The alt-right may seem to be a huge new phenomenon based on the large number of think pieces, profiles and reporting on the young faces of white nationalism, but this old hate has been simmering for years.
The number of American citizens holding white nationalist views is murky at best. It’s impossible to tell if a small number of effective personalities are fringe activists or speak for a groundswell. Are people hiding these views to avoid being fired from their jobs, or are there simply not that many Americans advocating for a white ethnostate? Are White Nationalist Richard Spencer’s 80k Twitter followers disenfranchised white Americans or hate watchers?
What’s clear is that Trump is a rallying point that has sparked the excitement of extremists with White Nationalist views. Invigorated by what they see as a kindred spirit in Trump, they have doubled down on tactics honed by the KKK as well as leftist and anarchist tactics. This energy is effectively getting their formerly fringe message in front of mainstream America.
The White Nationalists use issues like free speech, liberty, and morality to rebrand themselves and more effectively market to middle America. Mass protests, lawsuits and victim blaming are being successfully deployed for massive free press. Even the events at the Charlottesville rally, with a death sparking national outcry are seen as a victory in free publicity. Trumps failure to denounce these extremists with his 'good people on all sides’ comments has only electrified them further.
Is this a groundswell of middle American angst or a few loudmouthed extremists? Although the numbers aren’t clear, it’s crystalline White Nationalists are getting their message out to millions. What’s murky is a solution; arguably we are signal boosting them by talking about them, but ignoring problems isn’t a good solution either.
Submitted by Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca