[Video] Resisting White Supremacy in Kentucky

An online video call discussion on anti-racist resistance with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Political Research Associates, and Rural Organizing Project.

Last week, PRA associate fellow Spencer Sunshine joined a discussion on anti-racist resistance in Kentucky alongside Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC) and Rural Organizing Project (ROP). KFTC convened this webinar after learning that White supremacist groups would be traveling to Kentucky in April for a series of events in Prestonsburg and Pikeville.

Runes such as this one have been gaining popularity over swastikas among neonazi groups as part of a recent effort to re-brand.

Sunshine kicked off the session identifying the White supremacist groups that are organizing and recruiting and describing what tactics they use. The groups discussed include the Nationalist Front (an umbrella group), Traditionalist Worker Party, National Socialist Movement (the largest neonazi group in the U.S.), League of the South (a neoconfederate group), and American Vanguard (a university-based student group). Sunshine describes how these groups, along with the White nationalist Alt Right, are mainstreaming old ideas through a new aesthetic.

Sunshine pointed out that there has been a huge spike in the number of White supremacist groups in the past year, according to the latest reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“In general this is happening to communities all over. I think with Trump’s campaign White nationalists felt like their politics had finally come out into the mainstream and they could come out of the shadows. And I think that’s true to some extent. That their politics are at least to some parts of society being fairly normalized. Regardless, they are using this climate to engage in much more aggressive recruiting campaigns and have open public events.”

Sunshine was also joined by Jessica Campbell co-director of ROP, a network of over 50 autonomous all-volunteer group throughout rural Oregon who are doing organizing around democracy and human dignity. Campbell pointed out that in Oregon they are not seeing legislators and politicians coming out to rural areas, which makes those communities feel further disenfranchised and “is creating a real opportunity for Far Right organizing to really take advantage of having an uncontested rural base.”

Sunshine and Campbell were lead authors of Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement, a report co-published by PRA and ROP in 2016. PRA has since produced a report and several in depth articles on the White nationalist Alt Right movement as well, available on our Alt Right Portal Page.

Additional resources:

Birth of the Alt Right

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This article appears in the Winter 2017 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play…They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert.

—Jean-Paul Sartre, “Anti-Semite and Jew,” 19441

Sometime on October 10, 2014, feminist computer-game developer Brianna Wu began receiving a series of tweets on her Twitter account from someone named “DeathToBrianna”:

You just made a shitty game no one liked. That’s it. No one wil lcare when you die. [sic]

I hope you enjoy your last moments alive on this earth. You did nothing worthwhile with your life.

If you have any kids, they’re going to die too. I don’t give a fuck. They’ll grow up to be feminists anyway.

Your mutilated corpse will be on the front page of Jezebel tomorrow and there isn’t jack shit you can do about it.

I’ve got a K-Bar and I’m coming to your house so I can shove it up your ugly feminist cunt.

Guess what bitch? I now know where you live. You and Frank live at [her real address].2

Wu, the development chief at gamemaker Giant Spacekat, and her husband called the police and moved out of their home that evening for several days, eventually hiring a bodyguard. Within days, she was accused by her tormentors of having “manufactured” the threats; they advised their readers in memes to “incite as much butthurt as possible, so don’t engage in civil reasoned debate. Flame anyone who disagrees …” Two years later, she continued to receive threats at such a volume that she hired a staff member to track them all.3

The threats directed at Wu arose from her involvement in the so-called “Gamergate” controversy, a bitter online dispute that revolved around the internal politics of the video-gaming community. On one side were feminists and other liberals who argued for greater inclusion of games appealing to women. On the other side were men who found such talk not merely threatening but a declaration of a “culture war,” wherein “social justice warriors” used the cudgel of political correctness to impose the values of multiculturalism.

The predominantly White men making these arguments, however, were not content merely to debate their positions online. Instead, a whole army of them swung into action on social media and Internet chat rooms, harassing and threatening feminists and liberals like Wu.

One of the feminists’ chief online assailants was Milo Yiannopoulos, a young gay man living in London who wrote a widely read column for Breitbart News. In a September 2014 piece he described the anti-Gamergate faction as “an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers, [who] are terrorising the entire community—lying, bullying and manipulating their way around the internet for profit and attention.”4

Yiannopoulos, who would parlay his Gamergate activism into a job as Breitbart’s tech editor and later as a leader of the emerging “Alt Right” phenomenon, responded to the threats against Wu in a typically “not-my-fault-she-deserved-it” tweet: “Whoever sent those tweets deserves to be charged and punished,” he wrote. “It was vile. But I cannot be alone in finding the response distasteful.”

The controversy heralded the rise of the Alt Right: A world dominated by digital trolls, insanely unbridled conspiracism, angry White-male-identity victimization culture, and ultimately, open racism, antisemitism, ethnic hatred, misogyny, and sexual/gender paranoia. A place where human decency and ethics are considered antiquarian jokes, and empathy is only an invitation to assault.

Troll Logic

The most influential aspect of the rise of the Internet in the 1990s was the liberation of information from the constraints of the mainstream media—something expected to further democratize the globalized economy. After all, the more information people had at their fingertips, the thinking went, the more they could be liberated by the truth.

Within a few years, however, it became evident that there was a serious downside to all this liberation: While the constraints on information imposed by a top-down mass media had seemingly been lifted, one of the press’s important by-functions was vanishing as well: namely, the ability to filter out bad information, false or badly distorted “facts,” and outrageous claims designed not just to titillate but to smear whole groups of people and to radicalize an audience against them. The Internet, with its easy anonymity and wanton disregard of the rules of evidence and factuality, by the early 2000s had already become host to a swamp of conspiracy theories, false smears, and wild speculation. As Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons have observed, the 1990s Patriot/militia movement was the first right-wing movement widely organized and promoted online.5

False or badly distorted “facts,” and outrageous claims designed not just to titillate but to smear whole groups of people and to radicalize an audience against them.

And the same “anything goes” ethos applied doubly to people’s behavior online. No entity embodied this anarchical and deliberately destructive sensibility quite like the digital troll: the usually anonymous creatures who lurk under the bridges of our discourse, lobbing insults, nonsequiturs, off-topic remarks, and racial or religious incendiary grenades. Their chief tactic is called “flaming,” in which they mercilessly abuse their target, substituting aggressive abuse for debate.

“Trolling” which takes its name from the fishing technique of dropping a lure on a long line and waiting for fish to take the bait, was initially considered a relatively benign, if juvenile, pastime. There was even a kind of “positive” trolling in which the “troll” used fact-based questions to lead a target to a logical conclusion. However, as “flaming” behaviors matured and spread, the resulting ethos created a “troll” whose deportment came closely to resemble the dreaded creatures who dwelt under bridges and snagged unwary travelers of legend. Trolls are ultimately engendered by a third kind of consequence of the rise of the Internet: Namely, the ability of people in modern society to construct their entire social lives online, with only a nominal interaction with the reality of the physical world. Increasingly, some people’s social lives began increasingly to revolve around chat rooms, email listservs, political and special-interest forums. As social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter took off, this phenomenon became not only widespread but profoundly consequential.

False or distorted “facts” create an alternative “reality” for people largely detached from the real world—profoundly toxifying people’s worldviews, their understanding of news and current events, as well as their interactions with others.

As media theorist Judith Donath explained in her groundbreaking 1999 study of trolling behavior: “In the physical world there is an inherent unity to the self, for the body provides a compelling and convenient definition of identity. The norm is: one body, one identity … The virtual world is different. It is composed of information rather than matter.”6

This helps explain why the introduction of bad information—false or distorted “facts” that creates an alternative “reality” for people largely detached from the real world—so profoundly toxifies people’s worldviews, their understanding of news and current events, as well as their interactions with others. The culture of trolling, by its very nature, quickly attracted some of society’s most toxic elements: sociopaths, psychopaths, and sadists. And that, in turn, had a profound political effect.

The Psychology of Trolling

A disturbing study released in 2014 by a team of psychologists led by Erin E. Buckels of the University of Manitoba sketched out a personality profile of trolls, focusing particularly on people attracted to “antisocial” uses of the Web. Buckels’ results found that many trolls share what psychologists call the “Dark Tetrad” of psychological traits: Machiavellianism (willing deception and manipulation), narcissism (self-obsession and egotism), psychopathy (an utter absence of empathy or remorse), and sadism (enjoyment of the suffering of others). The correlation of trolls with the last of these—sadism—was particularly powerful.7

“Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others,” Buckels wrote. “Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”

And the more time a person spends exclusively online (as opposed to in the material world) the stronger the connection becomes, Buckels found.

Buckels’ study also found that even though trolls have an outsized influence on Internet discourse, they comprise only a small percentage of Web users—just 5.6 percent of the survey’s respondents said they enjoyed trolling, while some 41 percent reported they don’t engage with other people online at all. Some trolled merely for fun, while others were driven by personal motivations, including politics.

As it happens, Buckels explained by email, there is, in general, a high correlation of these “Dark Tetrad” traits with another important mass-psychological phenomenon known as “social dominance orientation,” or SDO. It’s based on the recognition that people orient themselves socially based on a kind of fundamental view: Do they believe people are inherently equal, or unequal? Psychologists have tested people accordingly, devising an “SDO scale” that measures a person’s level of preference for hierarchy based on inherent inequalities within any social system, as well as the concurring desire for domination over lower-status groups.

The original 1994 study that designed the SDO scale asked participants whether they favored ideas such as “increased social equality,” “increased economic equality,” or simply “equality” itself. Conversely, subjects were asked whether they agreed that “some people are just more deserving than others” and that “This country would be better off if we cared less about how equal all people were.”8 SDO trolls, by dint of their personalities, were often inclined not only to share but to act out right-wing political views, often of the extremist variety.

“In short,” writes Robert Altemeyer, a psychologist who’s studied authoritarianism, “in social dominators’ way of thinking, equality should not be a central value of our society or a goal toward which we should strive. To high SDOs, ‘equality’ is a sucker-word in which only fools believe.”9

In contrast to the trolls who played the trolling game for its own sake, right-wing political trollers saw their activities as direct reflections of their politics. If trolling was often rude and openly transgressive, so were their politics.

If any movement could be said to describe the manifestation of Social Dominance Orientation in the political realm, it’s White nationalism. A far-right movement that took hold among “academic racists” in the 1990s, who contended that racial genetics imparted inherent characteristics such as intelligence, White nationalists followed these arguments with a call for distinct ethnostates that could enable racial separation. Moreover, the movement’s ideologues claimed, traditional White European culture faced an onslaught from non-White immigration and liberal multiculturalists.10

White nationalism quickly devolved from its original claim—to be simply promoting the interests of ethnic Whites—to, by the late ‘90s, demonizing non-Whites and LGBTQ people, as well as embracing far-right undercurrents of antisemitism and conspiracism. And indeed, many of the movement’s leaders displayed the kind of personality characteristics—lack of empathy, manipulativeness and aggression, and hostility to femininity and equality—associated with people who score highly on the SDO scale.

During the Bush administration years, White nationalists focused less on attacking liberalism than on attacking Republicans who they believed were failing to “stand up for White interests.” The antagonism created a gulf in which the movement, rife with contentious would-be leaders, struggled to reach new followers.

A sign at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. Photo: Mark Dixon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The White nationalists’ predilection for conspiracism, however, soon brought them the audience they sought. The conspiracy theorists who’d first become mobilized through the 1990s antigovernment Patriot movement found new inspiration in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which they portrayed as an “inside job” perpetrated with assistance from the Bush administration and its “New World Order.” As the decade wore on, the far-right conspiracists fixated on the idea of “political correctness” as a form of what they called “Cultural Marxism.” This idea grew from a fundamentally antisemitic White nationalist theory: that a small group of Jewish philosophers at Columbia University in the 1930s had devised an unorthodox form of Marxism that aimed to destroy American culture by convincing mainstream Americans that White ethnic pride is bad, sexual liberation is good, and traditional American “family values” and Christianity are bigoted and reactionary. (Among the subscribers to this theory, circulating in far-right circles since the ‘90s, was the right-wing Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who in 2011 slaughtered 69 children at a Norway youth camp after detonating a series of bombs in Oslo that killed eight.11)

The audience for conspiracy theories, as Altemeyer observes, is often comprised of right-wing authoritarians: people who are inclined to insist on a world in which strong authorities produce order and peace, often through iron imposition of “law and order.”12 Highly ethnocentric, fearful of a dangerous world, aggressive, dogmatic, and inclined to extreme self-righteousness and poor reasoning, they are, as Altemeyer explains, “very dependent on social reinforcement of their beliefs. They think they are right because almost everyone they know, almost every news broadcast they see, almost every radio commentator they listen to, tells them they are. That is, they screen out the sources that will suggest that they are wrong.”13  

A Lethal Union

To understand the growth of the Alt Right, one must explore the relationship between social dominators and right-wing authoritarian followers. Altemeyer, who conducted groundbreaking work on the psychological makeup of right-wing authoritarian (RWA) personalities, explains that people with high SDO scores—“dominators”— correlate poorly with people who score highly on the RWA scale. The two groups are distinct. Authoritarian followers lack dominators’ lust for power and they are generally much more religious; their hostility is rooted in fear and self-righteousness in the name of authority, while dominators use hostility as a means of intimidation and control.

Though they are dissimilar in many ways, dominators and right-wing authoritarian followers share an overpowering tendency towards prejudice against racial and ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities as well as deeply conservative politics.

Altemeyer’s 2006 book warning about the rise of authoritarianism focused on the special kind of chemistry that happens when right-wing authoritarian followers and social dominators come together. He called it the “lethal union”:

When social dominators are in the driver’s seat, and right-wing authoritarians stand at their beck and call, unethical things appear much more likely to happen. True, sufficiently skilled social dominators served by dedicated followers can make the trains run on time. But you have to worry about what the trains may be hauling when dominators call the shots and high RWAs do the shooting.14

It was during the Obama administration years, following the election of the first Black president, that the gradual coalescence of the alternative-universe worldviews of conspiracists, Patriots, White supremacists, Tea Partiers and nativists occurred. Fueled in no small part by racial animus toward Obama, the Internet and social media became the ground on which this “lethal union” could finally occur, after decades of internecine bickering among and marginalization of far-right factions. Those same chat rooms and Facebook threads where trolls gathered and harassed became the places where far-right social dominators—many of them espousing openly transgressive worldviews such as neonazism and misogyny—could come together with the right-wing authoritarian followers whose ranks grew with every conspiracy-theory convert and wannabe Oath Keeper militiaman.

That “lethal union” ultimately gave birth to a new baby created for the 21st century: the Alt Right.

The Road to Gamergate

It all began with people talking online about Japanese anime—the animated cartoons featuring everything from ultra-cute kittens to horrifying monsters, and everything in between.

The website’s owner, a then-15-year-old New York City student named Christopher Poole, called it 4chan when he launched it out of his bedroom in 2003. His idea was to create an open forum where anyone could post images and chat about anime and associated manga comic-book culture. And it was an immediate success, drawing a million hits in his first six days of operation. Soon it had expanded into a massive operation, one of the Internet’s most influential referral sites.15

Much of its original success was built on memes like “LOLcats,” featuring photos of cats over-scripted with funny phrases (the most famous of which, “I Can Haz Cheezburger,” went on to spawn a million-dollar company hosted at 4chan). 4chan also became known for its trolling, with resident trolls creating, among other things, the long-lived internet prank known as “RickRolling.”

But 4chan was also the ultimate open forum. People could register without entering an email address, so most commenters posted anonymously. 4chan’s boards became host not just to gamers and hobbyists but also neonazis, White supremacists, gay-bashers, and a flood of pornographic material. Trolling—of the nasty kind—soon became not just the ruling ethos but a competition among peers at 4Chan.

The “manosphere,” too, was a major presence at 4chan. An online community comprised of blogs, chat forums, and Reddit sub-communities, the manosphere was generally dedicated to the “men’s rights” movement, ostensibly to defend men against feminism. In reality, the movement had quickly become an open sewer of rampant misogyny and rape culture, particularly at the “Men’s Rights Activists” (or MRA) discussion boards at 4chan. Within this world, MRAs called feminism “a social cancer,” and asserted that, “Feminism is a hate movement designed to disenfranchise and dehumanize men.” They complained that women “cry rape” too easily, and, using Holocaust denialism as a metaphor, claimed that feminists had “created” the concept of patriarchy to justify abortion and “the destruction of men and masculinity.”16

Given the various communities gathering at 4chan, it was unsurprising when, in early 2013, all these forces converged to create the “Gamergate” controversy—an initially online phenomenon that crept over into the real world.

“Gamergate” began when a feminist game designer named Zoe Quinn was lauded for her woman-friendly online game “Depression Quest,” which guided users through the trials and tribulations of a person suffering from clinical depression.17 Quinn’s creation, reviewer Adam Smith wrote at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, transformed computer gaming from a mere exercise in conflict to “‘game’ as communication, comfort and tool of understanding.”18

The positive coverage of Quinn’s creation, however, attracted the ire of anti-feminist gamers, livid at the success of a feminized game that was a stark departure from “male” battle games. She soon found herself inundated with hate mail and threatening social-media messages. Someone mailed a detailed rape threat to her home address. Then, in August 2014, a year after “Depression Quest” was released to the general public, a former boyfriend of Quinn’s published a nasty tell-all post about their relationship, complaining that her new boyfriend was video game journalist Nathan Grayson. At 4chan’s boards, this story quickly took on a life of its own, as Quinn’s critics began claiming that Grayson had written a positive review of “Depression Quest” as a result of their relationship, even though, in reality, no such review existed.19

In a glimpse of trends to come, though, that fact did not matter.  The 4chan trolls were off and running, claiming they had uncovered an ethical scandal within the world of gaming journalism. Grayson’s supposed breach of standards reflected what they claimed was a pro-feminist, pro-liberal, anti-White-male bias growing within the computer-game industry. Soon anyone who questioned their interpretation of events was part of the conspiracy. Actor Adam Baldwin, highly active in right-wing circles, dubbed the controversy “Gamergate” in a Twitter hashtag, and it spread like wildfire.

Quinn’s previous flood of hate mail was dwarfed by the incoming tide of vitriol that now descended upon her. She was “doxxed”—her home address and personal contact information published online—and forced to flee her home.20

Nor did the harassment end with Quinn. Anita Sarkeesian, a well-regarded feminist cultural critic, endured death and rape threats, as well as a phoned-in bomb threat that canceled a speaking appearance, after she became a public critic of the Gamergaters. That was followed shortly by the online threats against Brianna Wu.21

Appalled by the wave of harassment emanating from their boards, the owners of 4chan announced in September 2014 that they would ban any further Gamergate discussions. However, a longtime 4chan user named Fredrick Brennan had, that previous October, already created a similar, competing website called 8chan, because he believed 4Chan had become too censorious.

The Gamergaters at 8chan, on Twitter and Reddit and other forums created a lingo of their own: mainly a range of pernicious rhetorical devices designed to create a buffer between themselves and the threats that were flooding out to women, LGBTQ folk, and people of color in the industry. It was a language of dismissal and belittlement. They called their targets “special snowflakes” and “cry bullies,” derided their websites as “safe spaces” and their hope for civil discourse as “unicorns.” The targets of the abuse, they claimed, were lying or exaggerating; and even when the abuse was factually substantiated, Gamergaters’ usual response was that people on their side were being abused too.

The Gamergaters shared a predilection for conspiracism as well. Feminists , for example, were portrayed as a subset within the larger “Cultural Marxism” conspiracy to destroy Western civilization. But what was once an idea with limited popular appeal was gaining widespread circulation through popular conspiracists like Alex Jones, creator of the massively popular conspiracy mill InfoWars. At 4chan and 8chan, the threat of “Cultural Marxism” became the focal point of many discussions, first about Gamergate, then, increasingly, politics. A common theme began to emerge: that White men were being systematically oppressed by dangerous left-wing forces, and that mainstream conservatives, through their “weak” response to multiculturalism, had “sold them out.”

Eventually Gamergate passed out of the news cycle, and the controversy subsided, to no one’s real satisfaction. What had transpired in the process, though, was far more important. Aggrieved MRAs from the “manosphere,” White nationalists who shared their virulent hatred of feminists and adoration for “traditional values,” as well as gamers and online trolls, had coalesced as a movement. And they continued on as a community, talking now more about politics and conspiracies than gaming, and how much they hated “sellout” mainstream conservatives. They reserved their most bilious outbursts for liberals, multiculturalism, gays and lesbians, Blacks, Hispanics, and Jews—especially Jews.

Their growing community of likeminded defenders of the White race and “traditional values” had to have a name, and so they gave it one: the “Alt Right.”

The Mob Is the Movement

White nationalist Richard Spencer is credited with coining the term “Alternative Right” in 2009. Photo: V@s via Flickr (CC BY2.0)

In 2009, a young White nationalist named Richard Spencer coined the term “Alternative Right” while writing a headline for the paleoconservative Taki’s Magazine, where he was an editor at the time.22 The headline was for an article by White nationalist Kevin DeAnna, describing the rise of a new kind of conservatism— one hostile to neoconservatism and open to “racialist” politics. Less than a year later, in early 2010, Spencer founded his own webzine and named it The Alternative Right. In short order, the name of the movement it promoted was shortened to “Alt Right,” and it stuck.

The name was developed with public relations well in mind; after all, it permitted White nationalists to soften their image while drawing in recruits from mainstream conservatism. When the movement rose to national prominence in 2016 in conjunction with the Trump campaign, a controversy erupted over whether to use the movement’s preferred name or simply call its members what many took them to be: “neonazis” or “White supremacists.” (This mirrored a similar discussion in the 1990s over whether to call the Patriot movement by its chosen name or other descriptors such as “antigovernment” and “antidemocratic.”)

However, as researcher Matthew Lyons explains, the movement is much more complex than any of those simple terms.23 It incorporates elements not only from White nationalists and supremacists of various stripes, but also misogynist anti-feminists, certain “neoreactionary” activists who regard democratic rule as a threat to civilization, as well as some right-wing anarchist elements. Identifying it as only one of those elements is not only inaccurate, but obscures the Alt Right’s peculiarly culture-savvy orientation and the strength of its appeal.

Take Pepe the Frog, for example. Pepe did not begin life, as it were, as the mascot of the Alt Right. His cartoonist creator, Matt Furie, a liberal Democrat, drew the smiling character in 2005 as part of an absurdist comic book; Pepe’s panel featured the frog peeing with his pants down around his ankles, saying, “Feels good man.”

Pepe the Frog was one of the most popular memes on social media before getting hijacked by the Alt Right. Image via clipartsgram.com.

Pepe’s catchphrase and image—big-eyed, large-lipped, cheerful—proliferated and became a common part of memes. By 2014, he had become one of the most popular memes on social media.

And then he was hijacked by the Alt Right. Already wildly popular among the far-right trolls at 4chan, Pepe’s image came increasingly to be featured in Alt Right memes as the trolls spread to other forums. Andrew Anglin, a former skinhead who was one of the leading trolls at 4chan, featured Pepe’s visage prominently at his neonazi blog The Daily Stormer; other Alt Right activists followed. Soon regular users stopped using Pepe in memes out of fear that they would be presumed to be racist White nationalists.24

It was only a dumb cartoon, but what Pepe really represented to the Alt Right was something much more powerful: irony. Unlike their historical forebears in the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, the leaders and followers of the Alt Right see themselves as smarter and more sophisticated, their rhetoric of racism, violence, and open eliminationism wrapped in more wit and humor, at least of a sort.

As Anglin explained, “A movement which meets all of the [Southern Poverty Law Center’s] definitions of Neo-Nazi White Supremacism using a cartoon frog to represent itself takes on a subversive power to bypass historical stereotypes of such movements, and thus present the ideas themselves in a fun way without the baggage of Schindler’s List and American History X.”25

Pepe is hardly the only cartoon figure deployed by the Alt Right. The movement’s roots in 4chan are evident in its many anime-fueled memes, most of them showing cute cartoon girls wearing various kinds of Nazi regalia, or sporting openly misogynistic, racist, and antisemitic texts. Comic characters of various kinds are deployed to ironically promote White nationalist ideas.

The Alt Right established itself primarily through its cultural agility—its ability to stay at the forefront of current events, themes, and ideas by adapting them to its own uses and then running wild with them. Spencer explains that these memes have “power” and are “a way of communicating immediately.” The movement takes pride in the inscrutability of its memes and other cultural markers—from the “echo” of placing parenthesis around the names of Jews (a tactic since reclaimed by some Jews), to the use of “Shitlord” as an honorific to describe Alt Right true believers—and revel in using them as a kind of secret handshake. The most pernicious of these is the #WhiteGenocide hashtag that handily reduces the White nationalist “mantra” that “Diversity is a Code Word for White Genocide.”

Many Alt Right memes tap into popular culture: Taylor Swift’s image pops up to promote “Aryan” beauty standards; the new Star Wars films are mocked for including central Black and female characters. Masculinity is a fixation for Alt Rightists, reflected in lingo such as “cuck” or “cuckservative,” which characterize mainstream conservatives as spineless cuckolds. They revel in naked racism for its transgressive value, reflected in their term “dindu nuffin” (caricatured dialect for “I didn’t do nothing,” used to describe African Americans, especially Black Lives Matters protesters). The terms spawned social-media hashtags (#Cuckservative, #Dindu) that spread the ideas behind them to a mostly young and impressionable audience.

Frequently, Alt Right activists describe the conversion to their point of view as getting “red pilled,” after the red pill in the 1999 science-fiction film The Matrix that enables Keanu Reeves to see reality. Alt Righters see it as a metaphor for what they consider to be the revelatory power of their ideology, which cuts through the lies of “social justice warriors,” “Cultural Marxists,” and the mainstream media they insist is actively suppressing their views.

“The Alt-Right is a ‘mass movement’ in the truest possible sense of the term, a type of mass-movement that could only exist on the Internet, where everyone’s voice is as loud as they are able to make it,” explained Anglin. “In the world of the internet, top-down hierarchy can only be based on the value, or perceived value, of someone’s ideas. The Alt-Right is an online mob of disenfranchised and mostly anonymous, mostly young White men. … The mob is the movement.26

And yet, by virtue of its spreading online presence, and the genuinely extremist nature of the ideology it promoted, the Alt Right was much more. It had become a massive mechanism for the online radicalization of mostly young White Americans.

Internet Radicals

In the wake of domestic terrorism attacks in the fall of 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and San Bernardino, California, committed by non-Whites ostensibly motivated by Muslim extremism, various media pundits, experts on terrorism, and government officials began raising concerns about the role of “online radicalization” in fueling such violence. The massacre of 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub in June 2016 by a Muslim man who espoused beliefs from radical Islam, seemingly picked up online, only intensified the conversation.

The massive media attention paid to these incidents, however, underscored how acts of terrorist violence related to the influence of White supremacism or other far-right ideologies rarely received the same treatment.27 When 20-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine people in a Charleston church in a June 2015, both media accounts and law-enforcement officials were reluctant to identify the act as domestic terrorism, despite the fact that it more than adequately fit the FBI definition of such crimes.28 Similarly, when an anti-abortion extremist shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November 2015, killing three people, the crime was again not identified as terrorism.29 And when a (White) militia gang was arrested for plotting to bomb a Kansas Muslim community in October 2016, even though the plotters were ultimately charged with domestic terrorism, there was relatively little media coverage of the case.30

Dylann Roof, for example, spent most of his days reading Alt Right websites. It was clear, but little noted, that the same phenomenon believed to be fueling terrorist acts by Muslim “radicals” was occurring simultaneously in a completely separate dimension of the Internet: among the gathering White male nationalists of the Alt Right.

But all of these incidents had one thing in common: their perpetrators were all motivated in large part by Internet communities. Roof, for example, spent most of his days reading Alt Right websites. It was clear, but little noted, that the same phenomenon believed to be fueling terrorist acts by Muslim “radicals” was occurring simultaneously in a completely separate dimension of the Internet: among the gathering White male nationalists of the Alt Right.

How does online radicalization happen? A number of different models have been developed for understanding the phenomenon. Most of them, unsurprisingly, have been geared toward examining Islamist radicals, but their findings fit remarkably well in explaining how the same process works with White nationalism.

One of these theories is called “identity demarginalization,” articulated by psychologists Katelyn McKenna and John Bargh in a 1998 study. It attempts to explain why some social groups are more drawn to the Internet than others. People with “concealable and culturally devalued identities” were found to be more likely than people with mainstream identities to participate in and value online communities. McKenna’s and Bargh’s study found that people who posted in online forums dedicated to concealable identities, such as being LGBTQ or a neonazi, valued the feedback and opinions of other group members much more strongly than people who belonged to forums focusing on easily perceivable marginalized identities, such as obesity and stuttering.31

“For the first time,” McKenna and Bargh wrote, an individual exploring his or her marginalized identity in an online environment “can reap the benefits of joining a group of similar others: feeling less isolated and different, disclosing a long secret part of oneself, sharing one’s own experiences and learning from those of others, and gaining emotional and motivational support.”

The process of radicalization occurs in steps. Journalist Abi Wilkinson, noting that concern about Islamist radicalization had produced such government efforts to combat the problem as the U.K.’s “Prevent” program, examined the course of various Alt Right adherents as they became increasingly vitriolic and even violent in their views. “Reading through the posting history of individual aliases,” she wrote, “it’s possible to chart their progress from vague dissatisfaction, and desire for social status and sexual success, to full-blown adherence to a cohesive ideology of white supremacy and misogyny. Neofascists treat these websites as recruitment grounds. They find angry, frustrated young men and groom them in their own image. Yet there’s no Prevent equivalent to try to stamp this out.”32

Southern Poverty Law Center analyst Keegan Hankes, who devotes much of his time to monitoring the activities and growth of the Alt Right, explained that the very shape of the movement’s discourse plays an important role in its recruitment: People are first exposed to their ideas by going wildly over the top with jokes that celebrate Nazis or other kinds of ugly behavior designed to attract attention by its craziness.

“You know, people will laugh at these things, just because they’re so transgressive. And who is most susceptible to that? Young minds,” continued Hankes. “The idea is to attract young minds, and of course, they are targeting the people who spend the most time in these environments. This movement is very immersive, and people wind up building their whole lives around it.”

Endnotes

1 Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate, (New York: Schocken Books, 1948), pp. 13-14.

2 Andrew Hart, “Game Developer Brianna Wu Flees Home After Death Threats,” Huffington Post, Oct. 12, 2014; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/11/game-developer-death-threats_n_5970966.html.

3 Dean Takahashi, “Brianna Wu Speaks Up About Death Threats and Personal Cost of Opposing #GamerGate,” VentureBeat, Feb. 9, 2015; http://venturebeat.com/2015/02/09/brianna-wu-speaks-up-about-being-labeled-a-social-justice-warrior-and-worse-in-gaming-interview/view-all/.

4 Milo Yiannopoulos, “Feminist Bullies Tearing the Video Game Industry Apart,” Breitbart,  Sept 1, 2014; http://www.breitbart.com/london/2014/09/01/lying-greedy-promiscuous-feminist-bullies-are-tearing-the-video-game-industry-apart/.

5 Chip Berlet, “When Hate Went Online” presented at the Northeast Sociological Association, Spring Conference, Fairfield, CT: Sacred Heart University, April 28, 2001.

6 Judith Donath, “Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community,” MIT Media Lab, Nov. 12, 1996; http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html.

7 Erin E. Buckels, Paul D. Trapnell, Delroy L. Paulhus, “Trolls just want to have fun,” Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 67, September 2014, pp. 97–102; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886914000324?np=y.

8 Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto, “Social Dominance Orientation: A Personality Variable Predicting Social and Political Attitudes,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1994, Vol. 67, No. 4, pp. 741-763.

9 Bob Altemeyer, “Highly Dominating, Highly Authoritarian Personalities,” The Journal of Social Psychology, 2004, Vol. 144, No. 4, pp. 425.

10>/sup> Leonard Zeskind, Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream (New York: Farar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), pp. 367-379, pp. 393-398. See also “White Nationalists,” Southern Poverty Law Center; https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/white-nationalist.

11 Bill Berkowitz, “Cultural Marxism Catching On,” Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center), Aug. 15, 2003; https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2003/cultural-marxism-catching.

12 Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians (University of Manitoba, 2006), http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/., pp. 88-90.

13 Bob Altemeyer, “Donald Trump and Authoritarian Followers,” Daily Kos, March 2, 2016; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/3/2/1494504/-A-word-from-Dr-Bob-Altemeyer-on-Donald-Trump-and-Authoritarian-Followers.

14 Altemeyer, The Authoritarians, op. cit., p. 176.

15 Aric Suber-Jenkins, “How 4chan, a small anime forum, became Donald Trump’s most rabid fanbase,” Mic.com, Oct. 31, 2016; https://mic.com/articles/157545/how-4chan-a-small-anime-forum-became-donald-trump-s-most-rabid-fanbase#.DJhQDya1C.

16 “Misogyny: The Sites,” Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center), March 1, 2012; https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2012/misogyny-sites

17 Simon Parkin, “Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest,” The New Yorker, Sept. 9, 2014; http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/zoe-quinns-depression-quest.

18 Adam Smith, “Mostly Indescribable: Depression Quest,” Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Feb. 14, 2013; https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/14/mostly-indescribable-depression-quest/.

19 Nick Wingfield, “Feminist Critics of Video Games Facing Threats in ‘GamerGate’ Campaign,” New York Times, Oct. 15, 2014; https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/technology/gamergate-women-video-game-threats-anita-sarkeesian.html.

20 Radhika Sanghani, “Misogyny, death threats and a mob of trolls: Inside the dark world of video games with Zoe Quinn – target of #GamerGate,” Daily Telegraph, Sept. 10, 2014; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11082629/Gamergate-Misogyny-death-threats-and-a-mob-of-angry-trolls-Inside-the-dark-world-of-video-games.html

21 Nick Wingfield, ibid.

22 Kevin DeAnna, “The Alternative Right,” Taki’s Magazine, July 26, 2009; http://takimag.com/article/the_alternative_right#axzz4SffEQl8L.

23 Matthew N. Lyons, “Calling them “alt-right” helps us fight them,” ThreeWayFight, Nov. 22, 2016; http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2016/11/calling-them-alt-right-helps-us-fight.html.

24 Olivia Nuzzi, “How Pepe the Frog Became a Nazi Trump Supporter and Alt-Right Symbol,” The Daily Beast, May 25, 2016; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/26/how-pepe-the-frog-became-a-nazi-trump-supporter-and-alt-right-symbol.html.

25 Andrew Anglin, “A Normie’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” The Daily Stormer, Aug. 31, 2016; http://www.dailystormer.com/a-normies-guide-to-the-alt-right/.

26 Andrew Anglin, ibid.

27 Naomi Braine, “Terror Network or Lone Wolf? Disparate Legal Treatment of Muslims and the Radical Right,” Political Research Associates, June 19, 2015; http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/06/19/terror-network-or-lone-wolf/#sthash.wWvzwYix.6tP8iTuS.dpbs.

28 See Rick Gladstone, “Many Ask, Why Not Call Church Shooting Terrorism?,” New York Times, June 28, 2015; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/us/charleston-shooting-terrorism-or-hate-crime.html. See also Kevin Cirilli, “FBI head won’t call Charleston shooting a terrorist act,” The Hill, June 20, 2015; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/245649-fbi-head-wont-call-charleston-shooting-a-terrorist-act.

29 Eric Tucker and Sadie Gurman, “Why the Planned Parenthood shooting isn’t legally referred to as ‘domestic terrorism’,” Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2015; http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/why-the-planned-parenthood-shooting-isnt-legally-referred-to-as-domestic-terrorism/.

30 Bryan Schatz, “Feds Charge Kansas Militia Members With Plotting to Bomb Somali Immigrants,” Mother Jones, Oct. 14, 2016; http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/three-militia-members-kansas-somali-muslim-bomb-plot.

31 Katelyn Y.A. McKenna and John A. Bargh, “Coming out in the age of the Internet: Identity “demarginalization” through virtual group participation,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 75, No. 3, September 1998, pp. 681-694.

32 Abi Wilkinson, “We need to talk about the online radicalisation of young, white men,” The Guardian, Nov. 15, 2016; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/15/alt-right-manosphere-mainstream-politics-breitbart.

#First100Days Crash Course: Week 7

Coinciding with Trump’s first 100 days in Office — a period of time historically used as a benchmark to measure the potential of a new president — PRA will share readings, videos, and tools for organizing to inform our collective resistance based on principles for engaging the regime, defending human rights, and preventing authoritarianism. Daily readings will be posted on our Facebook and Twitter accounts and archived HERE.

Week 7: Misogyny

Continue reading “Mobilizing Misogyny” in The Public Eye!

Male supremacism, enshrined in the nation’s founding documents, is as fundamental to U.S. history as White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) nativism. The same patriarchal stance—combining race, religion, and nativism—fuels conservative Christian ideology on appropriate gender roles. (Transgender women and men and genderqueer individuals also violate these designated roles.) Especially in the last 100 years, as some women have succeeded in pushing back against the sexist world they inherited, social and political movements have emerged to defend traditional gender structures.

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Speak Up & Stay Safe(r): A Guide to Protecting Yourself From Online:
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Mobilizing Misogyny

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This article appears in the Winter 2017 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

Unquestionably, President Donald Trump’s demonstrated enthusiasm for catering to the Christian Right on abortion—and obliterating their memory of his pro-choice past—spells trouble for reproductive rights. But that’s not the only threat to women under Trump’s new order. Trump’s campaign distinguished itself from those of other Republican candidates by its attacks on women: regularly insulting women’s appearances or behavior and defending physical and sexual harassment and violence against them. Sometimes, Trump’s threatening and offensive rhetoric directly targeted his Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first woman major party nominee for president, from calling her a “nasty woman” to suggesting there might be a Second Amendment “remedy” in case of her election.1

This rhetoric energized members of a secular misogynist Right—such as the men’s rights movement and, more recently, the “Alt Right”—that has flourished online since the 1990s. And it found no pushback from a brand of conservative, libertarian “feminism”—another ’90s development—that provides a dangerously legitimizing female face for misogynist ideology centered on overt hostility to women and the promulgation of rape culture.

Effectively fighting mobilizations like those emboldened by Trump’s election requires accurately understanding their composition—one in which misogyny thrives alongside, and intertwined with, racism.

Patriarchal Traditionalism from White Supremacy to the Christian Right

Male supremacism, enshrined in the nation’s founding documents, is as fundamental to U.S. history as White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) nativism.2 The same patriarchal stance—combining race, religion, and nativism—fuels conservative Christian ideology on appropriate gender roles. (Transgender women and men and genderqueer individuals also violate these designated roles.) Especially in the last 100 years, as some women have succeeded in pushing back against the sexist world they inherited, social and political movements have emerged to defend traditional gender structures.

Phyllis Schlafly speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr).

Amid Second Wave feminism, the antifeminists Phyllis Schlafly (a Roman Catholic) and Beverly LaHaye (an evangelical) followed in this tradition when they organized a “pro-family” movement to stop the ratification of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Though themselves prominent activists, LaHaye and the late Schlafly promoted submission to husbands and attacked women seeking careers.3

Abortion, contraception, and sexuality education all threaten the enforcement of traditional gender roles. After the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in 1973, conservative evangelicals joined with the existing Catholic “prolife” movement in the creation of the Christian Right, and abortion became “a vital component of [the Right’s] fight to protect the bottom line of traditional family values—the dominance of white, male power and control,” as PRA’s Jean Hardisty and Pam Chamberlain observed. The anti-abortion movement drew together members of the Religious Right and White supremacists and neonazis, who contributed to the rising violence against clinic providers in the 1990s perpetrated primarily by White men.4 (The legacy of White supremacy, Hardisty and Chamberlain continue, can be seen in how “the Right applies race and class criteria that distinguish between the rights of white, middle-class women and low-income women of color.” This dynamic led to the 1990s stereotype of the “welfare queen,” and welfare reform under Bill Clinton designed to discourage women of color and immigrant women from having “too many” children.5)

But attacks on women’s reproductive rights have often come wrapped in the guise of chivalry, framed as “moral issues” and “family values” rather than misogyny. To gain wider acceptance, the anti-abortion movement has adopted a framework of “protecting women,” vilifying abortion providers as preying on weak women threatened by the physical and mental health consequences of abortion.6 That effort has made significant legislative progress in recent years, with a slew of state anti-abortion bills in 2011. Despite this official strategy, clinic protesters on the ground expose their misogyny in calling women “murderers” and “whores,” and sometimes resorting to physical intimidation.7

In 2012, contraception came under increased attack as immoral in the debate over healthcare reform. Anti-abortion groups have long denounced the “morning after pill” as an abortifacient, yet had otherwise tended to avoid pushing an unpopular position against contraception, largely considered a settled issue. When law student Sandra Fluke testified in favor of contraceptive coverage, Rush Limbaugh infamously ranted about her being a “slut” and a “prostitute” who should be required to post sex videos online.8

Set on proving that his “pro-choice” days were behind him, during the 2016 campaign Trump denounced Planned Parenthood as an “abortion factory” and selected hardline reproductive and LGBTQ rights opponent Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate. In his eagerness, Trump unknowingly violated the Christian Right’s strategic deployment of a “kinder, gentler” image9 when he announced that women who obtained an illegal abortion should face “punishment.” Although Trump backpedaled to mollify anti-abortion groups that claim to protect women, his original statement was characteristic of the anti-woman vitriol of his campaign and may have appealed to the existing hatred demonstrated by clinic protesters.10

The Christian Right’s attack on women isn’t limited to reproductive issues. Schlafly frequently argued that women make false accusations of sexual assault and domestic violence—her grounds for opposing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and suggesting that there exists a “war on men.”11 Concerned Women for America (CWA), a major Christian Right group founded by Beverly LaHaye, claims that the “wage gap” results from women’s own choices and therefore opposes equal pay legislation.12 In such respects, Christian Right ideology aligns with that of equity feminism and men’s rights.

Equity Feminism and Men’s Rights

In 1991, “Women for Judge Thomas” formed to defend conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations. The following year this group institutionalized itself as the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), under the premise that, as co-founder Anita Blair declared, feminism should have “declared victory and gone home” by 1978.13 The idea that, at least in the U.S., women have achieved equality underlies the secular libertarian philosophy of “equity feminism” (also “individualist feminism”).14 In 2009, IWF’s then-president Michelle Bernard explained, “we have a philosophical belief that women are not victims… we believe that free markets are really the great equalizer, and will allow women to become truly equal with men in areas where we still may be unequal.”15 This ideology diverges from patriarchal traditionalism in applauding successful career women (and holding varied views on abortion), replacing it with a sexism that blames women’s continuing underrepresentation in positions of influence on personal choices and intrinsic differences, and to protect this worldview, frequently dismisses contradictory evidence.16

By offering a provocative dissident women’s voice, presenting “the other side,” equity feminists can forego the grassroots organizing of Schlafly and LaHaye17 while benefiting from extensive media dissemination of its ideas. As former IWF Executive Director Barbara Ledeen put it, “You can’t have white guys saying you don’t need affirmative action.”18

In 1988, Warren Farrell, who had once been involved with feminist organizing of men’s consciousness group, published the book Why Men Are the Way They Are.

Of course, plenty of White guys have spoken out against affirmative action, developing a male victimhood ideology to complement equity feminism’s rejection of female victims. In 1988, Warren Farrell, who had once been involved with feminist organizing of men’s consciousness group, published the book Why Men Are the Way They Are, “depicting a world where women—particularly female executives—wield vast influence. Even those women who are less successful have ‘enormous sexual leverage over men.’”19

When men think about women’s gains, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett write in The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men—and Our Economy, “There’s a tendency to circle the wagons, to exaggerate how far women have come and how far men have fallen.”20 Alarm over women’s advancement emerges repeatedly in U.S. history: as Danielle Paquette points out in the Washington Post, 30 years prior to Farrell’s book, Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. worried over the trickle of wives into the 1950s workforce: “Women seem an expanding, aggressive force, seizing new domains like a conquering army, while men, more and more on the defensive, are hardly able to hold their own and gratefully accept assignments from their new rulers.”21

Farrell, dubbed the “father of the men’s rights movement,” followed up in 1993 with The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex, where he suggested that American (White) men were the new “nigger,” threatened by women’s ability to cry sexual harassment and “date rape.” According to sociologist Michael Kimmel, this became the movement’s “bible,” awakening men to their status as victims of women’s ascendancy.22 Like White supremacist movements, men’s rights ideology warns White men that they are losing their place in society. Where equity feminism thrives among elite women with access to major communications platforms, the men’s rights movement is a decentralized “netroots” movement that draws men who feel less privileged, especially those with employment troubles and failures in romantic relationships.

Claiming rampant false accusations of rape and violence is one of the most prevalent men’s rights and equity feminist talking points.23 Who Stole Feminism?, a classic among conservative “feminists” published the following year by Christina Hoff Sommers, similarly argues that “gender” or “radical” feminists lie about rates of rape and domestic violence. Speaking on campus sexual assault in 2014, Sommers, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, repeated the same themes of “false accusations” and “[i]nflated statistics,” declaring, “I believe that the rape culture movement is fueled by exaggerated claims of intimacy and a lot of paranoia about men.”24 A spokesperson for A Voice for Men (AVFM), one of the most prominent men’s rights organizations, rejected rape “hysteria…as a scam” and baselessly claimed that sexual assault affects only about two percent of women—far from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s one-in-five statistic.25

Although equity feminists reject the existence of structural constraints on women, like Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) they suggest that American boys and men suffer at the hands of gender feminists. In 2000, Sommers wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, and a flurry of concern over boys’ educational achievements in 2013 landed her in major outlets including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, and The Atlantic. Psychologist Helen Smith, one of IWF’s “Modern Feminists,” suggested in 2012 that “the deck is so stacked against men that they are ‘going Galt,’” a reference to Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, an MRA favorite.26

Equity feminism’s depiction of women as liars with “victim mentalities” dovetails alarmingly with (and legitimizes) the online manifestation of the men’s rights movement, which uses more virulent and hateful rhetoric to convey the same argument.

Male Supremacist Harassment and Violence

Paul Elam has made attempts at a respectable mainstream image, organizing the movement’s first in-person conference. But he also has a history of advocating violence, writing that women who go clubbing are “begging” to be raped, and that “there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk [through] life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH—PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”27

Another site Elam launched, Register-her.com, allowed men to post personal information for women they claim made false accusations (or otherwise outraged the movement) in order to target them for harassment. In 2011, feminist writer Jessica Valenti fled her house under a barrage of threats after her information appeared on this site.

Jack Donovan (photo: Zachary O. Ray via Wiki Commons).

Other strains of online male supremacism include pick-up artists (PUAs), who advocate male sexual entitlement and give sexist advice on seducing women; the Red Pill, a community named for a Matrix reference that seeks to awaken men to the “reality” of dominant “feminist culture”;28 Men Going Their Own Way, which advocates cutting ties with women; and Jack Donovan’s “gang masculinity,” which calls on men to form warrior gangs to escape domestication by women.29 Deviating from the online movement’s predominantly secular nature are Christian masculinists, who, as Dianna Anderson writes at Rewire, “have fused manosphere rhetoric with what they see as ‘biblical’ gender roles to envision a hierarchical, patriarchal ideal world.”30 These varied communities share adherents, though there is also conflict among their competing perspectives.

The virulent misogyny promoted by male supremacists, often couched as anti-feminism and accompanied by racism and nativism, has serious repercussions that play out on a global stage. In 1989, Marc Lépine killed 14 women at an engineering school in Montreal under the guise of “fighting feminism.”31 In 2009, George Sodini killed three women and then himself at a fitness class in Pennsylvania, leaving behind a website that complained about being rejected by women (and leading PUAs to coin the term “going Sodini”).32 Anders Breivik murdered 77 adults and children in Norway in 2011, leaving behind a manifesto attacking “the radical feminist agenda,” Islam, political correctness, and “Cultural Marxism” (see David Neiwart’s article in this issue).33 And in May 2014, Elliot Rodger set out to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blonde slut” at the “hottest” sorority at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writing, “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you for it.”34 He ultimately killed six people and himself, though he failed to make it inside the sorority.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report editor-in-chief, Mark Potok, wrote, “Men’s rights activists did not tell Rodger to kill—but in their writings, it seems like many of them wouldn’t mind doing some killing of their own. Rodger said as much in his manifesto, writing that PUAHate ‘confirmed many of the theories I had about how wicked and degenerate women really are’ and showed him ‘how bleak and cruel the world is due to the evilness of women.’”35

Elliot Rodger’s story has parallels with that of White supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof, convicted in 2016 of murdering nine Black congregants at a Charleston church.36 Though the media typically portrays such acts of right-wing violence as perpetrated by mentally disturbed individuals37—so-called “Lone Wolves”—as PRA contributor Naomi Braine writes, “a decision to act alone does not mean acting outside of social movement frameworks, philosophies, and networks.”38 Both young men encountered inaccurate and hateful rhetoric online that inflamed existing dissatisfactions by depicting them as victims.39 Thus, Lone Wolf violence emerges from a right-wing context “systematically erased” by media misrepresentation of these as isolated and irrational actors.

Some members of the male supremacist online movement hailed Rodger as a hero on PUAHate.com messaging boards or Facebook fan pages.40 Others distanced themselves while defending their own misogynist content, much as the Council of Conservative Citizens, the White nationalist group Roof cited in his manifesto, claimed to condemn Roof’s violence while blaming society for ignoring White people’s “legitimate grievances.”41 Daryush Valizadeh (“Roosh V”), a professional PUA and founder of the site Return of Kings, argued, “Until you give men like Rodger a way to have sex, either by encouraging them to learn game, seek out a Thai wife, or engage in legalized prostitution…it’s inevitable for another massacre to occur.”42

Meanwhile, equity feminists stepped up to whitewash a clearly misogynist attack. IWF senior editor Charlotte Hays wrote that calling Rodger’s violence a “product of sexism” was a “bizarre response” by feminists.43

Video Games, Misogyny, and the Alt Right

Video games might not seem like a vital social justice battleground. However, as sociologist and gaming critic Katherine Cross has pointed out, the virulence of online White male reactions to increasing gender and racial diversity in game players and creators, and to critiques of the industry’s sexism, indicates a problem with dismissing this as a trivial issue.44 Only a few months after Rodger’s fatal 2014 attack, an incident dubbed “Gamergate,” ostensibly about gaming industry ethics and media corruption, resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) looking into the barrage of violent rape and death threats against women who criticized video games’ sexist portrayals of women and lack of diversity.45 Anita Sarkeesian, one of the primary targets, canceled a talk at Utah State University after the school received a threat to repeat Marc Lépine’s massacre and demonstrate “what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America.”46 While circles of progressive female journalists took the movement behind Gamergate seriously, their voices were largely ignored by the mainstream media.47

Milo Yiannopoulos. Photo by Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference via Flickr.

Through Gamergate, vocal misogynist personalities such as Mike Cernovich, associated with the pick-up artist community, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a Brietbart writer, expanded their online following, to be leveraged in future attacks on feminism and women. Yiannopoulos had over 300,000 Twitter followers at the time the social media platform finally banned him for offensive content in 2016; at the time of this writing he has more than 1.9 million Facebook likes and 568,000 subscribers on YouTube, in addition to his platform at Brietbart, where he has bragged about writing headlines such as “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?”48 In “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” Yiannopoulos and co-author Allum Bokhari write, “The so-called online ‘manosphere,’ the nemeses of left-wing feminism, quickly became one of the alt-right’s most distinctive constituencies.”

The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz writes that Cernovich “developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups.”49 In 2016, in tweets that received more than 100 million views, Cernovich focused on supporting “unapologetically masculine” Trump and attacking Hillary Clinton with conspiracy theories regarding her failing health and emails.

Following Trump’s election, mainstream and progressive media outlets worried that using the movement’s chosen name, the Alt Right, helped euphemize and normalize old-fashioned bigotry. As Think Progress’ editors wrote, “[Alt Right Leader Richard] Spencer and his ilk are essentially standard-issue white supremacists who discovered a clever way to make themselves appear more innocuous—even a little hip”; their publication, they declared, wouldn’t do “racists’ public relations work for them.”50

But nowhere in this statement from a major progressive news outlet exists a single reference to sexism or misogyny—a glaring omission given its significance to the Alt Right’s mobilization to defeat the first woman to receive a major party nomination for president.51 Some respected outlets and organizations, including the Associated Press and SPLC, described the movement’s misogyny, but their recommended definitions referenced White nationalism, neglecting to acknowledge male supremacy as a core component.52,53 While some Alt Right leaders, such as former Breitbart executive (now Trump administration chief strategist) Stephen Bannon, hail from more racist corners of the umbrella movement, others, like Yiannopoulos and Cernovich, rose to prominence primarily on their misogynist rhetoric.

These omissions aren’t surprising. In a 2008 study, “The Absence of a Gender Justice Framework in Social Justice Organizing,” activist and consultant Linda Burnham wrote, “All too many organizers and activists affirm a commitment to women’s human rights or gender justice while having no clear idea of sexism as a systemic phenomenon with tangled historical, social, economic and cultural roots and multiple manifestations.” In her interviews of activists, Burnham found “the subordination of sexism as a legitimate concern among ‘competing isms’”; antipathy to the feminist movement (which is perceived as White); a feeling that “there’s already a level of equity and there’s no need to struggle over it anymore”; and a lack of tools for structural analysis.54 (Groups with a better intersectional approach, Burnham footnoted, included reproductive justice organizations like SisterSong.55)

Matthew N. Lyons, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America, further argues that this heightened misogyny distinguishes the Alt Right from other White supremacist and neonazi mobilizations, which have practiced a “quasi-feminism” that viewed women as holding distinct but complementary gender roles important to the movement. Especially since the 1980s, Lyons writes, neonazi groups have increasingly lauded White women as “race warriors.”56

Some early Alt Right writers did encourage their compatriots to do more to attract women and root out sexual harassment.57 Now even that has disappeared. Today the movement is better characterized by dismissive ideology like that of White male supremacist Matt Forney, who asserts in a 2012 “anti-feminist classic” post on Alternative Right that women are “herd creatures” who are “unimportant” to the men who will make history. “Attempting to convince such flighty creatures to join the alt-right with logical arguments is like begging escaped inmates to please pretty please come back to the insane asylum.”58 Forney also argues that, “Every feminist, deep down, wants nothing more than a rapist’s baby in her belly.”59 Lyons writes:

Alt-rightists tell us that it’s natural for men to rule over women and that women want and need this, that “giving women freedom [was] one of mankind’s greatest mistakes,” that women should “never be allowed to make foreign policy [because] their vindictiveness knows no bounds,” that feminism is defined by mental illness and has turned women into “caricatures of irrationality and hysteria.”60

Richard Spencer, the now-infamous White nationalist leader credited with coining the term “Alt Right,” promotes male supremacist rhetoric that includes yet goes beyond traditional arguments for women belonging in the home. Along with his position on women’s “vindictiveness” (quoted by Lyons above), Spencer defended Trump against sexual assault accusations with the argument, “At some part of every woman’s soul, they want to be taken by a strong man.”61

Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist who studies right-wing movements, describes the Alt Right’s assertion of women’s inferiority as “a sexist interpretation of xenophobia. It’s the same view they have of immigrants and minorities, that they’re threatening their way of life. A life where men are dominant. A life where they have privilege in virtually every domain.”62

Vox writer Aja Romano argues that misogyny is not only a significant part of the Alt Right, it’s the “gateway drug” for the recruitment of disaffected White men into racist communities.

Vox writer Aja Romano argues that misogyny is not only a significant part of the Alt Right, it’s the “gateway drug” for the recruitment of disaffected White men into racist communities. David Futrelle, a journalist who watches the men’s rights and other online misogynist movements, told Vox that it’s “close to impossible to overstate the role of Gamergate in the process of [alt-right] radicalization. … Gamergate was based on the same sense of aggrieved entitlement that drives the alt-right—and many Trump voters.” Within this narrative, Futrelle said, they saw their harassment of women as defending “an imperiled culture,” moving into other online enclaves populated by neonazis and White supremacists that recruited them for “fighting against ‘white genocide.’”63

2016 Election: Where Has This Misogyny Led Us?

In 2006, IWF Managing Director Carrie L. Lukas wrote, “In the past, victims of rape were made to feel that the crime was their fault. Many women around the world still suffer this bias. Today in the United States, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. A man accused of rape often is convicted in the court of public opinion without evidence.”64 Yet in Trump’s campaign, that was far from the case. Multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment against the Republican candidate were ignored throughout the campaign; when audio recordings exposing him admitting to sexual assault finally brought widespread attention to his treatment of women, he defended his comments as “locker-room talk.” And those comments did not ultimately cost him the election.

While IWF and equity feminism, like other libertarian ideologies, tend toward the conservative side of the political spectrum, there is more diversity there than among women in anti-feminist movements and the Christian Right. This allows the ideological tent to include Democrats like Christina Hoff Sommers, independents like former IWF president Michelle Bernard, and Republican women who might criticize aspects of their party’s gender dynamics. After applauding Sarah Palin for breaking free of sexist attempts to control her image as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, in 2009, Bernard spoke of bright prospects ahead for Hillary Clinton: “She is incredibly smart, brilliant, an excellent campaigner, and I think her time will come.”65

However, misogynist and anti-feminist Rightist ideologies have taken a toll beyond leaders’ control. Though during the primaries IWF gave favorable attention to Carly Fiorina, the only female Republican candidate, a poll showed Trump leading the Republican pack among female voters. Historian Catherine Rymph explained that the exodus of feminism and women’s rights advocacy from the GOP means that, among those left, “voters, including women, who don’t like Democratic feminism or so-called ‘political correctness’ in general may very well find refreshing Trump’s delight in using language about women that many find offensive.”66 When then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly criticized Trump’s misogyny while moderating a 2015 primary debate, Trump responded, to audience cheers, that “the big problem this country has is being politically correct”—code for resistance to misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. Trump went on to call Kelly a “bimbo” and imply she was menstruating. After Trump’s continued attacks on Twitter rallied online misogynists to further harassment, Kelly received death threats.67

For some equity feminists, it’s gone too far. IWF senior editor Charlotte Hays argues that Trump’s history of misogynist statements goes beyond “bucking political correctness.” In March 2016, Hays worried, “If Trump is the nominee, the [Leftist claims of a] ‘war on women’ will be back with a vengeance. And this time there will be a degree of fairness in the charge.”68 Sommers referred to Trump as an example of “amoral masculinity” that “preys on women.”69 She joined conservative female media pundits in calling for Trump to fire his original campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, after Brietbart News reporter Michelle Fields charged him with physically assaulting her.70 Trump denied Lewandowski’s culpability, only firing him three months later after apparently unrelated problems.71 And when former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed suit against CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment—which Kelly also reported experiencing—Trump asserted that Carlson’s accusations against his informal advisor were “Totally unfounded.”72

Fields resigned from Brietbart, which former executive and Trump senior strategist Stephen Bannon proudly called “the platform for the alt-right,”73 over the outlet’s inadequate response.74 Commenting on the successive Alt Right online harassment of Fields, Kelly said, “This woman hasn’t done anything wrong, anything, other than find herself on the wrong end of these folks, for whom she used to work.”75

Some equity feminists, like Sommers, may have expected their own elite conservative colleagues to be taken seriously, not realizing that the damage done in disparaging other women would find its way back to them. In response to Sommers’ criticism of Trump, Mike Cernovich disdainfully pointed out that she had previously “mocked women who played the damsel in distress.”76

On the other hand, the appreciation for Hillary Clinton’s political merits seems to have disappeared under IWF’s new leadership, which got on board with Trump after his nomination. Trump hired IWF board member Kellyanne Conway to replace Lewandowski as his new campaign manager, which followed the organization’s efforts to peddle palatable sexism under a female face. IWF’s campaign affiliate, Independent Women’s Voice (IWV), supported Trump’s campaign, with CEO Heather Higgins coming around to offer her full-throated support in the general election.77

The men’s rights movement lacked these internal divisions over Trump’s outright misogyny. Early in the primary season, members of online male supremacist communities touted Trump as an example of an “alpha” male given how “he insults and dominates women, preys on their insecurities and refuses to ever apologize for it.”78 And as though he was directly channeling men’s rights talking points, at a campaign rally in May 2016 Trump declared, “All of the men, we’re petrified to speak to women anymore. …You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks. They get it better than we do. If [Hillary Clinton] didn’t play [the woman] card, she has nothing.”79

While Trump’s rhetoric reflects MRA vitriol, it is the long fight against feminism by groups embraced in the mainstream, like equity feminists and Republican women, that legitimized the candidacy—and election—of an overt misogynist who has bragged about sexual assault.

While Trump’s rhetoric reflects MRA vitriol, it is the long fight against feminism by groups embraced in the mainstream, like equity feminists and Republican women, that legitimized the candidacy—and election—of an overt misogynist who has bragged about sexual assault.

Defending Gender Justice Post-Election

Trump’s rhetoric shares more in common with equity feminist and men’s rights ideologies than with “family values” framing—and with the reality of Christian Right misogyny, such as the vitriol of clinic protestors and the anti-feminism of the late Phyllis Schlafly, a staunch Trump supporter.

It will be important to track the growing connections between these secular and religious movements, bridged by an underlying misogyny, racism, and nativism, especially as individuals aligned with the Alt Right, like Bannon, and equity feminism, like Conway, gain influence. The seeds are already there. The libertarian Koch brothers, infamous major donors to libertarian and conservative causes, fund both IWF and CWA. Alt Right figures like blogger Matt Forney oppose reproductive rights, writing that pro-choice women have “evil” in their souls and that “Girls who kill their own children despise life itself and will do their best to destroy yours.”80 Pick-up artist communities advise members to seek submissive wives who can easily be controlled, and oppose abortion and contraception as a means of weighing them down with children.81 And, extending “father’s rights” arguments within the men’s rights movement, a Missouri lawmaker proposed in 2014 a bill requiring paternal consent to an abortion.82

The influence of ideology on the broader population, outside of active movement participants, bears particular importance with a president who uses his platform to broadcast virulent misogyny, racism, nativism, and Islamophobia.83 In tracking reported bias-related incidents since Election Day, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that perpetrators were most likely to explicitly reference Trump in anti-woman attacks—82 percent of the 45 reported incidents, more than double the next-highest rate.84 In multiple incidents of harassment of women, assailants from middle school boys to groups of adult men parroted Trump’s boast that he can “Grab [women] by the pussy.”85

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) originally claimed it was a “stretch” to “characterize [Trump’s comment] as sexual assault” (later backpedalling under questioning during his confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general).86 Before Trump was even sworn in as president, his administration’s threat to reproductive rights, protections addressing violence against women and campus rape, and other women’s equality programs had already been made alarmingly clear.87 Under the Trump-Pence administration, threats will come from the Christian Right, conservative secular and libertarian groups, empowered White supremacist figures, and, of course, a President who’s shown his comfort with overt displays of racism, nativism, and misogyny. This disturbing combination may now jeopardize a wider expanse of policies reducing structural oppression that had seemed settled.

But the fact of this combined threat may also bring more dissenters into a more holistic response. Loretta Ross, a longtime reproductive justice and women’s human rights leader, is optimistic about the power vested in intersectional feminist organizing. “Now with the Women’s March on Washington using the ‘Women’s Rights Are Human Rights’ call for mobilizations in 616 simultaneous marches worldwide,” she wrote at Rewire, “I believe feminists in the United States have finally caught up to the rest of the global women’s movement. I feel like celebrating our inevitable progress toward victory for equality, dignity, and justice, despite the reasons we are marching in the first place: to unite to challenge the immoral and probably illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump.”88

Endnotes

1 David S. Cohen, “Trump’s Assassination Dog Whistle Was Even Scarier Than You Think,” Rolling Stone, August 9, 2016, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/trumps-assassination-dog-whistle-was-scarier-than-you-think-w433615

2 Alex DiBranco and Chip Berlet, “The Ideological Roots of the Republican Party and its Shift to the Right in the 2016 Election,” working draft, http://www.progressivemovements.us/now/site-guide/research-resources/#ideological

3 Matthew N.  Lyons, ThreeWayFight, Oct 1, 2005, http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2005/10/notes-on-women-and-right-wing.html

4 Pam Chamberlain and Jean Hardisty,  “Reproducing Patriarchy: Reproductive Rights Under Siege,”  Political Research Associates, April 1, 2000, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2000/04/01/reproductive-patriarchy-reproductive-rights-under-siege/#sthash.qSs0nYEb.m95keEtd.dpbs

5 Political Research Associates, Defending Reproductive Justice: An Activist Resource Kit. (Somerville: Political Research Associates, 2013), http://www.politicalresearch.org/resources/reports/full-reports/defending-reproductive-justice-activist-resource-kit-2/.

6 Political Research Associates, Defending Reproductive Justice: An Activist Resource Kit. (Somerville: Political Research Associates, 2013), http://www.politicalresearch.org/resources/reports/full-reports/defending-reproductive-justice-activist-resource-kit-2/.

7 Liz Welch, “6 Women on Their Terrifying, Infuriating Encounters With Abortion Clinic Protesters,” Feb 21, 2014,
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a5669/abortion-clinic-protesters/

8Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, The New Soft War on Women (New York: Tarcher, 2013), 85.

9 Alex DiBranco, “Profiles On The Right: Americans United For Life,” Political Research Associates, April 7, 2014, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/04/07/profiles-on-the-right-americans-united-for-life/#sthash.Zz04Fcm6.epvFr2db.dpbs

10 Kevin Cirilli, “Trump Reverses on Abortion Ban, Saying Doctors, Not Women, Would Be Punished,” Bloomberg Politics, March 30, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-03-30/trump-says-abortion-ban-should-carry-punishment-for-women

11 Sarah Havard, “8 worst things Phyllis Schlafly ever said about women’s rights,” Identities.Mic, Sept 6, 2016, https://mic.com/articles/153506/8-worst-things-phyllis-schlafly-ever-said-about-women-s-rights#.4Wxyh3b3x

12 Josh Israel, “Women From Koch-Funded Conservative Groups Lambaste Equal Pay Measure,” Think Progress, April 9, 2014, https://thinkprogress.org/women-from-koch-funded-conservative-groups-lambaste-equal-pay-measure-d8eb0ea3edb7#.lj3d1onh2

13 Lisa Graves, “Confirmation: the Not-So Independent Women’s Forum Was Born in Defense of Clarence Thomas and the Far Right,” Center for Media and Democracy, April 21, 2016, http://www.prwatch.org/news/2016/04/13091/confirmation-how-not-so-independent-womens-forum-was-launched-aid-clarence

14 Alex DiBranco, Who Speaks for Conservative Women?,” Poltical Research Associates, June 9, 2015,  http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/06/09/who-speaks-for-conservative-women/

15 Andrew Belonsky, “Michelle Bernard: ‘The Republican Party Needs to Find Its Soul,’” Independent Women’s Forum,  April 9, 2009, http://www.iwf.org/news/2435006/Michelle-Bernard:-‘The-Republican-Party-Needs-to-Find-Its-Soul’

16 As my 2015 article, “Who Speaks for Conservative Women?” explains, neoliberal feminism share significant ideological similarities with equity feminism in denying the impact of structural forces and arguing that women can get ahead through individual actions.

17Joan Walsh, “Meet the ‘Feminists’ Doing the Koch Brothers’ Dirty Work,” The Nation, August 18, 2016,

18 Megan Rosenfeld, “Feminist Fatales,”, The Washington Post, November 30, 1995, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1995/11/30/feminist-fatales/cfd56f87-296b-4580-9d76-fcfba15c6296/?utm_term=.93e2dd0b66d0

19 Mariah Blake, “Mad Men: Inside the Men’s Rights Movement—and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned,” Mother Jones, Jan/Feb 2015, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-trolls

20 Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men—and Our Economy, New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2013, p 7.

21 Danielle Paquette, “The alt-right isn’t only about white supremacy. It’s about white male supremacy,” The Washington Post, Nov 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/25/the-alt-right-isnt-just-about-white-supremacy-its-about-white-male-supremacy/?utm_term=.25af1245eb6b

22Mariah Blake, ibid.

23 Tom McKay, “College President’s Horrifying Rape Comments Are Basically Conservative Dogma,” The Daily Banter, Nov 12, 2014, http://thedailybanter.com/2014/11/college-presidents-horrible-remarks-campus-rape-basically-conservative-dogma/

24 Taylor Malmsheimer, “Conservatives Are Obsessed With Debunking the 1-in-5 Rape Statistic. They’re Wrong, Too,” New Republic, June 27, 2014, https://newrepublic.com/article/118430/independent-womens-forum-challenges-one-five-statistic

25 Nicole Grether, “Men’s right activist: Feminists have used rape ‘as a scam,’” Aljazeera America, June 6, 2014, http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/6/6/mena-s-rights-activistfeministshaveusedrapeaasascama.html; Roni Caryn Rabin, “Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted,” December 14, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/health/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexual-assault.html?_r=0.

26 Charlotte Hays, “Portrait of a Modern Feminist: Helen Smith,” Independent Women’s Forum, Sept 19, 2012,  http://iwf.org/modern-feminist/2789205/Portrait-of-a-Modern-Feminist:-Helen-Smith

27 Alex DiBranco, “Men’s Rights Conference Host Says Women Who Drink & Dance Are ‘Begging’ for Rape,” July 2, 2014, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/07/02/mens-rights-conference-host-says-women-who-drink-dance-are-begging-for-rape; Adam Serwer and Katie J.M. Baker, “How Men’s Rights Leader Paul Elam Turned Being A Deadbeat Dad Into A Moneymaking Movement,” Buzzfeed News, Feb 6, 2015, https://www.buzzfeed.com/adamserwer/how-mens-rights-leader-paul-elam-turned-being-a-deadbeat-dad?utm_term=.bvY2OY9yl#.ukPZzDNx6

28 Comment on TheRedPill, an “official subreddit of TRP.RED”: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheRedPill/comments/12v1hf/almost_a_hundred_subscribers_welcome_newcomers/

29 Matthew N. Lyons, Jack Donovan on men: a masculine tribalism for the far right,” Three Way Fight, Nov 23, 2015, http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2015/11/jack-donovan-on-men-masculine-tribalism.html

30Dianna Anderson, “ MRAs for Jesus: A Look Inside the Christian ‘Manosphere’,” Rewire, Sept 30, 2014, https://rewire.news/article/2014/09/30/mras-jesus-look-inside-christian-manosphere/

31 Arthur Goldwag, Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to the Men’s Rights Movement,”, Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, March 1, 2012,   https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2012/leader%E2%80%99s-suicide-brings-attention-men%E2%80%99s-rights-movement

32Nicky Woolf, “’PUAhate’ and ‘ForeverAlone’: inside Elliot Rodger’s online life,” The Guardian, May 20, 2014,  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/30/elliot-rodger-puahate-forever-alone-reddit-forums

33 Mariah Blake, ibid.

34  Mark Potok, “War On Women,” Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, August 20, 2014, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2014/war-women

35 Mark Potok, ibid.

36 Rebecca Hersher, “Jury Finds Dylann Roof Guilty In S.C. Church Shooting,” NPR, December 15, 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/15/505723552/jury-finds-dylann-roof-guilty-in-s-c-church-shooting

37 Mark Berman, ibid.

38 http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/06/19/terror-network-or-lone-wolf/

39 Mark Berman, “Prosecutors say Dylann Roof ‘self-radicalized’ online, wrote another manifesto in jail,” The Washington Post, Aug 22, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/22/prosecutors-say-accused-charleston-church-gunman-self-radicalized-online/?utm_term=.0afcab8108f7

40Adi Kochavi, “The Sad Heroification of Elliot Rodger,” Vocative, May 25, 2014,  http://www.vocativ.com/underworld/crime/sad-heroification-elliot-rodger/

41 Earl Holt III, “ Media Interviews with the CofCC,” June 21, 2015, https://web.archive.org/web/20150622033926/http://conservative-headlines.com/2015/06/media-interviews-with-the-cofcc/

42 Roosh Valizadeh, “No One Would Have Died If PUAHate Killer Elliot Rodger Learned Game,” Return of Kings, May 25, 2014, http://www.returnofkings.com/36135/no-one-would-have-died-if-pua-hate-killer-elliot-rodger-learned-game

43 Charlotte Hays, “”Toxic Feminism:” Cathy Young Dissects the Bizarre Response to a Mass Murder”, Independent Women’s Forum,  May 30, 2014, http://www.iwf.org/blog/2794091/%22Toxic-Feminism:%22-Cathy-Young-Dissects-the-Bizarre-Response-to-a-Mass-Murder

44 Katherine Cross, “What ‘GamerGate’ Reveals About the Silencing of Women,” Rewire, Sept 9 2014, https://rewire.news/article/2014/09/09/gamergate-reveals-silencing-women/

45Caitlin Dewey, “The only guide to Gamergate you will ever need to read,” The Washington Post, Oct 14, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/10/14/the-only-guide-to-gamergate-you-will-ever-need-to-read/?utm_term=.d3cb125407d0

46Nadine Santoro, “USU Shooting Threat: This Isn’t A Game,” Disrupting Dinner Parties, Nov 10, 2014,  https://disruptingdinnerparties.com/2014/11/10/usu-shooting-threat-this-isnt-a-game/#more-29965

47  Jaclyn Friedman, “A Look Inside the ‘Men’s Rights’ Movement That Helped Fuel California Alleged Killer Elliot Rodger,” The American Prospect,  Oct 24, 2013, http://prospect.org/article/look-inside-mens-rights-movement-helped-fuel-california-alleged-killer-elliot-rodger; Amanda Hess, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” Pacific Standard magazine,  Jan 6, 2014, https://psmag.com/why-women-aren-t-welcome-on-the-internet-aa21fdbc8d6#.mdzlvrvd4

48 Abby Ohlheiser, “Just how offensive did Milo Yiannopoulos have to be to get banned from Twitter?,” The Washington Post, July 21, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/07/21/what-it-takes-to-get-banned-from-twitter/?utm_term=.69e3e83044cc

49 Andrew Marantz, “Trolls for Trump,” The New Yorker Magazine, Oct 31, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/trolls-for-trump

50 Editorial Staff, “ThinkProgress will no longer describe racists as ‘alt-right’,” Think Progress, Nov 22, 2016, https://thinkprogress.org/thinkprogress-alt-right-policy-b04fd141d8d4#.av5b2ftsm

51 Susan Faludi, “How Hillary Clinton Met Satan,” The New York Times, Oct 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/opinion/sunday/how-hillary-clinton-met-satan.html?_r=4

52 John Daniszewski, “Writing about the ‘alt-right’,” Associated Press, Nov 18, 2016, https://blog.ap.org/behind-the-news/writing-about-the-alt-right

53 Josh Harkinson, “We Talked to Experts About What Terms to Use for Which Group of Racists,” Dec 8, 2016,  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/definition-alt-right-white-supremacist-white-nationalist

54 Linda Burnham, “The Absence of a Gender Justice Framework in Social Justice Organizing,” Center for the Education of Women: University of Michigan, July 2008,  http://www.cew.umich.edu/sites/default/files/BurnhamFinalProject.pdf

55 While the women of color-led “reproductive justice” framework advocated by organizations like SisterSong provides an example for incorporating analysis of race, gender, class, and other intersectional issues, it should not be expected to substitute for a gender justice and women’s human rights frame in social justice organizing. Though intended to include economic issues and gender-based rape and violence, which leaders like Loretta Ross had backgrounds working on, the “reproductive” label maintains a particular focus. “Gender justice” (Burnham also uses the term “social justice feminism”) shifts the emphasis to meet the challenges of a broader misogynist movement—with religious and secular expressions—that poses threats in terms of reproductive control, sexual harassment and assault, violence against women, workplace sexism and wage discrimination, and other gender-based oppressions.

56 Matthew N. Lyons, “Alt-right: more misogynistic than many neonazis,” ThreeWayFight, December 3, 2016,  http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2016/12/alt-right-more-misogynistic-than-many.html

57Matthew N. Lyons, “ Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right”, Jan 20, 2017, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/01/20/ctrl-alt-delete-report-on-the-alternative-right/

58Matt Forney, “Who Cares What Women Think” Alterative Right, Jan 29, 2015, http://alternative-right.blogspot.com/2015/01/who-cares-what-women-think.html

59 Matt Forney, “Why Feminists Want Men to Rape Them,” Matt Forney.com, Feb 26, 2016, http://mattforney.com/feminists-want-men-rape/

60 Matthew N. Lyons, “Alt-right: more misogynistic than many neonazis,” ThreeWayFight, December 3, 2016,  http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2016/12/alt-right-more-misogynistic-than-many.html

61 Sarah Posner, “ Meet the Alt-Right ‘Spokesman’ Who’s Thrilled With Trump’s Rise,” Rolling Stone Magazine, October 18, 2016, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/meet-the-alt-right-spokesman-thrilled-by-trumps-rise-w443902

62 Danielle Paquette, “The alt-right isn’t only about white supremacy. It’s about white male supremacy,” The Washington Post, Nov 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/25/the-alt-right-isnt-just-about-white-supremacy-its-about-white-male-supremacy/?utm_term=.25af1245eb6b

63 Aja Romano, “How the Alt-Right’s Sexism Lures Men into White Supremacy,” Dec 14, 2016, http://www.vox.co m/culture/2016/12/14/13576192/alt-right-sexism-recruitment

64 Carrie L Lucas, “One in Four? Rape myths do injustice, too,” Independent Women’s Forum, April 27, 2006, http://www.iwf.org/news/2432517/One-in-Four-Rape-myths-do-injustice-too#sthash.EOyWF55L.dpuf

65 Andrew Belonsky, “Michelle Bernard: ‘The Republican Party Needs to Find Its Soul,’” Independent Women’s Forum,  April 9, 2009, http://www.iwf.org/news/2435006/Michelle-Bernard:-‘The-Republican-Party-Needs-to-Find-Its-Soul’

66 Nia-Malika Henderson, “ Donald Trump’s nonexistent problem with GOP women,” CNN, Spet 11, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/10/politics/donald-trump-women/

67 Rich Hampson, “Exclusive: Fox anchor Megyn Kelly describes scary, bullying ‘Year of Trump’,” USA Today, Nov 15, 2016,  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/11/15/megyn-kelly-memoir-donald-trump-roger-ailes-president-fox-news/93813154/

68 Charlotte Hays, “Donald Trump Breathes New Life into Left’s War on Women,”, March 18, 2016,  Independent Women’s Forum, http://www.iwf.org/news/2799633/Donald-Trump-Breathes-New-Life-into-Left%E2%80%99s-War-on-Women

69 Christina Hoff Sommers, “‘Amoral masculinity’: a theory for understanding Trump from feminist contrarian Christina Hoff Sommers,” American Enterprise Institute,  Nov 2, 2016 https://www.aei.org/publication/amoral-masculinity-a-theory-for-understanding-trump-from-feminist-contrarian-christina-hoff-sommers/

70 Dylan Byers, “Conservative female pundits want Donald Trump to fire his campaign manager,” CNN Money, March 30, 2016,  http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/30/media/female-conservatives-fire-corey-lewandowski/

71 Maggie Haberman, Alexander Burns, and Ashley Parker, “Donald Trump Fires Corey Lewandowski, His Campaign Manager,” June 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/21/us/politics/corey-lewandowski-donald-trump.html

72 Eddie Scarry, “Trump defends Roger Ailes from sexual harassment accusations,” The Washington Examiner, July 14, 2016,  http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2596510

73 Sarah Posner, “How Stephen Bannon Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, Aug 2, 1016, http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/politicsandgovernment/2265/how_stephen_bannon_created_an_online_haven_for_white_nationalists/

74 Cassandra Vinograd, “Breitbart’s Michelle Fields and Three Others Resign Over Trump Incident”, NBC News,  March 14, 2016,   http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/breitbart-s-michelle-fields-ben-shapiro-resign-over-trump-incident-n537711

75 Brendan Karet, “Right-Wing Civil War: Megyn Kelly Trades Barbs With Breitbart Editor-At-Large Over Dangers Of Empowering “Alt-Right”,” Media Matters for America, Dec 7, 2016, https://mediamatters.org/blog/2016/12/07/right-wing-civil-war-megyn-kelly-trades-barbs-breitbart-editor-chief-over-dangers-empowering-alt/214754

76 Mike Cernovich, “16 Feminists Who Have Taken Over ‘Conservative’ Media,” Danger & Play, March 30, 2016, https://www.dangerandplay.com/2016/03/30/16-feminists-who-have-taken-over-conservative-media/

77 ExposedByCMDEditors, “‘Independent’ Women’s Group Backing Trump Skirts Law to Influence Election,” Center  For Media and Democracy, Nov 1, 2016,  http://www.exposedbycmd.org/2016/10/25/independent-womens-group-backing-trump-skirts-law-influence-elections/

78 Tracy Clark-Flory and Leigh Cuen, “Donald Trump Has The Pickup Artist Vote In The Bag,” Vocative, Aug 24, 2015,  http://www.vocativ.com/224810/donald-trump-anti-feminist-pickup-artists/

79 Tim Hains, “Trump: Men Today ‘Are Petrified To Speak To Women Anymore,’ ‘Women Get It Better Than We Do, Folks’” Real Clear Politics, May 8, 2016, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/05/08/trump_remember_this_when_you_see_hillarys_phony_paid-for-by-wall_street_ads.html

80 Matt Forney, “Why You Should Shun Girls Who Support Abortion,” Return of Kings, Aug 18, 2016  http://archive.is/zQwx4#selection-769.269-769.363

81 Hesse Kassel, “5 Lines That Potential Wives Cannot Cross,” Return of Kings, Nov 11, 2014,   http://www.returnofkings.com/47540/5-lines-that-potential-wives-cannot-cross

82 Amanda Marcotte, “Missouri lawmaker uses ‘men’s rights’ talking points to justify abortion restriction,” Raw Story, Dec 17, 2014,  http://www.rawstory.com/2014/12/missouri-lawmaker-uses-mens-rights-talking-points-to-justify-abortion-restriction/

83 Melissa Jeltsen, “Trump’s Election Raises Fears Of Increased Violence Against Women,” The Huffington Post, Nov 15, 2016,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-women-rights-violence-fears_us_582a0f63e4b02d21bbc9f186

84 Hatewatch Staff, “Update: 1,094 Bias-Related Incidents in the Month Following the Election,” Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch, Dec 16, 2016,  https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/12/16/update-1094-bias-related-incidents-month-following-election

85 Cassie Miller and Alexandra Werner-Winslow, “Ten Days After: Harassment and Intimidation in the Aftermath of the Election,” Southern Poverty Law Center, Nov 29, 2016,   https://www.splcenter.org/20161129/ten-days-after-harassment-and-intimidation-aftermath-election; Ben Mathis-Lilley, “Trump Was Recorded in 2005 Bragging About Grabbing Women ‘by the Pussy,’” Slate, October 7, 2016, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/10/07/donald_trump_2005_tape_i_grab_women_by_the_pussy.html

86 Ryan J. Reilly, “ Jeff Sessions Now Admits Grabbing A Woman By The Genitals Is Sexual Assault,” The Huffington Post, Jan 10, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-trump-sexual-assault_us_58753f08e4b043ad97e64369; Scott Glover, “Colleague, transcripts offer closer look at old allegations of racism against Sen. Jeff Sessions” CNN, Jan 10 2017,  http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/politics/jeff-sessions-racism-allegations/

87 Alex Brandon, “Trump says his Supreme Court nominees will be ready to take on abortion ruling,” The Columbus Dispatch, Nov 27, 2016, http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/insight/2016/11/27/1-trump-says-his-nominees-will-be-ready-to-take-on-roe-v-wade.html; Katie Van Syckle, “Here’s What a Trump Administration Could Mean for Campus Sexual Assault,” New York Magazine, Jan 18, 2017,  http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/what-a-trump-administration-means-for-campus-sexual-assault.html; Mark Landler, “Transition Team’s Request on Gender Equality Rattles State Dept.,” The New York Times, Dec 22, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/us/politics/state-department-gender-equality-trump-transition.html; Spohia Tesfaye, “Donald Trump will adopt Heritage Foundation’s “skinny budget”: Arts, violence against women funding to be cut,” Salon, Jan 19, 2017, http://www.salon.com/2017/01/19/donald-trump-will-adopt-heritage-foundations-skinny-budget-arts-violence-against-women-funding-to-be-cut/

88 Loretta Ross, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights and the Women’s March on Washington,” Rewire, Jan 19, 2017, https://rewire.news/article/2017/01/19/womens-rights-human-rights-womens-march-washington/

#First100Days Crash Course: Week 1

Coinciding with Trump’s first 100 days in Office — a period of time historically used as a benchmark to measure the potential of a new president — PRA will share readings, videos, and tools for organizing to inform our collective resistance based on principles for engaging the regime, defending human rights, and preventing authoritarianism. Daily readings will be posted on our Facebook and Twitter accounts and archived HERE.

Week 1: The Alt Right

 

Featured excerpt:

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right
Report by Matthew N. Lyons

The Alt Right helped Donald Trump get elected president, and Trump’s campaign put the Alt Right in the news. But the movement was active well before Trump announced his candidacy, and its relationship with Trump has been more complex and more qualified than many critics realize. The Alt Right is just one of multiple dangerous forces associated with Trump, but it’s the one that has attracted the greatest notoriety. However, it’s not accurate to argue, as many critics have, that “Alt Right” is just a deceptive code-phrase meant to hide the movement’s White supremacist or neonazi politics. This is a movement with its own story, and for those concerned about the seemingly sudden resurgence of far-right politics in the United States, it is a story worth exploring.

The Alt Right, short for “alternative right,” is a loosely organized far-right movement that shares a contempt for both liberal multiculturalism and mainstream conservatism; a belief that some people are inherently superior to others; a strong internet presence and embrace of specific elements of online culture; and a self-presentation as being new, hip, and irreverent. Based primarily in the United States, Alt Right ideology combines White nationalism, misogyny, antisemitism, and authoritarianism in various forms and in political styles ranging from intellectual argument to violent invective. White nationalism constitutes the movement’s center of gravity, but some Alt Rightists are more focused on reasserting male dominance or other forms of elitism rather than race. The Alt Right has little in the way of formal organization, but has used internet memes effectively to gain visibility, rally supporters, and target opponents. Most Alt Rightists have rallied behind Trump’s presidential bid, yet as a rule Alt Rightists regard the existing political system as hopeless and call for replacing the United States with one or more racially defined homelands.

Additional readings:

Profile on the Right: Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos. Photo by Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference via Flickr.

Milo Yiannopoulos is the technology co-editor for Breitbart News Network, the right-wing media operation that former CEO Steve Bannon—now chief strategist for President Donald Trump—proudly called the platform for the Alt Right.1 But that title does not begin to describe Yiannopoulos’s public persona as Breitbart’s enfant terrible, or, as he described himself in a recent speech on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” of college campuses, “the supervillain of the Internet.” The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich says, “Milo is the person who propelled the alt-right movement into the mainstream.”2 Bloomberg’s Joel Stein has called him “the pretty, monstrous face of the alt-right.”3

Yiannopoulos made a name for himself during the gamergate controversy, in which female gamers and journalists were subjected to online abuse by internet trolls who complained that women were trying to ruin video games with feminism and “political correctness.”4 After Gamergate made him an icon, at Breitbart, Yiannopoulos has turned himself into a full-blown media personality thriving, like writer Ann Coulter, on provoking liberal outrage with deliberately offensive comments. The Yiannopoulos brand—Milo to his fans and MILO to his promoters at Breitbart—combines his attacks on political correctness, feminism, transgender people,5 and Islam with a sort of flamboyantly narcissistic performance art.

During the July 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Yiannopoulos appeared at a rally sponsored by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and at a “Gays for Trump” party sponsored by Breitbart, the latter of which featured anti-Islam extremist Pamela Geller and Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who believes western societies must “de-Islamize.” Yiannopoulos said that liberals have become “traitors to the gays” by accommodating Islam. At both Cleveland events, Yiannopoulos came to the stage wearing a bulletproof vest and theatrically peeled it off as he began speaking, as if to demonstrate his bravery.6

Yiannopoulos spent much of 2016 promoting the candidacy of Donald Trump, whom he calls “Daddy.” Trump is “an obvious gay icon,” he said in a profile in Out. “He’s brassy, he’s outrageous, his taste in interiors is gaudy and exhibitionist. He’s a heavy-handed caricature of a billionaire. Everything about him is at once fantastic and camp. He’s the drag queen you can vote for.”7

And Yiannopoulos shares Trump’s declared political enemies. “I’m fighting political correctness wherever I find it,” he said at the Alex Jones rally. “I’m fighting hateful third-wave misandrist feminism wherever I find it. I am fighting Black Lives Matter, a hateful, destructive movement, wherever I find it. Donald Trump is going to fight the same things wherever he finds them, too.”8

In a recent speech at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he said Black Lives Matter is “dedicated to racial hatred” and called it the “last socially acceptable hate group in America.” And he praised Trump for knowing “above all else that making America great and welcoming in Islam are mutually exclusive futures.”9

Yiannopoulos insists that he is not actually part of the Alt Right, even though, he says,  “the press seems determined to crown me the queen of it.”10 He says he’s simply given them a fair hearing as a reporter.11 Yiannopoulos has tried to wave away charges of racism and antisemitism against the Alt Right by saying that essentially the movement is all about trolling for a group of youthful merry pranksters who will say anything to get a rise out of the humorless, politically correct “social justice warriors” they despise.12 Posting antisemitic memes isn’t a sign that the posters are actually antisemitic, argues Yiannopoulos, just that they want to provoke liberal outrage. He has claimed that, “What motivates the left now is anti-white hatred, particularly of straight men.”13 And he says that the sort of “performative racism” he practices is really meant to expose liberals’ double standard when it comes to race.14 Listening to him sounds a bit like hearing Trump apologists explain away his extreme statements by saying he should be taken seriously or symbolically but not literally. Indeed, Yiannopoulos says, “We live in a post-fact era. It’s wonderful.”15

Yiannopoulos acknowledges that there are White nationalists and antisemitic neonazis in the Alt Right but contends they are a small minority. They don’t like him, he says, because he’s “a gay Jew.”16 (He says his maternal grandmother was Jewish.) It is true that some of the movement’s neonazis despise him for downplaying the White nationalism and antisemitism that they believe define the movement.17

Milo talks frequently about how he likes to have sex with Black men, as if that suggests he cannot be a racist, but that didn’t stop him from telling partygoers in Cleveland a racist joke that he said was the one thing he couldn’t get past Breitbart’s editors.18

On the same day as the Gays for Trump party, Yiannopoulos was “permanently suspended” from Twitter for violating “rules prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.”19 Twitter charged that he had incited a campaign of racist and misogynist abuse directed at Leslie Jones over her appearance in the Ghostbusters remake. He has since refused to apologize for insulting her and refused to accept responsibility for the actions of followers who targeted her.

In Cleveland, Yiannopoulos seemed to relish the Twitter suspension as a way of bringing more attention to himself as a free speech martyr, suggesting that he would take advantage of his access to the world’s political media to make life hell for Twitter executives. They seem to have done fine without him, and he seems to be doing fine without them: he has accumulated a million fans on Facebook20 and in late December reportedly received a $250,000 advance from Simon & Schuster for a new book.21

Like “Daddy Trump,” Yiannopoulos is given to hyperbole about politics and about himself. At the Gays for Trump party he declared, “Donald Trump is the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history”—a ridiculous statement given that Trump had spent the campaign promising to make the Religious Right more powerful by doing away with restrictions on churches’ politicking and giving them the Supreme Court of their dreams. In an interview, Yiannopoulos talked up his own cultural significance:

And I am one of the primary engines of change in American culture because I’m demonstrating that someone sassy and silly and gay and flamboyant who loves RuPaul’s Drag Race and sucks black dick doesn’t have to vote Democrat. That matters. That’s really important.22

Talking openly about his sex life is part of Yiannopoulos’s shtick, even, or maybe especially, to audiences he knows will be uncomfortable with it. “I might be a dick-sucking faggot,” he told participants at the Alex Jones rally in Cleveland, “but I fucking hate the left.”23

As one of the world’s most famous trolls, provocation is his stock in trade. At an art show, #DaddyWillSaveUs, Milo bathed in pig’s blood in a bathtub positioned in front of photographs of people he said had been “murdered by illegal aliens who had no right to be in the United States.”24 He says “it’s fun” to be mean to people and that he will continue to be deliberately offensive in the service of smashing political correctness.25

Intellectual consistency is not a priority for Yiannopoulos. He portrays himself as a “free speech fundamentalist”26 but also says he is “dedicated to the destruction of liberal media in this country.”27 He slams Leslie Jones for not being willing to take abusive criticism as a public figure, but he cheered when Peter Thiel funded a lawsuit designed to destroy Gawker in retaliation for a story that outed Thiel as gay.28 He mocks liberals for playing the role of victims, but he complains regarding his banishment from Twitter that, “I am held to a totally arbitrary, unique, hypocritical double standard because people don’t like my politics.”29 While he celebrates his sexual prowess, he declared in a recent speech that Catholics are “right about everything.”30

The Catholic comment came in a speech at Minnesota State University in December 2016 in which he focused on the supposed “war on Christmas” that Religious Right leaders argue is being waged by the Left. The war is real, argued Yiannopoulos, “and Christians are losing.” He added, “Our media, cultural elite, and educators don’t understand Christianity and have no interest in doing so. THAT is why we must fight them.”31

Yiannopoulos’s praise for the Catholic Church’s teachings and his persona as “the world’s most dangerous faggot” suggest some kind of inner conflict. Yiannapoulos shares the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to gay couples being allowed to get married,32 and when it comes to gay couples being parents, he sounds like National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, arguing that children need a mother and father.33 He has said publicly he is not happy being gay.34

In 2015, when confronted by podcast host Joe Rogan about the conflict between his persona and his arguments about Christianity, Yiannapoulos said “I don’t think my sexuality is an important component of my personality,” and said “it would be better if I didn’t behave like this” sexually. “If I could choose,” Yiannopoulos said, “I wouldn’t be a homosexual.”35

It can be difficult to know how much Yiannopoulos believes what he says, and how much is purely about provocation and branding. “It’s like he’s joking: ‘Ha ha, let me popularize the worst ideas that ever existed,” says SPLC’s Beirich.36 But in weighing the impact of his “performative bigotry,” argues writer Laurie Penny, “it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it.”37

It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real.38

Endnotes

[1] Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news.

[2] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[3] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[4] Kristen Brown, “The ultimate troll: The terrifying allure of Gamergate icon Milo Yiannopoulos,” Fusion, October 27, 2015, http://fusion.net/story/220646/the-terrifying-allure-of-gamergate-icon-milo-yiannopoulos/.

[5] “Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos Doubles Down on Harassing Transgender University of Wisconsin Student,” Media Matters, December 16, 2016, http://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/12/16/breitbart-s-milo-yiannopoulos-doubles-down-harassing-transgender-university-wisconsin-student/214849.

[6] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[7] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[8] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[9] Ben Kew, “MILO: Black Lives Matter Is ‘The Last Acceptable Hate Group,’” Breitbart, December 13, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/13/milo-black-lives-matter-last-socially-acceptable-hate-group/.

[10] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[11] “Are You Alt-Right? Milo Distances Himself From Controversial Movement,” Heat Street, November 18, 2016, http://heatst.com/culture-wars/no-longer-alt-right-milo-distances-himself-from-the-controversial-movement/.

[12] Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To  The Alt-Right,” Breitbart, March 29, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/.

[13] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[14] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[15] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[16] Lucas Nolan, “MILO on Channel 4: ‘I am a Gay Jew and Steve Bannon Made Me Into a Star,” Breitbart, November 18, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/11/18/milo-channel-4-gay-jew-steve-bannon-made-star/.

[17] Jeff Taylor, “Neo-Nazi Site Declares ‘Holy Crusade’ on Homocon Milo Yiannopoulos,” LGBTQ Nation, October 3, 2016, http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/10/neo-nazi-site-declares-holy-crusade-gay-homocon-milo-yiannopoulos/.

[18] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[19] Charlie Warzel, “Twitter Permanently Suspends Conservative Writer Milo Yiannopoulos,” BuzzFeed, July 19, 2016, https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/twitter-just-permanently-suspended-conservative-writer-milo.

[20] Mike Ma, “MILO Hits One Million Facebook Fans,” Breitbart, December 10, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/10/milo-hits-one-million-facebook-fans/.

[21] Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “How Trump made hatred profitable for Milo Yiannopoulos,” CNN, January 2, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/02/opinions/milo-yiannopoulos-and-trump-profitable-hate-ben-ghiat-opinion/.

[22] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[23] Peter Montgomery, “’Gays For Trump’ Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message to RNC,” Right Wing Watch, July 20, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/gays-for-trump-join-conspiracy-theorists-in-bringing-anti-islam-anti-pc-message-to-rnc/.

[24] Gaby Del Valle, “Bathing in Pig’s Blood: Inside The Alt-Right’s Pro-Trump Art Show,” Gothamist, October 10, 2016, http://gothamist.com/2016/10/10/pro_trump_art_show.php#photo-1.

[25] Milo Yiannopoulos, “How To Destroy The Alt-Right,” text of speech delivered in Houston, posted at Breitbart September 19, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/09/19/milo-destroy-alt-right-speech/.

[26] Matthew Breen, “’Milo’ Kicked Off Twitter,” Out, July 20, 2016, http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2016/7/20/milo-kicked-twitter.

[27] Peter Montgomery, “Yeah, About That ‘Gays For Trump’ Party: A Breitbart Editor’s Laughable Defense Of Steve Bannon,” Right Wing Watch, November 17, 2016, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/yeah-about-that-gays-for-trump-party-a-breitbart-editors-laughable-defense-of-steve-bannon/.

[28] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[29] Chadwick Moore, “Send In the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him,” Out, September 21, 2016, http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2016/9/21/send-clown-internet-supervillain-milo-doesnt-care-you-hate-him.

[30] Milo Yiannopoulos, “A Merry Milo Christmas,” speech delivered a Minnesota State University, posted at Breitbart, December 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/15/full-text-merry-milo-christmas-minnesota-state-university/.

[31] Milo Yiannopoulos, “A Merry Milo Christmas,” speech delivered a Minnesota State University, posted at Breitbart, December 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/12/15/full-text-merry-milo-christmas-minnesota-state-university/.

[32] Televised debate with Boy George and Milo Yiannopoulos, “10 O’Clock Live,” August 6, 2015.

[33] Milo Yiannopoulos, “Kids Need a Mum and a Dad,” Breitbart, May 7,2015, http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/05/07/kids-need-a-mum-and-a-dad/.

[34] Eric Dolan, “Comedian explodes on ‘self-loathing’ gay conservative who wants to be straight: Face it, ‘you are gay as f*ck!’”Raw Story, October 1, 2015, https://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/comedian-explodes-on-self-loathing-gay-conservative-who-wants-to-be-straight-face-it-you-are-gay-as-fck/.

[35] Eric Dolan, “Comedian explodes on ‘self-loathing’ gay conservative who wants to be straight: Face it, ‘you are gay as f*ck!’”Raw Story, October 1, 2015, https://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/comedian-explodes-on-self-loathing-gay-conservative-who-wants-to-be-straight-face-it-you-are-gay-as-fck/.

[36] Joel Stein, “Milo Yiannopoulos Is the Pretty, Monstrous Face of the Alt-Right,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 15, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-america-divided/milo-yiannopoulos/.

[37] Laurie Penny, “I’m With the Banned,” Medium, July 21, 2016, https://medium.com/welcome-to-the-scream-room/im-with-the-banned-8d1b6e0b2932.

[38] Laurie Penny, “I’m With the Banned,” Medium, July 21, 2016, https://medium.com/welcome-to-the-scream-room/im-with-the-banned-8d1b6e0b2932.

Democratic Principles for Antidemocratic Times

Engaging Trump, Defending Human Rights, and Preventing Authoritarianism

To sign on to this public statement, please click here.

The bigotry and false solutions championed by President Donald Trump are not a new phenomenon in American politics. Indeed, the idea that one person’s dignity requires another’s subjugation has been a central contradiction in this country’s founding principles and practices from the beginning. An economic system that enriches the few by exploiting the many has fostered savage rivalries. President Trump’s misogyny, racism, and xenophobia serve to stoke resentment and violence, and his policies would further benefit the ultra rich. President Trump’s election also signals a dramatic break from contemporary norms. We now face a scale of threat to democratic values and institutions unseen since at least the McCarthy period, and quite probably since Redemption—the backlash against the liberation of enslaved African Americans that ushered in the prolonged and deadly Jim Crow regime in the South.

We stand at the precipice of history. On January 20th, 2017, a ruthless team of corporate profiteers, racial bigots, religious zealots, climate deniers, and anti-democracy crusaders began to take control of the executive branch and govern, advancing the agenda of a President whose party dominates all three branches of the federal government. In the states, the Republican Party holds executive as well as both legislative branches in fully half the country, and both chambers (without governorship) in seven additional states. The Supreme Court is poised to accelerate the rollback of democratic rights for at least a generation. Hawkish ex-generals are inheriting a military apparatus with unprecedented capacity both domestically and internationally. Ascendant forces within the GOP are seeking to enforce a racially and culturally exclusive vision of America while converting public services into profit-making ventures. Billionaires who have profited from fossil fuel, home foreclosure, and low-wage industries are or will soon be in charge of America’s economic, environmental, labor, education, and foreign policy.

This scale of threat to human, civil, and constitutional rights, and associated potential for violence and harm, goes far beyond what the country experienced under the conservative Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush administrations. The likelihood of massive transfers of wealth to the already rich, and governance by oligarchs, surpasses the harm we’ve already experienced under George W. Bush and Obama.

Many are searching for the compass we need to navigate this unfamiliar and frightening new terrain. Responses from civil society sectors have ranged from efforts to deny Mr. Trump the presidency at the Electoral College to expressions of readiness to work with him on particular issues. Social justice-minded people should agree on a set of basic principles to guide our dealings with the new regime. We otherwise risk yielding to authoritarianism and normalizing the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, greed, and indifference to basic human needs that brought us to this brink. We risk consenting to rivalries over those sacred things that should never be put at such risk – life, health, home, family, community, and democracy.

To reverse the momentum of fear and bigotry we must refuse the cynical politics of division and become the most powerful we can be together. To do this, the most expansive version of we the people – that most prophetic yet contested of American identities – will play a crucial role in the coming period. Who we can be together will determine whether America protects and advances the principles of democracy and pluralism or succumbs to the forces that threaten to unmake them.

Two priorities now demand our allegiance:

  1. Build and maintain unity by adopting a set of principles to guide our engagement with the Trump regime and with each other; and
  2. Prevent the rise of authoritarianism by taking affirmative steps to defend and expand democratic practices and institutions.

Why are these actions necessary? Here is what we know:

  • A man who ran as a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and anti-establishment demagogue is now President of the United States.
  • President Trump’s election is part of a global trend toward xenophobia and right-wing authoritarianism that includes the Erdogan regime in Turkey, the parliamentary coup in Brazil, and the Brexit vote in Great Britain. This trend will not stop without compelling alternatives to a broken global system of massive economic inequality and deep-seated racial divisions.
  • President Trump’s disdain for human and constitutional rights and democratic principles is a matter of public record. He has advocated torture, religious tests for immigrants and refugees, the deportation of millions of immigrants, and the criminalization of speech currently protected by the Constitution. He has intimidated the press, threatened his opponents with incarceration, incited his supporters to violence, and boasted about committing serial sexual assault. He has publicly denigrated Native, Black, Mexican, Muslim, and Asian Americans; LGBT people; disabled people; and women. He pretends to represent working class White people, which is an insult to the many working people he has defrauded throughout his business career.
  • President Trump’s public statements and appointments since the election align with his stated priorities and bombastic behavior on the campaign trail. He has brought leading apologists and strategists for racial exclusion and domination into his inner circle and has repeatedly amplified racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.
  • GOP control of all branches of the federal government and most state governments affords President Trump extraordinary power and compromise normal checks on abuse of executive authority.
  • Those who now call for giving President Trump a chance to lead either fail to appreciate the crises before us, support his agenda in whole or in part, or are driven by fear to avoid injury to their specific community or issue by currying favor with the new regime.
  • President Trump failed to win the popular vote and has the lowest approval ratings for any presidential transition on record. His narrow electoral victory is not a mandate to implement the bigoted and destructive agenda on which he campaigned.
  • Many people in the United States—regardless of ideology—correctly perceive that the political and economic systems of this country are stacked against us, often treating us as if we were disposable. None of us is disposable.
  • No one, including those who voted for President Trump, deserves the assault on our democratic principles and the expanded threat to human safety that we must now anticipate. Trump will likely betray many of the people who voted for him. We must work to expose those betrayals and show an alternative way forward from fear and misery.

For these reasons, we call on all of civil society to refuse to legitimate or normalize the Trump regime, which came to power through explicit appeals to racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny.

Click to download image.

We, the undersigned, commit to the following principles for engaging with the Trump administration:

  1. If you come for any of us, you will have to go through all of us. Stand in defense of all targets of bigotry and repression with a broad principle of solidarity. Reject ideas, statements, policies, and actions rooted in racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny. Refuse deals with public officials that would make targeted communities more vulnerable or that would buy our silence while others are harmed. Throw no one under the bus.
  2. Support freedom fighters and defend targets of political retaliation. Support those who assume personal and organizational risk to defend democratic institutions and practices against unjust laws and actions by the government, or any group or individual.
  3. Never give up on democracy. Defend against threats—regardless of ideological origin—to dismiss or weaken our democratic practices and institutions. Work tirelessly to address the failings and unfulfilled promises of our democracy. Remember that when the people give up on democratic possibilities, authoritarianism reaps the rewards.
  4. Keep our hearts open and our eyes on the prize. Expect disagreements while seeking unity in pursuit of shared goals. Know that we will need different kinds of work and a broad set of movements to weather the coming storm and build a more humane and sustainable world. Be simultaneously unyielding in defense of human rights, and open hearted toward one another, including those with whom we disagree. Create welcoming entry points for all who would join us in the fight for democracy and against the threat of authoritarianism.
  5. Demand a free press that doesn’t censor itself to maintain access to Trump. Alongside rights to voting, assembly, petition, and due process, a free press is a cornerstone of democracy. Demand that all news media prioritize the defense of democracy as a basic journalistic principle, placing this above profit margins, relations with politicians, or the interests of advertisers. Support alternative media.
  6. Build an attractive, alternative vision that reflects people’s needs. Be the resistance and opposition to the threats we now face, and the alternative that masses of people will want to join. Build a fair and inclusive society and economy that ensures the safety, self- determination, and wellbeing of all people and the sustainability of life-giving natural systems. Model this vision in neighborhoods, cities, towns, rural communities, and suburbs across the country.

We can expect the coming years to be difficult and painful, but also rich with the human impulse to turn toward and not against each other. We must nurture this impulse. The future of our humanity and our democracy depends on this, on you, on us.

Signed,

Stosh Cotler, Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Ana Maria Archila, Jennifer Epps-Addison, Andrew Friedman, Brian Kettenring, Center for Popular Democracy

Causa Justa

Center for Social Inclusion (CSI)

Center on Policy Initiatives

Eveline Shen, Forward Together

Grassroots Global Justice

Human Impact Partners

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)

Make the Road New York

Make the Road Pennsylvania

Mimi Ho and Taj James, Movement Strategy Center

MPower Change

Suzanne Pharr, National Council of Elders

National Domestic Workers Alliance

The National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC)

Nikki Fortunato Bas, Partnership for Working Families

People’s Action

Tarso Luís Ramos, Political Research Associates

Rural Organizing Project

Heather Cronk and Erin Heaney, Showing Up for Racial Justice

Southerners on New Ground

Western States Center 

To sign on to this public statement, please click HERE

 

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right

An antifascist report on the far right movement that embraced Donald Trump.

Click the icon to order Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

This report is excerpted from Matthew N. Lyons’s forthcoming book, Insurgent Supremacists: The U.S. Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire, to be published by PM Press and Kersplebedeb Publishing. This report is also featured in Ctrl-Alt-Delete: An Antifascist Report on the Alternative Right, which is now available for pre-order.

For a printer-friendly PDF version, click HERE.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The Alt Right, short for “Alternative Right,” is a loosely organized far-right movement that emphasizes internet activism, is hostile to both multicultural liberalism and mainstream conservatism, and has had a symbiotic relationship with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The Alt Right brings together different branches of White nationalism, including “scientific” racists, sections of the neonazi movement, and adherents of European New Right ideology. The Alt Right also encompasses rightist ideologies that don’t center on race, above all efforts to destroy feminism and re-intensify men’s dominance over women, as well as other elitist and authoritarian currents. The Alt Right has little formal organization but has made effective use of online tactics.

This report offers an overview of the Alt Right’s history, ideology, and relationship with the Trump campaign and presidential administration.

Part 1 – Origins and development

Major forerunners of the Alt Right included paleoconservatism, an anti-interventionist, anti-free trade, anti-immigration branch of U.S. conservatism that emerged in the late 1980s; and the European New Right (ENR), a project that began in France in the late 1960s to rework fascist ideology by appropriating elements of liberal and leftist thought to mask anti-egalitarianism.

The term “Alternative Right” was introduced by Richard Spencer in 2008 and initially was a catch-all encompassing paleoconservatives, libertarians, White nationalists, and other rightists at odds with the conservative establishment. AlternativeRight.com, an online magazine which Spencer founded and edited from 2010 to 2012, became a popular intellectual forum for a range of dissident rightist views, including “scientific” racism, the ENR, National-Anarchism, libertarianism, male tribalism, and Black conservatism. Gradually, the term Alternative Right or Alt Right became more closely tied to White nationalism and the goal of creating a White ethnostate, as a number of other White nationalist publications became associated with the Alt Right and as Spencer focused more sharply on White nationalism after becoming head of the National Policy Institute in 2011.

Starting in 2015, the Alt Right broadened out from a small intellectual circle as a much wider array of online activists embraced the term. Many of these newer Alt Rightists were based in discussion websites such as Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan. Some of them, such as Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer, brought neonazi-based politics into the movement.

Part 2 – Major Ideological Currents

Some Alt Rightists have used moderate-sounding intellectual tones, often borrowing from the ENR’s euphemistic language about respecting “difference” and protecting “biocultural diversity.” But many others have used naked bigotry and supremacist speech in an effort to be as inflammatory as possible. This stylistic difference is more division of labor than factional conflict.

Most Alt Rightists regard Jews as dangerous outsiders who bear major responsibility for the decline of European civilization, but they disagree about whether or not to work with them. Neonazi-oriented Alt Rightists reject any association with Jews and regard them as the embodiment of pure evil. Other Alt Rightists, however, advocate a tactical alliance with right-wing Jews against Muslims and immigrants of color, and believe that migration to Israel will help prevent Jews from subverting western societies. A few Alt Rightists have welcomed like-minded Jews to movement publications and events.

The Alt Right has increasingly embraced an intensely misogynistic ideology, which argues that women need and want men to rule over them and should be stripped of any political role. This largely reflects the influence of the manosphere, an online antifeminist subculture of men who falsely claim that men in U.S. society are oppressed by feminism or by women in general. Although there has been some tension between the two movements over racial politics, many manospherians have also become active in the Alt Right, and the manosphere’s online harassment campaigns against women have strongly influenced the Alt Right’s own activism. The Alt Right has also been influenced by the “male tribalism” of Jack Donovan, a longtime Alt Right speaker and writer who advocates a social and political order based on small, close-knit “gangs” of male warriors.

Many Alt Rightists consider homosexuality in any form to be immoral and a threat to racial survival, but there has also been a trend to welcome some homosexual men (such as Jack Donovan) while continuing to derogate gay culture. Alt Rightists uphold classical fascism’s elitist and anti-democratic views of governance, but their goal of breaking up the United States into ethnically separate polities is inherently decentralist. This blend of authoritarianism and decentralism, rooted in the European New Right and paleoconservatism, has been bolstered by two other political currents that overlap with the Alt Right: (a) right-wing anarchists (including National-Anarchists and Keith Preston’s Attack the System website), who want to dismantle the centralized state but uphold non-state systems of hierarchy and oppression; and (b) the neoreactionary movement (also known as the Dark Enlightenment), an offshoot of libertarianism which rejects popular sovereignty and advocates small-scale authoritarian enclaves such as seasteads.


Part 3 – Relationship with Donald Trump

Alt Rightists have long argued about whether to work within existing political channels or reject them entirely. Many Alt Rightists, borrowing from the ENR, have focused on a “metapolitical” strategy of seeking to transform the broader political culture and thereby lay the groundwork for structural change.

A majority of Alt Rightists supported Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, although they recognized that Trump was not one of them and was not going to bring about the change they wanted. Rather, they believed that Trump’s campaign could weaken the Republican Party and shift political discussion in ways that Alt Rightists could use to promote their own ideology. A minority of Alt Rightists opposed Trump because they believed he was loyal to Israel, promoted illusory faith in the U.S. political system, or would co-opt their movement into supporting established elites.

Alt Rightists helped Trump’s campaign through online activism, including skillful use of online memes such as #Cuckservative and #DraftOurDaughters to discredit Trump’s opponents, as well as coordinated online harassment, which often involved floods of abusive messages and images, rape and death threats, and doxxing (public releases of personal information) targeting individual Trump opponents and members of their families. In return, the Trump campaign gave the Alt Right greater visibility, influence, and sense of purpose.

As the Alt Right grew and attracted attention, some conservatives—who became known as the “Alt Lite”—took on the role of apologists or supporters for the Alt Right, helping to spread a lot of its message without embracing its full ideology or its ethnostate goals. In the public mind, prominent Alt Lite figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon of the Breitbart News Network have often been equated with the Alt Right itself. The Alt Right has relied on such figures to help bring its ideas to a mainstream audience, but many Alt Rightists have regarded them as untrustworthy opportunists.

Conclusion – the Alt Right and the Trump presidency

Many Alt Rightists see themselves as the Trump coalition’s political vanguard, taking hardline positions that pull Trump further to the Right while enabling him to look moderate by comparison. However, the question of how to play that vanguard role has sharpened tensions both within the Alt Right and between the Alt Right and its sympathizers.

Because Trump has mostly chosen hardline establishment figures for his administration, Alt Rightists could easily find themselves pushed into an oppositional role. Yet Alt Rightists could continue to exert significant pressure on the Trump administration, because they know how to speak effectively to a large part of his popular base. They are in a strong position to continue influencing the political culture.

Introduction

Maybe you first heard about them in the summer of 2015, when they promoted the insult “cuckservative” to attack Trump’s opponents in the Republican primaries.1 Maybe it was in August 2016, when Hillary Clinton denounced them as “a fringe element” that had “effectively taken over the Republican party.”2 Or maybe it was a couple of weeks after Trump’s surprise defeat of Clinton, when a group of them were caught on camera giving the fascist salute in response to a speaker shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”3

The Alt Right helped Donald Trump get elected president, and Trump’s campaign put the Alt Right in the news. But the movement was active well before Trump announced his candidacy, and its relationship with Trump has been more complex and more qualified than many critics realize. The Alt Right is just one of multiple dangerous forces associated with Trump, but it’s the one that has attracted the greatest notoriety. However, it’s not accurate to argue, as many critics have, that “Alt Right” is just a deceptive code-phrase meant to hide the movement’s White supremacist or neonazi politics. This is a movement with its own story, and for those concerned about the seemingly sudden resurgence of far-right politics in the United States, it is a story worth exploring.

This logo for the Alt Right has been appearing online, on posters, and at events.

The Alt Right, short for “alternative right,” is a loosely organized far-right movement that shares a contempt for both liberal multiculturalism and mainstream conservatism; a belief that some people are inherently superior to others; a strong internet presence and embrace of specific elements of online culture; and a self-presentation as being new, hip, and irreverent.4 Based primarily in the United States, Alt Right ideology combines White nationalism, misogyny, antisemitism, and authoritarianism in various forms and in political styles ranging from intellectual argument to violent invective. White nationalism constitutes the movement’s center of gravity, but some Alt Rightists are more focused on reasserting male dominance or other forms of elitism rather than race. The Alt Right has little in the way of formal organization, but has used internet memes effectively to gain visibility, rally supporters, and target opponents. Most Alt Rightists have rallied behind Trump’s presidential bid, yet as a rule Alt Rightists regard the existing political system as hopeless and call for replacing the United States with one or more racially defined homelands.

This report offers an overview of the Alt Right’s history, beliefs, and relationship with other political forces. Part 1 traces the movement’s ideological origins in paleoconservatism and the European New Right, and its development since Richard Spencer launched the original AlternativeRight.com website in 2010. Part 2 surveys the major political currents that comprise or overlap with the Alt Right, which include in their ranks White nationalists, members of the antifeminist “manosphere,” male tribalists, right-wing anarchists, and neoreactionaries. Part 3 focuses on the Alt Right’s relationship with the Trump presidential campaign, including movement debates about political strategy, online political tactics, and its relationship to a network of conservative supporters and popularizers known as the “Alt Lite.” A concluding section offers preliminary thoughts on the Alt Right’s prospects and the potential challenges it will face under the incoming Trump administration.

PART 1 – ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT

Ideological roots

Two intellectual currents played key roles in shaping the early Alternative Right: paleoconservatism and the European New Right.

Paleoconservatives can trace their lineage back to the “Old Right” of the 1930s, which opposed New Deal liberalism, and to the America First movement of the early 1940s, which opposed U.S. entry into World War II. To varying degrees, many of the America Firsters were sympathetic to fascism and fascist claims of a sinister Jewish-British conspiracy. In the early 1950s, this current supported Senator Joe McCarthy’s witch-hunting crusade, which extended red-baiting to target representatives of the centrist Eastern Establishment. After McCarthy, the America First/anti-New Deal Right was largely submerged in a broader “fusionist” conservative movement, in which Cold War anticommunism served as the glue holding different rightist currents together. But when the Soviet bloc collapsed between 1989 and 1991, this anticommunist alliance unraveled, and old debates reemerged.5

In the 1980s, devotees of the Old Right began calling themselves paleoconservatives as a reaction against neoconservatives, those often formerly liberal and leftist intellectuals who were then gaining influential positions in right-wing think-tanks and the Reagan administration. The first neocons were predominantly Jewish and Catholic, which put them outside the ranks of old-guard conservatism. Neocons promoted an aggressive foreign policy to spread U.S. “democracy” throughout the world and supported a close alliance with Israel, but they also favored nonrestrictive immigration policies and, to a limited extent, social welfare programs. Paleconservatives regarded the neocons as usurpers and closet leftists, and in the post-Soviet era they criticized military interventionism, free trade, immigration, globalization, and the welfare state. They also spoke out against Washington’s close alliance with Israel, often in terms that had anti-Jewish undertones. Paleoconservatives tended to be unapologetic champions of European Christian culture, and some of them gravitated toward White nationalism, advocating a society in which White people, their values, interests, and concerns would always be explicitly preeminent. To some extent they began to converge with more hardline White supremacists during this period.6

These positions attracted little elite support, and after Reagan paleocons were mostly frozen out of political power. But they attracted significant popular support. In 1992 and 1996, Patrick Buchanan won millions of votes in Republican presidential primaries by emphasizing paleocon themes. Paleocons also played key roles in building the anti-immigrant and neo-Confederate movements in the ‘90s, and influenced the Patriot movement, which exploded briefly in the mid-90s around fears that globalist elites were plotting to impose a tyrannical world government on the United States. Some self-described libertarians, such as former Congressmember Ron Paul, embraced paleoconservative positions on culture and foreign policy.7 After the September 11th attacks in 2001, the resurgence of military interventionism and neoconservatives’ prominent roles in the George W. Bush administration solidified the paleocons’ position as political outsiders.8

The Alt Right’s other significant forerunner, the European New Right (ENR), developed along different lines. The ENR began in France in the late 1960s and then spread to other European countries as an initiative among far-right intellectuals to rework fascist ideology, largely by appropriating elements from other political traditions—including the Left—to mask their fundamental rejection of the principle of human equality.9 European New Rightists championed “biocultural diversity” against the homogenization supposedly brought by liberalism and globalization. They argued that true antiracism requires separating racial and ethnic groups to protect their unique cultures, and that true feminism defends natural gender differences, instead of supposedly forcing women to “divest themselves of their femininity.” ENR writers also rejected the principle of universal human rights as “a strategic weapon of Western ethnocentrism” that stifles cultural diversity.10

European New Rightists dissociated themselves from traditional fascism in various other ways as well. In the wake of France’s defeat by anticolonial forces in Algeria, they advocated anti-imperialism rather than expansionism and a federated “empire” of regionally based, ethnically homogeneous communities, rather than a big, centralized state. Instead of organizing a mass movement to seize state power, they advocated a “metapolitical” strategy that would gradually transform the political and intellectual culture as a precursor to transforming institutions and systems. In place of classical fascism’s familiar leaders and ideologues, European New Rightists championed more obscure far rightist intellectuals of the 1920s, ‘30s, and beyond, such Julius Evola of Italy, Ernst Jünger and Carl Schmitt of Germany, and Corneliu Codreanu of Romania.

ENR ideology began to get attention in the United States in the 1990s,11 resonating with paleoconservatism on various themes, notably opposition to multicultural societies, non-White immigration, and globalization. On other issues, the two movements tended to be at odds: reflecting their roots in classical fascism but in sharp contrast to paleocons, European New Rightists were hostile to liberal individualism and laissez faire capitalism, and many of them rejected Christianity in favor of paganism. Nonetheless, some kind of dialog between paleocon and ENR ideas held promise for Americans seeking to develop a White nationalist movement outside of traditional neonazi/Ku Klux Klan circles.

Early years and growth

Richard Spencer speaking at a National Policy Institute conference in 2016.

The term “Alternative Right” was introduced by Richard Spencer in 2008, when he was managing editor at the paleocon and libertarian Taki’s Magazine. At Taki’s Magazine the phrase was used as a catch-all for a variety of right-wing voices at odds with the conservative establishment, including paleocons, libertarians, and White nationalists.12 Two years later Spencer left to found a new publication, AlternativeRight.com, as “an online magazine of radical traditionalism.” Joining Spencer were two senior contributing editors, Peter Brimelow (whose anti-immigrant VDARE Foundation sponsored the project) and Paul Gottfried (one of paleoconservatism’s founders and one of its few Jews). AlternativeRight.com quickly became a popular forum among dissident rightist intellectuals, especially younger ones. The magazine published works of old-school “scientific” racism along with articles from or about the European New Right, Italian far right philosopher Julius Evola, and figures from Germany’s interwar Conservative Revolutionary movement. There were essays by National-Anarchist Andrew Yeoman, libertarian and Pat Buchanan supporter Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com, male tribalist Jack Donovan, and Black conservative Elizabeth Wright.13

AlternativeRight.com developed ties with a number of other White nationalist intellectual publications, which eventually became associated with the term Alternative Right. Some of its main partners included VDARE.com; Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance, whose conferences attracted both antisemites and right-wing Jews; The Occidental Quarterly and its online magazine, The Occidental Observer, currently edited by prominent antisemitic intellectual Kevin MacDonald; and Counter-Currents Publishing, which was founded in 2010 to “create an intellectual movement in North America that is analogous to the European New Right” and “lay the intellectual groundwork for a white ethnostate in North America.”14

Founded in 2005, The National Policy Institute is a White nationalist, White supremacist think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.

In 2011, Richard Spencer became head of the White nationalist think-tank National Policy Institute (NPI) and its affiliated Washington Summit Publishers. He turned AlternativeRight.com over to other editors the following year, then shut it down completely, establishing a new online magazine, Radix, in its place. (The other editors then reestablished Alternative Right as a blog.) Compared with AlternativeRight.com’s broad ideological approach, Spencer’s later entities were more sharply focused on promoting White nationalism. Starting in 2011, NPI held a series of high-profile conferences that brought together intellectuals and activists from various branches of the movement. In 2014, the think-tank, together with supporters of Russian ENR theorist Aleksandr Dugin, cosponsored a “pan-European” conference in Budapest, although the Hungarian government deported Spencer and denied Dugin a visa.15

Starting in 2015, a much wider array of writers and online activists embraced the Alt Right moniker. As Anti-Fascist News put it, “the ‘alt right’ now often means an internet focused string of commentators, blogs, Twitter accounts, podcasters, and Reddit trolls, all of which combine scientific racism, romantic nationalism, and deconstructionist neo-fascist ideas to create a white nationalist movement that has almost no backwards connection with neo-Nazis and the KKK.”16 Some online centers of this larger, more amorphous Alt Right included the imageboard websites 4chan and 8chan, various Reddit sub-communities, and The Right Stuff blog and podcasts. Some Alt Right outfits offered neonazi-oriented politics (such as The Daily Stormer and the Traditionalist Youth Network), while others did not (such as Occidental Dissent, The Unz Review, Vox Popoli, and Chateau Heartiste).

Message boards like 4chan have become appropriated as online centers of a more amorphous Alt Right.

On many sites, Alt Right politics were presented in terms intended to be as inflammatory as possible, bucking a decades-old trend among U.S. Far Rightists to tone down their beliefs for mass consumption. Previously, antisemitic propagandist Willis Carto and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke had made careers of dressing up fascism as “populism” or “conservatism”; now Alt Rightists confidently derided antifascism in the way 1960s radicals had derided anticommunism: “We might not all be proper fascists,” The Right Stuff columnist Lawrence Murray wrote in 2015, “but we’re all a little fash whether we want to be or not. We’re fashy goys—we think a lot of nasty thoughts that keep leftists up at night during their struggle sessions. Might as well embrace it…”17

The Alt Right’s rapid growth partly reflected trends in internet culture, where anonymity and the lack of face-to-face contact have fostered widespread use of insults, bullying, and supremacist speech. More immediately, it reflected recent political developments, such as a backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement and, above all, Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. A majority of Alt Rightists supported Trump’s campaign because of his anti-immigrant proposals; defamatory rhetoric against Mexicans, Muslims, women, and others; and his clashes with mainstream conservatives and the Republican Party establishment.

PART 2 – MAJOR IDEOLOGICAL CURRENTS

White nationalists, high- and low-brow

The original AlternativeRight.com magazine helped set the parameters of Alt Right White nationalism. In “Why an Alternative Right is Necessary,” published in 2010 soon after the magazine was launched, columnist Richard Hoste offered a paleocon-style criticism of the War on Terror and mainstream conservatives, coupled with a blunt new emphasis on race:

One would think that the odds of a major terrorist attack happening would depend on how many Muslims are allowed to live in the United States. Reducing Islamic immigration in the name of fighting terror would receive widespread public support, be completely practical in a way installing a puppet regime in Afghanistan wouldn’t, and not lead us to kill or torture anybody…. The idea that nothing must be done to stop the March Of Diversity is so entrenched in the minds of those considered of the Right that they will defend America policing the entire planet, torture, indefinite detentions, and a nation on permanent war footing but won’t mention immigration restriction or racial profiling.

We’ve known for a while through neuroscience and cross-adoption studies—if common sense wasn’t enough—that individuals differ in their inherent capabilities. The races do, too, with whites and Asians on the top and blacks at the bottom. The Alternative Right takes it for granted that equality of opportunity means inequality of results for various classes, races, and the two sexes. Without ignoring the importance of culture, we see Western civilization as a unique product of the European gene pool.18

A few months later, Greg Johnson at Counter-Currents Publishing declared that:

The survival of whites in North America and around the world is threatened by a host of bad ideas and policies: egalitarianism, the denial of biological race and sex differences, feminism, emasculation, racial altruism, ethnomasochism and xenophilia, multiculturalism, liberalism, capitalism, non-white immigration, individualism, consumerism, materialism, hedonism, anti-natalism, etc.

He also warned that White people would not survive unless they “work to reduce Jewish power and influence” and “regain political control over a viable national homeland or homelands.”19

In 2016, following the Alternative Right’s rapid growth, Lawrence Murray in The Right Stuff proposed a summary of the movement’s “big tent” philosophy: inequality of both individuals and populations is “a fact of life”; “races and their national subdivisions exist and compete for resources, land and influence”; White people are being suppressed and “must be allowed to take their own side”; men and women have separate roles and heterosexual monogamy is crucial for racial survival; “the franchise should be limited” because universal democracy “gives power to the worst and shackles the fittest”; and “Jewish elites are opposed to our entire program.”20 Alfred W. Clark in Radix offered a slightly different summary. In his view, Alt Rightists recognize human biodiversity; reject universalism; want to reverse Third World immigration into the West; are skeptical of free trade and free market ideology; oppose mainstream Christianity from a variety of religious viewpoints (traditionalist Christian, neo-pagan, atheist, and agnostic); and often (but not always) support Donald Trump. Unlike Murray, Clark noted that Alt Rightists disagree about the “Jewish question,” but generally agree “that Jews have disproportionately been involved in starting left-wing movements of the last 150 years.”21

Alt Rightists have promoted these ideas in different ways. Some have used moderate-sounding intellectual tones, often borrowed from the European New Right’s euphemistic language about respecting “difference” and protecting “biocultural diversity.” For example, the National Policy Institute has promoted “identitarianism,” a concept that was developed by the French New Right and popularized by the French group Bloc Identitaire. In 2015, Richard Spencer introduced an NPI essay contest for young writers on the theme, “Why I’m An Identitarian”:

Identitarianism… eschews nationalist chauvinism, as well as the meaningless, petty nationalism that is tolerated, even encouraged, by the current world system. That said, Identitarianism is itself not a universal value system, like Leftism, monotheism, and most contemporary versions of ‘conservatism.’ To the contrary, Identitarianism is fundamentally about difference, about culture as an expression of a certain people at a certain time…. Identitarianism acknowledges the incommensurable nature of different peoples and cultures—and thus looks forward to a world of true diversity and multiculturalism.22

Very different versions of Alt Right politics are available elsewhere. The Right Stuff website uses a mocking, ironic tone, with rotating tag lines such as “Your rational world is a circle jerk”; “Non-aggression is the triumph of weakness”; “Democracy is an interracial porno”; “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character”; and “Life isn’t fair. Sucks for you, but I don’t care.” An article by “Darth Stirner,” titled “Fascist Libertarianism: For a Better World,” further illustrated this style:

Dear libertarian, take the rose colored glasses of racial egalitarianism off. Look around and see that other races don’t even disguise their hatred of you. Even though you don’t think in terms of race, rest assured that they do. Humanity is composed of a series of racial corporations. They stick together, and if we don’t… Western civilization is doomed.

[…]

Progressives, communists, and degenerates of various stripes will need to be interned—at least during the transition period. Terrorism and guerrilla warfare can be prevented with this measure. In the instance of a coup d’état it would be reasonable to detain every person who might conceivably be an enemy of the right-wing revolution. Rather than starving or torturing them they should be treated well with the highest standard of living reasonably possible. Most of them will simply be held until the war is over and the winner is clear. This is actually much more humane than allowing a hotly contested civil war to occur.23

The Right Stuff doesn’t just offer quasi-irony, however, but also naked bigotry, as summarized by Anti-Fascist News:

[On The Right Stuff] they choose to openly use racial slurs, degrade women and rape survivors, mock the holocaust and call for violence against Jews. Their podcast, The Daily Shoah, which is a play on The Daily Show and the Yiddish term for The Holocaust, is a roundtable discussion of different racists broadcasting under pseudonyms. Here they do voice “impressions” of Jews, and consistently use terms like “Nig Nog,” “Muds[”] (referring to “mud races,” meaning non-white), and calling people of African descent “Dingos.” The N-word, homophobic slurs, and calls for enforced cultural patriarchy and heteronormativity are commonplace… The use of rhetoric like this is almost entirely missing from groups like American Renaissance, Counter-Currents, Radix Journal, Alternative Right, and even Stormfront, the main hub for racist groups who recently banned swastikas and racial slurs.24

Anti-Fascist News argues that different branches of the Alternative Right use different language to appeal to different target audiences. “The Right Stuff tries to mimic the aggression and reactionary insults of right-wing talk radio like Rush Limbaugh, while Radix would love to look a lot more like that trendy Critical Theory journal young grad students are clamoring to be published in.”25 This is more division of labor than factional conflict, as a number of Alt Right intellectual figures have appeared on The Right Stuff podcasts, for example.

Stylistic differences aside, though, Alt Rightists have also disagreed about substantive issues. One of the biggest points of contention has been whether White nationalists should work with Jews, or at least some Jews. Anti-Jewish bigotry and scapegoating have been prevalent across most of the movement, but with important variations and exceptions. For the minority of Alt Rightists who identify with neonazism, such as Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer, uncompromising antisemitism is the overriding core principle.26 And for many others, Jews are a major existential threat. To The Right Stuff blogger “Auschwitz Soccer Ref,” Jews as a group have engaged in “2,000 years of non-stop treachery and backstabbing” and are “remorseless enemies who seek the destruction of the people they hate, which is us.” As a result, “anyone who self-identifies as a Jew or anyone who makes excuses for a continued Jewish presence in White homelands should be unapologetically excluded from this movement, and none of these people should ever be allowed to speak at alt right conferences no matter how pro-White they may seem.”27

American Renaissance is a monthly online magazine considered widely to be a White supremacist publication.

Not all Alt Rightists agree. American Renaissance, one of the movement’s central institutions, pioneered a version of White nationalism that avoided antisemitism. Besides publishing Jewish authors, both Jews and antisemites have been welcome at AmRen events as long as they set aside their disagreements.28 Richard Spencer, too, repeatedly welcomed Jewish writers and cited them as useful contributors to the movement.

Even Alt Rightists who view Jews as dangerous outsiders don’t necessarily regard them as the embodiment of pure evil. Serbian-American author Srdja Trifkovic wrote that “the Jews” had disproportionately contributed to the erosion of European civilization. Nevertheless, he hoped for an alliance with Jews against their common enemy, “the brown, black, and yellow multitudes” whose eventual attacks on the Jewish community might “easily exceed in ferocity and magnitude the events of 1942-45.”29 Similarly, Counter-Currents writer M.K. Lane described Jews as “a self-segregating and culturally arrogant people, a people who refuse to assimilate [and] who even when they do ostensibly assimilate, cause even greater harm than they did before desegregating.” Yet Lane also hoped that a significant number of Jews could be won over to ally with White nationalism since, “if we go down, they go down.” Of course, in such an alliance White nationalists “must not allow ourselves to become stooges.” Jews “living in our midst… could either be allowed to live in their own communities, assimilate in small numbers, or move to Israel. Anything as long as they refrain from subverting our societies…”30

Manosphere

While White nationalism has been central to the Alternative Right, patriarchal politics have played an increasingly important—and increasingly poisonous—role in the movement. The original AlternativeRight.com featured a range of views on gender, from patriarchal traditionalism to a kind of quasi-feminism. A number of male contributors expressed concern that their branch of the Right had attracted few women. Publisher and novelist Alex Kurtagic argued in 2011 that women and men had distinct natural roles, but that the White nationalist movement needed both:

Women are far more than nurturers: they are especially proficient at networking, community building, consensus building, multi-tasking, and moral and logistical support provision. These are all essential in any movement involving community outreach and where user-friendly, low-key, non-threatening forms of recruitment are advisable…. Women can create a much broader comfort zone around hardcore political activism through organising a wide range of community, human, and support-oriented activities…31

Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists argued more pointedly that sexist behavior by male Alt Rightists was driving women away:

Many women won’t associate with our ideas. Why is this important? Because it leaves half our people out of the struggle. The women that do stick around have to deal with a constant litany of abuse and frequent courtship invitations from unwanted suitors. …nothing says ‘you’re not important to us’ [more] than sexualizing women in the movement. Don’t tell me that’s not an issue. I’ve seen it happen in all kinds of radical circles, and ours is the worst for it.32

Logo for the White nationalist discussion site, Stormfront

As the Alternative Right has grown, it has abandoned this kind of self-criticism and debate about gender politics. Going beyond traditionalist claims about the sanctity of the family and natural gender roles, Alt Rightists have embraced an intensely misogynistic ideology, portraying women as irrational, vindictive creatures who need and want men to rule over them and who should be stripped of any political role.33 The Traditionalist Youth Network claims that “women’s biological drives are contrary to the best interests of civilization and… the past century or so of women’s enfranchisement and liberation has been detrimental to societal stability.” But the group frames this position as relatively moderate because, unlike some rightists, they don’t believe “that women are central to the destruction of Western Civilization”—they are simply being manipulated by the Jews.34 The Daily Stormer has banned female contributors and called for limiting women’s roles in the movement, sparking criticism from women on the more old school White nationalist discussion site Stormfront. Far-right blogger Matt Forney asserts that “Trying to ‘appeal’ to women is an exercise in pointlessness…. it’s not that women should be unwelcome [in the Alt Right], it’s that they’re unimportant.”35

A big reason for this shift toward hardline woman-hating is that the Alt Right has become closely intertwined with the so-called manophere, an online antifeminist male subculture that has grown rapidly in recent years, largely outside traditional right-wing networks. The manosphere includes various overlapping circles, such as Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), who argue that the legal system and media unfairly discriminate against men; Pickup Artists (PUAs), who help men learn how to manipulate women into having sex with them; Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOWs), who protest women’s supposed dominance by avoiding relationships with them; and others.36

Manospherians have emphasized male victimhood—the false belief that men in U.S. society are oppressed or disempowered by feminism or by women in general. This echoes the concept of “reverse racism,” the idea that White Americans face unfair discrimination, which White nationalists have promoted since the 1970s.

Daryush Valizadeh writes at the PUA site, Return of Kings.

Some manospherians are family-centered traditionalists while others celebrate a more predatory sexuality. Daryush Valizadeh, who writes at the PUA site Return of Kings under the name Roosh V, embodies this tension. He argues that the nuclear family with one father and one mother is the healthiest unit for raising children, and socialism is damaging because it makes women dependent on the government and discourages them from using their “feminine gifts” to “land a husband.” Yet Valizadeh has also written 10 how-to books for male sex tourists with titles such as Bang Ukraine and Bang Iceland. Valizadeh doesn’t dwell on his own glaring inconsistency, but does suggest in his article, “What is Neomasculinity?,” that the dismantling of patriarchal rules has forced men to pursue “game” as a defensive strategy “to hopefully land some semblance of a normal relationship.”37

Like the Alt Right, manosphere discourse ranges from intellectual arguments to raw invective, although the line between them is often blurred. Paul Elam’s A Voice for Men, founded in 2009, became one of the manosphere’s most influential websites with intentionally provocative articles arguing, for example, that the legal system was so heavily stacked against men that rape trial jurors should vote to acquit “even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.”38 Elam also “satirically” declared October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” urging men to fight back against physically abusive female partners. He offered “satire” such as:

I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.39

Manospherians also tend to promote homophobia and transphobia, which is consistent with their efforts to re-impose rigid gender roles and identities. At Return of Kings, Valizadeh has denounced the legalization of same-sex marriage as “one phase of a degenerate march to persecute heterosexuals, both legally and socially, while acclimating young children to the homosexual lifestyle.”40 On the same website, Matt Forney warned that trans women who have sex with cis men might be guilty of “rape by fraud.”41 At the same time, some manosphere sites have sought to reach out to gay men. A Voice for Men published a series of articles by writer Matthew Lye that were later collected into the e-book The New Gay Liberation: Escaping the Fag End of Feminism, which Paul Elam described as “a scorching indictment of feminist hatred of all things male.”42

One of the events that brought the manosphere to public attention was the Gamergate controversy. Starting in 2014, a number of women who worked in—or were critical of sexism in—the video game industry were subjected to large-scale campaigns of harassment, coordinated partly with the #Gamergate Twitter hashtag. Supporters of Gamergate claimed that that campaign was a defense of free speech and journalistic ethics and against political correctness, but it included streams of misogynistic abuse, rape and death threats, as well as doxxing (public releases of personal information), which caused several women to leave their homes out of fear for their physical safety.43 The Gamergate campaign took the pervasive, systematic pattern of threats and abuse that has been long used to silence women on the internet, and sharpened it into a focused weapon of attack.44 Gamergate, in turn, strongly influenced the Alt Right’s own online activism, as I discuss below.

There is significant overlap between the manosphere and the Alt Right. Both are heavily active on discussion websites such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, and a number of prominent Alt Rightists—such as Forney, Theodore Beale (pseudonym: “Vox Day”), James Weidmann (“Roissy”), and Andrew Auernheimer (“weev”)—have also been active in the manosphere. Many other Alt Rightists have absorbed and promoted manosphere versions of gender ideology.

Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh in Warsaw, Poland in 2014. (Photo: Bartek Kucharczyk via Wiki Commons).

But there have also been tensions between the two rightist movements. In 2015, Valizadeh (“Roosh V”) began to build a connection with the Alternative Right, attending an NPI conference and quoting extensively from antisemite Kevin MacDonald in a lengthy post about “The Damaging Effects of Jewish Intellectualism And Activism On Western Culture.”45 Some Alt Rightists responded favorably. One blogger commented that the manosphere was “not as stigmatized” as White nationalism and the Alt Right, and suggested hopefully that, “since the Manosphere has a very broad appeal it is possible that bloggers such as Roosh and Dalrock [a Christian manospherian] might serve as a stepping stone to guide formerly apathetic men towards the Alternative Right.”46 Matt Parrott of the Traditionalist Youth Network praised Valizadeh’s “What is Neomasculinity?” as “a masterful synthesis of human biodiversity knowledge, radical traditionalist principle, and pragmatic modern dating experience.”47

But the relationship soured quickly, largely because Valizadeh is Persian American. Although Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer tweeted that Valizadeh was “a civilized and honorable man,”48 many White nationalists denounced him as non White and an enemy. One tweeted that he was “a greasy Iranian” who “goes to Europe to defile white women and write books about it.”49 After studying Valizadeh’s accounts of his own sex tourism, Counter-Currents Publishing editor-in-chief Greg Johnson concluded that Roosh “is either a rapist or a fraud” and “it is not just feminist hysteria to describe Roosh as a rape advocate.” More broadly, Johnson wrote, “for all its benefits… the manosphere morally corrupts men. It does not promote the resurgence of traditional and biologically based sexual norms.”50 Valizadeh responded by blogging “The Alt Right Is Worse Than Feminism in Attempting to Control Male Sexual Behavior.”51

Male tribalism

Jack Donovan, an early contributor to AlternativeRight.com who has stayed active in the Alt Right as it has grown, offers a related but distinct version of male supremacist ideology. In a series of books and articles over the past decade, Donovan has advocated a system of patriarchy based on “tribal” comradeship among male warriors. Drawing on evolutionary psychology, he argues that in the past men have mostly organized themselves into small, close-knit “gangs,” which fostered true masculinity and men’s natural dominance over women. Yet modern “globalist civilization” “requires the abandonment of human scale identity groups for ‘one world tribe.’” A combination of “feminists, elite bureaucrats, and wealthy men,” he writes, has promoted male passivity and put women in a dominant role.52

Jack Donovan has advocated a system of patriarchy based on “tribal” comradeship among male warriors. (photo: Zachary O. Ray via Wiki Commons).

Unlike Christian rightists, who argue that feminism misleads women into betraying their true interests, Donovan sees feminism as an expression of women’s basic nature, which is “to calm men down and enlist their help at home, raising children, and fixing up the grass hut.” Today, he argues, feminists’ supposed alliance with globalist elites reflects this: “Women are better suited to and better served by the globalism and consumerism of modern democracies that promote security, no-strings attached sex and shopping.”53

Donovan’s social and political ideal is a latter-day tribal order that he calls “The Brotherhood,” in which all men would affirm their sacred loyalty to each other against the outside world. A man’s position would be based on “hierarchy through meritocracy,” not inherited wealth or status. All men would be expected to train and serve as warriors, and only warriors—meaning no women—would have a political voice. In this version of patriarchal ideology, unlike the Christian Right version, male comradeship is central and the family is entirely peripheral. An example of the kind of community Donovan envisions is the Odinist group Wolves of Vinland, which Donovan joined after visiting their off-the-grid community in rural Virginia in 2014. The Wolves use group rituals (including animal sacrifice) and hold fights between members to test their masculinity.54 The Wolves of Vinland have also been praised by White nationalist groups such as Counter-Currents Publishing, and one of their members has been imprisoned for attempting to burn down a Black church in Virginia.55

Donovan has written that he is sympathetic to White nationalist aims such as encouraging racial separatism and defending European Americans against “the deeply entrenched anti-white bias of multiculturalist orthodoxies.” White nationalism dovetails with his beliefs that all humans are tribal creatures and human equality is an illusion. But in contrast to most Alt Rightists, race is not Donovan’s main focus or concern. “My work is about men. It’s about understanding masculinity and the plight of men in the modern world. It’s about what all men have in common.” His “Brotherhood” ideal is not culturally specific and he’s happy to see men of other cultures pursue similar aims. “For instance, I am not a Native American, but I have been in contact with a Native American activist who read The Way of Men and contacted me to tell me about his brotherhood. I could never belong to that tribe, but I wish him great success in his efforts to promote virility among his tribesmen.”57

Donovan also echoes the 1909 Futurist Manifesto, a document that prefigured Italian Fascism. (Image: Wiki Commons)

There are strong resonances between Donovan’s ideas and early fascism’s violent male camaraderie, which took the intense, trauma-laced bonds that World War I veterans had formed in the trenches and transferred them into street-fighting formations such as the Italian squadristi and German storm troopers. Donovan also echoes the 1909 Futurist Manifesto, a document that prefigured Italian Fascism with statements such as “We want to glorify war—the only cure for the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.”58 Thus it’s not surprising he has embraced the term “anarcho-fascism,” referring to “a unified male collective… bound together by a red ribbon of blood.”59

In the Alternative Right and among rightists in general, the most controversial part of Donovan’s ideology is that he advocates and practices “androphilia,” by which he means love or sex between masculine men. Donovan doesn’t call himself gay, rejects gay culture as effeminate, and justifies homophobia as a defense of masculinity rooted in the male gang’s collective survival needs. His version of homosexuality is a consummation of the priority that men in his ideal gang place on each other. As he has commented, “When you get right down to it, when it comes to sex, homos are just men without women getting in the way.”60 Many Alternative Rightists consider homosexuality in any form to be immoral and a threat to racial survival, and Donovan has been vilified on many Alt Right sites for his sexuality, yet his work has also won widespread support within the movement. Anti-Fascist News has noted a broader trend among many White nationalists to include openly homosexual writers (such as James O’Meara) and musicians (such as Death in June leader Douglas Pearce), while continuing to derogate gay culture.61

Right-wing anarchists

Like many far-right currents in the United States, the Alt Right offers a vision of the state that is both authoritarian and decentralist. Alt Rightists uphold classical fascism’s elitist and anti-democratic views on how society should be governed, and as the movement has grown it has increasingly applauded dictatorial figures such as Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.62 At the same time, the Alt Right goal of breaking up the United States into ethnically separate polities is inherently decentralist, and is rooted in both the European New Right’s vision of replacing nation-states with a federated “empire” and paleoconservatism’s traditional hostility to big government. The authoritarian/decentralist blend has been bolstered by two other political currents that have influenced the Alt Right: right-wing anarchism and neoreaction.

As part of its project to bring together a range of dissident right-wing voices, AlternativeRight.com published articles by self-identified anarchists Andrew Yeoman of Bay Area National Anarchists (BANA) and Keith Preston of the website Attack the System (ATS). National-Anarchism, which advocates a decentralized system of “tribal” enclaves, was initiated in the 1990s by Troy Southgate, a veteran of British neonazism.63 Over the following years, National-Anarchist groups formed in a number of countries across Europe, the Americas, and Australia/New Zealand. The first U.S. affiliate, BANA, began in 2007, and Southgate formally launched the National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) in 2010.64

National-Anarchism is a White nationalist ideology. Like Identitarianism, it draws heavily on the ENR doctrine that ethnic and racial separatism is needed to defend so-called biocultural diversity. The N-AM Manifesto declares that race categories are basic biological facts and some people are innately superior to others. National-Anarchists also repeat classic antisemitic conspiracy theories and, like many neonazis, promote neopaganism and closeness to nature.65 But National-Anarchists reject classical fascism for its emphasis on strong nation-states, centralized dictatorship, and collaboration with big business. Instead, they call for breaking up society into self-governing tribal communities, so that different cultures, beliefs, and practices can co-exist side by side.66

National-Anarchists have not had a significant presence in the Alternative Right since BANA disbanded in 2011, but self-described anarcho-pluralist Keith Preston has continued to participate in Alt Right forums, for example speaking at National Policy Institute conferences and on The Right Stuff podcasts. Preston is a former left-wing anarchist who moved to the Right in the 1990s and then founded the group American Revolutionary Vanguard, which is better known today by the name of its website, Attack the System.67 ATS brings together a number of right-wing currents, including National-Anarchist, libertarian, White nationalist, Duginist, and others, among it editors and contributors, but Preston’s own ideology is distinct from all of these.68

Like the National-Anarchists, Preston advocates a decentralized, diverse network of self-governing communities, while rejecting left-wing anarchism’s commitment to dismantle social hierarchy and oppression. Authoritarian and supremacist systems would be fully compatible with the anarcho-pluralist model, as long as they operated on a small scale. But unlike National-Anarchists, Preston frames his decentralist ideal in terms of individual free choice rather than tribalism, and he is not a White nationalist.69 Although Preston has echoed some racist ideas such as the claim that non-European immigrants threaten to destroy Western civilization, his underlying philosophy is based not on race but rather a generic, Nietzschean elitism that is not ethnically specific.70 While Preston himself is White, several of his closest associates in the Attack the System inner circle are people of color.

Preston has offered several reasons for his involvement in the Alternative Right. He sees the movement as an important counterweight to what he calls “totalitarian humanism” (supposedly state-enforced progressive values, i.e., political correctness), he regards the Alt Right’s foreign policy non-interventionism and economic nationalism as superior to what the Republican or Democratic parties advocate, and he shares many Alt Rightists’ interest in earlier European “critics of liberal capitalism and mass democracy,”71 meaning people like Julius Evola, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Jünger. In addition, the Alt Right allows Preston to avoid political isolation, as his efforts to reach out to left-wing anarchists have been almost completely rejected.

Preston is a respected figure within the Alternative Right, and his anti-statist vision appeals to some White nationalists in the movement. For example, Counter-Currents author Francisco Albanese has argued that it provides “the best and most viable option for the ethnic and racial survival” of Whites in regions where they form a minority of the population. In addition, “it is only outside the state that whites can come to understand the true essence of community and construction of a common destiny.”72 At the same time, anarcho-pluralism offers potential common ground between White nationalists and other critics of the existing order, such as anarcho-capitalists and other “market anarchists,” whose ideas are regularly featured on Attack the System, as well as the “libertarian theocrats” of the Christian Reconstructionist movement.73

Preston’s approach to political strategy takes this bridge-building further. Echoing Third Position fascists, who denounce both communism and capitalism, Preston and ATS call for a broad revolutionary alliance of all those who want to destroy U.S. imperialism and the federal government. Within U.S. borders, this would involve a “pan-secessionist” strategy uniting groups across the political spectrum that want to carve out self-governing enclaves free of federal government control.74 As a step in this direction, ATS supported a series of North American secessionist conventions, which brought together representatives of the neo-Confederate group League of the South, the Reconstructionist-influenced Christian Exodus, the libertarian Free State Project, advocates of Hawaiian independence, the left-leaning Second Vermont Republic, and others.75

Neoreaction

Neoreaction is another dissident right-wing current with a vision of small-scale authoritarianism that has emerged online in the past decade, which overlaps with and has influenced the Alternative Right. Like the Alt Right and much of the manosphere, neoreaction (often abbreviated as NRx, and also known as Dark Enlightenment) is a loosely unified school of thought that rejects egalitarianism in principle, argues that differences in human intelligence and ability are mainly genetic, and believes that cultural and political elites wrongfully limit the range of acceptable discourse. Blogger Curtis Yarvin (writing under the pseudonym Mencius Moldbug) first articulated neoreactionary ideology in 2007, but many other writers have contributed to it. Neoreaction emphasizes order and restoring the social stability that supposedly prevailed before the French Revolution, along with technocratic and futurist concerns such as transhumanism, a movement that hopes to radically “improve” human beings through technology. NRx theorist Nick Land is a leading advocate of accelerationism, which in his version sees global capitalism driving ever-faster technological change, to the point that artificial intelligence essentially replaces human beings. One critic wrote that neoreaction “combines all of the awful things you always suspected about libertarianism with odds and ends from PUA culture, Victorian Social Darwinism, and an only semi-ironic attachment to absolutism. Insofar as neoreactionaries have a political project, it’s to dissolve the United States into competing authoritarian seasteads on the model of Singapore…”76

PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. (Photo by JD Lasica via Flickr.)

Neoreactionaries, who are known for their arcane, verbose theoretical monologues, appear to be mostly young, computer-oriented men, and their ideas have spread partly through the tech startup scene. PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter Peter Thiel has voiced some neoreactionary-sounding ideas. In 2009, for example, he declared, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible” and “the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women…have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”77 Both Yarvin and fellow NRxer Michael Anissimov have worked for companies backed by Thiel.78 This doesn’t necessarily mean that Thiel is intentionally bankrolling the neoreactionary movement per se, but it points to resonances between that movement and Silicon Valley’s larger techno-libertarian discourse.

“At its heart, neoreaction is a critique of the entire liberal, politically-correct orthodoxy,” commented “WhiteDeerGrotto” on the NRx blog Habitable Worlds. “The Cathedral, a term coined by Moldbug, is a description of the institutions and enforcement mechanisms used to propagate and maintain this orthodoxy”—a power center that consists of Ivy League and other elite universities, The New York Times, and some civil servants. “The politically-correct propagandists assert that humans are essentially interchangeable, regardless of culture or genetics, and that some form of multicultural social-welfare democracy is the ideal, final political state for all of humanity. Neoreaction says no. The sexes are biologically distinct, genetics matter, and democracy is deeply flawed and fundamentally unstable.”79

While Alt Rightists largely agree with these neoreactionary ideas, and some outsiders have equated the two movements, Alt Right and neoreaction differ significantly. Alt Rightists might or might not invoke popular sovereignty as an achievement of European civilization, and try to strike a populist or anti-elitist pose, but neoreactionaries all regard regular people as utterly unsuited to hold political power—“a howling irrational mob” as NRx theorist Nick Land has put it.80 Some NRxers advocate monarchy; others want to turn the state into a corporation with members of an intellectual elite as shareholders.81 Conversely, neoreactionaries might or might not translate their genetic determinism into calls for racial solidarity, but for most Alt Rightists race is the basis for everything else.82 Unlike most Alt Rightists, leading neoreactionaries have not supported Donald Trump.83 In addition, while many Alt Rightists emphasize antisemitism, neoreactionaries generally do not, and some neoreactionaries are Jewish or, in Yarvin’s case, of mixed Jewish and non-Jewish ancestry.84 Indeed, in The Right Stuff’s lexicon of Alt Right terminology, “Neoreaction” translates as “Jews.”

At the same time, many Alt Rightists regard neoreaction as a related movement that offers many positive contributions. Some writers, such as Steve Sailer, have had a foot in both camps. Alt Rightist Gregory Hood has argued that White nationalism and neoreaction are complementary: “I’ve argued in the past that race is sufficient in and of itself to serve as a foundation for state policy. However, just saying that tells you very little about how precisely you execute that program. NRx and its theoretical predecessors are absolutely core to understanding how society works and how power functions.”85 Anarcho-pluralist Keith Preston applauded a proposal by NRxer Michael Anissimov to create breakaway enclaves in “low-population, defensible regions of the United States like Idaho.”86 On its own, neoreaction seems too esoteric to have much of a political impact, but its contribution to Alt Right ideology might be significant.

PART 3 – RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP

Political strategy debates

The Alternative Right first gained mainstream attention through its support for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. In exploring the Alt Right’s relationship with the Trump campaign and with Trump as president-elect, several issues deserve special attention: the movement’s debates about political strategy, its skillful use of online activism, and its attraction of a wider circle of sympathizers and popularizers who came to be known as the “Alt Lite.”

Alt Rightists’ embrace of Trump followed several years in which they argued about whether to work within existing political channels or reject them entirely. During this period, American Renaissance columnist Hubert Collins called on White nationalists to use the electoral process and ally with more mainstream anti-immigrant groups to keep Whites at as high a percentage of the U.S. population as possible.87 In contrast, Gregory Hood of Counter-Currents Publishing declared that the United States was “beyond reform” and political secession was “the only way out.” Sidestepping this issue, many Alt Rightists have followed the European New Right lead and focused on a “metapolitical” strategy of seeking to transform the broader culture. In Lawrence Murray’s words, “When the idea of White nationalism has taken root among enough of our people, the potential to demand, demonstrate, and act will be superior to what it currently is.”89 Jack Donovan has argued that the U.S. is on the road to becoming a failed state and urged Alt Rightists to “build the kinds of resilient communities and networks of skilled people that can survive the collapse and preserve your identities after the Fall.”90 To Donovan, this is an optimistic scenario: “In a failed state, we go back to Wild West rules, and America becomes a place for men again—a land full of promise and possibility that rewards daring and ingenuity, a place where men can restart the world.”91

Donald Trump speaking to supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, 2016.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr).

Whether or not to work within established political channels has been debated at movement events, with some Alt Rightists moving from one position to another. Richard Spencer, for example, argued in 2011 that “the GOP could unite a substantial majority of white voters by focusing its platform on immigration restriction.” This strategy “would…ensure that future Americans inherit a country that resembles that of their ancestors.” But two years later, Spencer seemingly turned his back on the Republican Party and called for creating a separate White ethnostate in North America. He declared, “the majority of children born in the United States are non-White. Thus, from our perspective, any future immigration-restriction efforts are meaningless.” Spencer also argued that “restoring the Constitution,” (going back to an aristocratic republic run by property-owning White men) as some White nationalists advocated, would only lead to a similar or worse situation.

One approach has been to propose working within the system in order to weaken it, advocating changes that sound reasonable but require radical change—a right-wing version of the Trotskyist transitional demand strategy. Ted Sallis, for example, urged White nationalists to “demand a seat at the multicultural table, represented by real advocates of White interests, not groveling patsies.” This would involve using the language of multiculturalism to complain about “legitimate” cases of discrimination against Whites or members of other dominant groups. The aim here would not be “reforming the System. It is instead using the contradictions and weaknesses of the System against itself…”94

The Traditionalist Youth Network is a White nationalist group founded in 2013 by Matthew Heimbach.

To a large extent, Alternative Rightist support for Trump’s presidential candidacy followed a related approach of using the system against itself. Alt Rightists began praising Trump in 2015, and by mid-2016 most of the movement was applauding him. But this support was qualified by the recognition that Trump was not one of them and was not going to bring about the change they wanted. Brad Griffin, who blogs at Occidental Dissent under the name Hunter Wallace, hoped in late 2015 that Trump “provokes a fatal split that topples the GOP.” The Traditionalist Youth Network declared:

While Donald Trump is neither a Traditionalist nor a White nationalist, he is a threat to the economic and social powers of the international Jew. For this reason alone as long as Trump stands strong on deportation and immigration enforcement we should support his candidacy insofar as we can use it to push more hardcore positions on immigration and Identity. Donald Trump is not the savior of Whites in America, he is however a booming salvo across the bow of the Left and Jewish power to tell them that White America is awakening, and we are tired of business as usual.96

At The Right Stuff, “Professor Evola-Hitler” argued that Trump had broken important taboos on issues such as curtailing immigration and ending birthright citizenship, damaged the Republican Party’s pro-Israel coalition, shifted the party closer to ethnic nationalism, and “offers the opportunity for the Alt-Right to expand quickly,” but cautioned that “We need to be taking advantage of Trump, not allow Trump to take advantage of us.”97

Not all Alt Rightists supported Trump. The Right Stuff contributor “Auschwitz Soccer Ref” argued that Alt Rightists shouldn’t support Trump since two of his children had married Jews, making him “naturally loyal” to Israel.98 Jack Donovan suggested that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be preferable, because she would “drive home the reality that white men are no longer in charge… and that [the United States] is no longer their country and never will be again,”99 Keith Preston commented, “The alt-right’s attachment to Trump seems to be a mirror image repeat of the religious right’s attachment to Reagan, i.e. the case of an insurgent, somewhat reactionary, populist movement being taken for a ride by a thoroughly pro-ruling class centrist politician motivated primarily by personal ambition.”100 However, these anti-Trump voices were squarely in the minority.

Internet memes and harassment campaigns

Alt Rightists also turned online harassment and abuse into a potent tactic for frightening and silencing opponents. Photo: Sebastian via Flickr.

The main way that Alt Rightists helped Trump’s campaign was through online activism. A pivotal example came in the summer of 2015, when Alt Rightists promoted the #cuckservative meme to attack Trump’s GOP rivals as traitors and sellouts to liberalism. “Cuckservative” combines the words “conservative” and “cuckold,” meaning a man whose wife has sex with other men. As journalist Joseph Bernstein pointed out, “The term’s connotations are racist. By alluding to a genre of porn in which passive white husbands watch their wives have sex with black men, it casts its targets as impotent defenders of white people in America.”101 During the weeks leading up to the first Republican presidential debate, Alt Rightists spread the meme across social media to boost Trump and vilify his GOP rivals, as in a Tweet that showed a picture of Jeb Bush with the words, “Please fuck my country, Mexico. #Cuckservative.”102 As Anti-Fascist News pointed out, this initiative “allowed racialist discourse to shift into the public, making #cuckservative an accusation that mainstream Republicans feel like they have to answer to.”103

Alt Rightists also turned online harassment and abuse into a potent tactic for frightening and silencing opponents, borrowing directly from the manosphere’s Gamergate campaign discussed above. In the Spring of 2016, for example, anti-Trump protesters at Portland State University were flooded with racist, transphobic, and antisemitic messages, doxxing, and rape and death threats, sent from anonymous social media accounts. Reflecting the manosphere’s influence, Alt Right harassment often emphasized sexual violence and the humiliation of women and girls, even when men were the supposed targets.104 David French, staff writer at the conservative National Review, described the yearlong stream of relentless online abuse his family has endured because he criticized Trump and the Alt Right:

I saw images of my daughter’s face in gas chambers, with a smiling Trump in a Nazi uniform preparing to press a button and kill her. I saw her face photoshopped into images of slaves. She was called a “niglet” and a “dindu.” The alt-right unleashed on my wife, Nancy, claiming that she had slept with black men while I was deployed to Iraq, and that I loved to watch while she had sex with “black bucks.” People sent her pornographic images of black men having sex with white women, with someone photoshopped to look like me, watching.105

PULSE Nightclub sign in Orlando (photo: Daniel Ruyter via Flickr).

Another example of Alt Right online activism was the campaign to “wedge gays and Muslims,” as “Butch Leghorn” of The Right Stuff put it. Writing in June 2016, two days after Afghani American Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Leghorn declared, “Gays will never be safe from Muslim violence, and the liberals will allow Muslim violence against gays because Muslims are higher ranked on the Progressive stack than gays…. This makes [the Orlando] shooting a very valuable wedge issue. By allowing Muslims into America, the Democrats are in effect choosing Muslims over gays. We simply need to hammer this issue. Meme magic is real boys, so spread this meme. Drive this wedge. Smash their coalition.”106 Leghorn offered several examples of talking points and images to use, such as a rainbow flag with the words “Fuck Islam” superimposed over it.

One of the Alt Right’s most skillful uses of social media in 2016 was the #DraftOurDaughters meme, which was trending on Twitter the week before the election. As the website Know Your Meme explained, “#DraftOurDaughters is a satirical social media hashtag launched by supporters of Donald Trump which encourages American women to register for Selective Service in preparation for hypothetical scenarios of United States military operations that would supposedly be launched by Hillary Clinton if she were elected as President of the United States.” The campaign included a series of fake Clinton campaign ads, many of which feature images of women in military uniform and slogans such as “Hillary will stand up to Russian Aggression. Will you stand with her?,” “I’d rather die in a war than live under bigotry,” and “In the White House or on Russian soil. The fight for equality never stops.”107

The Daily Stormer is White supremacist news and commentary website edited by Andrew Anglin.

#DraftOurDaughters portrayed the Clinton campaign as fusing feminism/multiculturalism and aggressive militarism. Since that was a reasonably accurate description of Clinton’s politics, the meme was equally effective as either disinformation or satire. A number of Alt Right sites, such as Vox Popoli and The Daily Stormer, promoted the campaign.108 Along with spreading the “ads” themselves, Alt Rightists also spread the phony claim that mainstream media had been taken in by them.109

The Alt Lite

As the Alt Right has grown and attracted increased attention, it has also developed complicated relationships with more moderate rightists. The movement has largely defined itself and drawn energy by denouncing conservatives, and some conservatives have returned the favor, such as the prestigious National Review.110 At the same time, other conservatives have taken on the role of apologists or supporters for the Alt Right, helping to spread a lot of its message without embracing its full ideology or its ethnostate goals. Richard Spencer and his comrades began to call this phenomenon the “Alt Right-lite” or simply the “Alt Lite.” Alt Rightists have relied on the Alt Lite to help bring its ideas to a mass, mainstream audience, but to varying degrees they have also regarded Alt Lite figures with resentment, as ideologically untrustworthy opportunists.

Breitbart News Network is the preeminent example of Alt Lite politics. Founded in 2007, Breitbart featured sensationalist attacks on liberals and liberal groups, praise for the Tea Party’s anti-big government populism, and aggressive denials that conservatives were racist, sexist, or homophobic. Under Steve Bannon, who took over leadership in 2012, the organ began to scapegoat Muslims and immigrants more directly.111 In March 2016, Breitbart published “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right,” by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, which asserted—without evidence—that most Alt Rightists did not believe their own racist propaganda, but were actually just libertarians trying to shock people.112 The article helped boost the Alt Right’s profile and acceptability in mainstream circles, yet many Alt Rightists criticized it for glossing over their White nationalist ideology.113

Milo Yiannopoulos. (Photo by Kmeron for LeWeb13 Conference via Flickr.)

Over the following months, Yiannopoulos—a flamboyantly gay man of Jewish descent and a political performer who vilifies Muslims and women and refers to Donald Trump as “Daddy”—became publicly identified with the Alt Right himself, to mixed reviews from Alt Rightists.114 Meanwhile, Steve Bannon declared Breitbart “the platform of the Alt Right” and began publishing semi-veiled antisemitic attacks on Trump’s opponents, all while insisting that White nationalists, antisemites, and homophobes were marginal to the Alt Right.115 Richard Spencer was pleased when Donald Trump hired Bannon to run his campaign, commenting that “Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to Alt Right ideas and writers” and that the media outlet “has people on board who take us seriously, even if they are not Alt Right themselves.”116 But other Alt Rightists have been more critical of the Alt Lite phenomenon. At Occidental Dissent, Brad Griffin describes the Alt Lite as “basically conservative websites pushing Alt-Right material in order to generate clicks and revenue,” and asks, “What the hell does Milo Yiannopoulos—a Jewish homosexual who boasts about carrying on interracial relationships with black men—have to do with us?”117

CONCLUSION: THE ALT RIGHT AND THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY

Most Alt Rightists were thrilled by Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton, but not because they believe that Trump shares their politics or will bring about the changes that they want. Rather, they believe a Trump presidency will offer them “breathing room” to promote their ideology and to “move the Overton window” in their favor.118 In turn, they see themselves as the Trump coalition’s political vanguard, taking hardline positions that pull Trump further to the right while enabling him to look moderate by comparison. In Richard Spencer’s words, “The Alt Right and Trumpian populism are now aligned much in the way the Left is aligned with Democratic politicians like Obama and Hillary…. We—and only we—can say the things Trump can’t say . . . can criticize him in the right way . . . and can envision a new world that he can’t quite grasp.”119 The Traditionalist Youth Network was more specific: “We cannot and will not back down on the Jewish Question or our explicit racial identity. We won’t. Don’t worry. But we will join those who aren’t as radical as we are in pulling politics in our direction.”120

But the question of how to play that vanguard role has already sharpened tensions between the Alt Right and its sympathizers, and to some extent within the Alt Right itself. At the National Policy Institute conference shortly after the election, Spencer’s closing speech ended with the shout “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” which many audience members greeted with fascist salutes. The fact that it was caught on video by journalists made it a politically embarrassing moment. Alt Lite figure Mike Cernovich claimed, absurdly, that Spencer had acted on behalf of the government to deliberately discredit the movement. Several other sympathizers, and even long-time Alt Rightist Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, also criticized Spencer’s behavior as damaging.121

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

In the months and years ahead, there are likely to be further tensions within the larger Trump coalition, which spans from Alt Rightists to mainstream conservatives. Although Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor puts someone with Alt Right ties close to the center of power, most of his other appointments are hardline establishment figures. On a number of issues, from immigration policy to Israel, Alt Rightists could easily find themselves pushed into an oppositional role. VDare.com founder Peter Brimelow has warned that Alt Rightists might “revolt” if the Trump administration fails to move in the direction they want.122

Even if that happens, however, Alt Rightists could continue to exert significant pressure on a Trump administration, because they know how to speak effectively to a large part of his popular base. The Alt Right has helped revitalize White nationalist and male supremacist politics in the United States. While earlier generations of far-right activists broke new ground with online bulletin boards such as Stormfront, Alt Rightists have made effective use of the internet for everything from theoretical debate to mass campaigns of targeted ridicule. In previous decades, White nationalists largely relied on coded language and euphemisms when seeking mass support, but Alt Rightists often parade their hate ideology aggressively and confidently. Although the movement has seen its share of infighting, it has also been relatively successful in crafting a workable “big-tent” culture that welcomes diverse points of view and fosters fruitful interchange with related ideological currents.

The Alt Right has been buoyed by Donald Trump’s drive to the presidency, and has aided Trump in return, while maintaining a clear sense of the relationship’s limits. Unlike many grassroots initiatives that pour themselves into electoral politics and get trapped, the Alt Right is well positioned to maintain its own identity and freedom of maneuver. Because it mostly exists online, the Alt Right does not have the infrastructure needed to launch a guerrilla war (as Nazi/Klan forces did in the 1980s) or build pseudo-state institutions (as Patriot groups did in the 1990s and are attempting again now), but it is in a strong position to pursue a “metapolitical” transformation of the political culture and thereby lay the groundwork for structural change, centered on its vision of a White ethnostate.

Endnotes

[1] David Weigel. “‘Cuckservative’—the conservative insult of the month, explained.” The Washington Post, July 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/07/29/cuckservative-the-conservative-insult-of-the-month-explained

[2] Abby Ohlheiser and Caitlin Dewey. “Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech, annotated.” The Washington Post, August 25, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/25/hillary-clintons-alt-right-speech-annotated/

[3] Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum. “‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/

[4] I use the term “Far Right” to refer to political forces that (a) promote human inequality based on race, gender, or other factors as natural or inevitable and (b) reject the legitimacy of the U.S. political system. This definition is specific to the United States today and does not necessarily apply to other times or places.

[5] Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. (New York: Guilford Press, 2000), 145-47, 160-61.

[6] Ibid., 243-44, 283-84.

[7] Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli. “Nullification, Neo-Confederates, and the Revenge of the Old Right.” Political Research Associates, November 22, 2013. http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/11/22/nullification-neo-confederates-and-the-revenge-of-the-old-right/

[8] Matthew N. Lyons, “Fragmented Nationalism: Right-Wing Responses to September 11 in Historical Context.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 127, no 4 (October, 2003), 398-404.

[9] Roger Griffin, “Plus ça change! The Fascist Legacy in the Metapolitics of the Nouvelle Droite.” Chapter for The Development of the Radical Right in France 1890-1995. (London: Routledge: 2000). Anton Shekhovtsov, “Aleksandr Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism: The New Right a la Russe.” Religion Compass 3, no. 4 (2009): 697-716.

[10] Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier, “Manifesto of the French New Right in the Year 2000.” https://archive.org/details/ManifestoOfTheFrenchNewRightInTheYear2000

[11] In the 1990s, the ex-leftist journal Telos was instrumental in translating European New Right texts into English and engaging with ENR ideas. See for example the Telos Winter 1993-Fall 1994 (nos. 98-99) special double issue on “The French New Right: New Right-New Left-New Paradigm?”

[12] See, for example, Richard Spencer, “The Conservative Write.” Taki’s Magazine, August 6, 2008. http://takimag.com/article/the_conservative_write/print#axzz4VruMeHTg; Kevin DeAnna, “The Alternative Right.” Taki’s Magazine, July 26, 2009. http://takimag.com/article/the_alternative_right/print#axzz4VruMeHTg; and Jack Hunter, “Whither the Alternative Right?” Taki’s Magazine, November 3, 2009. http://takimag.com/article/whither_the_alternative_right#axzz4VruMeHTg

[13] Matthew N. Lyons, “AlternativeRight.com: Paleoconservatism for the 21st Century.” Three Way Fight. September 19, 2010, http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2010/09/alternativerightcom-paleoconservatism.html

[14] Greg Johnson, “Theory & Practice.” Counter-Currents Publishing, September 2010, http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/09/theory-practice/

[15] James Kirchick, “American Racist Richard Spencer Gets to Play the Martyr in Hungary.” The Daily Beast, October 7, 2014. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/07/american-racist-richard-spencer-gets-to-play-the-martyr-in-hungary.html

[16] Antifascist Front, “Alternative Internet Racism: Alt Right and the New Fascist Branding.” Anti-Fascist News, December 18, 2015. https://antifascistnews.net/2015/12/18/alternative-internet-racism-alt-right-and-the-new-fascist-branding/

[17] Lawrence Murray, “Fashism.” The Right Stuff, October 24, 2015. http://therightstuff.biz/2015/10/24/fashism/

[18] Richard Hoste, “Why an Alternative Right is Necessary.” AlternativeRight.com. February 24, 2010. http://www.radixjournal.com/altright-archive/altright-archive/main/the-magazine/why-an-alternative-right-is-necessary

[19] Johnson op cit., 2010.

[20] Lawrence Murray, “The Fight for the Alt-Right: The Rising Tide of Ideological Autism Against Big-Tent Supremacy.” The Right Stuff, March 6, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/03/06/big-tentism/

[21] Alfred W. Clark, “What is the #Altright?” Radix, January 20, 2016. http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/1/20/what-is-the-altright

[22] Richard B. Spencer, “Identitarianism—A Conversation Starter.” Radix, June 15, 2015. http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2015/6/15/identitarianisma-conversation-starter

[23] Darth Stirner, “Fascist Libertarianism: For a Better World.” The Right Stuff, January 23, 2013. http://therightstuff.biz/2013/01/23/fascist-libertarianism-for-a-better-world/

[24] Antifascist Front. “#Cuckservative: How the ‘Alt Right’ Took Off Their Masks and Revealed Their White Hoods.” Anti-Fascist News, August 16, 2015. https://antifascistnews.net/2015/08/16/cuckservative-how-the-alt-right-took-off-their-masks-and-revealed-their-white-hoods/

[25] Ibid.

[26] Andrew Anglin, “Intensified Jewing: Vox Covers the Alt-Right.” Daily Stormer, April 18, 2016. http://www.dailystormer.com/intensified-jewing-vox-covers-the-alt-right/

[27] Auschwitz Soccer Ref, “Zero Tolerance: Why Aren’t White Nationalists and Jewish Nationalists Fellow Travelers?” The Right Stuff, April 11, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/11/zero-tolerance-why-arent-white-nationalists-and-jewish-nationalists-fellow-travelers/

[28] Jared Taylor, “Jews and American Renaissance.” American Renaissance, April 14, 2006. http://www.amren.com/news/2006/04/jews_and_americ/

[29] Eugene Girin, “Is the Alt Right Anti-Semitic?” AlternativeRight.com, July 29, 2010. [Reposted in Radix.] http://www.radixjournal.com/altright-archive/altright-archive/main/the-magazine/is-the-traditionalist-right-anti-semitic

[30] M. K. Lane, “Will Jews Change Sides?” Counter-Currents Publishing, February 17, 2016. http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/02/will-jews-change-sides/

[31] Alex Kurtagic, “Women as a Measure of Credibility.” AlternativeRight.com, May 25, 2011. http://www.radixjournal.com/altright-archive/altright-archive/main/blogs/untimely-observations/women-as-a-measure-of-credibility

[32] Quoted in Lyons op cit. 2010.

[33] Matthew N. Lyons, “Alt-right: more misogynistic than many neonazis.” Three Way Fight, December 3, 2016. http://threewayfight.blogspot.com/2016/12/alt-right-more-misogynistic-than-many.html

[34] Traditionalist Youth Network, “Jews Destroy Women: A Response to ‘Women Destroy Nations.” Traditionalist Youth Network, February 2016. http://www.tradyouth.org/2016/02/jews-destroy-women/

[35] Danielle Paquette, “The alt-right isn’t only about white supremacy. It’s about white male supremacy.” Chicago Tribune, November 25, 2016. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-alt-right-white-male-supremacy-20161125-story.html

[36] Jeff Sharlet, “Are You Man Enough for the Men’s Rights Movement?” GQ, February 3, 2014. http://www.gq.com/story/mens-rights-activism-the-red-pill

[37] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “What is Neomasculinity?” Roosh V, May 6, 2015. http://www.rooshv.com/what-is-neomasculinity

[38] Paul Elam, “Jury duty at a rape trial? Acquit!” A Voice for Men, July 20, 2010. http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/jury-duty-at-a-rape-trial-acquit/

[39] Paul Elam, “October is the fifth annual Bash a Violent Bitch Month” A Voice for Men, September 30, 2015. http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/domestic-violence-industry/october-is-the-fifth-annual-bash-a-violent-bitch-month/

[40] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “Why Homosexual Marriage Matters For Straight Men.” Return of Kings, October 12, 2015. https://archive.is/HzSIx#selection-139.0-139.16

[41] Matt Forney, “Are Transsexuals Who Sleep With Straight Men Guilty of Rape?” Return of Kings, December 8, 2014. http://www.returnofkings.com/48665/are-transsexuals-who-sleep-with-straight-men-guilty-of-rape

[42] Paul Elam, “Andy Bob exposes feminist hatred of gay men in new book.” A Voice for Men, January 7, 2016. http://www.avoiceformen.com/a-voice-for-men/andy-bob-exposes-feminist-hatred-of-gay-men-in-new-book/

[43] Stephen Totilo, “Another Woman in Gaming Flees Home Following Death Threats.” Kotaku, October 11, 2014. http://kotaku.com/another-woman-in-gaming-flees-home-following-death-thre-1645280338

[44] Amanda Hess, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.” Pacific Standard, January 6, 2014. https://psmag.com/why-women-aren-t-welcome-on-the-internet-aa21fdbc8d6

[45] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “The Damaging Effects of Jewish Intellectualism And Activism On Western Culture.” Return of Kings, May 4, 2015. http://www.returnofkings.com/62716/the-damaging-effects-of-jewish-intellectualism-and-activism-on-western-culture

[46] Dota, “Manosphere Rising.” Alternative Right, May 14, 2015. http://alternative-right.blogspot.com/2015/05/manosphere-rising.html

[47] Matt Parrott, “An Endorsement of Roosh’s ‘Neomasculinity’ Manifesto.” Traditionalist Youth Network, May 2015 [updated 19 January 2016]. http://www.tradyouth.org/2015/05/roosh-neomasculinity/

[48] David Futrelle, Hitler-loving dudes named Andrew agree: Roosh V is a-OK! (Even though he’s not white.)” We Hunted the Mammoth, August 15, 2015. http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/08/15/hitler-loving-dudes-named-andrew-agree-roosh-v-is-a-ok-even-though-hes-not-white/

[49] David Futrelle, “Roosh V shocked to discover that white supremacist movement is full of white supremacists.” We Hunted the Mammoth, February 24, 2016. http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2016/02/24/roosh-v-shocked-to-discover-that-white-supremacist-movement-is-full-of-white-supremacists/

[50] Greg Johnson, “Roosh Really is a Rape Advocate (& a Rapist, if He’s Telling the Truth).” Counter-Currents Publishing n.d., https://archive.is/T66uL

[51] Roosh V [Daryush Valizadeh], “The Alt Right Is Worse Than Feminism in Attempting to Control Male Sexual Behavior.” Return of Kings, February 22, 2016. http://www.returnofkings.com/79234/the-alt-right-is-worse-than-feminism-in-attempting-to-control-male-sexual-behavior; Futrelle 2016 op cit.

[52] Jack Donovan, The Way of Men. (Milwaukie, Ore.: Dissonant Hum.: 2012), 138-9.

[53] Ibid., 137, 148.

[54] Jack Donovan, “A Time for Wolves.” Jack Donovan, June 14, 2014. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2014/06/a-time-for-wolves/

[55] Rose City Antifa, “The Wolves of Vinland: a Fascist Countercultural ‘Tribe’ in the Pacific Northwest.” Rose City Antifa, November 7, 2016. http://rosecityantifa.org/articles/the-wolves-of-vinland-a-fascist-countercultural-tribe-in-the-pacific-northwest/

[56] Jack Donovan, “Mighty White.” Jack Donovan, December 18, 2011. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2011/12/mighty-white/

[57] Jack Donovan, A Sky Without Eagles: Selected Essays and Speeches 2010-2014. (Milwaukie, Ore.: Dissonant Hum, 2014), 166.

[58] F. T. Marinetti, “The Futurist Manifesto.” (1909). http://bactra.org/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html

[59] Jack Donovan, “Anarcho-Fascism.” Jack Donovan, March 3, 2013. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2013/03/anarcho-fascism/

[60] Jack Donovan, Comment. Roosh V Forum, November 16, 2012. https://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-17870.html

[61] Antifascist Front, “Queer Fascism: Why White Nationalists Are Trying to Drop Homophobia.” Anti-Fascist News, November 6, 2015.

[62] Shane Burley, “How the Alt-Right Is Attempting to Hide Its White Supremacist Ties.” Truthout, September 15, 2016. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37611-how-the-alt-right-is-attempting-to-hide-its-white-supremacist-ties

[63] Spencer Sunshine, “Rebranding Fascism: National-Anarchists.” The Public Eye Magazine 23, no. 4 (2008), http://www.politicalresearch.org/2008/01/28/rebranding-fascism-national-anarchists/; Graham D. Macklin, “Co-opting the Counter Culture: Troy Southgate and the National Revolutionary Faction.” Patterns of Prejudice 39, no. 3 (2005).

[64] Greg Johnson, “Bay Area National Anarchists: An Interview with Andrew Yeoman, Part 1.” The Occidental Quarterly, August 21, 2009. http://www.toqonline.com/blog/interview-with-andrew-yeoman-part-i/; “THIRD WAY: Introducing the National-Anarchist Movement.” National-Anarchist Movement, 3 October, 2010. http://www.national-anarchist.net/2010/10/third-way-introducing-national.html

[65] National-Anarchist Movement, “N-AM Manifesto.” National-Anarchist Movement (2010). http://www.national-anarchist.net/2010/09/national-anarchist-movement-manifesto_18.html

[66] National-Anarchist Movement, “National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) FAQ.” National-Anarchist Movement, November 21, 2012. http://www.national-anarchist.net/2012/10/national-anarchist-movement-n-am-faq.html

[67] Matthew N. Lyons, “Rising Above the Herd: Keith Preston’s Authoritarian Anti-Statism.” New Politics (website), April 29, 2011. http://newpol.org/content/rising-above-herd-keith-prestons-authoritarian-anti-statism

[68] American Revolutionary Vanguard, “Statement of Purpose.” Attack the System, 2016. https://attackthesystem.com/statement-of-purpose/

[69] Keith Preston, “The National-Anarchist Litmus Test.” Attack the System, April 24, 2009. https://attackthesystem.com/2009/04/24/the-national-anarchist-litmus-test/; Keith Preston, “The Thoughts That Guide Me.” Attack the System (2005), https://attackthesystem.com/the-thoughts-that-guide-me-a-personal-reflection/; Lyons 2011 op cit.

[70] Keith Preston, “Mass Immigration and Totalitarian Humanism.” Speech at National Policy Institute Conference, June 23, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyQPlCJxtEE; Preston 2005 op cit.

[71] Keith Preston, “What, Exactly, is the ‘Alternative Right?’” [Introductory comments.] Attack the System, December 23, 2015. https://attackthesystem.com/2015/12/23/what-exactly-is-the-alternative-right/

[72] Francisco Albanese, “Rethinking White Tribalism: Anarchy in the Southern Cone.” Counter-Currents Publishing, June 5, 2014.

[73] Keith Preston, “Anarchist Economics Compared and Contrasted: Anarcho-Capitalism vs Anarcho-Syndicalism/Communism.” Attack the System, March 21, 2015. https://attackthesystem.com/2015/03/21/anarchist-economics-compared-and-contrasted-anarcho-capitalism-vs-anarcho-syndicalismcommunism/; Michael J. McVicar, “The Libertarian Theocrats: The Long, Strange History of R. J. Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism.” The Public Eye, vol. 22, no. 3 (Fall 2007). http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v22n3/libertarian.html

[74] Keith Preston, “Anarcho-Pluralism and Pan-Secessionism: What They Are and What They Are Not.” Attack the System, August 8, 2010. https://attackthesystem.com/2010/08/08/anarcho-pluralism-and-pan-secessionism-what-they-are-and-what-they-are-not/

[75] Keith Preston, “Third North American Secessionists Convention — A Review.” Attack the System, November 19, 2008.

[76] Park MacDougald, “The Darkness Before the Right.” The Awl, September 28, 2015. https://theawl.com/the-darkness-before-the-right-84e97225ac19

[77] Peter Thiel, ‘The Education of a Libertarian.” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009. https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian

[78] Klint Finley, “Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries.” TechCrunch, 22 November 2013, http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/22/geeks-for-monarchy/

[79] Scharlach, “Neoreaction = Monarchy?” Habitable Worlds, 23 November 2013.

[80] Nick Land, “The Dark Enlightenment: Part 1.” The Dark Enlightenment (2013), http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/; MacDougald op cit.

[81] Finley op cit.

[82] Hubert Collins and Hadley Bishop, “Two Prominent Identitarians Give Us Their Thoughts On Neoreaction.” Interview with Michael McGregor and Gregory Hood. Social Matter, October 15, 2014. http://www.socialmatter.net/2014/10/15/724/

[83] Dylan Matthews, “The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It’s that, but way way weirder.” Vox, April 18, 2016. http://www.vox.com/2016/4/18/11434098/alt-right-explained

[84] Mencius Moldbug [Curtis Yarvin], “Why I am not an anti-Semite.” Unqualified Reservations, June 23, 2007. http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/06/why-i-am-not-anti-semite.html

[85] Collins and Bishop op cit.

[86] Keith Preston, “The Growth of the Alternative Right.” Attack the System, January 4, 2016. https://attackthesystem.com/2016/01/04/the-growth-of-the-alternative-right/

[87] Anti-Defamation League, “Point of Contention: A Fractured White Supremacist Take on Immigration.” Anti-Defamation League, May 5, 2015. http://www.adl.org/civil-rights/immigration/c/point-of-contention-immigration.html

[88] Gregory Hood, “The Solution is State Power.” Counter-Currents Publishing, December 2012. http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/12/the-solution-is-state-power/

[89] Lawrence Murray, “White Nationalism FAQ.” The Right Stuff, April 14, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/14/white-nationalism-faq/

[90] Jack Donovan, “Becoming the New Barbarians.” Radix, December 23, 2013. http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/becoming-the-new-barbarians

[91] Jack Donovan, “The Bright Side of Illegal Immigration.” Jack Donovan, November 13, 2012. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2012/11/the-bright-side-of-illegal-immigration/

[92] Richard Spencer, “The Majority Strategy: The Essential Argument—Why The GOP Must Win White America,” V-Dare September 8, 2011. http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-majority-strategy

[93] Richard Spencer, “Facing the Future as a Minority,” The National Policy Institute April 30, 2013. http://www.npiamerica.org/the-national-policy-institute/blog/facing-the-future-as-a-minority

[94] Ted Sallis, “Democratic Multiculturalism: Strategy & Tactics.” Counter-Currents Publishing, November 19, 2014. http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/11/democratic-multiculturalism/

[95] Hunter Wallace [Brad Griffin], “Trump, White Nationalists, The Media.” Occidental Dissent, December 10, 2015. Comment by Hunter Wallace, December 10, 2015 at 8:53 pm. https://web.archive.org/web/20160114034742/http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2015/12/10/trump-white-nationalists-the-media/

[96] Traditionalist Youth Network, “The Trump Train and the Southern Strategy: The Only Hope for the GOP.” Traditionalist Youth Network, October 2015. http://www.tradyouth.org/2015/10/the-trump-train-and-the-southern-strategy-the-only-hope-for-the-gop/

[97] Professor Evola-Hitler, “Trump’s Our Guy for the 2016 Election. We Have No Choice.” The Right Stuff, April 29, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/29/trumps-our-guy-for-the-2016-election-we-have-no-choice/

[98] Auschwitz Soccer Ref, “Trump’s Not Our Guy. It’s Time to Stop Pretending Otherwise.” The Right Stuff, April 25, 2016. http://therightstuff.biz/2016/04/25/trumps-not-our-guy-its-time-to-stop-pretending-otherwise/

[99] Jack Donovan, “No One Will Ever Make America Great Again.” Jack Donovan, July 7, 2016. http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2016/07/no-one-will-ever-make-america-great-again/

[100] Keith Preston, “The Alternative Right — An Autopsy.” Attack the System, May 21, 2016. https://attackthesystem.com/2016/05/21/the-alternative-right-an-autopsy/

[101] Joseph Bernstein, “Behind The Racist Hashtag That Is Blowing Up Twitter.” BuzzFeed, July 27, 2015. https://www.buzzfeed.com/josephbernstein/behind-the-racist-hashtag-some-donald-trump-fans-love

[102] Ibid.

[103] Antifascist Front (2015), “#Cuckservative” op cit.

[104] Robert Evans, “5 Things You Learn Being Attacked By The Alt-Right.” Cracked, September 20, 2016. http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2381-toddler-rape-threats-other-tactics-alt-right.html

[105] David French, “The Price I’ve Paid for Opposing Donald Trump.” National Review, October 21, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441319/donald-trump-alt-right-internet-abuse-never-trump-movement

[106] Butch Leghorn, “Wedging Gays and Muslims,” The Right Stuff June 14, 2016, http://therightstuff.biz/2016/06/14/wedging-gays-and-muslims/

[107] Know Your Meme. N.d. “#DraftOurDaughters.” Know Your Meme. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/draftourdaughters

[108] Eric Striker, “#DraftOurDaughters: Feminist Hillary Supporters Vow To Fight War With Russia For Us.” The Daily Stormer, October 28, 2016. http://www.dailystormer.com/draftourdaughters-feminist-hillary-supporters-vow-to-fight-war-with-russia-for-us/; Vox Day[Theodore Beale], “Draft our Daughters.” Vox Popoli, October 28, 2016. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/10/draft-our-daughters.html

[109] Abby Ohlheiser, “What was fake on the Internet this election: #DraftOurDaughters, Trump’s tax returns.” The Washington Post, October 31, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/10/31/what-was-fake-on-the-internet-this-election-draftourdaughters-trumps-tax-returns/

[110] Ian Tuttle, “The Racist Moral Rot at the Heart of the Alt-Right.” National Review, April 5, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/433650/alt-rights-racism-moral-rot

[111] Stephen Piggott, “Is Breitbart.com Becoming the Media Arm of the ‘Alt-Right’?” Hatewatch, April 28, 2016. Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/04/28/breitbartcom-becoming-media-arm-alt-right

[112] Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” Breitbart, March 29, 2016. http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/

[113] Antifascist Front, “Going Full Fash: Breitbart Mainstreams the ‘Alt Right’.” Anti-Fascist News, April 5, 2016. https://antifascistnews.net/2016/04/05/going-full-fash-breitbart-mainstreams-the-alt-right/

[114] Antifascist Front, “Meet the Alt Lite, the People Mainstreaming the Alt Right’s White Nationalism.” Anti-Fascist News, November 3, 2016. https://antifascistnews.net/2016/11/03/meet-the-alt-lite-the-people-mainstreaming-the-alt-rights-white-nationalism/

[115] Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists.” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news; Michelle Goldberg, “Breitbart Calls Trump Foe ‘Renegade Jew.’ This Is How Anti-Semitism Goes Mainstream.” Slate, May 16, 2016. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/05/16/breitbart_calls_bill_kristol_a_renegade_jew_is_disgusting.html

[116] Richard B. Spencer, “Make Trump Trump Again.” Radix, August 17, 2016. http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/8/17/make-trump-trump-again

[117] Hunter Wallace [Brad Griffin], “Alt-Right vs. Alt-Lite.” Occidental Dissent, November 23, 2016. http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2016/11/23/alt-right-vs-alt-lite/

[118] Vox Day [Theodore Beale], “Trumpslide!” Vox Popoli, November 9, 2016. “http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/11/one-last-chance-america.html; James Dunphy, “It’s Time to Turn Up the Heat.” Counter-Currents Publishing, November 2016. http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/11/its-time-to-turn-up-the-heat/

[119] Richard B. Spencer, “We the Vanguard Now.” Radix, November 9, 2016. http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/11/9/we-the-vanguard-now

[120] Matt Parrott, “Trump Apocalypse Now.” Traditionalist Youth Network, November 2016. http://www.tradyouth.org/2016/11/trump-apocalypse-now/#more-53331

[121] Antifascist Front, “Let’s Watch as the Alt Right Implodes.” Anti-Fascist News, December 4, 2016. https://antifascistnews.net/2016/12/04/lets-watch-as-the-alt-right-implodes/

[122] Rory Carroll, “‘Alt-right’ groups will ‘revolt’ if Trump shuns white supremacy, leaders say.” The Guardian, December 27, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/alt-right-donald-trump-white-supremacy-backlash

Alt Right

Portal Page

The Alt Right (short for “alternative right”) is a loosely organized far right movement that emphasizes internet activism (especially memes) and is hostile to both multicultural liberalism and mainstream conservatism. Alt-right ideology combines white nationalism, misogyny, antisemitism, and authoritarianism in various forms and in political styles ranging from intellectual argument to violent invective.

Featured Resource:


Ctrl-Alt-Delete addresses the origins and rise of the so-called “alt-right,” the fascistic movement that grabbed headlines in the months leading up to the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. The title essay, Matthew Lyons’s “Ctrl-Alt-Delete,” is a thorough survey of the origins of the alt-right, a look at its constituent parts and beliefs at the present time, as well as observations about how its future relationship with the Trump administration may play out. Of particular interest, Lyons draws attention to the importance of sexism and misogyny within this movement, to its long-term “metapolitical” strategy, as well as to the tensions between the disparate groups that have found their home under its banner. (Note that this text has also been made available online by Political Research Associates here for free in both html and PDF format.)

Top Resources:

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The origins and ideology of the Alternative Right
An antifascist report by Matthew Lyons on the far-right movement that embraced Donald Trump.

The Alt Right helped Donald Trump get elected president, and Trump’s campaign put the Alt Right in the news. But the movement was active well before Trump announced his candidacy, and its relationship with Trump has been more complex and more qualified than many critics realize. The Alt Right is just one of multiple dangerous forces associated with Trump, but it’s the one that has attracted the greatest notoriety. However, it’s not accurate to argue, as many critics have, that “Alt Right” is just a deceptive code-phrase meant to hide the movement’s White supremacist or neonazi politics. This is a movement with its own story, and for those concerned about the seemingly sudden resurgence of far-right politics in the United States, it is a story worth exploring.

Mobilizing Misogyny by Alex DiBranco

Trump’s campaign rhetoric energized members of a secular misogynist Right—such as the men’s rights movement and, more recently, the “Alt Right”—that has flourished online since the 1990s. And it found no pushback from a brand of conservative, libertarian “feminism”—another ’90s development—that provides a dangerously legitimizing female face for misogynist ideology centered on overt hostility to women and the promulgation of rape culture.

Birth of the Alt Right by David Neiwert

The story of how the gamergate controversy heralded the rise of the Alt Right: A world dominated by digital trolls, insanely unbridled conspiracism, angry White-male-identity victimization culture, and ultimately, open racism, antisemitism, ethnic hatred, misogyny, and sexual/gender paranoia. A place where human decency and ethics are considered antiquarian jokes, and empathy is only an invitation to assault.

 

Richard Spencer’s Mom Spins Victim Narrative for Self, While Neonazis Target Jews by Addie Stan

As president and director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a far-right, White nationalist organization, Spencer has put Whitefish on the map in a whole new way, roiling the waters of civic life, as local activists and civic leaders have sought to counter the unwelcome notoriety conferred upon their idyllic environs by Spencer, the self-styled spokesman for the racist, misogynist movement he has branded as the Alternative Right, known by the shorthand, Alt-Right.

Profile on the Right: Milo Yiannopoulos by Peter Montgomery

Milo Yiannopoulos is the technology co-editor for Breitbart News Network, the right-wing media operation that former CEO Steve Bannon—now chief strategist for President Donald Trump—proudly called the platform for the Alt Right. But that title does not begin to describe Yiannopoulos’s public persona as Breitbart’s enfant terrible, or, as he described himself in a recent speech on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” of college campuses, “the supervillain of the Internet.” The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich says, “Milo is the person who propelled the alt-right movement into the mainstream.”

Profile on the Right: Steve Bannon by Erin Kelly

Stephen Bannon is the former CEO of Brietbart News Network—which he promotes as “the platform for the Alt Right”—and is now Donald Trump’s chief strategist and a key player on national security issues. Bannon has a history of antisemitism and has been called “one of the foremost peddlers of white supremacist themes and rhetoric.” He has expressed admiration for anti-Muslim hate groups, ridiculed the Black Lives Matter movement, and likened civil rights advocacy to Communism.

Richard Spencer’s Mom Spins Victim Narrative for Self, While Neonazis Target Jews

Downtown Whitefish, MT. (Photo: Ted via Flickr).

Before Richard Spencer came to town in 2011, the tourist destination of Whitefish, Montana, was known mostly to well-heeled aficionados of the sporting life for its splendid vistas and ski slopes. Now it’s making news as a battleground in the fight against a rising tide of antisemitism that has greeted the election of Donald Trump.1)Jonathan Mahler, “Anti-Semitic Posts, Many From Trump Supporters, Surge on Twitter,” New York Times, October 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/19/us/politics/anti-semitism-trump-supporters-twitter.html.

As president and director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a far-right, White nationalist organization, Spencer has put Whitefish on the map in a whole new way, roiling the waters of civic life, as local activists and civic leaders have sought to counter the unwelcome notoriety conferred upon their idyllic environs by Spencer, the self-styled spokesman for the racist, misogynist movement he has branded as the Alternative Right, known by the shorthand, Alt-Right. Most recently, Jewish residents of Whitefish (and at least one person who was apparently mistakenly identified as Jewish) have found themselves harassed by neonazis and White nationalists who object to an effort by a local real estate agent to help Spencer’s mother, Sherry, sell a commercial building she owns in town, and her urging of Sherry Spencer to publicly disavow her son’s stated beliefs.2)Christine Hauser, “After Neo-Nazi Posting, Police in Whitefish, Mont., Step Up Patrols,” New York Times, December 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/whitefish-montana-jews-daily-stormer.html. That realtor, Tanya Gersh, is Jewish.

Sherry Spencer has since publicly complained that she is being unfairly targeted for the beliefs of her son,3)Sherry Spencer, “Does Love Really Live Here?”, Medium, December 16, 2016, https://medium.com/@recnepss/does-love-really-live-here-fff159563ba3#.lq1nwa2lz. failing to note that, as of December 2015, NPI was registered with the Montana secretary of state as an entity that conducts its business from Sherry Spencer’s six-bedroom home in Whitefish.4)Business Entity Registration (D231213), Montana Secretary of State.

In the world of the Right, no story satisfies so completely as that of an upstanding member of the dominant culture allegedly “victimized” by a minority group or a disadvantaged group’s champions. Witness the spate of so-called “religious freedom” claims by right-wing Christian evangelicals against measures intended to provide equal access to LGBTQ people, as is the case with North Carolina’s anti-trans HB2 measure, or women, as with Supreme Court challenges to the contraception mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act. During the presidential campaign, President-elect Trump stoked the flames of resentment by telling his mostly White supporters that they were the victims of misplaced, left-wing “political correctness.” His fans ate it up.

Richard Spencer is the president and director of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a far-right, White nationalist organization.

* * *

In the wake of a now-notorious November 19 NPI gathering in Washington, D.C., headlined by her son, Sherry Spencer found herself in a tough spot with many of her Whitefish neighbors, some of whom were discussing conducting protests outside the commercial building she owns.5)Joseph Goldstein, “Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute,” New York Times, November 20, 2016,
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/us/alt-right-salutes-donald-trump.html.
The NPI conference drew national attention not just as a coming out party for the White nationalist supporters of Trump’s election, but for Richard Spencer’s grand finale, in which he quoted Nazi propaganda in German and finished with a salute to the new regime reminiscent of scenes of rallies led by Adolf Hitler. “Hail Trump!” Spencer shouted. “Hail our people! Hail victory!” With that last “hail”—the English translation of the Nazi chant “Sieg heil”—a number of participants responded with the stiff-armed Roman salute used by the Nazis.6)Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum, “’Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President-Elect,” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/.

Spencer was already a star on the Far Right, but with this stunt he grabbed the spotlight of national media. Many in Whitefish were alarmed by the racist in their midst; business owners were left to ponder what it could mean to draw tourists to a town whose most famous resident was known for his emulation of one of history’s greatest monsters.

Love Lives Here is an affiliate of the Montana Human Rights Network, which monitors and counters the activities of far-right groups in the state.

In 2014, long before Spencer’s Washington confab took place, activists with the community group Love Lives Here (an affiliate of the Montana Human Rights Network, which monitors and counters the activities of far-right groups in the state) organized Whitefish residents to pass a resolution promoting diversity and tolerance in the city council. The resolution came about after proponents abandoned an earlier attempt to ban “hate groups” such as NPI from doing business in the municipality. The Flathead Beacon, a local news outlet, reported that supporters of the no-hate-group measure couldn’t come up with a proposal likely to survive First Amendment challenges.7)Tristan Scott, “Whitefish Council Adopts Resolution Supporting Diversity, Tolerance,” Flathead Beacon, December 2, 2014, http://flatheadbeacon.com/2014/12/02/whitefish-council-adopts-resolution-supporting-diversity-tolerance/.

But with Trump’s unexpected success in the Republican primary, and the subsequent appointment of former Breitbart News executive Stephen K. Bannon as his campaign CEO, Spencer began to emerge from his semi-obscurity. Bannon used Spencer’s coinage for the gathered strands of the White supremacist fringe that were weaving themselves into a movement, boasting to Mother Jones reporter Sarah Posner that under his leadership, Breitbart had become “the platform for the alt-right.”8)Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news. Bannon’s and Spencer’s term, Alt-Right, represents a collection of virulent groups with sometimes conflicting ideologies but common enemies, coming together to demonize entire categories of people, whether determined by race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. As Spencer’s star rose in relation to Bannon’s elevation and Trump’s amplification via Twitter of hateful, far-right voices,9)Jason Easley, “His Racism Is No Accident: Trump Has Retweeted White Supremacists 75 Times,” PoliticsUSA, July 3, 2016, http://www.politicususa.com/2016/07/03/proof-racism-accidenttrump-retweeted-white-supremacists-75-times.html. reporters from national and international outlets10)Josh Harkinson, “Meet the White Nationalist Trying to Ride the Trump Train to Lasting PowerMother Jones, October 27, 2016,http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/richard-spencer-trump-alt-right-white-nationalist. 11)Aleem Maqbool, “US election: The white supremacist grateful for Donald Trump,” BBC, September 22, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37433759. began making pilgrimages to Whitefish. They weren’t there for the skiing or the scenery. They came for Spencer.

After video of Spencer’s Nazi-ish speech hit the airwaves of national television outlets, Sherry Spencer called realtor Tanya Gersh on November 22. A Gersh family advisor says that Sherry Spencer initiated the call in order to discuss the possibility of selling the building. (Following threats to her family, Gersh is not speaking to media.) Sherry Spencer disputes that account, telling PRA via email that she called Gersh at the request of one of the building’s tenants, who, according to Sherry Spencer, was “extremely distressed.” The tenant, Sherry Spencer says, told her that Tanya Gersh “notified” her that “there would be up to 200 picketers and national media at the building.”

Sherry Spencer, in her comments to PRA, said that she made the call to Gersh “expecting to explain that the building was strictly a business (two retail spaces below and four vacation rentals above).” She continued: “The building has absolutely nothing to do with my son’s politics, it never has, and he has no ownership in the building. In spite of this explanation, Tanya Gersh told me that I must sell the building to make reparations to the community for my son’s ideas.”

According to 2014 legal documents filed with the City of Whitefish Planning & Building Department, Richard Spencer was the landowner at that time of the property on which Sherry Spencer erected her building.12)Subdivision Exemption Affidavit, signed by Richard Spencer as “landowner,” City of Whitefish Planning & Building Department, June 24, 2014. (In 2015, he transferred ownership to his mother, according to legal filings.13)Unanimous Written Consent in Lieu of Special Meeting of Roediger Property, Inc., January 13, 2015) The commercial property is a mixed-use affair that houses several retail businesses, offices and rental apartments for tourists.

In emails sent from Gersh on November 22 and 23 to Sherry Spencer, published online by the recipient,14)Emails to Sherry Spencer from Tanya Gersh, as archived here: https://www.scribd.com/document/334219220/Emails. Gersh offers to help Sherry Spencer sell the building for the lowest discounted broker’s fee her employer will allow her. She also urges Sherry Spencer to make a contribution from the proceeds of the sale to the Montana Human Rights Network, and to publish a statement disavowing Richard Spencer’s views, which Gersh took the liberty of drafting. It is clear from Gersh’s tone that she believes Sherry Spencer to be on board with the plan. In the earliest email published by Sherry Spencer, Gersh writes: “Sherry, thank you for talking so openly with me today. I just can’t imagine what you are going through”—an apparent reference to the condemnation of her son by many in the community following Richard Spencer’s “sieg heil” moment of fame. Gersh goes on to say that she is consulting with her boss regarding a listing price. “I put out many fires today just by mentioning the possible sale,” Gersh continues. “All is very quiet right now waiting for your announcement.” (You can read the full text of the emails here: https://www.scribd.com/document/334219220/Emails.)

But no announcement was forthcoming. Instead, Sherry Spencer penned an essay and posted it on Medium,15)Sherry Spencer, “Does Love Really Live Here?” Medium, December 16, 2016, https://medium.com/@recnepss/does-love-really-live-here-fff159563ba3#.lq1nwa2lz. accusing Gersh of threatening pickets of her building if Spencer didn’t sell. “Whatever you think about my son’s ideas — they are, after all, ideas — in what moral universe is it right for the ‘sins’ of the son to be visited upon the mother?” she wrote.

And with that, the gates of hell opened, as Andrew Anglin, proprietor of the neonazi website The Daily Stormer, sicced his followers on Gersh and other Whitefish residents. He published addresses for and photographs of his targets, which included one of Gersh’s sons, who is still a child. On the photos he published of the Gersh family and Jewish civic leaders, Anglin Photoshopped a facsimile of the yellow Star of David badge that Jews were required to wear in Nazi Germany. Anglin complained of news reports in “the lying Jew media”16)Andrew Anglin, “Lying Jew Media Says Daily Stormer “Threatened” Jewish Racketeers Extorting the Spencer Family,” The Daily Stormer, December 19, 2016 that he said misrepresented the situation in Whitefish, and tarred Love Lives Here as a terrorist group. 17)Andrew Anglin, “Operation Whitefish: New List of Collaborators with Jew Racketeers – TAKE ACTION,” The Daily Stormer, December 22, 2016

In another example of crude image manipulation, Anglin took a Nazi propaganda poster that features an image of a giant pointing hand and the words “Achtung—Jude!” (Attention, Jew!), and superimposed images of the faces of Gersh and her young son on the cartoon characters being pointed at on the original poster.18)Andrew Anglin, “19)(Neverending Story): Jews Respond to Chaos! in Whitefish Montana,” The Daily Stormer, December 21, 2016. He published the boy’s Twitter handle as well.20)Andrew Anglin, “Jews Targeting Richard Spencer’s Mother for Harassment and Extortion – TAKE ACTION!”The Daily Stormer, December 16, 2016.

As the abuse flooded in, Gersh shut down her website, and assumed a low profile. Local businesses received hateful phone calls and were trolled in online reviews. (The Buffalo Café was targeted apparently because the neonazis mistook the Germanic surname of the owner as Jewish.21)Vince Devlin, “Whitefish Dealing with Backlash from White Supremacist Website,” The Missoulian, December 22, 2016, http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/whitefish-dealing-with-backlash-from-white-supremacist-website/article_ea5e7c61-ffdc-5044-8bca-79cda3a6ef9b.html.)

The Montana Human Rights Network has since fielded threatening comments on the group’s website and in social media.

At the Montana Human Rights Network, co-director Rachel Carroll-Rivas fielded threatening comments on the group’s website and in social media. She read one to The New York Times: “All of you deserve a bullet through your skull. Choke on a shotgun and die. All of you would be of greater worth to society as human fertilizer than citizens.”22)Christine Hauser, “After Neo-Nazi Posting, Police in Whitefish, Mont., Step Up Patrols,” New York Times, December 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/whitefish-montana-jews-daily-stormer.html.

On December 17, Sherry Spencer appended a caveat to her Medium essay, disavowing the harassment, but complaining that she and her family had been bullied on social media, too. According to The New York Times, she and her husband, Rand Spencer, published a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, The Daily Inter Lake, in which they wrote: “We do not endorse the idea of white nationalism.”23)Ibid. See also: http://www.dailyinterlake.com/article/20161218/ARTICLE/161219988.

Yet White nationalism—the idea of creating a White ethno-state through exclusion and segregation—is just one part of Richard Spencer’s ideology.24)“Richard Bertrand Spencer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0. While only Sherry Spencer knows what she believes, she attended a 2010 meeting of the H.L. Mencken Club in Maryland at which her son appeared on a panel.25)Program for the H.L. Mencken Club 2010 conference: http://hlmenckenclub.org/2010-conference/. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Mencken Club is a White nationalist organization26)Stephen Piggott, “The white nationalist H.L. Mencken Club gathers tonight for its ninth annual conference,” Southern Poverty Law Center, November 4, 2016. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/11/04/white-nationalists-gather-baltimore-ninth-annual-hl-mencken-club-conference.  co-founded by Paul Gottfried, who is described by SPLC as “a fixture on the paleoconservative and white nationalist right.”27)Ryan Lenz, “White Nationalist Academics to Gather This Weekend for H.l. Mencken Club Annual Meeting,”Southern Poverty Law Center, November 1, 2013, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2013/11/01/white-nationalist-academics-gather-weekend-hl-mencken-club-annual-meeting. The Mencken Club was named for the 20th Century satirist who was revealed after his death to have had Nazi sympathies, leaving behind a journal peppered with racist and antisemitic comments.28)“Mencken Was Pro-Nazi, His Diary Shows,” Associated Press, December 5, 1989,
http://articles.latimes.com/1989-12-05/news/mn-198_1_h-l-mencken
On its own website, the Mencken Club’s leaders describe it as “an organization for independent-minded intellectuals and academics of the Right.”29)The Mencken Club website, “About” page: http://hlmenckenclub.org/about/ The “About” page proudly declares: “From the standpoint of conservatism, inc., our group belongs to the ‘basket of deplorables’ that Hillary Clinton denounced in her presidential campaign.”30)The Mencken Club website, “About” page: http://hlmenckenclub.org/about/

Photographs from the 2010 event posted on the Mencken Club website show Sherry Spencer chatting with featured speaker Peter Brimelow, the fiercely anti-immigrant White nationalist31)“Peter Brimelow,” Extremist Files, Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/peter-brimelow. who also figured prominently at NPI’s November gathering.32)Author notes from November 19, 2016, NPI conference, “Become Who We Are.”

In a video commentary published on December 20, however, Richard Spencer took to YouTube not only to defend his mother, but to dismiss the online harassment of Whitefish’s Jews as mere “pixels” and “mean words.”33)Richard Spencer, “The Attacks on My Mother,” YouTube, December 20, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo21-mTYqho. His mother, meanwhile, he said, was threatened with deprivation of her livelihood, presumably by any potential exercise of the First Amendment by his opponents outside of his mother’s building. He also implied that he wasn’t much of a Whitefish presence.  During a December 26 podcast interview with White supremacist leader David Duke, the former Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Spencer said that while he spends “a lot of time” in Whitefish, “I do not do anything here that is political.” He also noted in the interview that he spends part of his time in a suburb of Washington, D.C. (On its website, NPI lists an Arlington, Virginia, post office box as its address.34)“Donating by Mail,” National Policy Institute, http://www.npiamerica.org/donation-by-mail.) But just 10 days earlier, Spencer told The Missoulian that he was mulling a run for Congress for the Montana seat likely to be vacated by Ryan Zinke, who was tapped by Trump to lead the Department of the Interior.35)Vince Devlin and Andrew Schneider, “White nationalist Spencer says he may seek Zinke’s seat,” , The Missoulian, December 16, 2016,
http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/white-nationalist-spencer-says-he-may-seek-zinke-s-seat/article_aafedcce-d633-5516-b3da-b7cd1a80fcde.html.

During the interview with Duke, Spencer complained further of his mother’s treatment in Whitefish—at the hands, he implied, of the town’s Jewish community. In the interview, Duke urged Spencer to describe “the tribal nature of the vicious attack upon you… [by] those tribal racists who support the tribal ethno-state of Israel…”36)“The David Duke Show w/ Guest Richard Spencer,” YouTube, December 26, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBX3P-ZcAXY&feature=youtu.be.

“Certainly the chief leaders in this ­­­­case against me were not only Jews,” Spencer replies, “but in many cases, literally rabbis.” (Leaders of Love Lives Here include two local rabbis, including one whose wife Spencer has described as “shockingly ugly.”37)“The David Duke Show w/ Guest Richard Spencer,” YouTube, December 26, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBX3P-ZcAXY&feature=youtu.be.)

When Duke suggests that the Jews of Whitefish are trying to deprive Spencer of his Montana home, Spencer concurs and responds, “I mean, I don’t want my daughter growing up in Washington, D.C., [for]…many reasons—but you can imagine one of the big ones.”38)“The David Duke Show w/ Guest Richard Spencer,” YouTube, December 26, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBX3P-ZcAXY&feature=youtu.be. (One assumes Spencer is referring to the fact that the population of the District of Columbia is nearly 50 percent Black.39)Mike DeBonis, “D.C., where blacks are no longer a majority, has a new African American affairs director,” The Washington Post, February 4, 2015,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-where-blacks-are-no-longer-a-majority-has-a-new-african-american-affairs-director/2015/02/04/e8bd65a0-ac8e-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html?utm_term=.55cc1d315ca5
)

Several newspapers in Montana have run editorials not only denouncing the hate being visited upon the Jews of Whitefish, but urging citizens to stand up against it by placing Hanukkah menorahs in their windows, even if they’re not Jewish. For those who didn’t have menorahs, The Missoulian and The Daily Inter Lake published downloadable posters featuring the image of menorah for readers to display.40)“Editorial: Stand Up Against Evil And Stand With Your Neighbors,” Daily Inter Lake, December 21, 2016, http://www.dailyinterlake.com/article/20161221/ARTICLE/161229954 41)Laurie Franklin, “Let us share the light,” The Missoulian, December 20, 2016, http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/let-us-share-the-light/article_12a5d1a1-5dd0-5bfa-96ac-659123bbf7e7.html

An image on Daily Stormer advertises a January “March on Whitefish” featuring photos of Tanya Gesh and her young son among others above a concentration camp style photo. PRA has blacked out the photos of the targeted individuals.

The Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin doubled down, calling for 200 followers (including skinheads “bused in” from the Bay Area42)Andrew Anglin, “Operation Whitefish: New List of Collaborators with Jew Racketeers – TAKE ACTION,”The Daily Stormer, December 22, 2016) to muster for an armed march through Whitefish in mid-January. The march, he said, “will be against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either”43)Andrew Anglin, “Operation Whitefish: New List of Collaborators with Jew Racketeers – TAKE ACTION,”The Daily Stormer, December 22, 2016 unless opponents of the White nationalist and supremacist movements stop talking about the role of Spencer’s family in advancing his ideas.44)Gwen Florio, “White supremacist site offers to call off armed march in Whitefish,” The Missoulian, December 25, 2016, http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/white-supremacist-site-offers-to-call-off-armed-march-in/article_44676a15-fcb9-5f0f-8140-68aaf9c26e50.html.

If that seems like a contradiction—a proud White supremacist vowing to stage a threatening, and potentially violent, protest unless a historically victimized group promises to limit their own protests—it shouldn’t. In the worldview of many on the Right, the First Amendment protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution belong solely to adherents of right-wing tenets. For anyone else to claim the right to speak against them is an affront—an example of the victimization of the dominant class, the people on whom Far Right ideology confers the ownership of the nation. Those who resist that social order, who claim rights of their own, are labeled aggressors. With the Right’s assertion of victimhood comes the justification for extreme measures. It’s an old trick from the authoritarian’s bag. In Whitefish, Montana, the price of resistance to White nationalism grows ever higher, as the false victim-consciousness promoted by neonazis fans the flames of hatred.

References   [ + ]

1. Jonathan Mahler, “Anti-Semitic Posts, Many From Trump Supporters, Surge on Twitter,” New York Times, October 19, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/19/us/politics/anti-semitism-trump-supporters-twitter.html.
2, 22. Christine Hauser, “After Neo-Nazi Posting, Police in Whitefish, Mont., Step Up Patrols,” New York Times, December 20, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/whitefish-montana-jews-daily-stormer.html.
3. Sherry Spencer, “Does Love Really Live Here?”, Medium, December 16, 2016, https://medium.com/@recnepss/does-love-really-live-here-fff159563ba3#.lq1nwa2lz.
4. Business Entity Registration (D231213), Montana Secretary of State.
5. Joseph Goldstein, “Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute,” New York Times, November 20, 2016,
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/us/alt-right-salutes-donald-trump.html.
6. Daniel Lombroso and Yoni Appelbaum, “’Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President-Elect,” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/.
7. Tristan Scott, “Whitefish Council Adopts Resolution Supporting Diversity, Tolerance,” Flathead Beacon, December 2, 2014, http://flatheadbeacon.com/2014/12/02/whitefish-council-adopts-resolution-supporting-diversity-tolerance/.
8. Sarah Posner, “How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists,” Mother Jones, August 22, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news.
9. Jason Easley, “His Racism Is No Accident: Trump Has Retweeted White Supremacists 75 Times,” PoliticsUSA, July 3, 2016, http://www.politicususa.com/2016/07/03/proof-racism-accidenttrump-retweeted-white-supremacists-75-times.html.
10. Josh Harkinson, “Meet the White Nationalist Trying to Ride the Trump Train to Lasting PowerMother Jones, October 27, 2016,http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/richard-spencer-trump-alt-right-white-nationalist.
11. Aleem Maqbool, “US election: The white supremacist grateful for Donald Trump,” BBC, September 22, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37433759.
12. Subdivision Exemption Affidavit, signed by Richard Spencer as “landowner,” City of Whitefish Planning & Building Department, June 24, 2014.
13. Unanimous Written Consent in Lieu of Special Meeting of Roediger Property, Inc., January 13, 2015
14. Emails to Sherry Spencer from Tanya Gersh, as archived here: https://www.scribd.com/document/334219220/Emails.
15. Sherry Spencer, “Does Love Really Live Here?” Medium, December 16, 2016, https://medium.com/@recnepss/does-love-really-live-here-fff159563ba3#.lq1nwa2lz.
16. Andrew Anglin, “Lying Jew Media Says Daily Stormer “Threatened” Jewish Racketeers Extorting the Spencer Family,” The Daily Stormer, December 19, 2016
17. Andrew Anglin, “Operation Whitefish: New List of Collaborators with Jew Racketeers – TAKE ACTION,” The Daily Stormer, December 22, 2016
18. Andrew Anglin, “(((Neverending Story
19. (Neverending Story): Jews Respond to Chaos! in Whitefish Montana,” The Daily Stormer, December 21, 2016.
20. Andrew Anglin, “Jews Targeting Richard Spencer’s Mother for Harassment and Extortion – TAKE ACTION!”The Daily Stormer, December 16, 2016.
21. Vince Devlin, “Whitefish Dealing with Backlash from White Supremacist Website,” The Missoulian, December 22, 2016, http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/whitefish-dealing-with-backlash-from-white-supremacist-website/article_ea5e7c61-ffdc-5044-8bca-79cda3a6ef9b.html.
23. Ibid. See also: http://www.dailyinterlake.com/article/20161218/ARTICLE/161219988.
24. “Richard Bertrand Spencer,” Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/richard-bertrand-spencer-0.
25. Program for the H.L. Mencken Club 2010 conference: http://hlmenckenclub.org/2010-conference/.
26. Stephen Piggott, “The white nationalist H.L. Mencken Club gathers tonight for its ninth annual conference,” Southern Poverty Law Center, November 4, 2016. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/11/04/white-nationalists-gather-baltimore-ninth-annual-hl-mencken-club-conference.
27. Ryan Lenz, “White Nationalist Academics to Gather This Weekend for H.l. Mencken Club Annual Meeting,”Southern Poverty Law Center, November 1, 2013, https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2013/11/01/white-nationalist-academics-gather-weekend-hl-mencken-club-annual-meeting.
28. “Mencken Was Pro-Nazi, His Diary Shows,” Associated Press, December 5, 1989,
http://articles.latimes.com/1989-12-05/news/mn-198_1_h-l-mencken
29, 30. The Mencken Club website, “About” page: http://hlmenckenclub.org/about/
31. “Peter Brimelow,” Extremist Files, Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/peter-brimelow.
32. Author notes from November 19, 2016, NPI conference, “Become Who We Are.”
33. Richard Spencer, “The Attacks on My Mother,” YouTube, December 20, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo21-mTYqho.
34. “Donating by Mail,” National Policy Institute, http://www.npiamerica.org/donation-by-mail.
35. Vince Devlin and Andrew Schneider, “White nationalist Spencer says he may seek Zinke’s seat,” , The Missoulian, December 16, 2016,
http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/white-nationalist-spencer-says-he-may-seek-zinke-s-seat/article_aafedcce-d633-5516-b3da-b7cd1a80fcde.html.
36, 37, 38. “The David Duke Show w/ Guest Richard Spencer,” YouTube, December 26, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBX3P-ZcAXY&feature=youtu.be.
39. Mike DeBonis, “D.C., where blacks are no longer a majority, has a new African American affairs director,” The Washington Post, February 4, 2015,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-where-blacks-are-no-longer-a-majority-has-a-new-african-american-affairs-director/2015/02/04/e8bd65a0-ac8e-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html?utm_term=.55cc1d315ca5
40. “Editorial: Stand Up Against Evil And Stand With Your Neighbors,” Daily Inter Lake, December 21, 2016, http://www.dailyinterlake.com/article/20161221/ARTICLE/161229954
41. Laurie Franklin, “Let us share the light,” The Missoulian, December 20, 2016, http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/let-us-share-the-light/article_12a5d1a1-5dd0-5bfa-96ac-659123bbf7e7.html
42, 43. Andrew Anglin, “Operation Whitefish: New List of Collaborators with Jew Racketeers – TAKE ACTION,”The Daily Stormer, December 22, 2016
44. Gwen Florio, “White supremacist site offers to call off armed march in Whitefish,” The Missoulian, December 25, 2016, http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/white-supremacist-site-offers-to-call-off-armed-march-in/article_44676a15-fcb9-5f0f-8140-68aaf9c26e50.html.