From Obscurity To Normalcy: The Dangers Of The Alt-Right

Richard Spencer Alt-Right
Hitler, Richard Spencer, and a Klansmen (North Texas Daily, 2016)

Birth Of The Alt-Right

Richard Spencer Alt-Right
Richard Spencer addressing a crowd (Washington Examiner, 2017/David J. Phillip)

In  2009, Richard Spencer was credited with coining the term “alternative right”, which was later shortened to “alt-right.”  Richard Spencer is a white nationalist and current President of the National Policy Institute. He is also the head of Washington Summit Publishers. Both organizations run by Richard Spencer are described as white supremacist companies focused on race and culture.

Spencer has claimed the alt-right is an ideology that encompasses many beliefs. Those beliefs include “scientific racism,” “preserving Western culture,” and the impending threat of “white genocide.” While the Republican party itself does not carry the same beliefs as the Alt-Right, it is evident the more extreme voices in the Grand Old Party are gaining more support. The Republican Party will not turn around and give the keys to the Alt-Right. Instead, the forces of the Alt-Right will continue to grow stronger.  Eventually, if given enough opportunity, they will devour the Republican party as we know it.  After the Alt-Right consumes the GOP, it will regurgitate something far more sinister.

Branding And Memes

The Alt-Right knows the importance of branding.  Prominent voices in the Alt-Right movement know how to market their beliefs so they appear easily digestible to mainstream audiences.  The term Alt-Right alone appears to be a harmless moniker.  An “alternative” to the mainstream right wing.  This naming convention was done purposefully with the hope of hiding the movement’s white supremacist views.  The leaders of the Alt-Right hoped this would allow them to obtain more conventional conservatives as supporters.  A good marketing strategy catches your attention and is aware of key demographics.

These wannabe fascists took note of the people that were following their beliefs.  The majority of Alt-Right supporters were found to be white men.  However there are some women, and even some minorities that describe themselves as “alt-right.”  Some online trolls that found comfort in harassing and humiliating people from behind a computer screen took the plunge into the depths of the Alt-Right’s caverns.  Many supporters of the white nationalist movement have found each other in online chat forums such as 4chan and Reddit.  A constant tool that Alt-Right utilizes in their marketing is the use of memes.  Memes are easily accessible to anyone on the internet, and they can create humorous reactions.  When people find something funny or amusing, they may be more inclined to explore more about a certain subject.

Alt-Right
Pepe The Frog, Alt-Right Symbol (Quora.com, 2016)

The two major memes that the Alt-Right uses are Pepe the Frog, and Kek.  Pepe The Frog was a cartoon originally created by Matt Furie for his comic, Boy’s Club.  At first, the cartoon frog had no affiliation with the Alt-Right.  Then, just as Hitler hijacked the image of the swastika, the trolls of the Alt-Right hijacked the frog.  Pepe was used in countless antisemitic and racist memes.  So much so, that the creator of the frog killed off his character in one of the comics.  Another important figure in the Alt-Right’s meme world is the figure known as Kek.  Kek was an Ancient Egyptian god thought to be a harbinger of chaos and destruction.  This fit perfectly with the Alt-Right’s onslaught against the mainstream establishment.  Kek was portrayed as a frog-like being, coincidentally keeping in line with the Pepe meme.

This following of Kek has grown into some perversion of an actual religion.  People in the Alt-Right fly flags symbolizing the imaginary nation of “Kekistan,” while claiming to the world “Praise Kek!”  It is easy for the Alt-Right to acquire more recruits due to their use of memes.  People begin to see the Alt-Right brand as being associated with edgy memes meant to poke fun at political correctness.  They do not see the dark truth to the movement.

Identity Politics

Alt-Right
Identity Evropa Rally (adl.org)

Identity politics is an issue that is turning this country on itself.  Many would say Liberals are the ones who use identity politics the most frequently.  However, the white nationalists of the Alt-Right are also just as guilty of using this tactic.  They promote the belief in a “white identity.”  Some people in the Alt-Right movement, even refer to themselves as identitarians.  A prominent identitarian group is known as “Identity Evropa,” which is described as a white nationalist group.  Identity Evorpa proclaims it will preserve the heritage and culture of their European ancestors.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to show respect and support to your heritage.  Although, there is something wrong with promoting an ideology which claims one race is superior to another.  When people put their entire being or character into one identity, it never does anything good.  Nobody is just white, or black, or a man, or a woman.  People are composed of numerous different attributes.

Identity politics poses a threat to our country. We will eventually strip away everything about a person and only see them for their skin color, sexual orientation, gender etc.  We must remember people are not beholden to their race or gender, or any other factor.  People’s identities are more than that.  These white identitarians would rather throw away all of that just to hold onto their white identity.  A rallying cry for these people is “You will not replace us”, signaling they fear the white race is being wiped out from society.  This irrational fear of a white genocide has led people to take horrific action.

Tragic Consequences

Alt-Right
Unite The Right Rally (ABC News, 2017)

William Edward Atchison, Dylann Roof, James Alex Fields.  What do those names have in common?  They are just a few white supremacists that carried out acts of violence and domestic terrorism against others.  Roof is known for carrying out the Charleston Church Shootings, in which 9 African Americans were murdered during a prayer service.  James Alex Fields is responsible for the death of Heather Heyer.  Fields was attending a Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, which saw groups of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, KKK members, and other extremist groups join together.  The rally was met with opposition from other groups.  During the chaos and fighting, Fields took his car and drove it through a crowd of counter-protesters.  This resulted in Heyer’s death.  William Edward Atchison was responsible for killing two high school students, and then himself afterwards at Aztec High School in New Mexico.

All of these men held strong identitarian beliefs.  These beliefs twisted their minds and they became obsessed with violence and cultural purity of their race.  Atchison’s shootings were the most recent of the three men.  He frequented numerous Alt-Right websites, where he talked about his fantasies of school shootings, as well as his disappointment with the world.  A lesson can be learned from all of these senseless acts of violence.  We must stop normalizing the Alt-Right.

Richard Spencer, the people at the National Policy Institute, Identity Evropa, and more will continue to push the Alt-Right agenda into the mainstream.  This cannot continue.  Any political ideology that adheres and idolizes the beliefs held by the Nazis of World War II, the same Nazis hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting against, deserves no respect.  If people continue to ignore the success the Alt-Right has had over these last few years, we will be sorry.  If this goes on, one day we will wake up to an America we barely know.

Looking Forward

Based on a research poll, conducted by NBC News and GenForward, 71 % of millennials believe a third major party is necessary.  With millennials now as the dominant generation, it only makes sense that we will begin to work in government as the older generations retire.  There is hope that an emergence of a mainstream third party would cast the Alt-Right trolls back to their shadowy caverns.  However, there is also a fear that if a major third party were to emerge, the Alt-Right would hijack it as their own.  As stated before, the best way to deal with this rise of white supremacy in our nation is to not normalize it.

Millennials Vs Alt-Right
Millennial Survey Poll (nbcnews.com, 2017)

If you normalize what they are saying and doing, you give them the power.

Our generation can be responsible for pulling America out of this ideological rut, and for finally defeating the Nazis, just like our grandparents did over 70 years ago.

 

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