Americans must be at their most cautious when presented with characters or groups presented as problematic. When we look through the cases that define the limits on our rights, the presence of an undesirable, fringe group is a near-guarantee. The desire to limit one’s owns expression of a right is rare, but the goal of limiting an undesirable group’s expression turns such a loss into some kind of trivial collateral damage to those with short-term thinking.
For much of American history, that “undesirable group” used to create consensus around right mitigation was constituted by blacks – and we still see the ripples in the current state of rights for all American lives. When we look at the current price of healthcare, how much can we blame the racist justifications for regulating away lodge practice? When we look at our War on Drugs, how much can be blamed on Nixon’s war against all things anti-war? When we see the state of the 2nd Amendment in so many regions of America, how much can we blame the laws to keep newly freed blacks from possessing firearms?
The legal history of the 1st Amendment is a tale of international and national socialists engaging in otherwise legal speech – and then being attacked due to their political affiliations.
While America has survived the threat of international socialism and then national socialism, all without banning books and jailing those with unpopular opinions, there are those in our society who have deemed a new threat appropriate for the creation of unprecedented changes to American expression of speech. While the forms of socialism have upturned full nations, the current threat known as the alt-right is more smoke and mirrors than it is a political movement.
Why the Alt-Right?
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group apparently dedicated to low IQ DNC talking points, the alt-right “is 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.”
The make-believe law center lists a broad array of names that allegedly fit under the alt-right banner – with or without their consent. The names range from a homosexual man who married a black man to a Canadian stay-at-home dad who has championed peaceful parenting for decades.
As is the case with most “members” of the alt-right, the only common denominator seems to be support for Donald Trump – which also explains both how and why the hardly existing group rose to national awareness and scorn.
To date, the peak of the alt-right came back in 2017, when 200 people of no particular power or status decided to march in Charlottesville. With some members supporting Donald Trump, the media went into overdrive with the narrative that a hate group formed as a result of Republican rhetoric. After quite literally billions of dollars in free marketing, the unduly bloated non-event became a magnet for counter-protesters looking to live-action roleplay as some kind of Robert Jordan figure.
As was inevitable after the ubiquitous, hysterical coverage, clashes occurred between protesters and counter-protesters – and one person even died after being rammed by a car. Interestingly, we still hear about this death with great frequency. With most Americans on both sides of the aisle not being literal Nazis, the disastrous event marked both the peak as well as the end of the ill-fated movement. The American right – not wanting to associate with children marching while yelling about Jews – continued to not involve themselves with the movement or its organizers.
However, because the public had a sour taste in their mouth from the event, left-leaning pundits and writers would use the vague term of alt-right to smear any oppositional voice. In essence, alt-right became a way to call someone racist without using the exact word.
With much of the media wanting to have white separatists who support Donald Trump on-air as much as possible, people like Richard Spencer became national figures despite having virtually no following. At his peak, Spencer had about 15 thousand followers on Facebook, yet was said to be spearheading a racist movement that put all minorities in jeopardy. Spencer would eventually be violently attacked as a result of the hysterical coverage, and Americans got to learn how many of their neighbors supported violence against those with unpopular opinions during the “punch Nazis” era.
The alt-right would return to Charlottesville the following year – when around 12 people were laughed at by locals for an afternoon.
The current alt-right
Like the January 6th Capitol riot, the alt-right is merely a seed exaggerated into a mighty oak for no other reason but to discredit entire movements because of the actions of a few. In my experience, those with the truth on their side don’t go through great lengths to paint imaginary lines of affiliation between people they disagree with and whatever trendy boogeyman organization is currently in fashion. Such blanket dismissals are the hallmark of children and those with nothing else to offer.