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Alt-right

An alt-right Donald Trump supporter at the March 4 Trump in Saint Paul, Minnesota
"Unite the Right" participants preparing to enter Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. They carry Confederate battle flags, Gadsden flags, and a Nazi flag.

The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loosely-connected and somewhat ill-defined[1] grouping of white supremacists/white nationalists, neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, neo-Confederates and other far-right[2][3][4] fringe hate groups.[5][6]

Alt-right beliefs have been described as isolationist, protectionist, antisemitic and white supremacist,[7][8][9] frequently overlapping with neo-Nazism,[10][11][12][13] identitarianism,[14] nativism and Islamophobia,[15][16][17][18][19] antifeminism, misogyny and homophobia,[10][20][21][22][13] right-wing populism[23][24] and the neoreactionary movement.[7][25] The concept has further been associated with several groups such as American nationalists, paleoconservatives, anarcho-capitalists, national-anarchists,[26] paleolibertarians, Christian fundamentalists, neo-monarchists, men's rights advocates and the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump.[15][24][25][27][28][14]

White supremacist[29] Richard B. Spencer initially promoted the term in 2010 in reference to a movement centered on white nationalism and according to the Associated Press did so to disguise overt racism, white supremacism, neo-fascism and neo-Nazism.[30][31][32] The term drew considerable media attention and controversy during and after the 2016 United States presidential election.[33] The Trump administration has included several figures who are associated with the alt-right, such as Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller, Special Assistant to the President Julia Hahn, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.[34][35][36][37][38][39] In 2016, Bannon described Breitbart as "the platform for the alt-right", with the goal of promoting the ideology.[40] After Trump's election, other Republican candidates for office, such as Roy Moore, Corey Stewart, Josh Mandel, Joe Arpaio and Paul Nehlen, ran with the support of the movement.[41][42][43][44][45][46] On the other hand, Republicans and conservatives such as Ben Shapiro and Cory Gardner[47] and members of the conservative Heritage Foundation[48] have condemned the alt-right for its racism, antisemitism and prejudice.

According to a Southern Poverty Law Center report published in February 2018, over 100 people have been killed and injured in 13 attacks by alt-right influenced perpetrators since 2014. Political scientists and leaders have argued it should be classified as a terrorist or extremist movement. The report expressed strong concern about the alt-right, claiming that its ideologies are radicalizing young, suburban white males and helped inspire the 2014 Isla Vista killings, the Charleston church shooting, the Quebec City mosque shooting, the vehicle ramming attack at the Unite the Right rally, the Umpqua Community College shooting as well as other lower-profile attacks and acts of violence.[49] In 2017, terrorist attacks and violence affiliated with the alt-right and white supremacy were the leading cause of extremist violence in the United States according to the Anti-Defamation League.[50][51]

Etymology and scope

Richard B. Spencer is considered a leader of the alt-right

The term "alt-right" was first used in November 2008 by self-described paleoconservative philosopher Paul Gottfried, addressing the H. L. Mencken Club about what he called "the alternative right".[52] This was republished in December under the title "The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right"[53] in the conservative Taki's Magazine, making this the earliest published usage of the phrase in its current context according to Slate. In 2009, two more posts at Taki's Magazine (one by Patrick J. Ford and the other by Jack Hunter) further discussed the alternative right.[54] Since 2016, the term has been commonly attributed to Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute and founder of Alternative Right.[23][55][56]

As of February 2018, the scope of the term "alt-right" is still in flux. The Associated Press advises its journalists to not use the term without providing an internal definition, due to its vagueness.[57] The Anti-Defamation League states that "alt-right" is a "vague term actually encompass[ing] a range of people on the extreme right who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of forms of conservatism that embrace implicit or explicit racism or white supremacy".[58] Conservative writer Ben Shapiro claims that the American Left has attempted "to lump in the Right with the alt-right by accepting a broader, false definition of the alt-right that could include traditional conservatism",[59] but other conservatives have advocated for a broader definition. For instance, Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News described the alt-right in March 2016 as "an amorphous movement [...] some—mostly Establishment types—insist it's little more than a vehicle for the worst dregs of human society: anti-Semites, white supremacists, and other members of the Stormfront set".[60] On the other hand, the Southern Poverty Law Center states that "[t]he Alt-Right is intimately connected [to] American Identitarianism, a version of an ideology popular in Europe that emphasizes cultural and racial homogeneity within different countries" and also notes that multiple alt-right leaders, including Richard B. Spencer, embrace explicit antisemitism.[61]

Beliefs

Alt-right protestors during the 2017 Unite the Right rally are carrying the logo of Vanguard America while a man recording has a t-shirt praising German dictator Adolf Hitler

The Associated Press stated:

The 'alt-right' or 'alternative right' is a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States in addition to, or over, other traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low taxes and strict law-and-order. The movement has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism [...] criticizes "multiculturalism" and more rights for non-whites, women, Jews, Muslims, gays, immigrants and other minorities. Its members reject the American democratic ideal that all should have equality under the law regardless of creed, gender, ethnic origin or race.[30][62]

According to a 2016 description in the Columbia Journalism Review, there is no formal organization and it is not clear if the alt-right can be considered a movement:[63] "Because of the nebulous nature of anonymous online communities, nobody's entirely sure who the alt-righters are and what motivates them. It's also unclear which among them are true believers and which are smart-ass troublemakers trying to ruffle feathers".[64] Many of its own proponents often claim they are joking or seeking to provoke an outraged response.[23] Andrew Marantz of The New Yorker describes it as "a label, like 'snob' or 'hipster,' that is often disavowed by people who exemplify it".[28]

It has been said to include elements of white nationalism,[10][11][23] white supremacism,[8][9][65] antisemitism,[10][11][12] right-wing populism,[23] nativism[15] and the neoreactionary movement.[25] Andrew Marantz includes "neo-monarchists, masculinists, conspiracists, belligerent nihilists".[28] Newsday columnist Cathy Young noted the alt-right's strong opposition to both legal and illegal immigration and its hard-line stance on the European migrant crisis.[66] Robert Tracinski of The Federalist has written that the alt-right opposes miscegenation and advocates collectivism as well as tribalism.[67] Nicole Hemmer stated on NPR that political correctness is seen by the alt-right as "the greatest threat to their liberty".[20]

Milo Yiannopoulos claims that some "young rebels" are drawn to the alt-right not for deeply political reasons, but "because it promises fun, transgression, and a challenge to social norms".[68] According to The New Yorker, "testing the strength of the speech taboos that revolve around conventional politics-of what can be said, and how directly" is a major component of alt-right identity.[68] The beliefs that make the alt-right perceptible as a movement "are in their essence not matters of substance but of style" and the alt-right's tone may just be concealing "a more familiar politics".[68]

White supremacy and white nationalism

White supremacist[29][69][70][71] Richard B. Spencer coined the term in 2010 in reference to a movement centered on white nationalism and has been accused by some media publications of doing so to excuse overt racism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism.[30][32][72][73][74] Spencer has described the alt-right as “identity politics for white Americans and for Europeans around the world".[75]

While the label of white nationalism is disputed by some political commentators, including Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos,[76] alt-right figures such as Andrew Anglin of neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer and Marcus Halberstram of Fash the Nation have embraced the term as the core philosophy their movement is based on.[77][78] In response to a Washington Post article that portrayed the movement as "offensiveness for the sake of offensiveness", Anglin said: "No it isn't. The goal is to ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated".[79][80]

The alt-right has served as a bridge between white nationalism and traditional conservatism and as a tool used by white nationalists to try and push their rhetoric into the mainstream.[81] For instance, prominent alt-right figures on Twitter have used hashtag activism focused on the white genocide conspiracy theory, combined with more mainstream-oriented alt-right hashtags, to try and bring more radical white nationalist beliefs into the mainstream.[82]

One observed oddity is that many leaders of the alt-right movement are married to or romantically connected with women with Asian backgrounds. Examples include Spencer himself, Andrew Anglin, Mike Cernovich, John Derbyshire and Kyle Chapman. Writing in The New York Times, Audrea Lim quotes an alt-right commenter as writing that "'exclusively' dating Asian women is practically a 'white-nationalist rite of passage'" and speculates that the trend may be "at the intersection of two popular racial myths", the first that Asian-Americans are a "model minority" that works hard, is high-achieving and behaves itself. The other is that Asian women are subservient and hypersexualized.[83]

Anti-interventionism and opposition to neoconservatism

Particularly when it comes to foreign policy and international politics, the alt-right is fundamentally opposed to neoconservatism, a standpoint the alt-right shares with paleoconservatism. This was particularly reflected by the reaction of the alt-right in the wake of the Shayrat missile strike, such as by Richard B. Spencer, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich. This anti-neoconservative stance is informed by their strong nationalist ideology as well as through their non-interventionism and isolationism, hence the rallying around the slogans "Make America Great Again" and "America First".[84][85]

Anti-feminism

The alt-right is often described as "misogynistic" and supporting an "anti-woman" view.[20] Opposition to feminism and intersectionality are common.[86]

Christianity

Some elements of the alt-right are anti-Christian and seek a revival of paganism. According to an essay by Richard B. Spencer, "critics of Christianity on the Alternative Right usually blame it for its universalism."[87] However, other elements of the movement strongly embrace Christian fundamentalism and overlap with the American Christian right.[88][89]

History

Jared Taylor, a prominent white nationalist, is a figure in the alt-right community

According to economist Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education, the alt-right "inherits a long and dreary tradition of thought from Friedrich Hegel to Thomas Carlyle to Oswald Spengler to Madison Grant to Othmar Spann to Giovanni Gentile to Trump's speeches". He states that alt-right proponents "look back to what they imagine to be a golden age when elites ruled and peons obeyed" and believe that "identity is everything and the loss of identity is the greatest crime against self anyone can imagine".[90]

In March 2016, Breitbart News writers Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos published a piece on the alt-right, which CNN described as being similar to a manifesto.[91] In that article, they described the alt-right as being derived from the Old Right of the United States as well from various New Right movements of Europe, citing the movement has been influenced by Oswald Spengler, Henry Louis Mencken, Julius Evola and modern influences such as paleoconservatives Patrick J. Buchanan and Samuel T. Francis.[76] Jeet Heer of The New Republic likewise identifies the alt-right as having ideological origins among paleoconservatives, particularly with respect to its positions restricting immigration and supporting an openly nationalistic foreign policy.[92][93]

An analysis by The Guardian described the ethno-nationalism of the New Right as the alt-right's progenitor.[24][94] Writing in The Washington Post, Matthew Sheffield said the alt-right has also been influenced by anarcho-capitalist and paleolibertarian theorist Murray Rothbard, specifically in regards to his theorizing on race and democracy and had previously rallied behind Ron Paul in 2008.[95] Anarcho-capitalist Jeffrey Tucker has said the alt-right is opposed to libertarianism because the alt-right focuses on group identity and tribalism instead of individual liberty.[90] American professor and scholar Benjamin R. Teitelbaum compares the alt-right in the United States to identitarianism in Europe and notes that both were influenced by thinkers in the French New Right or Nouvelle Droite.[96]

Notable current promoters of alt-right ideology include Vox Day,[97] Steve Sailer,[98] Richard B. Spencer[99] and Brittany Pettibone.[100]

Trump presidential campaign and presidency

The term drew considerable media attention and controversy during the 2016 presidential election, particularly after Trump appointed Breitbart News chair Steven Bannon as CEO of the Trump campaign in August. Steve Bannon referred to Breitbart News as "the platform for the alt-right".[40] The alt-right was exceedingly vocal in support for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.[23][101][102][103][104][105] During the campaign, opposing candidate Hillary Clinton attacked the alt-right as "racist ideas [...] anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women ideas" and accused Trump of taking the alt-right "mainstream".[106]

Media attention grew after the election, particularly during a post-election celebratory meeting near the White House hosted by Richard B. Spencer. Spencer used several Nazi propaganda terms during a meeting and closed with "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory". In response, supporters of Spencer gave the Nazi salute and chanted in a similar fashion to the Sieg Heil chant used at the Nuremberg rallies. Spencer defended the conduct, stating that the Nazi salute was given in a spirit of "irony and exuberance".[107][108] Following the episode, the Associated Press described the "alt-right" label as "currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists" that "may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters' actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience". The Associated Press said that it has previously called such beliefs "racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist".[30]

In February 2017, Reddit banned the r/altright subreddit for violating its anti-doxxing policy.[109][110] In April 2017, many alt-right populist media figures criticized Trump's 2017 Shayrat missile strike for being an apparent reversal of his policy towards war in Syria and the Middle East.[111][112][113][114] Ann Coulter pointed out that Trump "campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast" and this was one of the reasons many voted for him.[111][115][116][117][118]

Although the movement saw significant gains in 2015 and 2016, it began significantly declining in power and membership in 2017 and 2018. This has been due to multiple reasons, including the backlash of the Unite the Right rally, the fracturing of the movement, more effective banishment of hate speech and harassment from major social media sites and widespread opposition by the American population.[119] There has been widespread concern that as the chance of a large-scale political movement dies out, that lone-wolf terrorist attacks from members will become common.[119] In 2017, terrorist attacks and violence affiliated with the alt-right and white supremacy were the leading cause of extremist violence in the United States.[50]

Several alt-right candidates are running in 2018 elections as Republican candidates, such as the holocaust denier and neo-Nazi Arthur Jones for an Illinois congressional seat and the white supremacist Paul Nehlen for the Wisconsin seat of Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House[120] and neo-Nazi Patrick Little for the United States Senate election in California, 2018.[121][122]

Movement in "disarray"?

In April 2018, The Washington Post reported that the Alt-right was in "disarray" and quoted Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center as saying that it was "imploding" while Marilyn Mayo of the Anti-Defamation League said that it was "on a downward spiral", but it indicated a possibility that the alt-rightists would "regroup". Chris Schiano of Unicorn Riot said that the movement was "basically done". The problems facing the movement included "lawsuits and arrests, fundraising difficulties, tepid recruitment, widespread infighting, fierce counterprotests, and banishment from social media platforms". The article cites the dissolution of the Traditionalist Workers Party, the fact that Andrew Anglin, founder of The Daily Stormer, was in hiding due to a harassment lawsuit and the canceling of a speaking tour for high-profile alt-rightist Richard B. Spencer as signs that the alt-right may have "peaked" as a political movement. On the other hand, at least one group which has taken steps to minimize their identification as being part of the alt-right, Identity Evropa, was reported as having increased their enrollment.[123][124]

Reactions

Conservatives

Writing in The Federalist, Cathy Young stated that the website Radix Journal had replaced the Alternative Right website and describes a Radix Journal article on abortion which proclaimed that the pro-life position is "dysgenic" since it encourages breeding by 'the least intelligent and responsible' women".[125]

In The Federalist, conservative political scientist Nathanael Blake stated that Christianity and Greco-Roman philosophy, rather than race, are the foundations upon which Western Civilization was built and that the alt-right is actually attacking Western Civilization rather than defending it.[126] Writing for National Review, David A. French called alt-right proponents "wanna-be fascists" and bemoaned their entry into the national political conversation.[127] Writing for The Weekly Standard, Benjamin Welton instead described the alt-right as a "highly heterogeneous force" that "turns the left's moralism on its head and makes it a badge of honor to be called 'racist,' 'homophobic,' and 'sexist'".[128]

In an interview with The New York Times on November 22, President-elect Donald Trump disavowed and condemned the alt-right[129] to the dismay of many of his alt-right supporters.[130]

Liberals

Writing for The New Yorker, Benjamin Wallace-Wells described it as a "loosely assembled far-right movement", but he said that its differences from the conventional right-wing in American politics are more a matter of style than of substance: "One way to understand the alt-right is not as a movement but as a collective experiment in identity, in the same way that many people use anonymity on the Internet to test more extreme versions of themselves".[23]

On August 25, 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a speech accusing Republican candidate Donald Trump of "helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party".[131] She identified this radical fringe with the alt-right and noted that Trump's campaign chief executive Steve Bannon had described his Breitbart News Network as "the platform for the alt-right".[132] Some members of the group were delighted and described Clinton's speech as "free publicity", noted that Google searches peaked afterward and suggested that millions of people were hearing of the movement "for the very first time".[133]

In Newsday, Young called the alt-right "a nest of anti-Semitism" inhabited by "white supremacists" who regularly use "repulsive bigotry". Chris Hayes on All In with Chris Hayes described alt-right as a euphemistic term for "essentially modern-day white supremacy".[134] BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray described the alt-right as "white supremacy perfectly tailored for our times", saying that it uses "aggressive rhetoric and outright racial and anti-Semitic slurs" and that it has "more in common with European far-right movements than American ones".[135][136]

Writing for Haaretz, Yishai Schwartz described the alt-right as "vitriolically anti-Semitic", saying that "[t]he 'alternative' that the alt-right presents is, in large part, an alternative to acceptance of Jews" and warned that it must be taken seriously as a threat.[137] Also writing for Haaretz, Chemi Shalev has observed that alt-right supporters of Trump "despise Jewish liberals with same venom that Israeli right detests Jewish leftists".[138]

Political scientists

Professor George Hawley of the University of Alabama suggested that the alt-right may pose a greater threat to progressivism than the mainstream conservative movement.[139]

In December 2016, artist Arrington de Dionyso, whose murals are frequently displayed at the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria, described the alt-right's on-line campaign of harassment against him in detail[140] and averred of the attacks in general: "I think it's a very deliberate assault, which will eventually be a coordinated assault on all forms of free expression". The Pizzagate conspiracy theory which inspired said harassment has drawn comparisons with the Gamergate controversy.[141] A wave of threats against Jewish Community Centers starting in 2017 were blamed on the alt-right in a January 2017 article by Slate's Elissa Strauss, who said members of the alt-right viewed them as "a practical joke".[142]

Online

The activist group Stop Normalizing, which opposes the normalization of terms like alt-right, developed the "Stop Normalizing Alt Right" Chrome extension. The extension went viral shortly after the release of Stop Normalizing's website.[143] The extension changes the term "alt-right" on webpages to "white supremacy".[144][145][146][147][148] The extension and group were founded by a New York-based advertising and media professional under the pseudonym George Zola.[149]

Commentary

In National Review in April 2016, Ian Tuttle wrote:

The Alt-Right has evangelized over the last several months primarily via a racist and antisemitic online presence. But for Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right consists of fun-loving provocateurs, valiant defenders of Western civilization, daring intellectuals—and a handful of neo-Nazis keen on a Final Solution 2.0, but there are only a few of them, and nobody likes them anyways.[150]

Bokhari and Yiannopoulos describe Jared Taylor (founder of American Renaissance) and Richard B. Spencer (founder of Alternative Right) as representative of intellectuals in the alt-right.[76][150] Kevin B. MacDonald is also mentioned as an alt-right thinker.[30]

Breitbart News has become a popular outlet for alt-right views.[151][152][153]

On September 9, 2016, several figures of the alt-right community held a press conference, described by one reporter as the "coming-out party" of the little-known movement, to explain their goals.[154] They proclaimed racialist beliefs by stating: "Race is real, race matters, and race is the foundation of identity".[155] Speakers called for a "white homeland" and expounded on racial differences in intelligence. They also confirmed their support of Trump by saying: "This is what a leader looks like".[155][156][157]

Use of memes

The alt-right's use of Internet memes to express and advance its beliefs, often on websites such as 4chan, 8chan and The Daily Stormer and through the use of Twitter,[158] has been widely reported.[12][159][160][161] Among the most widely used are the following terms:

The prevalence of memes in alt-right circles has led some commentators to question whether the alt-right is a serious movement rather than just an alternative way to express traditionally conservative beliefs,[12][23] with Chava Gourarie of the Columbia Journalism Review stating that provoking a media reaction to these memes is for some creators an end in itself.[64] Marc Hetherington, professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, sees these memes as an effort to legitimize racist views.[181]

Links to violence and terrorism

Debate over classification

Alt-right groups live, recruit and coordinate (and hence evolve) online. And from what we can already see, they do so pretty much exactly like the [sic] pro-ISIS groups evolve and coordinate, but Facebook has so far been less quick to shut them down.

—Neil Johnson, extremist researcher[182]

The alt-right movement has been considered by some political researchers a terrorist movement and the process of alt-right radicalization has been compared to Islamic terrorism by political scientists and leaders.[183][184][185][186][187]

A research study of 447 self-identified alt-right members found higher levels of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism compared to the general population; and that members of the alt-right were more likely to express prejudice against black people and admit to engaging in aggressive behavior. Alt-right members also had significantly high levels of dehumanization, with the mean alt-right scores comparable to how the general public views the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Alt-right members viewed Hilary Clinton, Muslims, feminists, Nigerians and journalists as the least well rated groups on the dehumanization scale while white people, men and Americans were rated the best.[188]

A paper on the subject stated that it clearly fell under an extremist movement, saying that "alt-right adherents also expressed hostility that could be considered extremist: they were quite willing to blatantly dehumanize both religious/national outgroups and political opposition groups".[189]

Violence

In February 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center assembled a list of 13 violent incidents between 2014 and 2018 perpetrated by alt-right influenced people, in which 43 people died and 67 people were injured. The earliest perpetrator listed is Elliot Rodger. The list also includes Dylan Roof. The perpetrators of these events were all white men between the ages of 17 and 37, with an average age of just over 25 years old (only three of them were over 30). All but one was American, the other was Canadian.[190]

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

[T]he dark engine of the [alt-right] movement is reactionary white male resentment. Alt-right propaganda is designed to nourish the precise grievances recited by the disillusioned and indignant young men that dominate its ranks. It provides a coherent – but malicious – worldview. For a recruit, the alt-right helps explain why they don't have the jobs or the sexual partners or the overall societal and cultural respect that they believe (and are told) to be rightfully theirs [...] The alt-right worldview, this rebranding of old hatreds, will remain compelling to disaffected white males and those who claim to speak for them for the foreseeable future. Worse, as this study suggests, punctuated violence will continue. For the same vision of society that the alt-right promulgates—its externalization of blame that lands on a host of enemies seen to be in the ascendancy—also aligns with the indicators of mass violence.[190]

The Southern Poverty Law Center's analysis of these violent alt-right incidents leads it to believe that the killings it studied are not isolated events, but that the alt-right is structurally responsible for them by alienating those it attracts from participation in their communities and giving them reasons to continue to be disaffected and indeed to increase their alienation to the point where they can perform acts of violence without concern about the consequences to themselves or others:

The sprawling networks the alt-right has built around its poisonous, racist ideology have violence at its core in its pursuit of a white ethnostate. The white, male grievance culture that the leaders of the alt-right are incubating has already inspired more than 40 deaths and left more than 60 people injured.

And unfortunately, the alt-right seems likely to inspire more, as it moves further into the real world. Its leaders continue to abdicate all responsibility for the violence their ideology inspires and are becoming increasingly recalcitrant in the face of widespread condemnation.
[...] After a year [2017] of escalating alt-right violence, we are probably in for more.[190]

Notable incidents

2017 Aztec school shooting

On December 7, 2017, gunfire erupted at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico, United States. The shooter, 21-year-old William Atchison, a former student at the school, killed two students in a classroom and then committed suicide.

William Edward Atchison (born in 1996)[191] lived in Aztec with his parents and was a former student at Aztec High School, but he did not graduate. He worked at a local gas station. When Atchison entered Aztec High School at approximately 8:04 a.m., he was "disguised as a student" and carrying a backpack with a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol inside.[192] Atchison was investigated by the FBI in March 2016 due to posts he had made on an online forum indicating that he was planning a shooting, but he was not charged because he had not committed a crime and did not own a gun at the time. He legally bought the pistol used in the attack in November 2017.[193][194]

Atchison's online activity included posting pro-Hitler and pro-Trump thoughts on alt-right websites like The Daily Stormer under such usernames as "Future Mass Shooter" and "Adam Lanza" and joking about school shootings, in particular the Columbine High School massacre. He also posted about his frustration with life in rural New Mexico and bleak career prospects.[195][196]

At the shooter's home, a schedule for the killings was found with the last entry being "8:00 a.m. die". He also had a thumb drive on his person with the same schedule. He had no criminal history but he was investigated by the FBI in 2016 when he had asked on an internet forum "where to find cheap assault rifles for a mass shooting". The shooter told the FBI that he was simply trolling and thereafter the FBI dropped the matter.[197][198]

Antipodean Resistance

Antipodean Resistance is a neo-Nazi, fascist and alt-right group in Australia.[199] The group, which makes use of Nazi symbols such as the swastika and the Nazi salute, has explicitly called for the legalisation of the murder of Jewish people.[200][201]

Counter-terrorism experts have suggested that Australian authorities should focus more on alt-right extremists such as Antipodean Resistance. Anne Aly, the Labor MP, has suggested that the group may turn to terrorism, stating: "For a terrorist attack to succeed, it really only takes one person". Aly also called for the group to be banned: "I would like to see some of these groups proscribed [...] as terrorist and violent organisations".[202]

It has been reported that ASIO, the Australian national security organisation, is monitoring the group whom they suggest are "willing to use violence to further their own interests."[203]

Brandon Russell

The leader of Atomwaffen Division, Brandon Russell, is alleged to have described Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS and perpetrated the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, as "a hero". A member of Atomwaffen Division, Stephen Billingsley, was photographed at a vigil in San Antonio, Texas for the victims of the Orlando shooting with a skull mask and a sign saying "God Hates Fags".[204][205][206][207]

One 18-year-old member, Devon Arthurs, converted to Islam and described himself as a "Salafist National Socialist". In May 2017, Arthurs allegedly killed two of his roommates and fellow Atomwaffen Division members in retaliation for ridiculing his conversion. Arthurs was arrested following a hostage situation during which he told police he shot 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk earlier that day.[208][209][207]

After Arthurs' arrest, his third roommate and fellow Atomwaffen Division member, a 21-year-old, Brandon Russell, was arrested by the FBI and Tampa Police Department, who found in Russell's garage an explosive compound known as hexamethylene triperoxide diamine which has been used by other groups in improvised explosive devices such as the 2016 New York and New Jersey bombings. The police bomb experts were drawn to Russell's bedroom due to the presence of thorium and americium, radioactive substances. Russell, a former student of the University of South Florida and a Florida National Guardsman, had a framed photograph in his bedroom of Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing.[210][211]

Rise Above Movement

The group, based in Southern California, claims more than 50 members and a singular purpose, namely the "physically attacking its ideological foes". The group, which portrays itself as a defense force for Western civilization, has been described as an alt-right street-fighting club and many of its members have criminal records. There have been several documented episodes of violence by the Rise Above Movement, including beatings dispensed by member Ben Daley at the Unite the Right rally.[212]

Unite the Right rally

Video of the vehicular ramming that killed one person and injured 19

After the aborted rally at around 1:45 p.m.,[213] a man drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, hitting several and slamming into a stopped sedan, which hit a stopped minivan that was in front of it. The impact of the crash pushed the sedan and the minivan further into the crowd. One person was killed and 19 others were injured in what police have called a deliberate attack. The man then reversed the car through the crowd and fled the scene.[214][215][216]

The ramming occurred at a pedestrian mall at Water and Fourth streets, about four blocks away from Emancipation Park (38°01′46.17″N 78°28′46.29″W / 38.0294917°N 78.4795250°W / 38.0294917; -78.4795250).[217] Heather D. Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal from Charlottesville, was fatally injured in the attack and pronounced dead at the University of Virginia's University Hospital.[218][219][220] Video footage recorded at the scene showed a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger accelerating towards crowds on a pedestrian mall, hitting people and sending them airborne, then reversing at high speed, hitting more people.[221] The moment when the car was driven into the crowd was captured on video by bystanders and in aerial video footage taken by a drone.[222] A photographer present at the scene said the car "plowed into a sedan and then into a minivan. Bodies flew. People were terrified and screaming". According to The Guardian, Bystanders said it was "definitely a violent attack".[223] Of the 19 injured survivors, the University of Virginia Medical Center reported that five were initially in critical condition.[221] By the afternoon of August 14, ten patients had been discharged from the hospital and the nine remaining patients were in good condition.[224]

Police block the site of the vehicular crash

Shortly after the collision, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old from Ohio who reportedly had expressed sympathy for Nazi Germany during his time as a student at Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky,[225] was arrested.[214][226]

Fields had been photographed taking part in the rally, holding a shield emblazoned with the logo of Vanguard America, a Neo-Nazi, antisemitic, white supremacist organization. Vanguard America's leaders later stated he was not a member and that "[t]he shields seen do not denote membership" as they were "freely handed out to anyone in attendance".[227] On August 14, Fields was again denied bail.[228] He is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville County Regional Jail.[226]

National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and several Senators described the alleged ramming attack as an act of domestic terrorism as did various commentators.[229][230] Late on the night of August 12, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice would open a civil rights investigation into the incident, with federal investigators investigating whether the suspect "crossed state lines with the intent to commit violence".[231][232] Later, Sessions said the ramming meets the definition of "domestic terrorism" and that it was "an unacceptable, evil attack".[233]

Heyer's mother said she wanted Heather's name to become "a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion".[234] Heyer's memorial service was held at Charlottesville's Paramount Theatre on August 16 and Heyer's mother spoke to hundreds of mourners, asking them to honor Heyer by acting against injustice and turning "anger into righteous action".[235]

Separate GoFundMe pages were set up for the Heyer family and for those injured in the crash, with the latter being organized by the Anchorage co-chairman of the Democratic Socialists of America.[236] The UVA Health Foundation created a fund for medical expenses of "patients at UVA Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital who were injured and impacted by this unwanted violence in our community."[237][238]

Two motorists injured in the vehicle incident have sued the organizers of the event and the driver.[239] Fields was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop following an accident resulting in death and held without bail.[226][223] On August 18, Fields was charged with three additional counts of aggravated malicious wounding and two additional counts of malicious wounding.[240] The murder charge was changed to first-degree murder on December 14.[241]

Additionally, other acts of domestic violence committed at the Unite the Right rally were an African-American man named DeAndre Harris assaulted by white supremacist members and a Klansman named Richard W. Preston (an Imperial Wizard for the Maryland-based Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) shooting a gun towards counterprotestors including Corey A. Long (who was black).[242][243] In January 2018, a court hearing was held in which November 26, 2018 was set as the date for Fields' trial to begin. Trial is anticipated to take three weeks.[244]

During the rally, Vasillios Pistolis, a U.S. Marine and a member of the terrorist group Atomwaffen Division, was recorded chanting "White Lives Matter" and "You will not replace us!" with his fellow torch-bearing protestors on the first day. On the second day he beat up a transgender woman named Emily Gorcenski with a modified version of the Confederate flag which incorporated the neo-Nazi Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) symbol in the center, even bragging about the beating in private chats in which he said "So to sum it up what I did Friday, dropped kicked that tranny that made video crying", "Today cracked 3 skulls open with virtually no damage to myself", and "I drop kicked Emily gorcenski". Pistolis had promoted the Unite the Right rally on Twitter under the account of @Gopnik_Gestapo, and posted an image of a car running over a left-winger with the caption "Good Night, Left Side". He also mocked the death of Heather Heyer calling her "a fat cunt who died of a heart attack. She wasn't even in the way of the car".[245][246] Although Pistolis denied that he attended the rally or committed an act of violence, he was investigated by the Marine Corps and was court-martialed in June 2018 for disobeying orders and for making false statements.[247]

Other incidents

An alt-righter named Taylor Wilson who had attended the Unite the Right Rally was charged with attempting a terror attack on an Amtrak train in October 2017. It was reported that he held a business card from the American-based neo-Nazi political party National Socialist Movement.[248]

"Alt-left" neologism

In an August 15, 2017 press conference at New York City's Trump Tower, President Donald Trump used the term "alt-left" while doubling down on his initial statement in response to the vehicle-ramming attack against rally counter-protestors committed by a 20-year-old white nationalist during the August 12 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.[249] While stating that there was "blame on both sides" for the violence at the rally, Trump criticized what he called the "very, very violent [...] alt-left".[250][251][252]

Various experts have pointed out that the term "alt-left" was not created by the left and has not been adopted by any members of the progressive left.[253][254]

The term "alt-left" has been criticized as a label that unlike alt-right was not coined by the group it purports to describe, but rather was created by political opponents as a smear implying a false equivalence.[255][256] According to Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, the term was invented to suggest a false equivalence between the alt-right and their opponents.[257]

In a Los Angeles Times article, historian Timothy D. Snyder stated that "'alt-right' is a term [...] meant to provide a fresh label that would sound more attractive than 'Nazi,' 'neo-Nazi,' 'white supremacist,' or 'white nationalist.' With 'alt-left' it's a different story. There is no group that labels itself that way".[258] Professor Thomas J. Main commented on the alt-right by saying: "They don't think blacks and Jews should have equal rights. On the left, there is nothing analogous".[258]

See also

References

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External links

  • The dictionary definition of alt-right at Wiktionary