“The Alt-Right is a loose set of far-right ideologies at the core of which is a belief that “white identity” is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states.”I found the Southern Poverty Law Center quote in a Charles Blow piece. The reason I started thinking about it is, of course, the new force in the Trump campaign is Steve Bannon of Breitbart [#notallSteves]. Discussion about his impact focus on how Trump's campaign might embrace nationalism more. Does this mean wearing more red/white/blue? Does it mean live readings of the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights? What does it mean to be more nationalist?
Well, any nationalism has multiple meanings that can be emphasized, different content to stress and highlight. What has Bannon and Breitbart been emphasizing? The plight of whites in an increasingly diverse America. When people speak of a more nationalist campaign in this case, they mean a more white nationalist campaign--emphasizing how the increased diversity in the US is leading to white genocide, how Mexicans and Muslims are going rape our (white) women, and on and on.
Trump has long moved from speaking via dogwhistled code (birther--how can a black President be a real American?) to openly making racist appeals. He retweets white supremacists and their graphics on a regular basis. So, it makes sense that he is the favorite candidate of the white supremacists.
The strange thing is that the alt right folks don't like being called white supremacists. I learned this again yesterday via a series of tweets:
As I said earlier today, when folks say alt-right, just read it as white supremacy. Bannon and his ilk? To them nationalism is white.— Steve Saideman (@smsaideman) August 18, 2016
Apparently alt-right folks don't like being called white supremacists... and their responses suggest that they are multi-dimensional bigots— Steve Saideman (@smsaideman) August 18, 2016
After the first and before the second, I received a bunch of tweets from white supremacists who were mad that I called them that. Apparently, they are as thin skinned as the celebrity candidate that they prefer. The irony or hypocrisy (hard to tell) is that these folks want to be "plain spoken" and not criticized for their non-politically correct views, but criticize me for telling it like it is.
We are doing the country no favors by letting these racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, xenophobic and largely misogynist folks (hence multidimensional bigots) use labels that provide even the thin gloss of "alt right." Call them what they are, so that they retreat back to under the rocks from whence they came.
Others will advocate finding ways to bring them back, to deradicalize them. I don't have the skill or patience or tolerance to advocate that. Instead, I want them marginalized. The big damage that Trump has done has been to make these folks feel as if they are accepted, acceptable and voicing legitimate grievances. They are not. White supremacy is simply not legitimate. Blaming entire races for one's problems is not a pathway to anything good.
But what do I know, I am just (((Steve Saideman))) as one white supremacist tweeted back at me, biased by my heritage to think that blaming entire groups for whatever societal ills is just a bad idea.
As soon as the US body politic is comfortable with calling these nuts exactly who they are, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates, the better. It's a matter of when, not if.
You might also find this relevant: ultranationalists' inability to tie their ideology to quintessential US symbolism, e.g. anti-colonialism, the American Dream, a Nation of Immigrants. Churchill's quip that "you can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else" is going to prove itself right again.
The NYT's Maggie Haberman said it best: "The reality - as with many self-professed 'straight talk' candidates, Trump gets angry when he is quoted saying what he is saying."
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