Trolls, true believers and Trump: Decoding the alt-right’s nihilistic revolution

After Donald Trump named Stephen Bannon, head of the right-wing political website and Trump propaganda outfit Breitbart News, as his new campaign CEO earlier this month, advocates of the increasingly popular “alt-right” movement — which Breitbart has championed over the past year — were more than a little jubilant. “His appointment is great news,” said Peter Brimelow, editor of the white supremacist website VDARE, to the Daily Beast, while Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, an overtly racist think tank, praised Breitbart as a “gateway to Alt Right ideas and writers.”

 

Last Thursday, about a week after the hiring of Bannon, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton denounced the alt-right at a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada, declaring that “the de facto merger between Breitbart and the represents a landmark achievement for the ‘Alt-Right.’” A fringe element, continued Clinton, “has effectively taken over the Republican Party.”

 

The alt-right, which the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as “a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization,” has grown into a popular buzzword over the past year alongside the Trump campaign. For politically inclined social media users or Redditers, the term denotes Trump-worshiping trolls who regularly harass women and people of color on Twitter and Tumblr, and who embrace the billionaire’s apparent stands against political correctness, feminism, and multiculturalism, as well as his strongman personality.

 

Broadly speaking, the alt-right is a big tent movement characterized by an intense disdain for liberalism, egalitarianism and feminism, and a shared affinity for white supremacy, nationalism and authoritarianism. There are various ideologies and groups that fall into the alt-right classification, but for practical purposes the movement can be divided into two categories. First there are the bona fide far-right extremists one could call the true believers: white supremacists, neo-Nazis, “neoreactionaries” — who all genuinely believe that the white race is superior or that there is a conscious liberal plot to annihilate the white race and destroy Western Civilization (i.e. “white genocide”). Then there are the trolls, who loathe political correctness and feminism but primarily post despicable racist and sexist comments online in order to provoke and offend the so-called “Social Justice Warriors.” These trolls may or may not be genuine racists or white supremacists, but they are cynical and amoral opportunists — much like their hero Mr. Trump.

 

Topics: 2016 Presidential Campaign, 2016 presidential election, alt-right, Breitbart, Donald Trump, , , Stephen Bannon, trump campaign, Elections News, News, Politics News

 

 

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