to win more converts in the Rustbelt and the rest of white rural America ever since thanks to Reaganism and Fox News. However, while they often appeal to racist sensibilities in their rhetoric, it’s often in a subtle way that’s made to look somewhat acceptable toward white people who might not notice it. For instance, the “undeserving poor” usually pertain to poor black and Hispanic people. “Illegal immigrants” usually pertain to Hispanics, particularly Mexicans who are also seem to be poor border crossers to drop anchor babies in order to stay in the country. And “terrorists” usually refers to Islamic extremists in the Middle East who are often stereotyped as such. However, despite that mainstream conservatism has a lot of racist undertones, most white conservatives are only racist due to being from environments where almost everyone is like them and having limited exposure to diversity that much of what they believe about people seemingly different from them is shaped by what they see in the media. But these conservatives see no problem with people in those minorities aren’t poor, live like them, and embrace their message, mainstream conservatives accept them as model Americans. And they’re willing to grandstand them to prove that they’re not the racists you might think they are.
This is not the case with the Alt-Right. In fact, those identifying with the Alt-Right regard mainstream conservatives as weak and impotent, largely because they don’t sufficiently support racism and anti-Semitism or don’t advocate for white people’s interests as a group. They frequently disparage the conservative movement by using the derogatory term of “cuckservative” which is a combination of “conservative” and “cuckold.” And it’s a term mostly used to castigate Republican politicians they see as traitors to their people as well as selling out conservatives with their support for globalism and liberal ideas. It has a racist undertone implying that establishment conservatives are like unmanly white men who allow black men to sleep with their wives. Though not everyone who identifies with the Alt-Right is a white supremacist according to the Anti-Defamation League, the designation itself usually applies to white nationalism because most of them certainly are as “white identity” is central to what they all have in common. And however they define themselves, Alt-Righters reject egalitarianism, democracy, universalism, and multiculturalism.
What’s even more troubling is that the Alt-Right movement is growing at an alarming rate due to including a number of white people espousing racist and anti-Semitic beliefs as well as a loud presence online. There are also a growing number of small white supremacist enterprises including think tanks like the National Policy Institute, online publications like Radix, Brietbart, American Renaissance, and The Right Stuff, and publishing houses like Washington Summit Publishers and Counter Currents Publishing. Most of what they produced are white supremacist and anti-Semitic literature as well as promote unsubstantiated conspiracy theories many of their members believe. And if Trump’s ascent to the presidency tells us, their political influence is on the rise. Outside the Internet, Richard Spencer reserves the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. at least twice a year for a coat-and-tie gathering of his followers who regularly use false names or refuse to identify themselves for fear of being labeled as racists. Topics and themes can vary. In 2015 it was, “Beyond Conservatism” and capitalized on the strength of the virulently racist “cuckservative” meme. In 2016, it was “Identity Politics” and mostly focused on Trump’s presidential campaign and its continued success with featured speakers addressing a different facet of Trump’s influence on politics and Americans culture which they saw as an implicit white backlash against present-day politics as well as Trump creating a political space where the Alt-Right to grow.
Since their agenda often seeks to insert white supremacy in conservative conversations that have largely deliberately excluded them in recent decades, they have a rather savvy media strategy behind them. For instance, the term Alt-Right is short for “Alternative Right” which is a conscious attempt by these people to stake out part of the conservative spectrum and claim they deserve a voice in conservative conversations. Though many argue their real objective is to challenge and dismantle mainstream conservatism as well as legitimize racism. The phrase “Alternative Right” explicitly avoids using the word “race” as well as conjures up rebel and anti-establishment figures which are often attractive to youth. Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos painted the movement as “born out of the youthful, subversive, underground edges of the internet,” and that the Neo-Nazis in its ranks are unrepresentative. They’re also likely to use terms like “culture” to substitute more lightning rod terms such as “race” or promote “Western Civilization” as a code word for white culture or identity. Alt-Righters don’t make explicit references to white nationalism that they may believe in, they’re more inclined to talk about preserving European-American identity under a guise of multiculturalism in order to recruit his followers. This orchestrates a path toward radicalization in which seemingly normal people are intoxicated with extremist ideology and possibly molded into terrorists. A lot of extremist groups have recruited their members by exploiting their vulnerabilities with narratives of strength and warmth as well as simultaneously emphasizing with those alienated and disaffected while also promising power and belonging through righteous violence against their so-called oppressors. You can easily see a demonstration of this radicalization process in the movie Fight Club.
The Alt-Right is notorious for its ruthless trolls who serve as orators and activists to the movement. Brietbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos was instrumental in the online harassment campaign against women in the electronic gamer world known as Gamergate. Yiannopoulos was also banned from Twitter for inciting a racist pile-up on Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones. Let’s just say his reception at Berkeley was very well deserved despite now that he now has a book contract with Simon and Schuster. Other trolls have bombarded Twitter and e-mail accounts with slur filled and photoshopped art. There are also doxers who release personal information onto the Internet in order harass their victims. Though the Alt-Right didn’t invent these tactics, but the trolling during the 2016 election reached a sadistic pitch. Journalists opposing Trump received photos of themselves and sometimes their children dead or in gas chambers. This was especially the case if they were Jewish or had a Jewish surname with a signature punctuation marking Jewish names with “echoes” or triple parentheses like (((this))). Though the alt-right trolls may initially seem as annoying, they can be downright hateful and inflict a high degree of damage by issuing offensive slurs, threats, doxing, and other forms of intimidation. And they are often relentless as their victims suffer with a force they can’t argue with. At the same time they also stage propaganda campaigns organized around hashtags like #WhiteGenocide (referencing a myth that white people are being subjected to an orchestrated eradication campaign), #ISaluteWhitePeople, #BoycottStarWarsVII (in order to protest the black actor cast in a lead role), #NROrevolt (because the mainstream conservative National Review vehemently opposed Donald Trump in the GOP primary). Some Twitter accounts even depict hate symbols like swastikas and other Neo-Nazi insignia. It’s gotten so bad that several online outlets, including Twitter have suspended alt-right accounts while Reddit removed its alt-right page completely. Richard Spencer got kicked off of social media for hate speech.
As you may see, the Alt-Right sees Donald Trump as their hero since he regularly railed against “political correctness,” Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, Chinese, and others during his presidential campaign. In return, they’ve worked hard to affix the Alt Right brand to Trump through hashtags and memes as well as become his most enthusiastic supporters. To their glee, Trump has had former Brietbart CEO Steve Bannon to run his campaign as well as be his chief counselor in the White House. Such actions have elevated the Alt-Right into a position of enormous power that they see Trump as a way to get their ideas out there. And the fact Trump cares more about his own delusional vanity and unfettered opportunism as well as his supporters’ loyalty more than concepts like ethics and common sense or decency makes him a perfect vessel indeed. It also helps that Trump managed to secure a presidential victory by calling the government corrupt, assailing the Republican establishment, flouting almost every rule of political etiquette racial or otherwise, and that he did little to put the public at ease with the matter. Now most Alt-Righters don’t see Trump as a rabid white nationalist, but his racist rhetoric has gotten them happily on board since he helps their cause in more ways they could ever dream of. He even has former Brietbart CEO Steve Bannon as one of his closest advisers, which should seriously worry you.
Though Steve Bannon has denied that the Alt-Right is inherently racist, evidence says otherwise. His tenure at Brietbart itself transformed what once was a regular conservative website into the go-to platform for the Alt-Right plunging into the ugliest dregs of conservatism while praising white nationalist groups as an “eclectic mix of renegades.” In short, it was under Bannon that Brietbart became notorious for pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness while its comment section turned into a white supremacist meme maker cesspool. And it’s clear Bannon’s views often echo those of his devotees. He called Islam “a political ideology” and Sharia law “like Nazism, fascism, and communism.” On his Sirius XM radio show, he praised noted Islamophobe Pamela Geller whom he described as, “one of the leading experts in the country, if not the world,” on Islam. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative as an Anti-Muslim hate group. And he even endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s primary challenger, businessman Paul Nehlen who floated the idea of deporting all Muslims from the US. On the front of minorities, Bannon credited now Attorney General Jeff Sessions with laying “this populist nationalist” groundwork. Sessions has suggested that civil rights advocacy groups were “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” and his racist views prevented his appointment to a federal judgeship in the 1980s. In a lengthy July post, Bannon attacked the “Left” for engaging in “a plot to take down America” by focusing on police shootings of African Americans. He went on arguing that the Dallas cops were killed by a “by a #BlackLivesMatter-type activist-turned-sniper.” He also accused the media of an Orwellian “bait-and-switch as reporters and their Democratic allies and mentors seek to twist the subject from topics they don’t like to discuss—murderers with evil motives—to topics they do like to discuss, such as gun control.” And he added, “[H]ere’s a thought: What if the people getting shot by the cops did things to deserve it? There are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent.” Since Bannon took over Brietbart the site took a rabidly anti-immigrant tone, often hyping reports of immigrant crimes with tabloid like headlines and attacking Republicans favoring immigration reform. Bannon is even a noted anti-Semite who refused to send his daughters to a certain private school because he thought too many Jews went there and were raised to be whiny brats. Former Brietbart editor Ben Shapiro received a torrent of anti-Semitic tweets after announcing the birth of his second child. One read, “Into the gas chamber with all 4 of you,” while another depicted his family as lampshades. Former Brietbart critic Bethany Mandel was harassed on Twitter for months being called names like, “slimy Jewess” and told that she deserved the oven. We should also note that Bannon has been married 3 times as well as been charged with domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness. And that his second wife only dropped the charges due to threats made by Bannon and his lawyer. Brietbart staffers who resisted its transformation into this pro-Trump, alt-right hub eventually resigned in protest with several jumping ship after then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski manhandled reporter Michelle Fields (with the site siding with Lewandowski and staffers being told not to question his account). Former staffers who called out Brietbart for their ugly ways received a shitload of retaliation. It should be noted that Bannon is a very bad guy who shouldn’t be in such a powerful position at the White House. And as far as the Alt-Right is concerned, Bannon is their man in the Trump administration, as vile he certainly is.
So what does having Bannon in the White House mean for the United States under a Trump presidency? Well, since Bannon has Trump’s ear and has been elevated to his National Security Council, we can expect a presidency that will be hostile to minorities and immigrants. We shouldn’t be surprised that Bannon was behind the appointment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions who’s a steadfast opponent of civil rights that he was denounced by Coretta Scott King during his federal judge hearing in the 1980s. Or that Bannon’s fingerprints were all over the Muslim travel ban executive order Trump signed a week into his term. Or that Bannon was a key adviser on Trump’s counter-terrorism policy that the government-run program Countering Violent Extremism will solely focus on Islamic terrorism while downgrading the scrutiny of right-wing radicals as well as sever ties with community groups and educational programs that counter-message violent ideologies. Not to mention, the Trump administration wants to build a massive border wall as wells as crack down on sanctuary cities who refuse to cooperate with ICE 100% of the time. Such measures aren’t what’s best for the US and won’t keep Americans safe. In fact, they may put risk putting more American lives in danger as well as trample on people’s rights in the process. Banning Muslim refugees from entering the country gives Islamic terror groups another reason to hate us as well as angers our Muslim allies in the international community. Having Sessions as US Attorney General will be a massive setback for civil rights that will make a Department of Justice one defending great injustices as far as minorities, immigrants, women, the poor, and LGBT communities are concerned. Not only that, but Sessions will let Trump use the DOJ as a political tool for the White House which will let him leverage the federal government’s major law enforcement arm for political gain. for immigration, well, Trump’s wall will certainly not keep undocumented immigrants out and will only amount to a massive waste of taxpayer money. Forcing municipalities to cooperate with ICE will deteriorate relations between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, lead to an increase of civil rights violations, make local governments pursue actions going against their interests, drain local resources and economies without reimbursements, and make localities increasingly vulnerable to liability costs.
However, it’s Trump’s Bannon-inspired terror policy that really worries me. Why? Because a terror policy focusing solely on Islamic terror is simply bad national security. And the fact it includes a Muslim ban only makes it worse. How do I know this? I may not be a national security expert, but I am aware that cultural profiling has never kept Americans safe from terrorism. Because the terrorists posing a bigger threat to America aren’t radical Muslims from the Middle East, but the homegrown white supremacist and anti-government militants of the radical right who may often seem like the guy next door. As of 2017, far right extremists have committed more attacks and killed more Americans than their jihadist extremist counterparts since 9/11. And they’ve been considered a growing threat by US intelligence agencies since the Bush administration while the FBI has reported that white supremacists have infiltrated American law enforcement. The fact we have a known white nationalist at Trump’s right hand means that there will be no radical right counter-terror policy anytime soon in the next 4-8 years. But ignoring the terror problem will not make it go away. In fact, if anything, you can expect our right wing terror problem to get worse since the Trump administration’s hostility toward minorities and immigrants might embolden these anti-government and white supremacist thugs to commit atrocities. This isn’t helped at all that there was a spike of hate crimes immediately following Trump’s election to the presidency while right-wing terror incidents continue to regularly unfold. Or that alt-right platforms like Brietbart may have inspired several radical right terror incidents. We know networks like Fox News had as well as sites like Alex Jones’s conspiracy theory-laden Infowars as well as the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer. And this isn’t helped that right-wing terrorism often gets little media attention in the national spotlight. But when a president decided to ignore the growing threat of right-wing extremist terror, it only bolsters and legitimizes violent white extremism which can make millions of Americans vulnerable to deadly terror attacks. To cut ties with community groups and educational programs working to rehabilitate extremists will not deter any extremism within their communities.
Right-wing terror attacks are hardly incidents orchestrated by lone wolves. In fact, many of these so-called “lone wolf” terrorists had direct ties to white nationalist movements. Though the Alt-Right may yet not engage in violence as we know it, they do provide vindication for other radical right wing groups who also strongly support Trump and have committed violent acts against other Americans. Trump’s campaign and election victory has normalized the hate and conspiracy theories fueling the Alt-Right into the political mainstream and dramatically elevating its visibility. And as president with Bannon at his side, it’s very likely Trump will put some of their ideas into national action. Its growing online presence in social media shows that the white nationalist movement is increasing in size and radicalization indicates a much more dangerous trend. And with its vulnerable population, extremist ideology, and capacity for violence, the Alt-Right provides a breeding ground for terrorism. Communities infected by the Alt-Right are fertile ground where extremism can and has taken root. The Alt-Right isn’t going anywhere and as their numbers grow, they’ll seem increasingly inclined to violent rhetoric and radicalized ideology. And it will only be a matter of time before more charismatic and ruthless leaders replace the old order, harness this increased capacity for violence, and elevate the radicalized Alt-Right from a marginalized hate group of Internet trolls to a force of full-blown terrorism. If that happens within a very short time, don’t expect the Trump administration to do anything to address the problem other than label the infiltrators as mentally unstable lone wolves if the attacks receive widespread media attention. Trump has absolutely no interest in combating right-wing extremists as such measures would offend mainstream conservative sensibilities and alienate the radical right extremists who so enthusiastically and vocally supported him. When Trump announced he was to scale back efforts combating right-wing extremism, Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin responded, Donald Trump is setting us free. This is absolutely a signal of favor to us. We are not a threat to America, we are American patriots trying to save this country. It is also a slap in the face to the kikes of the SPLC and the ADL who pushed for us to be classified along with actual Islamic terrorists as a way to legally justify outrageous abuses against us by the federal government.” A site called Infostormer replied, “This measure would be the first step to us going fully mainstream, and beginning the process of entering the government in full-force without the fear of being attacked, financially-assailed, and intimidated into silence by the nefarious Jews.” These praises of white nationalist celebration aren’t what you’d want to hear about a president’s counter-terror policy.
Right-wing and white supremacist terrorism has happened before in America and has killed people. On April 19, 1995, a 7,000-pound truck bomb made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and nitromethane racing fuel and packed into 13 plastic barrels, ripped through the heart of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 and injuring over 600. In what was the deadliest terror incident in American history, this mass slaughter was engineered by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols who were steeped in radical right conspiracy theories and white-hot fury over Ruby Ridge and the Waco Siege. Well before Oklahoma City, McVeigh had already got the idea of using a truck bomb to blow up a government building from the infamous novel 1978 novel The Turner Diaries which depicts a violent revolution in the US leading to the overthrow of the federal government, nuclear war, and eventually a race war with Jews, gays, and non-whites exterminated. It has also become according to the Anti-Defamation League, “probably the most widely-read book among far-right extremists; many [of them] have cited it as the inspiration behind their terrorist organizing and activity” and has sold over 500,000 copies as of 2000. About a decade earlier, the book had also inspired Aryan Nations regular Robert Jay Matthews into forming The Order which received widespread attention for its role in the 1984 murder of Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg. After Oklahoma City, because it was no longer sufficient for many right-wing terrorists to strike a political significant target and instead aimed for higher body counts. One of these terror plots was a 1997 attempt by three Klu Klux Klan members to bomb a natural gas plant outside Ft. Worth, Texas which would’ve killed as many as 30,000 people had the local Klan leader not gotten cold feet and contacted the FBI. The most recent of these plots was a 2016 attempt by a group called “The Crusaders” to blow up a housing complex that was home to Somali immigrants and a mosque. The fact the FBI reports that white supremacists and other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in US police departments and other law enforcement agencies is particularly troubling. State and local police as well as sheriff’s departments present ample opportunities for right-wing extremists looking to expand their power base. To have an Alt-Righter like Steve Bannon as a chief strategist to a president would be their idea of winning the jackpot. To have extremists in positions of power will only undermine counter-terror efforts as well as abuse their power to victimize the people they’re sworn to protect. In recent years, law enforcement links to right-wing extremist groups have only gotten a lot more troublesome. If the federal government doesn’t step in and crack down on right-wing extremism, we may very well experience another Oklahoma City or worse.
Nevertheless, while the Alt-Right may be a new to the right-wing extremism scene with its social media recruitment strategy, but their white nationalist beliefs and radicalization methods are not and have been embraced by right-wing extremists long before they were around. Downplaying the right-wing extremist threat won’t make it go away as well as put US national security significantly more at risk. For a president to have Alt-Righters as important advisers in his government only compromise US national security even further. In order to keep America safe from terrorists, our national security policies shouldn’t be about protecting white conservatives’ emotional security and making the Pentagon their safe space. When lives are at stake, we can’t ignore the reality of evil just to protect their tender illusions. Today discussing the threat of right-wing terrorism remains politically controversial that when the Department of Homeland Security addressed the issue in 2009, there was considerable conservative backlash. I know many white Americans don’t want to discuss it and some may even be personally insulted by the term “right-wing terrorism” or “right-wing extremism” and think it applies to them despite that there’s no reason they should be. But there comes a time when we have to tell the public what they don’t want to hear. Because ignoring the very real problem of right-wing extremist terror only exacerbates it, especially if millions of Americans vote for a man who’s refused to disassociate himself from his white supremacist supporters. The failure of right-leaning legislators, pundits, and intellectuals to take a clear stand against the Alt-Right along with other right-wing extremists for the benefit of all carries too high a price not only in American lives and national security, but also in our character since they pose an existential threat to our fundamental values such as pluralism, tolerance, and equality that form the basis of a liberal democracy. Americans can’t afford to keep right-wing extremism off-notice and if the White House doesn’t make it clear in opposing their kind of violence, then Trump’s lenience on right-wing terrorism further solidifies the administration as being on the side of white supremacy. Thus, it must be up to us American citizens to make that threat known and inspire political pressure because for millions of people’s lives and well-being may depend on it.