September 21, 2017

THANKS, ANTIFA:

AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE, THE AMERICAN FAR RIGHT IS TEARING ITSELF APART (Leighton Akio Woodhouse, September 21 2017, The Intercept)

Now, however, the term has become a liability. Its erosion began as far back as November 2016, when Spencer paid homage to the soon-to-be president with a cry of "Hail, Trump!" Then, in August, the "alt-right" brand cratered. During a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, meant to bring together a coalition that still regarded itself as the so-called alt-right, crowds of white men were captured on camera giving the Roman -- or Nazi -- salute. Swastikas abounded. Street fights broke out, and the violence turned deadly: A left-wing counterprotester named Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist.

Just a few days after Klansmen and other extreme right-wing activists marched openly on the Charlottesville streets, far-right YouTube star and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich disowned the "alt-right," calling them "Nazi boys." "That's all it is now," he said in a video, "is a purely anti-Semitic movement." In 2016, the right-wing website Breitbart had embraced both the moniker and the movement of the "alt-right." Steve Bannon, who returned to Breitbart as executive chair after resigning as Trump's chief strategist, infamously called Breitbart "the platform for the alt-right," and Breitbart reporters Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos celebrated the arrival of these "young, creative" far-right instigators, in full recognition of the movement's racial segregationist dimension. But after Charlottesville, Breitbart angrily denounced its critics for ever daring to insinuate that it was part of the "alt-right" movement, calling it a "smear."

The Proud Boys, a drinking club of male, far-right street brawlers, who purport to defend "Western values," are routinely associated with the "alt-right." But the group's leader, Gavin McInnes, who helped launch Vice Media in 1994 and now runs a right-wing YouTube talk show, has in fact rejected the term for some time, preferring the milder-sounding "alt-light." McInnes's insistence that the Proud Boys have nothing to do with the "alt-right" grew even more adamant after the violence in Charlottesville. Last month, in a blog post titled "WE ARE NOT ALT-RIGHT," he alerted his group that "alt-right" members planned to "infiltrate" Proud Boys meetings and "sabotage" them. Then, McInnes's attorney threatened to sue The Intercept over a short documentary film I directed, which included about 17 seconds of footage drawn from McInnes's YouTube shows. His lawyer, Jason Van Dyke, claimed that the film's "obvious insinuation" is that McInnes is "a white nationalist, a white supremacist, or alt-right," whereas in reality, McInnes "has no affiliation with the alt-right whatsoever."

Such is the growing toxicity of the "alt-right" brand post-Charlottesville, and the eagerness of many right-wing groups and leaders to escape its valence. 

Racism is a tough sell in America.

Posted by at September 21, 2017 9:05 PM

  

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