Profile on the Right: Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller speaking at an event in Phoenix, Arizona, June 2016. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old senior policy advisor to Trump, spent seven years as a communications and speech writing advisor to U.S. Attorney General and former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and worked with Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.). A graduate of Duke University with no discernible policy experience, Miller is also the speechwriter responsible for Trump’s divisive speech at the Republican National Convention.1 The speech was widely noted for its harsh tone—one of “law and order” and “making America safe again,” even as the country experiences historic lows in violent crime. The speech was called “deeply disturbing,” “angry and harsh,” and “deeply resentful” by veteran political adviser David Gergen; peppered with ideology that “not many [conservatives] are willing to support,” according to conservative commentator Tara Setmayer; and “hateful” by commentator Raul Reyes.2

Miller is a staunch conservative who rallied on behalf of White nationalist Peter Brimelow in 2007. Brimelow, founder of the Center for American Unity, has promoted the work of men like Samuel T. Francis, the late editor of Citizens Informer, published by a White supremacist organization that has described Black people as “a retrograde species”—and White supremacist Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a former magazine and current blog that specializes in eugenics and “race betterment” through selective breeding.3

A native of Santa Monica, Miller developed his right-wing ideology early, after reading Guns, Crime and Freedom by NRA President Wayne LaPierre.4 He has long been associated with anti-immigration, anti-globalist, nationalist, and xenophobic views, which fall neatly in line with those espoused by Sessions, Trump, and other key influencers in the administration. He is ardently outspoken against feminism, has questioned the validity of unequal pay for women, and has said, “there is a place for gender roles. … I can’t stomach the idea of, say, having a wife who worked as a prison guard … Feminists would say this outlook makes me a chauvinist. But they’d be wrong. It’s not chauvinism. It’s chivalry.”5

More recently, Miller has also been associated with influential Alt Right leader Richard Spencer, who made national headlines when he closed a speech in celebration of Trump’s presidential victory with “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory,” and was met with Nazi salutes from audience members.6 Although Miller denies any relationship between them, Spencer claims that he “knew [Miller] very well” when they were both students at Duke and that they raised money together as part of an initiative to bring Brimelow to campus.7

Although Miller appeared mostly at rallies and behind the scenes during Trump’s campaign, he was brought into the limelight in February after spokesperson Kellyanne Conway made repeated blunders on national television.8 Miller soon gained notoriety for being combative, making false statements, and using phrases that sounded alarmingly authoritarian as he made his rounds on major news circuits. Miller’s dialogue in these interviews reiterated ideologies he promoted during the campaign. In June 2016, Miller assured campaign rally-goers that a Trump administration would “build a wall high [and] tall … and we’re going to build it out of love … for every family who wants to raise their kids in safety and peace.”9

The implication that a wall provides “safety and peace” plays to the administration’s fear mongering by reinforcing a baseless belief in immigrant criminality. The Wall Street Journal, hardly a bastion of liberal propaganda, published commentary in July 2015 dispelling the “mythical connection between immigrants and crime.”10 According to the Immigration Policy Center, immigrants are less likely than non-immigrants to commit violent crimes; this is true no matter their nationality or country of origin. Illegal immigration to the U.S. more than tripled from 1990 to 2013. Meanwhile, the violent crime rate declined 48 percent and property crime rates fell 41 percent.11

While Miller stoked the flames of xenophobia in campaigning for Trump, in his senior administrative position he is now poised to directly influence policy in dangerous, regressive, and disturbing ways. In a February 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, Miller defended Trump’s controversial travel ban and said the nation would be better off financially by helping Syrian refugees settle in their own country12—where more than 460 civilians have been killed in less than three months, and 400,000 people have been killed overall since 2011.13 Miller says refugees cost the United States more money than they’re worth—another unsupported claim. On the contrary, repeated studies have shown that refugees typically have either a positive or neutral effect on a host community’s economy and wages.14

One of Miller’s most disturbing comments came in a February exchange with John Dickerson on “Face the Nation,” in response to a question regarding the Supreme Court overturning Trump’s travel ban: “The whole world will soon see … that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”15

Miller’s alarming comments didn’t stop there. He appeared on ABC’s “The Week,” where he repeated blatant mistruths regarding voter fraud. Miller used an oft-cited research study led by Jesse Richman of Old Dominion University to argue that “14 percent of noncitizens, according to academic research, at a minimum, are registered to vote, which is an astonishing statistic.” This has been repeatedly debunked.16 The Trump camp has so often used this study in their oratory that the researcher himself made a statement: “On the right there has been a tendency to misread our results as proof of massive voter fraud, which we don’t think there are.”17

Endnotes

[1] Gautam Hathi and Rachel Chason, “Stephen Miller: The Duke grad behind Donald Trump,” The Chronicle, July 31 2016, http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2016/07/stephen-miller-the-voice-behind-donald-trump.

[2] “Trump: A Speech Like No Other?” CNN, July 22, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/22/opinions/republican-convention-roundup/.

[3] “Extremist File: Peter Brimelow,” Southern Poverty Law Center

[4] Rosie Gray, “How Stephen Miller’s Rise Explains the Trump White House,” The Atlantic, February 4, 2017,  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/how-stephen-millers-rise-explains-the-trump-white-house

[5] Stephen Miller, “Sorry Feminists,” The Chronicle, November 22, 2005, http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2005/11/sorry-feminists.

[6] Paul Murphy, “White Nationalist Richard Spencer Punched During Interview,” CNN, January 21, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/white-nationalist-richard-spencer-punched/.

[7] Josh Harkinson, “Meet the White Nationalist Trying to Ride the Trump Train to Lasting Power,” Mother Jones, October 27, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/richard-spencer-trump-alt-right-white-nationalist.

[8] Chris Riotta, “Advisor Gains Power After Kellyanne Conway’s Embarrassing Blunders,” International Business Times, February 13, 2017, http://www.ibtimes.com/who-stephen-miller-donald-trumps-advisor-gains-power-after-kellyanne-conways-2491002.

[9] Julia Ioffe, “The Believer,” Politico, June 27, 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/stephen-miller-donald-trump-2016-policy-adviser-jeff-sessions-213992

[11] Jason Riley, “The Mythical Connection between Immigrants and Crime,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015.

[11] Walter Ewing, Ph.D., Daniel Martinez, Ph.D., and Ruben Rumbaut, Ph.D., “The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States, American Immigration Council, July 13, 2015, https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/criminalization-immigration-united-states.

[12] Tessa Stewart, “Trump Advisor Stephen Miller Defends Travel Ban,” Rolling Stone, February 10, 2016, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/trump-advisor-stephen-miller-defends-travel-ban

[13] Janice Williams, “Aleppo Death Toll: How Many People Have Been Killed in Russian-Syrian War?” International Business Times, December 14, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.com/aleppo-death-toll-how-many-people-have-been-killed-russian-syrian-war-2460548

[14] Ana Swanson, “The Big Myth About Refugees,” The Washington Post, September 10, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/10/the-big-myth-about-refugees/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.a563058f6e29

[15] Aaron Blake, “Stephen Miller’s authoritarian declaration: Trump’s national security actions ‘will not be questioned,’” The Washington Post, February 13, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/stephen-millers-audacious-controversial-declaration-trumps-national-security-actions-will-not-be-questioned.

[16] Glenn Kessler, “Stephen Miller’s Bushels of Pinocchios for False Voter-Fraud Claims,” Washington Post, February 12, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/02/12/stephen-millers-bushels-of-pinocchios-for-false-voter-fraud-claims/?utm_term=.be47ca6c9f72.

[17] Jesse Richman, “Some Thoughts on Non-Citizen Voting,” Old Dominion University, https://fs.wp.odu.edu/jrichman/2016/10/19/some-thoughts-on-non-citizen-voting/.

Donald Trump and Manufacturing the Muslim Menace

Protests against the travel ban occurred in many international airports across the country. Here, a crowd gathers at SFO on January 29, 2017 (photo: Kenneth Lu via Flickr).

Trump’s first week in office was punctuated by an executive order to ban travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and refugee admissions for 120 days. Under the order, Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.1 This has all been done under the guise of “national security,” spearheaded by men with a history of anti-Muslim ideology.

Despite the Right’s claim of patriotic allegiance to the constitution, the ACLU found many clear violations associated with Trump’s orders, calling him a “one-man constitutional crisis.”2The ink was barely dry on Trump’s order before even national security experts spoke against the ban.

Former CIA counterterrorism case officer Patrick Skinner, who served in Afghanistan as an intelligence advisor for General Petraeus3, called Trump’s actions immoral, stupid, and counterproductive, noting: “We’ve got military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel on the ground right now in Syria, Libya, and Iraq who are working side by side with the people, embedded in combat, and training and advising. At no time in the US’s history have we depended more on local—and I mean local—partnerships for counterterrorism. We need people in Al Bab, Syria; we depend on people in a certain part of eastern Mosul, Iraq; in Cert, Libya. At the exact moment we need them most, we’re telling these people, ‘Get screwed.’”4

Kirk Johnson, who worked for the US Agency for International Development in Fallujah, said the ban will “have immediate national security implications, in that we are not going to be able to recruit people to help us right now, and people are not going to step forward to help us in any future wars if this is our stance.”5

Trump fueled his campaign with Islamophobic rhetoric. During his campaign in 2015, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of the entry of Muslims” and said “it is obvious the hatred is beyond comprehension” (Ironically, he was referring to Muslims.)6 He consistently criticized President Obama and Secretary Clinton for refusing to refer to “radical Islamic terrorism.” (They instead referred to them as “acts of terror and hate.”)7

Click to read our 2011 report, Manufacturing the Muslim Menace.

These shifts in semantics and cultural sensitivity arose after the Obama administration investigated and overhauled counterterrorism training in 2013, much of which was nestled in xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric and led by for-profit security firms. These firms—hired to train military and enforcement personnel on counterterrorism tactics—used generalized, inaccurate, and dangerous stereotypes designed to provoke suspicion, xenophobia, and religious hatred. These trainings and their leaders—many of whom were aligned with neoconservative Christian organizations—were studied extensively by the PRA over nine months and published in our 2011 report, Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, the Threat to Rights and Security. It is important now to re-visit some of those findings:

  • Government agencies responsible for domestic security had/have inadequate mechanisms to ensure quality and consistency in terrorism preparedness training provided by private vendors.
  • Public servants are regularly presented with misleading, inflammatory, and dangerous information about the nature of terror threats.
  • In place of sound skills training and intelligence briefings, a vocal and influential sub-group of the private counterterrorism training industry has marketed conspiracy theories about secret jihadi campaigns to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law, and effectively impugns all of Islam—a world religion with 1.3 billion adherents—as inherently violent and even terroristic.

The report notes that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expressed the importance of semantics in defining the terrorist threat, and—after meeting with influential Muslim American scholars equally concerned with acts of terror—found three tenants to be useful in describing such acts:

  • Do not demonize all Muslims or Islam.
  • Some terrorists believe their actions are based in theology and are therefore valid—as such, we should remove that validation by using accurate and descriptive language; i.e., avoiding the use of “jihadist,” as “jihad” has varied, textured, and non-violent meaning for Muslims worldwide.
  • Private and public servants should be conscious of history, culture, and context.

Rather than adhering to these and other principles, “counterterrorism experts” implied that Muslims who “practice their religion properly” are required to impose jihadist violence against Americans, the PRA report found. These alleged experts have made numerous dubious and dangerous claims, including:

  • Jihadists pose as civil rights advocates and patiently recruit until almost all mosques, educational centers, and socioeconomic institutions fall into their hands.
  • Jihadists who put off militant action are simply waiting until their holy moment comes.
  • Muslims are stealthily infiltrating the United States from within, intending to make it a Muslim nation.
  • Muslims are aligned with Satan.

Unfortunately, government standards for homeland security professionals’ certification appear undefined and by presenting themselves as law enforcement and intelligence specialists, these organizations and spokespeople lend their credentials to religious bigotry.

PRA’s report went on to outline some of the dangers of these training methods, all of which are prevalent in the wake of Trump’s actions:

  • Biased intelligence analysis.
  • Unlawful searches, surveillance, and actions.
  • Violence and hate crimes.
  • Threats to free speech.

The 2013 overhaul under the Obama administration sought to avoid these dangers by referring to acts of terror accordingly and maintaining respect for a religion in which the vast majority of its followers are peaceful. In a matter of weeks, the current administration reversed such overhauls and regressed back to stereotypical anti-Muslim dialogue. In addition to enforcing a moratorium on entrants from Muslim-majority countries, Trump will now focus counter-extremism solely on Islam,8 even though more people have died in the U.S. from politically-motivated violence perpetrated by right-wing militants than by Muslim militants since 9/11.9

Our 2015 report, “Terror Network or Lone Wolf,” provides comprehensive information on how the government, media, and Right Wing approach the issue of terrorism, and how these issues are framed through semantics, enforcement of laws, and politics. Sociologist Naomi Braine finds that “the differential treatment of right-wing and Muslim cases draws attention to the political contexts surrounding terrorism-related law enforcement … mainstream conservative politicians and [media] protest depictions of right-wing militants as anything more than troubled but patriotic Americans, while Muslim men … are constantly monitored as intrinsic security risks. In the process, Muslims lose Constitutional protections for belief, speech, and association—forced to inhabit an ambiguous territory as ‘un-American.’”10

Sadly, an example of this differential treatment played out before the American public after the Quebec mosque shooting on January 29, in which a right-wing militant named Alexandre Bissonnette murdered six people. As of February 8, Trump—who took time to condemn an attack at the Louvre by 29-year-old Abdullah Hamamy—remained completely devoid of a direct response.11

It’s alarming that the leader of our country has aligned himself so undeniably with the generalized concept of the Muslim menace that he has already caused irreparable damage to national security—jeopardizing tens of thousands of lives and causing a crisis that “will do long-term damage,” as government leaders noted12—all in the name of national security.

Endnotes

[1] Laurel Raymond, “Trump, Who Campaigned on a Muslim Ban, Says to Stop Calling it a Muslim Ban,” Think Progress, January 30, 2017, https://thinkprogress.org/trump-who-campaigned-on-a-muslim-ban-says-to-stop-calling-it-a-muslim-ban-630961d0fbcf#.vwgpyd6e3.

[2] Anthony Romero, “Donald Trump: A One-Man Constitutional Crisis,” ACLU, https://www.aclu.org/feature/donald-trump-one-man-constitutional-crisis.

[3] The Soufan Group, “Patrick Skinner,” http://soufangroup.com/about/team/patrick-m-skinner/28/.

[4] Bryan Schatz, “Immoral, Stupid, and Counterproductive: National Security Experts Slam Trump’s Muslim Ban,” Mother Jones, January 28, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/trump-muslim-refugee-ban-disaster-national-security

[5] Bryan Schatz, “Immoral, Stupid, and Counterproductive: National Security Experts Slam Trump’s Muslim Ban,” Mother Jones, January 28, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/trump-muslim-refugee-ban-disaster-national-security

[6] Laurel Raymond, “Trump, Who Campaigned on a Muslim Ban, Says to Stop Calling it a Muslim Ban,” Think Progress, January 30, 2017, https://thinkprogress.org/trump-who-campaigned-on-a-muslim-ban-says-to-stop-calling-it-a-muslim-ban-630961d0fbcf#.vwgpyd6e3.

[7] Jeremy Diamond and Nicole Gaouette, “Does it Matter if Obama Uses the Term ‘Islamic Terrorism’?” CNN, June 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/13/politics/islamic-terrorism-trump-obama-clinton/.

[8] Julia Ainsley, Dustin Volz and Kristina Cooke, “Trump to Focus Counter-Extremism Program Solely on Islam,” Reuters, February 2, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-extremists-program-exclusiv-idUSKBN15G5VO

[9] Naomi Braine, “Terror Network or Lone Wolf?” Political Research Associates, June 19, 2015, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/06/19/terror-network-or-lone-wolf/#sthash.36kbR5kc.dpbs

[10] Naomi Braine, “Terror Network or Lone Wolf?” Political Research Associates, June 19, 2015, http://www.politicalresearch.org/2015/06/19/terror-network-or-lone-wolf/#sthash.36kbR5kc.dpbs

[11] May Bulman, “Kellyanne Conway Defends Donald Trump’s Silence Over Quebec Mosque Shooting,” The Independent, February 8, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/kellyanne-conway-defends-donald-trump-s-silence-over-quebec-mosque-shooting-a7568686.html

[12] Laura Koran, Elise Labott and Jim Sciutto, “Ex-National Security Officials in Both Parties Protest Trump Order,” CNN, January 30, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/politics/letter-opposition-trump-immigration-order/.

Pro-LGBTQ Smokescreens for Anti-Muslim Attacks

Two activists with placards at London’s vigil in memory of the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub terror attack. Photo: Alisdare Hickson via Flickr.

In a press release issued after last year’s Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, where a Muslim-American gunman killed 49 people at a gay dance club, Donald Trump said, “Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views.”

His solution? Ban Muslims.

“When I am elected,” he said, “I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies.”

“I don’t want them in our country,” he declared. Less than a year later, Trump’s recent executive order—regarded by many as a “Muslim ban”—went into effect.

As Dylan Matthews reported in Vox, Trump’s post-Orlando rhetoric is a favorite trick of the European Far Right. The strategy of invoking LGBTQ rights as just cause for anti-Muslim policies first gained popularity in 2002 when Dutch activist Pim Fortuyn, an openly gay man, rose to political prominence based, in part, on his advocacy for zero immigration. Fortuyn, who aspired to be the Netherlands’ next Prime Minister, once argued, “In Holland, homosexuality is treated the same way as heterosexuality. In what Islamic country does that happen?”

Like Trump, Fortuyn was described as a demagogue and populist, and in the weeks leading up Holland’s 2002 election, a journalist for The Guardian observed, “Fortuyn believes he dares to say what most people are thinking. On 15 May he will discover whether his instincts are right. If they are, the ripples of his success will radiate far beyond the Netherlands’ borders.” But before the Dutch could cast their ballots, Fortuyn was assassinated by a lone shooter: a vegan animal rights activist who later confessed that he killed Fortuyn in order to “protect Muslims.”

Fortuyn’s contemporary, Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands’ far-right Party for Freedom, is keeping his mentor’s legacy alive, using the same twisted trade-off that pits gays (as well as women and Jews) against Muslims. In a recent op-ed, Wilders argued, “Islam is a totalitarian ideology. Muslims are its victims. … [T]he more Islamic apostates there are, the less misogyny, the less hatred of gays, the less anti-Semitism, the less oppression, the less terror and violence, and the more freedom there will be.”

Dubbed “the Dutch Donald Trump,” Wilders promises to return the Netherlands to its White, Christian roots. In a rare interview with NPR last December, Wilders said, “Donald Trump did the job in America, and I hope that here in Europe, we will see a patriotic spring in Holland and also in Germany, in France—in many other countries where parties like mine are getting stronger every day.”

While his European admirers cheer him on, Trump has issued an onslaught of regressive executive orders. His actions have encompassed a wide range of targets including health care, the environment, immigrants, refugees, and, of course, Muslims.

Shortly after last week’s anti-Muslim executive order, rumors began to circulate that LGBTQ people would be next on the list. The White House issued a statement indicating that Trump was not seeking to roll back the protections for LGBTQ federal workers that Obama established by way of executive order in 2014, but this small concession was no kind of victory. LGBTQ Muslims and LGBTQ immigrants are still squarely in the crosshairs of the Trump Administration, and outside of the federal workforce, LGBTQ workers in more than 20 states remain vulnerable to discrimination.

Meanwhile, a draft order on “religious freedom” obtained by The Nation on February 1 included language that would “create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity.” Legal experts described the document as “sweeping” and “staggering,” and argued that it may be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The threat of the proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) also looms. FADA is the most threatening chapter in the Christian Right’s ongoing effort to redefine religious freedom in order to impose oppressive ideologies and justify discrimination. The law, which Trump has vowed to pass, would open the door to widespread discrimination against LGBTQ people (and countless others) by granting legal protections to people, businesses, or institutions that believe “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” Specifically, it prevents the government from revoking tax-exempt status, issuing fines or penalties, canceling contracts or grants, or “otherwise discriminat[ing] against such a person.”

Any supposedly “pro-gay” concessions made by the Trump Administration should be seen for what they really are: a smokescreen through which to push through other regressive attacks on Muslims, immigrants, women, and other marginalized and threatened communities.

The ACLU’s Ian Thompson, a legislation representative specializing in LGBTQ policy, warns that FADA “would impact LGBTQ people everywhere,” even in states where LGBTQ people are otherwise protected by civil rights ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

So regardless of whether or not Trump moves forward with the draft religious freedom executive order (or something close to it), LGBTQ rights are still at grave risk, and any supposedly “pro-gay” concessions made by the Trump Administration should be seen for what they really are: a smokescreen through which to push through other regressive attacks on Muslims, immigrants, women, and other marginalized and threatened communities.

 

 

Profile on the Right: Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon at the Bloggers Briefing in October 2010. Photo: Don Irvine via Creative Commons.

Stephen Bannon is the former CEO of Brietbart News Network—which he promotes as “the platform for the Alt Right”1—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.”2 He has expressed admiration for anti-Muslim hate groups, ridiculed the Black Lives Matter movement by remarking that “some people … are naturally aggressive and violent,” and likened civil rights advocacy to Communism.3

Bannon is a key player among a team of advisors who helped Trump develop an “action plan” for his first weeks in office, which included weakening Obamacare, putting a freeze on federal hiring, strengthening immigration enforcement, and preventing refugees and visa-holders from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.4 The ACLU has called Trump a “one-man constitutional crisis,” and said that his policy proposals—largely developed and backed by Bannon—“blatantly violate the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution.” Taken together, the policies enforced by Trump and Bannon violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution.5

Under Bannon’s leadership, Brietbart News has promoted racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant ideals, and has published such articles as “The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage,” “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture,”6 and ”Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,”7 among others. When Bannon was named Trump’s chief strategist, former KKK leader David Duke called it an “excellent selection.”8

During his first week as president, Trump gave Bannon a full seat on the principals committee of the National Security Committee. Trump’s order places Bannon alongside secretaries of state and defense and downgrades the roles of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and director of national intelligence.9 Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called Bannon’s appointment a “radical departure” and said Trump’s “reorganization” was concerning. CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto said it “raises questions about whose voices will be most prominent about key national-security decisions in the country.” 10

In addition to Bannon’s history of racism and xenophobia, he has—unsurprisingly—engaged in misogynistic rhetoric. With Bannon’s guidance, Brietbart News published such pieces as “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women … They Just Suck at Interviews,” “Does Feminism Make Women Ugly?” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”11 In 1996, Bannon’s then-wife accused him of domestic violence. In a 2011 radio interview, Bannon likened the women’s movement to “a bunch of dykes,” and in 2015, Brietbart News compared Planned Parenthood to Hitler.12 He was caught on tape calling one of his female employees a “bimbo,” and saying he was going to give her a “reality check,” “kick her ass,” and “ram [her accusations] down her fucking throat.”13

In a 2014 speech to a Christian conservative group, Bannon criticized then praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying the “Judeo-Christian West” should take cues from Putin, particularly on issues of nationalism. “Strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors,” Bannon said. These statements came after Bannon claimed the Alt Right is “the voice of the anti-abortion [and] traditional marriage movement [and] we’re winning victory after victory after victory.”14

Is Bannon a White supremacist? Does he seek to infiltrate the administration with White supremacist views and normalize the Alt Right as a patriotic and political movement, rather than a racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic platform? Bannon has gone to great lengths to avoid the “White supremacist” label, and those close to him disavow claims that Bannon has racist and misogynistic attitudes.15 It’s important to note that Bannon refers to White supremacists as “White nationalists,” which fuels the nationalistic beliefs he touted in 2014 while normalizing the ideals of White supremacy.  This is also the man who called for every flagpole in the South to proudly fly the Confederate flag—remarks that came just days after nine African Americans were murdered at an historic Black church in Charleston.16

Bannon, a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs’ New York office, earned a master’s degree from Georgetown University and attended Harvard Business School. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he launched a boutique investment firm, which he eventually sold. Bannon is also a former naval officer. Prior to working with Trump, he had no political experience.17

As Bannon increasingly bends Trump’s ear and shifts national focus toward dangerous and alarming ideologies, it’s critical that the American people—and the global community—understand the man behind Trump’s curtain and the potential and irreparable damage his power has already caused—and will continue to cause—until and unless he is overhauled from his position of influence.

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] “Stephen Bannon: White House Role for Right-Wing Media Chief,” BBC News, November 14, 2016,  http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37971742.

[3] 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.

[4] Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson, Annie Karni, “The Man Behind Trump? Still Steve Bannon,” Politico, January 29, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/donald-trump-steve-bannon-234347.

[5] “The Trump Memos: The ACLU’s Constitutional Analysis of the Public Statements and Policy Proposals of Donald Trump,” ACLU, https://www.aclu.org/report/trump-memos.

[6] Milo Yiannopoulos, “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” Breitbart, December 8, 2015, http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2015/12/08/birth-control-makes-women-unattractive-and-crazy/.

[7] David Horowitz, “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” Breitbart, May 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/.

[8] David Horowitz, “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew,” Breitbart, May 15, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/

[9] Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, “Bannon is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals,” January 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-national-security-council.html

[10] Natasha Bertrand, “Trump Just Made an Unprecedented, Radical Change to the National Security Council,” Business Insider, January 29, 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-steve-bannon-national-security-council-2017-1.

[11] Heather Saul, “Steve Bannon: Some of the Worst Breitbart Headlines Published Under Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist,” The Independent, November 14, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/steve-bannon-breitbart-donald-trumps-chief-strategist-a7416606.html.

[12] Kate Storey, “Who is Steve Bannon? 15 Things to Know About Trump’s Chief Strategist,” Cosmopolitan, http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8288455/who-is-steve-bannon-trump-chief-strategist/

[13] Claire Landsbaum, “Trump Campaign Chief Caught on Tape Calling a Female Employee a ‘Bimbo,’” September 1, 2016, http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/09/steve-bannon-once-called-a-female-employee-a-bimbo.html.

[14] “Business Insider: Bannon’s 2014 Vatican Speech Strikes Fear on Wall Street,” Brietbart, November 16, 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/11/16/business-insider-bannons-2014-vatican-speech-strikes-fear-wall-street/.

[15] Ian Tuttle, “Steve Bannon is Not a Nazi,” National Review, November 14, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442189/steve-bannon-trump-administration-alt-right-breitbart-chief-strategist

[16] Casey Michel, “Steve Bannon’s Dangerous Campaign to Rebrand Racism as American ‘Nationalism,’” Quartz, November 18, 2016, https://qz.com/841036/is-steve-bannon-a-white-supremacist-trumps-advisor-wants-to-rebrand-racism-as-american-nationalism/.

[17] Kate Storey, “Who is Steve Bannon? 15 Things to Know About Trump’s Chief Strategist,” Cosmopolitan, http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a8288455/who-is-steve-bannon-trump-chief-strategist/

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

A Dystrumpian Vision for LGBTQ People

Co-authored by Scot Nakagawa

San Francisco City Hall. Photo: Tom Hilton via Flickr.

Many are called but few are chosen during any presidential transition. That’s why it’s illuminating to consider who Donald Trump has chosen from the parade of possibilities for his transition team and senior administration appointments so far— and what they may portend for LGBTQ people.

The Christian Right, with few exceptions, backed the Trump ticket, with over 80 percent of White evangelicals voting for him, and now they’re being rewarded with traditional forms of political patronage. They’re scoring major appointments and have won a say in personnel and policy decisions on a scale far surpassing anything seen since the movement first arrived in Washington with the Reagan administration in 1980.

Since Trump himself has never held the kinds of values or displayed the kind of personal behavior prized by conservative Christians—and barely passes as any kind of a Christian at all—he and his backers needed a theological rationale for the Christian Right’s support. They found justification in biblical examples of God-anointed leaders who were ungodly themselves but who nevertheless delivered for God’s people. Christian Right leaders presented Trump in this way, it was broadly accepted by their followers, and Trump is now evidently making good on the deal.

Let’s look first at two early warnings from which all the rest flows.

The first is an important campaign promise affecting LGBTQ people. In November 2016, Trump told 60 Minutes that he was “fine” with gay marriage; at the Republican National Convention he described himself as “a supporter” of the LGBTQ community, and said he considers marriage equality a “settled” matter. But none of those statements amount to promises to LGBTQ people, to whom he is sending mixed messages He has also promised the Christian Right he would consider appointing justices who would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

Secondly, Trump has also positioned himself in the camp of establishing dangerously broad religious exemptions from all laws aimed at ensuring LGBTQ civil rights. He promised he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) if it reached his desk. FADA, which was first introduced in 2015 and now has substantial support in both houses of Congress, would legalize discrimination in the name of “religious belief or moral conviction,” requiring nothing more than someone’s say so. The scope of the Act appears to primarily affect government departments and agencies, and federal contractors and grantees, including entities that may require federal accreditation or licensing, such as universities and hospitals. And maybe more.

Under FADA, denial of service could take many forms beyond matters of wedding cakes, flowers, and photographers, to include allowing hospitals to refuse treatment to LGBTQ people (or their children), businesses to refuse health benefits to a same-sex partner, and child welfare workers to keep a child in foster care as opposed to placing them with a loving and qualified same-sex couple. If that’s not enough, FADA exempts non-profit organizations and businesses from non-discrimination standards. The proposal’s implications go well beyond issues of direct discrimination. FADA might allow federal employees to refuse being involved in processing federal benefits and rights claims to which they conscientiously object, such as any involving married same-sex couples. The bill exempts “any person regardless of religious affiliation, including corporations and other entities regardless of for-profit or nonprofit status” from following non-discrimination codes on the basis of religious beliefs.

If this is the benchmark approach to policy (regardless of the immediate future of the legislation itself) the federal government will be leading efforts to reverse historic gains of recent decades—attacking the basis for LGBTQ freedom and the dignity and rights of everyone else for whom a religious justification for denying service can be made.

But there’s more.

Trump’s selection of Mike Pence as his vice president was a transformational moment in the campaign, and arguably in American history. Pence may be best known for his theocratic political identity, proudly explaining at the 2010 Values Voter Summit in 2010, for example, that he is “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” Donald Trump, via his son Donald Jr., reportedly called an aide to his first choice for veep, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and told him that a president Trump would put Kasich in charge of both foreign and domestic policy, while the president himself would be in charge of “making America great again.” Pence hasn’t said whether he got the same deal, but his role as chair of the transition team suggests that he is already among the most powerful vice presidents in American history.

This does not bode well.

Pence’s tenure as governor of Indiana was marked by his signing a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that would make discrimination against same-sex couples legally defensible. Pence signed the Act in the company of his state’s Christian Right leadership, marking him as a movement leader himself. Following national outcry, the legislature passed an amendment that explicitly stated that such discrimination was not the intent of the law.

Unsurprisingly, given both Trump and Pence’s history and views, much of the Christian Right agenda, particularly with regards to anything that affects LGBTQ people, will probably come wrapped in the flag of religious freedom. Some leading indicators of the direction the administration will take in this regard are visible in the transition team that’s proposing staff for the new administration and the appointments and nominations that have resulted from their work so far.

Ken Blackwell heads domestic issues for the transition team. A longtime Christian Right pol from Ohio, he is Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council, the leading Christian Right lobby in Washington, D.C. Blackwell also serves on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Christian Right legal group that promotes religion based exemptions from the law.

Ed Meese leads the transition team for the Office of Management and Budget. He is one of the architects of FADA and served as Attorney General in the Reagan administration. He is joined by Kay Cole James, the former dean of the Pat Robertson School of Government at Regent University and a former head of the federal Office of Personnel Management. These figures know how the federal government works and how to ensure their people are well represented among the 4,000 positions that need to be filled in the West Wing of the White House, and throughout the federal government over the course of the Trump administration and beyond.

Ken Klukowski serves on the part of the transition team focusing on executive authority, responsible for “protecting constitutional rights.” He is the senior counsel for the Texas-based First Liberty Institute (formerly the Liberty Institute), a leading Christian Right legal group focused on religious exemptions from the law, especially LGBTQ rights. He is also the senior legal editor for Breitbart News.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of twelve vice-chairs of the transition team and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Carson is a Christian Right leader and anti-LGBTQ ideologue known for harsh rhetoric in support of his beliefs. Carson has associated being LGBTQ with polygamy, pedophilia, and bestiality. He thinks that transgender people are “the height of absurdity” and he claims that marriage equality is a Marxist plot that may lead the country to go the way of the Roman Empire. He has characterized the kind of public housing he would oversee at HUD as “communism” and as Secretary he could undermine if not reverse the Obama administration’s efforts to curb discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is a vice-chair of the transition team and Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. A senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions is also a co-sponsor of FADA. The Huffington Post headlined an article about his nomination, “Pick Any LGBTQ Rights Issue. Jeff Sessions Has Voted Against It.” His Senate chief of staff, Rick Dearborn, is the executive director of the transition team.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price’s House voting record received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. He is a co-sponsor of FADA and supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges.

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, is a longtime financier of Christian Right projects, particularly in the area of school privatization. Politico reports that DeVos has said her work in education is intended to “advance God’s kingdom.” She and her family, heirs to the Amway corporate fortune, have a long record of underwriting Christian Right and anti-LGBTQ projects and organizations for the same reason. They have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that believe in “conversion therapy”; they are major backers of Focus on the Family, whose founder, James Dobson, called the battle against LGBTQ rights a “second civil war.” (Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., who steadfastly supported Trump through the campaign, was Trump’s first choice for secretary. Falwell said he declined in order to attend to other obligations.)

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team and top level appointments should be taken as clear indicators of the direction of the Trump administration with regard to the dignity and civil rights of LGBTQ people. And if past is prologue, what Mr. Trump says may not be nearly as important as what he does. Continued vigilance regarding what his appointees do in his name will be vital.

Frederick Clarkson is Senior Fellow at PRA. Scot Nakagawa is a Senior Partner of ChangeLab, a national racial justice think-act laboratory, and served as Fight the Right Organizer of the National LGBTQ Task Force.

The Public Health Story Behind Trump’s Rise

On November 8, 2016, the majority of the White population in the U.S. voted for a leader who ran a campaign rife with fascist themes of restoring “greatness” through a program of xenophobia, misogyny and racism. What we know about income and Trump voters suggests that they are not the poorest Whites, but those who see their communities losing ground. In the New York City and Long Island metropolitan area, for example, the two counties that went for Trump were Suffolk and Richmond. Suffolk County, on Long Island, has a median family income of $102,125, a family poverty rate of 4.8 percent, and 33.5 percent of residents 25 years or older have a BA or higher degree. Richmond, on Staten Island, is somewhat less well-off but still far from poor, with a median family income of $86,619, a family poverty rate of 9.8 percent, and 30.6 percent of residents holding at least a BA. 1)American Community Survey, 2014. Data available at census.gov

There has been some debate about the relative places of and interconnections between bigotry, racialized class consciousness, alienation, and economic struggles, in explaining voting patterns among Whites, particularly those outside of major cities. Both before and since the election, there has been a thread of discussion among progressive organizers about the impact of socio-economic dislocation and pain among non-elite Whites, which often leads into very real issues about continuing privilege and relative definitions of “marginality.” Median household income among African Americans in New York City, 2)Bergad, L Trends in Median Household Income Among New York City Latinos in Comparative Perspective, 1990 – 2011. Latino Data Project, report 54, Oct 2013 Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies, Graduate Center, City University of New York for example, is in the middle of the range for median incomes in the largely White, and much less expensive, small cities and rural counties in New York State that voted for Trump.3)American Community Survey, 2014. Data available at census.gov

Public health data offers a different perspective on the severity of the situation experienced by the primary Trump electorate, although it provides no political analysis or solutions; middle aged Whites are the only population in the U.S. whose life expectancy has decreased in the 21st Century.4)Case, A and A Deaton (2015) “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among White non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 112 (49) pp 15078 – 15083. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full In fact, they are the only population in any wealthy country whose life expectancy has declined,5)Case, A and A Deaton (2015) “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among White non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 112 (49) pp 15078 – 15083. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full and might be the only population globally whose life expectancy has declined outside of the context of significant social upheaval such as war, epidemic, or national economic collapse. The increase in both mortality and disability largely comes from drug and alcohol poisoning, suicide, and liver disease.6)Case, A and A Deaton (2015) “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among White non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 112 (49) pp 15078 – 15083. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full

Middle aged and older Whites who don’t live in major cities are the core population of Trump voters. They are facing declining communities, destructive substance use in themselves and their children, and the literal loss of lifespan—experiences which the Trump campaign effectively channeled into support for a populist demagogue who offered to restore their former privilege while mobilizing racist, xenophobic, and misogynist language and rage. History demonstrates the consequences when loss of status fuels right-wing politics, and the public health data measures the depth of crisis in White middle and working class populations. If progressives do not recognize and respond to the situation in these communities, then the fuel for right-wing firestorms is likely to grow.

 

References   [ + ]

1, 3. American Community Survey, 2014. Data available at census.gov
2. Bergad, L Trends in Median Household Income Among New York City Latinos in Comparative Perspective, 1990 – 2011. Latino Data Project, report 54, Oct 2013 Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies, Graduate Center, City University of New York
4, 5, 6. Case, A and A Deaton (2015) “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among White non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 112 (49) pp 15078 – 15083. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full

Trump’s “Second Amendment People”?: The U.S. Patriot Movement Today

Click here to download the article as a PDF.

This article appears in the Fall 2016 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

Judging from his recent statements, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump seems to be making plans for post-election violence if he’s defeated. At the beginning of August he warned, “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged.”1). Jeremy Diamond, “Trump: ‘I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged’,” CNN, August 2, 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/08/01/politics/donaldtrump-election-2016-rigged. He went on to issue a seeming call for supporters to intimidate Democrats at the polls, telling his supporters to go with their friends and family to “watch.” (“And when I say watch, you know what I’m talking about, right?”2)Rebecca Savransky, “Trump to supporters: ‘Go out and watch’ on Election Day,” The Hill, August 22, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/ presidential-races/donald-trumprigged-system-hillary-clinton-go-outand-watch-you-know-what-im-talkingabout.) Ultimately he declared that if Hillary Clinton “gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is. I don’t know.”3)Eli Watkins and Rachel Chason,
“Trump campaign doubles down on election fraud claims,” CNN, August 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/12/politics/donaldtrump-pennsylvania-cheating; Jack
Holmes, “Donald Trump: ‘The 2nd Amendment People’ Can Do Something
to Stop Hillary Clinton,” Esquire, August 9, 2016, www.esquire.com/newspolitics/videos/a47491/donald-trumphints-at-hillary-clinton-assassination.

While Trump claimed he was merely suggesting an electoral remedy, where gun rights advocates become a pivotal voting block, the more obvious interpretation—the one understood by many listeners—was that Trump was seeding the idea in followers’ minds of an armed revolutionary struggle, or an assassination, to overthrow a democratically elected president. It’s likely that at least one constituency is already thinking the same way. When it comes to Trump’s so-called “Second Amendment people,” the prime candidates for the role are the members of the heavily armed, Hard Right “Patriot movement.”

For example, the next month, NPR talked to one Georgia man who was already making plans to join a militia. His reason? “Should martial law, civil war—whatever—break out in this country, they will uphold the Constitution and rebuild our loss…The war that’s going to break out if Hillary Clinton’s elected, if that happens. Your patriots are going to overthrow the government.”4)Travis Gettys, “Georgia voter predicts civil war if Clinton wins: ‘Patriots are going to overthrow the government’,” Raw Story, September 26, 2016, www. rawstory.com/2016/09/georgia-voter-predicts-civil-war-if-clinton-winspatriots-are-going-to-overthrow-thegovernment.

A Patriot movement member stands guard during the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Occupation in Oregon in January. Photo: Shawn Records.

A Patriot movement member stands guard during the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation in Oregon in January. Photo: Shawn Records.

The Patriot movement is a political tradition that dates back many decades. In the 1990s, when its “armed wing” expanded rapidly, it became well known as the militia movement.5)Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America (New York: Guilford Press, 2000), 287. It gained infamy in 1995 when two of its participants bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 (including 19 children in a daycare center on site).6)FBI, “The Oklahoma City Bombing 20 Years Later,” accessed October 15, 2016, https://stories.fbi.gov/oklahoma-bombing. In more recent years, Patriot movement activists have repeatedly made headlines for anti-government actions. In 2014, members converged on rancher Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch to hold off federal employees at gunpoint and stop them from seizing his cattle for non-payment of grazing fees. In January 2016, Bundy’s sons were among the group of paramilitaries who took over the headquarters of the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns, Oregon, for 41 days. Originally demanding freedom for two local ranchers who had been imprisoned for arson, their main demand soon became that the federally owned refuge be transferred to county authorities that would allow it to be used for ranching with few or no environmental restrictions.

The Patriot movement is rooted in an idiosyncratic reading of the U.S. Constitution, which they claim prohibits almost the entire structure of the current U.S. federal government. They desire a completely unrestrained capitalist system on domestic matters, and denounce even the mildest state interventions in markets as “Marxism.” Federal ownership of most public land and any regulation of private firearms are also considered to be a violation of the Constitution.

The same holds for federal agencies that engage in almost any kind of regulation, including in economics, environmentalism, workers’ rights, health and safety, or civil rights for oppressed groups. The Patriot movement is saturated with anti-immigrant xenophobia and Islamophobia, and is driven by conspiracy theories concerning federal overreach, sleeper ISIS cells, and plans for a New World Order. (One popular claim is that the federal government is using Agenda 21—a non-binding United Nations white paper that promotes environmental sustainability—and environmental politics to drive rural people off the land and into the cities, where they will be disarmed and put in detention camps, so that the United Nations or China can invade.)

These conspiracy theories, which serve as the theoretical basis of the movement’s politics, provide easy explanations for complex problems. The basic narrative framework is based on centuries-old ideas and appeals to people across cultures; it casts participants as the heroes in a story in which good and evil are pitted against each other, sometimes in an apocalyptic battle.

One of the most interesting aspects of the movement is that, despite the fact that many of its tactics and talking points come from the White supremacist movement, it presents itself in a way that seems to avoid its racist background. One of the early Patriot movement groups, Posse Comitatus, was founded in 1971 on the West Coast as a vehicle for White supremacism and antisemitism. And yet, explains Daniel Levitas, author of the most comprehensive account of the group, Terrorist Next Door The Militia Movement & the Radical Right, the Posse (as it was called) didn’t look or sound like other White supremacist organizations. “Unlike most other right-wing groups that shared similar beliefs,” Levitas wrote, “the Posse succeeded at joining its conspiracy theories, bigotry, and zest for violence to more mainstream issues, such as banking, land-use planning, environmental regulations, property rights, gun ownership, and race.”7)Daniel Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002), 10.

Writing about the Patriot movement of the late 1990s, which had inherited many aspects of the Posse’s organizational model, researcher David Neiwert wrote in his book, In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest, that the movement “disguises the racial and anti-democratic implications of its agenda and emphasizes, instead, its populist appeal across a broad range of issues, all wrapped in the bright colors of American nationalism.”8)David A. Neiwert, In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1999), 5.

One of the other curious elements of the Patriot movement is that it waxes and wanes in phases; in particular it has flourished under Democratic presidencies.

One of the other curious elements of the Patriot movement is that it waxes and wanes in phases; in particular it has flourished under Democratic presidencies. The militia movement coincided with Bill Clinton’s tenure, but soon after George W. Bush came into office, it faded. The current generation emerged with Barack Obama’s election. Apparently Democrats better fit the movement’s Manchurian Candidate-style narratives about the president being a secret Communist agent who is about to betray the nation and is more likely to push for gun control—a core issue for the movement.

Trump isn’t exactly the movement’s ideal candidate; Ted Cruz did more to court Patriots, many of whom supported him in the primary. But quite a number of Trump’s views—his toxic combination of bellicose patriotism, xenophobia and Islamophobia; implicit White nationalism; protectionist but pro-capitalist politics; as well as his thinly veiled threats of violence and penchant for wild conspiracy theories—all hit the same notes as the Patriot movement. And if Trump loses, and Hillary Clinton takes office, the movement could adopt a revolutionary stance. The Patriot milieu is flush with heavily armed followers who are already trained in military tactics. It would only take a small number of them to go underground and start an armed struggle, with the hope of igniting a larger uprising.

THE PATRIOT MOVEMENT’S THREE WAVES

In Right Wing Populism in America Too Close for Comfort, author Matthew Lyons and former PRA senior analyst Chip Berlet write that, “The Patriot movement was bracketed on the reformist side by the [John] Birch Society and the conspiracist segment of the Christian Right, and on the insurgent side by the Liberty Lobby and groups promoting themes historically associated with White supremacy and antisemitism.”9)Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America, 288–89. However, groups that are the backbone of the movement today are armed, or advocate actions that are beyond the bounds of the existing law—or both. This movement has had three identifiable waves.

The group that set the organizing template for both the 1990s militia movement and the most active elements of the current Patriot movement was the Posse Comitatus (Latin for “power of the county”). The proposed outline for the group was first published in 1971 by William Potter Gale, a self-proclaimed minister in the racist and antisemitic Christian Identity religion, which holds that Jews are children of Satan and people of color are “mud people.”10)Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door, 108. When the head of Gale’s church, Wesley Swift, died, the position was taken by Richard Butler. He moved the church to Idaho and renamed it Aryan Nations, and the church became a major player the 1980s and 1990s neo-Nazi scene. Gale, a veteran of several Hard Right groups, developed a new politics of White supremacy and antisemitism that took a different direction than post-war U.S. neo-Nazism, which at the time was still a newcomer to the political scene. Instead of seeking an authoritarian, centralized state government with references to mid-nineteenth century European political imagery and promises of active government intervention, Gale promoted a vision of radical decentralization that relied on the founding symbols and texts of the U.S. liberal system. Gale’s vision of White supremacy was dressed up in the Constitution and cowboy imagery—not Mein Kampf and swastika armbands.

Gale’s vision of White supremacy was dressed up in the Constitution and cowboy imagery—not Mein Kampf and swastika armbands.

Gale’s Posse Comitatus was based on his own beliefs about the law, which combined an idiosyncratic reading of the Constitution, the Bible, and Anglo-Saxon common law. The most important claim of Posse Comitatus was that county sheriffs could decide which laws were constitutional—something that would allow them to ignore federal laws at a time when civil rights and environmental protection legislation were being passed. (This fixation on fighting the federal government is what helped it gain such wide appeal.) Gale’s primary concept on sheriffs’ authority eventually included the notion that sheriffs could reject Constitutional Amendments as well—especially the 14th, which would strip citizenship from many people of color.

Posse Comitatus also advocated setting up fake courts as part of the prefigurative legal system it envisioned. These “common law courts,” composed of movement adherents, claimed they had the legal right to try and sentence standing officials, typically for treason. In effect, they were kangaroo courts, which hold their trials in absentia (who would show up to one?), and have only been known to pass out guilty verdicts. The threatened punishments have ranged from issuing fines to execution.11)For threats of execution, see Neiwert, In God’s Country, 102, 175, 198, 223; for threats of kidnapping, see Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door, 305. This idiosyncratic reading of constitutional law later became the Sovereign Citizen movement.

A significant, more intellectual, part of the movement was the Hard Right anti-Communist John Birch Society, founded in 1958. The group promoted conspiracy theories that were based on old antisemitic tropes but which no longer named Jews as the agents of conspiracy. For example, they claimed the United States was controlled by a secret cabal of Communists who planned to implement an authoritarian New World Order. Still in existence today, the John Birch Society continues to promote Patriot movement staples such as the authority of the county sheriff to judge the constitutionality of laws and advocate the transfer of federally owned lands.

The Posse Comitatus experienced a revival during the 1980s farm crisis. An increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve—from single digits to an average of 15.3 percent, and often higher—as well as changes in the international agricultural industry, led to widespread foreclosures of small farms, especially in the Midwest.12)Brian Lamm, “Banking and the Agricultural Problems of the 1980s,” FDIC, accessed October 10, 2016, www.fdic. gov/bank/historical/history/259_290. pdf. This is chapter 8 of the first volume of FDIC, History of the Eighties – Lessons for the Future, originally published in 1997; www.fdic.gov/bank/historical/ history/index.html. A protest movement, led by the American Agriculture Movement, arose in response. Their tactics included “tractorcades,” where thousands of farmers would drive tractors into urban areas as demonstrations, and “penny auctions,” where they tried to sabotage auctions of foreclosed farms. While the farm crisis affected thousands of farmers, a portion of the protesters were drawn to the Posse Comitatus politics, which claimed that an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers (who supposedly controlled the Federal Reserve) had dispossessed farmers of their land. By then the name “Christian Patriots”—a label which “said who they were without exposing them to quite as much criticism or surveillance” as Posse Comitatus, Levitas writes—had come into common use for the movement.13)Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door, 257

The 1990s militia movement, which formed the second wave of the Patriot movement, called for the formation of locally based militias to fend off looming tyranny—usually conceived of as a coming invasion by the United Nations, or domination by a secret cabal of elites. Although still present, those who openly espoused racist and antisemitic ideas were now a minority in the movement. The tactics and political goals remained the same, although the ideas of the John Birch Society had now become more prominent than the Christian Identity beliefs that animated the earlier movement. This second wave brought a mixture of different groups together, including White separatists, gun rights activists, right-wing tax protestors, anti-abortion activists, and Sovereign Citizens.

Then, as today, veterans were targets of recruitment by the movement—treated as objects of special veneration who could provide military training to other participants.

Starting in 1994, the militia movement expanded rapidly. Opposition to the Brady Bill, a 1993 gun control law, helped catalyze the movement. But many adherents were inspired by two incidents widely seen as evidence of federal government overreach or even tyranny. Then, as today, veterans were targets of recruitment by the movement—treated as objects of special veneration who could provide military training to other participants. The first was Ruby Ridge, a 1992 standoff between the FBI and the Weaver family, White separatists and Christian Identity followers in Idaho. During the 11-day standoff, two members of the family and one FBI agent were killed. The second was the 1993 siege of the compound of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, where a total of 84 people died in a botched raid by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which was followed by a standoff that lasted almost two months. Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was retaliation for these incidents, as he made clear in a letter just before his execution.14)Tracy McVeigh, “The McVeigh letters: Why I bombed Oklahoma,” Guardian, May 6, 2001, www.theguardian.com/world/2001/may/06/mcveigh. usa. One side effect was that, even as the federal government amped up its infiltration of militia groups, it also apparently adopted a very hands-off policy in dealing with majority-White, Hard Right groups in order to avoid a repeat of these two tragedies, and the reaction that resulted. This practice has affected standoffs in recent years.

At its height, the militia movement had 20,000–60,000 active members, and perhaps five million people who agreed with its basic worldview. It was able to attract supporters in Washington, D.C., including U.S. Representatives Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-ID). There were also state and local legislators like Colorado State Representative and Senator Charlie Duke.15)Kenneth S. Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 212–17. Gary Johnson, the 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, even had a disturbing meeting with the militias in 1995 when he was New Mexico’s governor. Occurring about a week after the Oklahoma City bombing, Johnson emerged to call them “very patriotic” and say he shared their views about federal government overreach.16)Kenneth S. Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 215. But after George W. Bush’s 2000 election win—and then, even more so after 9/11—the movement, which has always been strongest in opposition to a Democratic administration, declined.

In late 2008, with the election of Barack Obama, the movement sprang back to life with a third wave. New organizations emerged, but they still promoted the doctrines that the county sheriff should interpret the Constitution; that most of the federal government was unconstitutional; and that it was essential to form paramilitaries and a parallel legal apparatus, such as movement-controlled court systems, in order to replace the current structure of government. After 2008 it became rare to find open, ideological White supremacist (or separatist) views among those in leadership positions. Islamophobia also largely supplanted antisemitism, with Muslims replacing Jews in recycled demonizing narratives.

THE NEW WAVE

While organized militias, which were popular in the 1990s, are still around, they are no longer the central organizing force of the movement. Since 2008, Patriot movement activists who engage in armed organizing, or other actions that overstep the law, usually fall into five main groups. The Oath Keepers are a membership-based organization of current and former police, military, and first responders who swear to “defend the Constitution.” (Others can join as associate members.) Oath Keepers swear not to enforce 10 hypothetical orders—mostly derived from staple right-wing conspiracy theories about how the U.S. government will disarm civilians and herd them into concentration camps to facilitate a foreign invasion. The organization attempts to operate within the law while also being armed, and to portray themselves as a cross between a veterans’ group and a community service organization. They were present at the Bundy Ranch standoff; sent members to Ferguson, Missouri, during protests against police killings; tried to recruit at Occupy Wall Street events; and offered to guard Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis when she refused to register same-sex marriages.17)Spencer Sunshine with Rural Organizing Project and Political Research Associates, Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement (Somerville: Political Research Associates, 2016), www.po – liticalresearch.org/up-in-arms, 7, 20.

5groupsFounded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, who had been an aide to former U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), the Oath Keepers are estimated to have just over 2,000 members (they claim a membership of 40,000). Rhodes, a graduate of Yale Law School, illustrates how cross-class this movement is, despite the stereotype of it being mostly poor, rural, and uneducated White people.

An affiliated group, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), is led by former Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, who is also on the board of directors of the Oath Keepers. Mack became a hero of the Hard Right in the 1990s when he won a Supreme Court ruling that backed his argument that local law enforcement does not need to enforce the provision of the Brady Act, which required them to perform gun sale background checks.18)Ryan Lenz, “Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack Seeks ‘Army’ of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority,” Southern Poverty Law Center, November 11, 2012, www.splcenter.org/fightinghate/intelligence-report/2012/formerarizona-sheriff-richard-mack-seeks- ‘army’-sheriffs-resist-federal-authority. Like Posse Comitatus, Mack believes sheriffs can refuse to enforce federal laws, and decide whether amendments are constitutional. He has worked with Randy Weaver, the White separatist whose family was killed at Ruby Ridge, and previously worked for the radical group Gun Owners of America. The CSPOA refuses to make its membership list public, but it may include dozens of county sheriffs (they claim 400), in addition to other members.

One of those in the CSPOA’s orbit is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, whom the group named their “Sheriff of the Year” in 2013. A speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention and a frequent commentator on Fox News, he has called Black Lives Matter “purveyors of hate” and “black slime,” and tweeted, “Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being down our legal constituted republic” (sic). He has also made comments that imply he would welcome an armed revolutionary movement against gun seizures.19)“Sheriff David Clarke: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy, July 18 (updated August 15), 2016, http://heav y.com/news/2016/07/sheriff-david-clarke-milwaukee-blacklives-matter-republican-nationalconvention-you-tube-cnn-quotesdon-lemon-guns-baton-rouge-trump; Katherine Krueger, “Frequent Fox News Guest: ‘Black Lives Matter Will Join Forces With ISIS,” Talking Points Memo, October 28, 2015, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sheriff-davidclarke-black-lives-matter-isis; David
Neiwert, “Sheriff David Clarke Plays a Straight-Talking Cop on Cable TV, But His Agenda Springs From Far-Right Extremism,” Southern Poverty Law Center, October 30, 2015, www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/10/30/sheriff-david-clarke-plays-straight-talking-copcable-tv-his-agenda-springs-far-right.

The Three Percenters were co-founded in 2008 by Mike Vanderboegh, a 1990s militia activist, as a more decentralized version of the militias, which many believe are heavily infiltrated by law enforcement. Anyone can independently declare themself a Three Percenter, although there are organized local and national groups as well. This model of “leaderless resistance” creates a more difficult political milieu to infiltrate than standing, membership-based organizations, and illegal actions can then be taken with a greater level of anonymity. The name refers to the mythical portion of American colonialists who were said to have taken up arms against the British during the American Revolution. Three Percenters swear that they will forcefully resist new gun regulations—a promise that brings to mind Trump’s unnamed “Second Amendment people.” In general they have a similar ideology to the Oath Keepers, although with a greater focus on Islamophobia, and they tend to attract the more violent members of the movement. (Some Three Percenters are reported to have also joined the Soldiers of Odin, an anti-immigrant vigilante patrol group founded by Finnish neo-Nazis and recently active in the United States as well.)

Another grouping, the Sovereign Citizens, also follow the crank legal theories first developed by Posse Comitatus. They believe most federal laws do not apply to them. The growth of a new wave of Sovereigns, as they are called, may have been spurred by the economic crisis starting in 2008; some have attempted to declare ownership of houses that underwent foreclosures. There are an estimated 100,000 “hardcore” Sovereigns, and 200,000 additional sympathizers. While there is clearly a large audience for these ideas, organized groups only play a minor role.20)The organizations include the Republic for the united States of America, the National Liberty Alliance, and the new Continental Court System of the United States. Many websites and videos promote these fake legal theories, while individuals—known as “gurus”—who spread their own versions of Sovereign Citizen ideas go on speaking tours to cultivate followers.

Their tactics vary. Some file false liens against political opponents, engage in tax scams and fraud. Some set up their own courts and declare themselves judges. (At least two fake courts, overseen by self-proclaimed judges and targeting federal employees, were initiated by those connected to the Malheur occupation.) Some, like Scott Roeder, who assassinated abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, refuse to put valid license plates on their cars. Others have killed law enforcement officers, including Joseph and Jerry Kane, who in 2010 killed two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, before dying in a shootout.21)J.J. MacNab, “‘Sovereign’ Citizen Kane,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 1, 2010, www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2010/sovereign-citizen-kane.

Despite the movement’s origins in the racist Right, today there are also a number of Black sovereigns. Veteran Gavin Long, the sniper who killed three police officers and wounded three others during a July 2016 Black Lives Matter march in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was part of a group influenced by Sovereign Citizen ideology.22)Brandon Ellington Patterson, “Baton Rouge Cop Killer Was a ‘Sovereign Citizen.’ What the Heck Is That?,” Mother Jones, July 20, 2016, www. motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/ gavin-long-sovereign-citizen-possecomitatus-patriot-militias.

The size of these various wings of the movement is difficult to estimate. If based on the self-reporting of the CSPOA and the Oath Keepers, and online social media membership of Three Percenter group, it would appear that they represent a combined total of 130,000 activists—but this number is doubtlessly wildly inflated. It’s likely that their real numbers are between a quarter and a tenth of this.23)This upward figure is based on Richard Mack claiming the CSPOA has 5,000 members, the Oath Keepers claim of 40,000, and an analysis of closed online Three Percenter groups, showing a total membership of 85,000. (This is in separate from the estimate that there are 100,000 active Sovereign Citizens, and 200,000 sympathizers.) Even at these high numbers, there is a significant crossover of membership as well, lowering the total. See Rachel Tabachnick, “Profile on the Right: Oath Keepers,” Political Research Associates, April 23, 2015, http://www. politicalresearch.org/2015/04/23/ profile-on-the-right-oathkeepers; Mark Potok and Ryan Lenz, “Line in the Sand,” Southern Poverty Law Center, June 13, 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2016/line-sand; Devin Burghart, “Oregon Standoff Fuels Growth of the Three Percenters (IREHR),” February 3, 2016, IREHR, http://www.irehr. org/2016/02/03/2415; “Sovereign Citizens Movement,” Southern Poverty Law Center, www.splcenter.org/ fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/ sovereign-citizens-movement. The movement is spread across the United States; in certain Western states, it has the character of a mass movement with some level of popular support, including in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. (For a detailed analysis of the Oregon movement, see the Political Research Associates and Rural Organizing Project report Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement.24)Sunshine, et al., Up in Arms)

THE MOVEMENT TODAY

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this third wave peaked in 2011, before declining over the next several years. But when rancher Cliven Bundy staged his Nevada standoff in April 2014, over his longstanding financial dispute over grazing fees with the Bureau of Land Management, the movement swelled to his defense. When federal authorities came to seize Bundy’s cattle, Bundy called in his Patriot movement allies, which included armed Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. After a brief armed standoff, federal agents retreated—apparently following the government’s playbook instituted after Waco and Ruby Ridge.

For almost two years, there were no arrests and Bundy continued to not pay his grazing fees. Perhaps for the first time in the movement’s history, it appeared that the armed Patriot movement strategy—of deploying paramilitaries to stop the federal government from enforcing laws they opposed—had succeeded. This victory, achieved without casualties, inspired a sudden upsurge in movement activity and made the Bundys into movement icons.

For years, Republicans have attempted to transfer federally owned lands—which account for almost 50 percent of the land in 11 Western states—to state or county governments, effectively privatizing them in order to circumvent regulations on logging, mining, ranching, and development.25)The federal government controls 46.9 percent of the land in 11 western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. See Carol Hardy Vincent, Laura A. Hanson, and Jerome P. Bjelopera, “Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data,” Federation of American Scientists, December 29, 2014, 20, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346. pdf, 20. Between the Bundy Ranch and Malheur wildlife refuge incidents, Patriot movement activists formed armed camps to support miners who were in conflict with federal agencies on at least two occasions. The first was in April 2015—the anniversary of the Bundy ranch standoff—at the Sugar Pine Mine in Josephine County, Oregon, and the second was at the White Hope Mine in Lincoln, Montana, in August 2015. Neither of these events garnered much national attention.

Ammon Bundy (left) at the Malheur occupation. Photo: Shawn Records.

Ammon Bundy (left) at the Malheur occupation. Photo: Shawn Records.

Then on January 2, 2016, Patriot movement activists held a march in a remote Oregon town to protest an unusual prison sentence for two local ranchers who had been convicted under the 1996 Terrorism Act for starting fires on federal land where they had grazing rights. At the end of the march, a small group of armed activists from other states—including Cliven Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, as well as well-known Islamophobic organizer Jon Ritzheimer—occupied the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, where one of the fires had burned. They demanded the ranchers be freed, and the refuge be transferred to county control. They occupied the refuge for 41 days and engaged in an intense, unsuccessful struggle to win local community support for their efforts. One militant was killed when he refused to surrender at a police checkpoint. Those involved in the earlier Nevada standoff, including Cliven Bundy, were then also arrested. Twenty-six people were originally arrested for the Malheur Refuge occupation, and seven went to trial in September 2016; as of October 17, the trials are ongoing. The Bundy Ranch standoff trials are slated to begin in February 2017.

THE PATRIOT MOVEMENT AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY

In the past, the Patriot movement’s politics were considered extreme even by fellow conservatives. Today—coming on the tail of the armed takeover of federal property—it’s an increasingly popular grassroots movement in rural areas of several Western states where there are high levels of federal land ownership. The Republican Party mainstream is moving into alignment with the politics, if not the tactics, of the Patriot movement. Some elected officials are open sympathizers, such as Nevada State Representative Michele Fiore, who helped negotiate the surrender of the last of the Malheur Refuge occupiers. When hardline Patriot movement activists ran in the May 2016 Republican primary in Oregon—the state where the Malheur takeover occurred—almost none advanced to the November election. However, members of the movement did move into the state’s Republican Party apparatus itself. Many Patriots had run for positions as Precinct Committee People, the lowest level officials in the party. At the state’s June 2016 party convention, a number of them took seats in the party infrastructure. One of them, Joseph Rice, then the state’s most prominent Oath Keeper, became a delegate to the July 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. On the convention floor he unveiled a small banner emblazed with “Free the Bundys.”26)“Oregon Republican Party Delegate Selection Convention OFFICIAL RESULTS of the elections for National Convention Delegate-Elector-Con – gressional District Officer Elections as of June 20th, 2016,” Oregon GOP, accessed October 10, 2016, https:// oregon.gop/2016-official-resultsnational-convention-delegate-electorcd-officer; @transform6789, Twitter, August 6, 2016, 10:03 AM, https:// twitter.com/transform6789/status/761970990289223682.

Sign during the January 2, 2016 march in Burns, OR, claims that the Hammond family are allegedly victims of the Agenda 21 conspiracy. Photo: Jason Wilson.

Sign during the January 2, 2016 march in Burns, OR, claims that the Hammond family are allegedly victims of the Agenda 21 conspiracy. Photo: Jason Wilson.

While the tactics of the Patriot movement are not yet mainstream, the Republican Party platform has embraced the guiding conspiracy theories of the movement, noting that, “We emphatically reject U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of U.S. sovereignty, and we oppose any form of Global Tax.” A new plank now also calls for the immediate transfer of federal land to state governments.27)“Republican Platform 2016,” Republican National Committee, https:// prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws. com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_ FINAL%5B1%5D-ben_1468872234. pdf, 51. The Patriot movement’s xenophobic scapegoating and Islamophobia, taboo in mainstream circles even a year ago, have become part of mainstream political discourse.

If Trump is elected, it’s possible that the Patriot movement’s most militant tendencies might subside as supporters see their politics represented on a national level—along the lines of what happened with George W. Bush’s win in 2000. (Alternately, it could expand if he provides a warm ideological home for them, possibly turning a blind eye to, or even encouraging, illegal actions—although politicians often became more moderate once they are actually in power.)

If Trump fails to become president, some Patriot movement activists may turn to an armed struggle approach: the “second American Revolution” they’ve long threatened to carry out. For years, the movement’s tactics have largely been in support of what they call “defensive” positions, such as defending Cliven Bundy’s ranch from perceived federal intrusion. By contrast, the Malheur refuge occupation seemed to be a shift towards occupier Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was an assassination by law enforcement, giving the movement a modern martyr. As Trump has sown the rhetorical seeds to legitimize revolutionary action, there is the possibility that escalated tactics could follow. If Hillary Clinton is elected, and her victory is portrayed by right-wing media as a stolen election, and she does promote further gun control measures—especially by executive orders or nominating a Supreme Court justice who supports them—armed revolt, by at least some members of this movement, would certainly be among the plausible outcomes.

About the Author

Spencer Sunshine is an Associate Fellow at PRA and is the lead author of the joint PRA/Rural Organizing Project report Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement. An earlier version of this article appeared in German in Der Rechte Rand #161.

References   [ + ]

1. . Jeremy Diamond, “Trump: ‘I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged’,” CNN, August 2, 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/08/01/politics/donaldtrump-election-2016-rigged.
2. Rebecca Savransky, “Trump to supporters: ‘Go out and watch’ on Election Day,” The Hill, August 22, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/ presidential-races/donald-trumprigged-system-hillary-clinton-go-outand-watch-you-know-what-im-talkingabout.
3. Eli Watkins and Rachel Chason,
“Trump campaign doubles down on election fraud claims,” CNN, August 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/12/politics/donaldtrump-pennsylvania-cheating; Jack
Holmes, “Donald Trump: ‘The 2nd Amendment People’ Can Do Something
to Stop Hillary Clinton,” Esquire, August 9, 2016, www.esquire.com/newspolitics/videos/a47491/donald-trumphints-at-hillary-clinton-assassination.
4. Travis Gettys, “Georgia voter predicts civil war if Clinton wins: ‘Patriots are going to overthrow the government’,” Raw Story, September 26, 2016, www. rawstory.com/2016/09/georgia-voter-predicts-civil-war-if-clinton-winspatriots-are-going-to-overthrow-thegovernment.
5. Chip Berlet and Matthew Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America (New York: Guilford Press, 2000), 287.
6. FBI, “The Oklahoma City Bombing 20 Years Later,” accessed October 15, 2016, https://stories.fbi.gov/oklahoma-bombing.
7. Daniel Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002), 10.
8. David A. Neiwert, In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1999), 5.
9. Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America, 288–89.
10. Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door, 108. When the head of Gale’s church, Wesley Swift, died, the position was taken by Richard Butler. He moved the church to Idaho and renamed it Aryan Nations, and the church became a major player the 1980s and 1990s neo-Nazi scene.
11. For threats of execution, see Neiwert, In God’s Country, 102, 175, 198, 223; for threats of kidnapping, see Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door, 305.
12. Brian Lamm, “Banking and the Agricultural Problems of the 1980s,” FDIC, accessed October 10, 2016, www.fdic. gov/bank/historical/history/259_290. pdf. This is chapter 8 of the first volume of FDIC, History of the Eighties – Lessons for the Future, originally published in 1997; www.fdic.gov/bank/historical/ history/index.html.
13. Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door, 257
14. Tracy McVeigh, “The McVeigh letters: Why I bombed Oklahoma,” Guardian, May 6, 2001, www.theguardian.com/world/2001/may/06/mcveigh. usa.
15. Kenneth S. Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 212–17.
16. Kenneth S. Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 215.
17. Spencer Sunshine with Rural Organizing Project and Political Research Associates, Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement (Somerville: Political Research Associates, 2016), www.po – liticalresearch.org/up-in-arms, 7, 20.
18. Ryan Lenz, “Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack Seeks ‘Army’ of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority,” Southern Poverty Law Center, November 11, 2012, www.splcenter.org/fightinghate/intelligence-report/2012/formerarizona-sheriff-richard-mack-seeks- ‘army’-sheriffs-resist-federal-authority.
19. “Sheriff David Clarke: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy, July 18 (updated August 15), 2016, http://heav y.com/news/2016/07/sheriff-david-clarke-milwaukee-blacklives-matter-republican-nationalconvention-you-tube-cnn-quotesdon-lemon-guns-baton-rouge-trump; Katherine Krueger, “Frequent Fox News Guest: ‘Black Lives Matter Will Join Forces With ISIS,” Talking Points Memo, October 28, 2015, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sheriff-davidclarke-black-lives-matter-isis; David
Neiwert, “Sheriff David Clarke Plays a Straight-Talking Cop on Cable TV, But His Agenda Springs From Far-Right Extremism,” Southern Poverty Law Center, October 30, 2015, www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/10/30/sheriff-david-clarke-plays-straight-talking-copcable-tv-his-agenda-springs-far-right.
20. The organizations include the Republic for the united States of America, the National Liberty Alliance, and the new Continental Court System of the United States.
21. J.J. MacNab, “‘Sovereign’ Citizen Kane,” Southern Poverty Law Center, August 1, 2010, www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2010/sovereign-citizen-kane.
22. Brandon Ellington Patterson, “Baton Rouge Cop Killer Was a ‘Sovereign Citizen.’ What the Heck Is That?,” Mother Jones, July 20, 2016, www. motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/ gavin-long-sovereign-citizen-possecomitatus-patriot-militias.
23. This upward figure is based on Richard Mack claiming the CSPOA has 5,000 members, the Oath Keepers claim of 40,000, and an analysis of closed online Three Percenter groups, showing a total membership of 85,000. (This is in separate from the estimate that there are 100,000 active Sovereign Citizens, and 200,000 sympathizers.) Even at these high numbers, there is a significant crossover of membership as well, lowering the total. See Rachel Tabachnick, “Profile on the Right: Oath Keepers,” Political Research Associates, April 23, 2015, http://www. politicalresearch.org/2015/04/23/ profile-on-the-right-oathkeepers; Mark Potok and Ryan Lenz, “Line in the Sand,” Southern Poverty Law Center, June 13, 2016, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2016/line-sand; Devin Burghart, “Oregon Standoff Fuels Growth of the Three Percenters (IREHR),” February 3, 2016, IREHR, http://www.irehr. org/2016/02/03/2415; “Sovereign Citizens Movement,” Southern Poverty Law Center, www.splcenter.org/ fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/ sovereign-citizens-movement.
24. Sunshine, et al., Up in Arms
25. The federal government controls 46.9 percent of the land in 11 western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. See Carol Hardy Vincent, Laura A. Hanson, and Jerome P. Bjelopera, “Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data,” Federation of American Scientists, December 29, 2014, 20, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346. pdf, 20.
26. “Oregon Republican Party Delegate Selection Convention OFFICIAL RESULTS of the elections for National Convention Delegate-Elector-Con – gressional District Officer Elections as of June 20th, 2016,” Oregon GOP, accessed October 10, 2016, https:// oregon.gop/2016-official-resultsnational-convention-delegate-electorcd-officer; @transform6789, Twitter, August 6, 2016, 10:03 AM, https:// twitter.com/transform6789/status/761970990289223682.
27. “Republican Platform 2016,” Republican National Committee, https:// prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws. com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_ FINAL%5B1%5D-ben_1468872234. pdf, 51.

The Transformation of a Goldwater Girl: Why It Matters in the Time of Trump

Click here to download the print version of this article.

A version of this article appears in the Fall 2016 edition of The Public Eye magazine.

This is, in some respects, a ghost story. A political ghost story in which the mythic, the symbolic, the demon archetype come to substitute for sustained engagement with ordinary human beings. Both major political parties love to tell scary stories about the other side, while offering their own followers a vicarious sense of power—of superiority—over those dehumanized opponents, those ghosts. It’s intoxicating stuff.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what that means when it comes to Donald Trump.

The short answer: A lot more than one election and a fear- contempt- and ridicule-based campaign that demonizes not only Trump but his overwhelmingly White followers. Scot Nakagawa and Tarso Luís Ramos recently wrote at PRA about the need to increase the social justice movement’s capacity to disrupt and defuse the momentum of the Right, and to offer an appealing alternative to the likes of Trump:

We compete by going up against the Right and vying directly for the loyalty of those who make up the immediate projected base of their support: White working-class people. Most right-wing groups’ core support is drawn from the White middle class, but right-wing movements don’t stop there. They traditionally organize “down” the economic ladder and reach for working-class Whites, whose numbers are vital to their success. Successfully competing will require us to authentically express empathy and compassion to White poor people and to those who fear falling into poverty, and to do so while marrying economic justice to racial and social equity.

As it happens, I know something about winning over the Right’s rank and file supporters.

"Goldwater Girls" during Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign for President. Photo courtesy of Marilyn M via Flickr.

“Goldwater Girls” during Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign for President. Photo courtesy of Marilyn M via Flickr.

When I was growing up in southern Colorado, the daughter of “respectable blue collar” parents in a lunch-bucket steel mill town, I was an ardent teenage supporter of Barry Goldwater during his failed but pivotal 1964 campaign for the presidency. Pundits said, and many believed, that his loss dealt a death-blow to the Right. It was a premature obituary.

Just four years later, former Alabama governor George Wallace (“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”) ran a surprisingly strong third party, right-wing populist campaign for the presidency, at one point polling a possible 23 percent of the national vote. Then Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, and Richard Nixon was elected president.

The Right had reinvented itself, but I’d changed, too. By this time, still in Colorado, I was a state college student, becoming ever more deeply immersed in movements to fight racism, support farmworker organizing, and oppose the war in Vietnam. My personal political transformation hadn’t been a “road to Damascus” epiphany. It was complicated and slow—often painful, always humbling, and sometimes shattering. But ultimately liberating.

I’m no expert in the science of political transformation, and I doubt that anyone is, or that there’s much science to it. Yet I believe my experience holds some relevance for the current political moment. Because even if Trump drops or is maneuvered off the Republican ticket tomorrow, or Hillary Clinton beats him by a landslide in November, this story won’t be over.

That’s because everything that Trumpism represents is so much larger and more complex than one man or one campaign. While the views of Trumpism are announced without the usual rhetorical filters and political sophistication, it isn’t an aberration. Its authoritarian and White nativist roots extend throughout all of American history; for decades, the conservative movement and the Republican Party have strategically stoked the racism and xenophobia animating today’s Trump phenomenon.

I don’t minimize the danger of Trump’s campaign, which is soaked in White supremacist and xenophobic fear, grievance, and suspicion, and blended with intense doses of braggadocio, narcissism, celebratory climate change denial, American exceptionalism, and triumphalism. Nor do I dismiss the influence of supporting groups of militant White nativists, “sovereign citizens,” and neonazis who constantly chum the political waters.

But here I’m talking about ordinary White blue collar and working class people who aren’t reflexively prone to racist violence or White supremacist fanaticism. Many of them just breathe in casual, normative racism like air, never thinking to question what is all around them. That’s what I did when I was growing up, as did my family and community—many of whom had been written off in a variety of ways for much of their lives, perhaps for generations. Pegged by society as losers or disposable workers, and treated with contempt and ridicule by those with greater social and economic status, they are recognized only at election times by opportunistic politicians struggling for greater standing.

Supporters of Donald Trump at a rally in Arizona this year. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Supporters of Donald Trump at a rally in Arizona this year.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Because a sense of belonging is especially important in a society where you know your life matters little except to those closest to you, appeals to group loyalty—and a willingness to name and persecute those who challenge that loyalty—often carry special resonance. White identity permits even White people in economic free-fall that sense of belonging. And because White identity is so significant (even if not consciously acknowledged), these are people whose racial anxieties and prejudices are easily inflamed and manipulated.

I’m not suggesting we appeal to the Right’s lay supporters on the basis of economics and class alone. We can’t excuse or minimize the enduring emotional power and elastic utility of overt and coded appeals to White identity. But we also can’t simply write these people off as “tools,” “idiots” or “morons,” and expect them to miraculously disappear or instantly reverse course based on sudden insight. (“Oh, damn! I’ve been voting against my own interests! I need to stop doing that!”) Without actual engagement, these communities will continue to gravitate towards leaders who scapegoat communities of color, queers, Muslims, and immigrants. Some other demagogue will always be on hand to tap into this reservoir of racism—usually blended with legitimate economic grievance—and another right-wing populist crusade will commence.

Toward Transformation

My conservative Republican parents didn’t drag me into the 1964 Goldwater campaign. They weren’t rabid Right Wingers like the folks in the John Birch Society, whose billboards and literature denouncing Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights movement, and “the communist conspiracy” littered our civic landscape.

Campaign buttons for the Barry Goldwater (Republican Party) presidential campaign of 1964 Part of the Littlejohn Collection, Wofford College (via Flickr).

Campaign buttons for the Barry Goldwater (Republican Party) presidential campaign of 1964
Part of the Littlejohn Collection, Wofford College (via Flickr).

But our family was worried about the future; it seemed so tenuous. When I was very young, Dad lost a promising job that was supposed to be the first step on the ladder leading into the middle class, and he never got a better one. Mom, who was simultaneously furious over and humiliated by teachers’ inquiries as to whether my sister and I were getting enough to eat, went back to work, as a low-paid medical insurance secretary. And while my father was grateful for the lunch bucket job he finally got, monitoring gauges at pump stations for the local water works (a job he kept till he retired), he hated that he had to join the union. We desperately needed the benefits, but he believed guys on the way up didn’t belong to unions, that unions were for losers. He put on a good public front, but my father always felt like a failure. That was abundantly clear at home. Try as I might to feel optimistic, I often felt like a loser, too.

But even if we fell short in terms of economic status, at least we were White. Not Ku Klux Klan White, although the Klan once had an influential presence where I grew up. But the kind of Whites who thought Anglo domination was the right thing in a town that was probably almost half “Mexican” (as we said then), and which until 1963 still had a segregated black orphanage. The kind who, while not especially mean-spirited, nonetheless never questioned “respectable” expressions of bigotry or structural forms of racism.

When I was in ninth grade, a friend’s mother—who was a rabid Right Winger—seemed to sense my hunger to belong to something bigger and more powerful than myself. (For me, church and the Girl Scouts weren’t the answer.) She swept me into the 1964 campaign. As a young Goldwater Girl, I read endless right-wing screeds, poured hundreds of cups of campaign ginger ale (from promotional cans labeled “Gold Water”), and tromped from rally to meeting to state convention, alternately absorbing and parroting warnings about impending racial and communist doom.

The author prepares to ride her decorated bicycle with a contingent of Teen Age Republicans (TARs) in the Colorado State Fair Parade, circa 1964

The author prepares to ride her decorated bicycle with a contingent of Teen Age Republicans (TARs) in the Colorado State Fair Parade, circa 1964. Photo courtesy of Kay Whitlock.

Tailor-made for people anxious about their futures, Goldwater’s campaign was steeped in the fear of enemies. Civil Rights agitation, court rulings, and litigation constituted a criminal assault on individual liberty and states’ rights. The Civil Rights movement would produce a federal police state in which people, both Black and White, would lose the freedom to live their lives as they choose (that is, in segregation). Protest was framed as a breakdown of moral order and an indicator of criminal unrest. Such “welfare state” initiatives as Medicare (proposed at the time, but not yet enacted into law) and Social Security (longstanding) could only foster pathological and parasitical dependencies—primarily in Black communities, we understood. But vicariously, through Goldwater, we would beat back those enemies. We would win.

Liberals cheered Goldwater’s epic defeat. But their glee was misplaced. Even in losing, Goldwater changed mainstream political possibilities. He’d been willing to wage tactical nuclear warfare. His campaign helped set the stage for what would become the Republican “Southern Strategy,” which refined racist dog whistling to an art and ultimately delivered the historically Democratic South to the GOP. Fear, resentment, and the presumption of superiority were the glues that bonded people, including me, to his campaign. Paradoxically, to supporters, those sentiments had felt comforting, even hopeful. I was stunned by the magnitude of the loss, though I tried not to show it—our family ethos was “never let them see you hurting because they’ll think you’re weak.” That liberal glee, stamping me once again as a loser, cut to the quick.

My arc toward a more progressive direction began in 1965, during my last two years of high school, thanks to one courageous classmate and three remarkable teachers who challenged me to reconsider my views. They did it individually, in a multitude of ways, including sharing their own beliefs and telling me more about themselves. I never felt singled out as their conversion project. While often putting me uncomfortably on the spot, they were never demonizing, ridiculing, or demeaning. No one tried to tell me what I should believe. They listened as much as they talked.

One teacher said that if I could draw on credible sources to back up my arguments about Vietnam, and the history of French and American presence there, he would, every day for a week, announce before the class that I was right and he was wrong. After sequestering myself in the public library for many hours, I came away with piles of research that refuted my beliefs. But my teacher didn’t laugh at me. Rather, we sat together one day after class, and I talked to him about how much it meant that he took me seriously. When I could so easily have been a symbolic representation of everything they held in contempt, my classmate and these teachers looked more deeply and, with no guarantees, reached for the most human and the best in me. And at some point, I started to reach back.

The Goldwater folks taught me to build community by defining myself against enemies, but when you do that, you’re always anxious about anyone who isn’t just like you.

I began to see what was obvious, but what I’d never really paid attention to before. Poverty was widespread in my hometown, and it was intensely raced, as was every aspect of civic, social and economic life. The Red Scare was a way to avoid facing injustice at home while barricading yourself against danger and creating a military on steroids. The Goldwater folks taught me to build community by defining myself against enemies, but when you do that, you’re always anxious about anyone who isn’t just like you. There had to be a better way to exist in the world. These realizations gave me the motivation and psychic space in which to re-examine my (increasingly shaky) convictions—to see my community, and the world and other people, through new lenses.

It’s excruciating to feel your own edifice of defense begin to crumble, to see your own beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors in a clearer, harsher, light. But those three teachers and that classmate made it possible for me to come through it without feeling so cornered that I had no choice but to hit back out of anger and shame. What could have been only mortifying was instead mortifying and transformative, within a context of building genuine, trustworthy relationships.

This is why I think it’s so important to try, as progressives, to compete for the part of Trump’s audience that may be reachable. People didn’t write me off. I must do the same.

Beyond Goldwater, Wallace, and Trump

In 1968, in the wake of the assassinations of King and Kennedy, so-called “race riots” broke out in more than 100 U.S. cities. Anti-war protesters at the Democratic National Convention were met with violent responses from Chicago police. And George Wallace ran for president as an independent. Although he ultimately lost, I was shocked by how much support he elicited in my hometown, then a reliably Democratic stronghold. (I shouldn’t have been. The political center was already shifting to the right. Nixon won the local vote that year.)
georgewallaceAlthough many of Wallace’s supporters were openly racist, some people I knew personally were not and did not think of themselves as bigoted. But most of them, including many of the same blue-collar people who’d voted for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, were responding to the racial and economic anxieties that formed the taproot of Wallace’s campaign. Where Goldwater had stood at something of a remove from working class White people—relying on coded phrasing to convey his racial views, largely ignoring class—Wallace spoke bluntly and emotionally, directing his message to blue collar Whites in ways that honored them, even as they reinforced racist themes.
From the outside, Wallace’s right-wing populist crusade looked like nothing more than crude demagoguery. But people I knew who supported Wallace felt that he alone understood their struggles and fears. The local steel mill, a huge employer, was already feeling the discomfiting stirrings of what, in a little more than a decade, would become a full-fledged steel market crash. Simultaneously, an emergent Chicano movement for cultural self-determination, political and economic power, and reclamation of stolen lands was making itself known. Anglo supremacist norms were being challenged. The world they knew was coming apart, and they desperately wanted someone to put it back together. In Wallace’s vision, their lives became meaningful, their futures more hopeful. Unlike Goldwater, Wallace played directly to people whose lives were of no concern to those who dominated the political discourse.

Rachel Maddow compared the George Wallace campaign of 1968 with the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump on MSNBC.

Rachel Maddow compared the George Wallace campaign of 1968 with the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump on MSNBC.

I see so much of Wallace in Trump. Like the former governor, Trump has an instinct for tapping the same racial and economic anxieties in emotionally-charged and, to many, compelling ways. But ghost stories, whether told by the Right or the Left, only amplify anxiety. They don’t produce more just societies. Demonizing Trump’s followers won’t dismantle White supremacy, or transform an oppressive criminal legal system, or produce the kind of economic justice that extends beyond the middle class. (Nor will a Democratic victory produce these things just because it stands in opposition to Trump. But that’s a discussion for another time.)

Somebody’s got to do the work of engaging ordinary White folks who support Trump, as well as other right-wing agendas.

Somebody’s got to do the work of engaging ordinary White folks who support Trump, as well as other right-wing agendas, and initiatives from both major parties that solidify the racial and economic status quo. If we don’t, right-wing populism will reappear again and again, in forms that have evolved to adapt to changing conditions. White people—including me—bear primary responsibility for this task.

It’s not sexy work. It requires a kind of radical compassion that resists the easy politics of contempt and dehumanization. And it can’t be our only work. Even as we compete, with imagination and persistence, for the loyalty of blue collar and working class White people, we must balance that with support for anti-racism and anti-Islamophobia struggles, immigrants’ rights, Indigenous sovereignty, environmental protection, and more.

It would be so much easier to simply distance ourselves from people we’ve come to regard as bigoted, benighted, and lost—the “basket of deplorables,” if you will. But “easier” never created political transformation. And believe me, as someone whose almost 50 years of progressive activism speaks to the power of engagement with real human beings rather than demonized ghosts, I know that it can be done.

About the Author

Kay Whitlock is a writer and activist who has been involved with racial, gender, queer, and economic justice movements since 1968. She is coauthor of Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics with Michael Bronski, the award-winning Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States with Joey L. Mogul and Andrea J. Ritchie, and cofounder and contributing editor for the weekly Criminal Injustice series at CriticalMassProgress.com. She lives in Missoula, Montana.