I'm starting a new post series called "Alt-Right Watch" (as you can see) that's dedicated to keeping tabs on the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who make up this ideology. I know there's a lot of hype right now about not calling it the alt-right, because that's clearly just branding to avoid the stigma associated with white supremacy and Nazism, but I've seen it argued that the term can be valuable. It describes a specific group and a specific phenomenon.
"Alt-right" was coined in 2008 by white supremacist Richard Spencer to describe a reactionary movement against Republicans because the party wasn't explicitly racist enough. It's made primarily of young white men who are "fed up" with "PC culture," meaning they're tired of being called out for being racist. These men have been recruited and groomed by older, college-educated white supremacists and neo-Nazis to believe that white people are superior and people of color hold them back (no matter how little sense this makes). This may or may not include Jewish people.
Many of these men come from reddit, 4chan, and the much more racist and horrible 8chan. Most if not all of them are raging misogynists, homophobes, and transphobes. You can bet that they have nothing but hate for disabled and fat people, but may use them to attack inclusive movements such as feminism, or women in general (saying that women won't date autistic men or men of a certain body type).
You can read more about the history of the alt-right on the SPLC's website.
It's important that we understand these people if we're going to be fighting against them. There are a couple of key things about the alt-right to keep in mind:
- They think they're the victims. Whether they think there's some kind of actual Jewish conspiracy to end whiteness or just think they're being actively discriminated against by our government and society, they genuinely see themselves as victims of a culture that is against them.
- They consider themselves "traditionalists," which is code for re-instituting segregation, forcing women back into subservient roles, and taking rights away from LGBT+ people.
- They are the "trolls" who have used increasingly bizarre meme language to harass people online, often forcing them off of Twitter or other online platforms. They have created their own subculture with new words and a dialect that relies heavily on memes like "Pepe" (the badly drawn frog guy) and the extremely cringey trend of being as offensive as possible because it's funny to upset people.
- Said culture seems to be wrapped in a thousand layers of "irony" which is used both to confused outsiders and serve as a catch-all protecting. Anything too offensive (which doesn't seem to be much of anything anymore) or outright inaccurate can be defended as being a joke.
- Many in the alt-right reject the idea that they have any kind of real "leader." And it does appear that they are still loosely associated and disorganized. But as we now know, this does not mean they're not dangerous.
This is what I've gleaned so far, at least. I've only just started to really observe these people, which is not an easy task, because I'm not entirely dead inside. It's also going to be difficult to get a handle on what is "ironic" and what is not, especially since different factions of the alt-right are more comfortable saying clearly bigoted things than others. Some of them use a genocidal and anti-semitic phrase to "mock" those who view them as bigots, while neo-Nazis are perfectly serious about their desires to exterminate Jewish people.
It's going to be quite an undertaking. But someone has to do it, and my hatred of bigotry will pull me through. And the first installment is coming later today, so buckle the fuck up.