During one of her campaign speeches in Reno, Hillary Clinton brought attention to the “Alt Right.” She described the Alt Right as promoting race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslin and anti-immigrant ideas, and anti-woman ideas. She also linked their online presence to the Trump campaign via Trump’s decision to hire Stephen Bannon (the head of Breitbart.com, a right-wing website) as campaign CEO.
“The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump Campaign represents a landmark achievement for the ‘Alt Right.’ A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party,” Clinton remarked in her speech. It’s hard to say that the Alt Right has “taken over” the Republican Party, mainly because their movement is still considered a fringe movement and they often distance themselves from the GOP, but it’s worth looking into just what the Alt Rights stands for and what effects their movement could potentially have now, especially after receiving national attention during an election season.
Breitbart.com has an entire guide dedicated to explaining the Alt Right to establishment conservatives. The Alt Right flourishes online, often posting memes of Pepe the frog, among others. The internet is the primary place where the Alt Right has been able to share their ideas, posting on message boards on 4chan and 8chan. Reading Breitbart’s guide to the Alt Right brought up some points that some would consider extreme. However, some of their views share similarities with ideas expressed in the extreme left. Among those ideas were white guilt, the destruction (or need for preservation) of western culture, and segregation amongst different ethnic and racial groups.
According to the Alt Right, “Any discussion of white identity, or white interests, is seen as a heretical offence.” The guide goes on to explain how “anti-Europeanism” is being taught in universities and schools today and that there is a certain hostility towards those of European descent. However, when examining the education system in the United States today, the discoveries and accomplishments of Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics or Latinos, women even, are not taught at the same rate as males who also happen to be of European descent.
“By omitting various minority groups from our textbooks, we are giving the impression that these groups not only didn’t contribute anything to our current America, but that they literally didn’t exist,” wrote Nicholas Ferroni, an American educator who noticed a certain distinction in the way that minorities are presented in American history textbooks. Learning about the accomplishments of those who are of white descent is not a bad thing, but focusing on just those accomplishments and leaving out other groups is very ethnocentric and limiting when it comes to the education system.
Carter G. Woodson, an African-American journalist, historian, author, and founder of the Associate for the Study of African American Life and History, discussed how education was vital in ensuring that some races, especially Blacks, remain in “their place”. By focusing on the accomplishments of those of European descent, they are discrediting any accomplishment made by those who are of other races or ethnicities. The purpose of education should be to learn not just about one culture’s accomplishments, but about the different accomplishments that have occurred around the world.
The colonization of North and South America, Africa, and Asia by European countries often resulted in racism and inequality among the countries they decided to colonize. It’s not surprising then that when others learn about the negative effects that colonialism has instilled in countries today, that there is sense of anger because of the injustices that have occurred in the past. Granted, there are still racial injustices that occur today, such as inequality in the way that minorities are treated in the justice system and issues concerning police brutality. Whether or not this anger transforms into “hostility” is a hard question to answer. Of course there are individuals who may be hostile towards those of European descent because of the injustices of the past, but it’s hard to compare whatever hostility they may be facing today to genocide, slavery, and discrimination.
An interesting point the Alt Right makes is concerning the separation of racial and ethnic groups. “The alt-right do not hold a utopian view of the human condition: just as they are inclined to prioritise the interests of their tribe, they recognize that other groups- Mexicans, African-Americans or Muslims- are likely to do the same.” This isn’t anything new considering that there have been movements supporting the separation of races even before the Civil Rights movement here in the United States. The Black Separatist Movement is an example of this, as they believe that even having a separate nation just for Blacks would be a solution to issues of racism that come from whites. Both of these groups are stemming from the results of racism, but the way they view how racism has affected their communities differs in respect to victimization of racism versus escaping racism.
So, what about their connection to Trump? It wouldn’t come as a surprise that those who consider themselves Alt-Right would support Trump, given his stance on immigration and his clear distaste for seeming “politically correct”. To say that the Alt Right has taken over is a bit much, but there’s no way to deny that Trump’s campaign and his rhetoric have established a link between himself and the Alt-Right movement. Although Trump himself has not mentioned the Alt-Right movement, this political fringe has accepted him as someone who shares their ideas.
Breitbart explains how this alignment with the Alt-Right and Trump’s campaign occurred. Blaming the Establishment for the rise of the Left, “they turned a blind eye to the rise of tribal, identitarian movements on the Left while mercilessly suppressing any hint of the Right. It was this double standard, more than anything else, that gave rise to the alternative right. It’s also responsible, at least in part, for the rise of Donald Trump.”
Whether or not the Alt-Right movement has any actual ground in the future of American politics is something that we will have to wait for and see. However, it’s important to remember that the Alt-Right movement, like other radical or extreme movements that still exist today, still has to gain the trust of the rest of the American community.
The Daily Beast:
The New York Times:
Southern Poverty Law Center:
Woodson, Carter G. The Miseducation of the Negro. 1933.