A controversial movement was started in 2008, when Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute, created a new form of conservatism that veered sharply right. The alternate right or “alt-right” as it came to be called is essentially a far right conservative movement that rejects mainstream conservatism as being too moderate. It doesn’t have any set beliefs, but their politics tend to be in tune with far right nationalism. A few adjectives that I think is fair to loosely assign to the alt-right (whether they admit it or not) are nationalist, nativist, homophobic, populist, Islamophobic, anti-sematic, anti-feminist, and white supremacist. Because the alt-right has no established platform, everyone associated with the movement does not fit into all these categories, but as a whole I would say the adjectives I used are a fair assessment of their beliefs.
The alt-right even flat out rejects some tenants of mainstream conservatism, despite being a movement nestled in the right side of politics. For one, many in the group believe Republican politicians are too politically correct with their words in an attempt to garner minority votes. Many alt-righters also reject a completely free market ideology, writing that sometimes business interests can conflict with the ultimate goal of preserving homogeneity in America. The alt-right’s support of Trump also runs in contrast with many mainstream conservatives who rejected Trump and spent millions of dollars trying to defeat him in the primary.
While it is hard to pin down the leaders and spear tips of the alt-right movement, due to the fact that many of the movement’s dealings and discussions happen online, the group does have its vocal advocates, one of the most controversial being Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos. What is interesting about Yiannopoulos is that he is a gay member of the alt-right movement, but still seems to remain homophobic. Yiannopoulos wrote on Brietbart news that, “The endless celebration and mollycoddling of homosexuals in the media has transformed the genteel, camp rightsists of the 1950s into brash, glitter-drenched Pride queens.” Yiannopoulos has also been an opponent of Islam, feminism, and political correctness. Yiannopoulos’ controversies have been numerous, but here is a quick summary of a few. Yiannopoulos founded a “Privilege Grant” to help young, white men overcome “obstacles” they face in society. Yiannopoulos also went on a controversial speaking tour of universities, which he called the “Dangerous F****t tour,” (yes he really called it that). Finally, Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from twitter in 2016 after he and his followers attacked actress Leslie Jones on twitter for her role in the new Ghostbusters movies. Yiannopoulos, in a tweet towards Jones referred to her as a “black dude.”
As many of you are aware, there is another member of the alt-right that deserves mentioning due to the fact that he may soon be one of the most powerful men in the country. It is not Donald Trump. (I personally do not lump in Trump with the alt-right movement. The alt-right was instrumental in getting him elected, but I think Trump is his own movement). The member I speak of is the founder of Breitbart News, a leading alt-right publication, and will soon be the Counselor to the President in the Trump administration. His name is Steven Bannon. Bannon’s position in the administration (thankfully) holds little authority on its own. Rather, it is whether or not he can use his close proximity to the President to influence any policies. Let us hope competent members of the Trump administration like Reince Priebus can keep Bannon’s influence to a minimum. As a country, we don’t want a guy who his ex-wife said didn’t want his daughter attending a school in Los Angeles due to the number of Jews there.
There is one small thing that the alt-right may be correct in, although in the large context of things it is not nearly enough to change my negative attitude towards the movement. Their fight for freedom of speech in the face of controversy is correct and, in some instances, the coddling of college kids has definitely gone overboard. Occasionally, the alt-right movement ceases their cyber bullying of minorities and women and has something that they should be allowed to say. There is a famous quote by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, an English writer from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s, that I think applies well here: “I do not agree what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I will add a stipulation to this, though. Yes, the alt-right has a right to express their policy positions without harassment, but if they harass other people for being Jewish, Gay, etc… by all means harass them back and give them a taste of their own medicine.
On an extra note, relating to the alt-right and their support of white supremacy, I highly recommend checking out a speech given by Richard Spencer here. If you’re still unconvinced that the alt-right is not at least a little similar to white-supremacy after seeing its supporters openly give Nazi-salutes, I don’t know what else to tell you.