What Is the Alt-Right Anyway? A User's Guide

The Washington Post defines the alt-right as "a largely online movement of right-wing ideologies that presents itself as an alternative to mainstream conservatives"

Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Hillary Clinton will deliver a major speech on Thursday highlighting Donald Trump‘s ties to the “alt-right,” a political movement embraced by white nationalists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.

Previewing her speech on CNN Wednesday night, Clinton said of Trump, “He is taking a hate movement mainstream. He’s bringing it to our communities and our country.”

So what is the alt-right movement anyway? Here are five things you should know.

1. The Washington Post defines the alt-right as “a largely online movement of right-wing ideologies that presents itself as an alternative to mainstream conservatives.”
Richard Spencer, founder of the website Alternative Right, told the Post, “Alt-right was a reaction against the mainstream conservative moment or ‘conservatism.’ ”

The movement, according to the Post, supports “racialism, isolationism, the ‘manosphere’ and the birther movement” – a long-debunked idea Trump notably embraced in 2011 that claims President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. It opposes “political correctness, feminism, multiculturalism, the mainstream media and immigration.”

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2. The movement’s followers include white supremacists, white nationalists and anti-Semites.
Yahoo News said the alt-right is rooted in the white nationalist movement of the 1980s and 1990s and that “it postulates that the culture of white America is under attack, and sees itself as its defender.”

According to the Post, notable figures associated with the movement’s ideologies include far-right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage – who spoke at Trump’s rally Wednesday night in Jackson, Mississippi – and former Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon, who was recently named Trump’s new campaign CEO. Another is former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, whose endorsement Trump infamously did not immediately disavow when he was asked about it in February.

3. Some have denounced the alt-right movement as nothing more than a rebranding of neo-Nazi racism.
Wrote RedState‘s Leon H. Wolf, “I am not much for the term ‘Alt-Right’ because it implies that neo-Nazis somehow become new, different, interesting and edgy when they get a Twitter account and express their support for Donald Trump. In reality, it’s the same tired old neo-Nazi crap, complete with the cowardly, anonymous intimidation that White Supremacists have been practicing for decades.”

And The Guardian‘s Giles Fraser described the alt-right as “old racism for the tech-savvy generation,” noting that “with Donald Trump they have found a champion who understands their anger. And they have become his digital vanguard.”

4. The alt-right is known for its use of memes – some of which Trump has employed in his campaign – and social media to spread its ideas.
Alt-right followers are increasingly active on sites like 4chan, Reddit and Twitter, NBC News reported.

Trump has been criticized throughout his campaign for retweeting alt-right accounts and memes, including one about Clinton – taken from a neo-Nazi message board – that featured the Star of David.

5. A new Clinton ad links Trump to white supremacists and members of the alt-right movement.
The video shows KKK members, white nationalists and white supremacists explaining their support for Trump and concludes, “If Trump wins, they could be running the country.”

The GOP nominee’s campaign released a statement from Pastor Mark Burns, a prominent Trump supporter, denouncing the video as “a disgusting new low.”

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign went to a disgusting new low today as they released a video tying the Trump Campaign with horrific racial images,” the pastor said. “This type of rhetoric and repulsive advertising is revolting and completely beyond the pale. I call on Hillary Clinton to disavow this video and her campaign for this sickening act that has no place in our world.”

And Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Thursday of Clinton’s upcoming speech on the GOP nominee’s connection to the alt-right: “I just am confounded by the strategy.”

“I’m just confounded that this is what Secretary Clinton is actually going to tell the American people after she’s so scarce,” Conway told CBS. “No press conference in 263 days, very few interviews, one last night on a different network that didn’t really go very well. Why isn’t she out there saying, ‘Here’s how I’m going to rebuild the American economy. Here’s my position on energy independence’?”

Conway also said she isn’t “that familiar” with the alt-right and that Trump’s campaign has never discussed the movement internally. Asked whether Trump’s campaign was a platform for the alt-right, she replied, “No, not at all.”

“It certainly isn’t part of our strategy meetings. It’s nothing that Mr. Trump says out on the stump,” Conway said.

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