This weekend, members of the so-called “alt-right” movement gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate Donald Trump’s electoral victory and their ascendance as the “intellectual vanguard” of the Trumpist movement. Media coverage of the event has largely focused on their appearance and struggled to find the vocabulary to accurately describe, at least in short hand, who these people are and what they believe.
Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute and coiner of the term “alt-right,” is described in a recent Mother Jones profile as “an articulate and well-dressed former football player with prom-king good looks and a ‘fashy’ (as in fascism) haircut.” His aim, the piece describes, is to “make racism cool again.” Attendees at this weekend’s NPI-hosted conference, the Los Angeles Times reported, “more resembled Washington lobbyists than the robed Ku Klux Klansmen or skinhead toughs that often represent white supremacists, though they share many familiar views.” The alt-right movement, according to POLITICO, “has been associated with racism and anti-Semitism.”
This last is something of an understatement: The “alt-right” movement, which has gleefully embraced Hillary Clinton’s ill-advised “deplorables” epithet, is a reactionary coalition of white supremacists, neo-monarchists, radical misogynists, and outright fascists. Senior White House advisor Steve Bannon has described his website, Breitbart News, as a “platform for the alt-right.” It is an Internet ideology of resentment that has wound its way from the world of pick-up artistry to Gamergate to, now, the White House. (Jezebel has used the term “alt-right” to refer to this loose conglomerate, among other monikers. Going forward, however, we resolve to be as specific as possible in naming their beliefs.)