Lanterns: What is the Alt-Right?

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What is the Alt-Right?

Lately, the term “Alt-Right” has been thrown around the media.  It was a term that started with a neo-fascist blog, and somehow has become a blanket term for a movement with which many are unfamiliar.  Many traditional conservatives may have never even heard of this obscure sect, a pack of unknowns on the internet prior to the candidacy of Donald Trump.  Hillary Clinton attempted to lump everyone who opposed her in with them, but who are they exactly?

At its core, the Alt-Right is the radical right that grew out of the Fascist tradition of angry right-populism. It stresses race above all else, and race is the lens through which it views the world. Race is the center of their worldview, with ultra-nationalism married to big-government socialism and populism. It is an angry, emotional grab bag of fringe views.  

They feel out of place in the present world, frustrated, and under attack.  It is in many ways this is the equal and opposite overreaction to the growing extremism and madness of the left.  To call the Alt-Right “right wing” isn’t strictly accurate, either.  Often, they borrow from one of fascism’s early slogans- “third way,” of neither right nor left.  Technically, that label isn’t far off the mark, as this strain of thought is so amorphous and vague, it is neither traditionally liberal nor conservative and borrows heavily from, and opposes both.

The Alt-Right mostly exists primarily on the internet, where fringe groups tend to have an outsized voice, which is all out of proportion with their actual sway.  The Bernie Sanders crowd, which was also a mostly young, vocal, internet movement, found this out the hard way. With Donald Trump, though, they had a candidate they felt they could claim as their own. 

When he can figure out what he believes in, or gives it any thought, Trump appears to be a sort of vague right-populist, rather than Alt-Right. The people in this crowd joined the liberals who believed that Trump used "coded" racial language.   This is not to say that Trump is or is not a racist, only that these people feel that vibe, and kinship with him. 

Since they feel that Trump is going to make America more nationalist in some vague way, he has become their "God-Emperor" and can do no wrong in their eyes. They are his most fanatical supporters, no matter how hard he works to disappoint anyone who is conventionally right-wing or conservative. 

Like their liberal counterparts, they care only about attitude and feeling, not intellectual merits or ideological coherence.  When difficulties and criticism mounted for their messiah on the campaign trail, they increasingly turned their wrath on the right, rather than the left, because it fueled some inner need to feel like the victims of betrayal, rather than holding Trump responsible for his dishonesty.

Most care little about economic or even foreign affairs.  Their obsession with race is what unites them under one loose banner, and they usually aren’t too worried about things like prosperity or financial liberty.  Economics doesn’t tie into race quite as directly, and thus, is not nearly as close to their hearts.  They will often try to promote a sort of old-school protectionism, and big-state, socialist policies.  Essentially, they will borrow another page from their fascist roots.  Despite what some liberals will tell you, the fascist movement was never capitalist, and Fascism’s rhetoric was often aimed against capitalism and materialistic views. 

It is worth noting that “Nazism” is actually a nickname for the official name of Hitler’s brand of fascism: National Socialism.  However, arbitrary use of the state’s power over the economy wasn't usually exercised as totally as it is in Marxist Socialism aka Communism. In practice, it looked like modern China or Russia - a sort of crony “market” economy largely built on smoke, mirrors, and corruption, and was held together with vast amounts of red tape. Then, as now, it cannot last, because it is mostly built on hype and financial legerdemain by the authorities. 

Germany and Italy under their respective fascist regimes made a big point of public spending and showy,  attempts, "on paper," to improve the economy, but they were essentially just deficit spending, not building a model of sustainable growth. If the war had not destroyed them, they would have inevitably fallen apart financially, sooner or later.  

For the Alt-Right, this is almost irrelevant, since their views have everything to do with passion and emotion,  and the satisfaction of superficial, America-first policies, rather than on more boring, logical calculations.  The Alt-Right is quite ok with Donald Trump echoing economic lines from Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders because they don’t mind that kind of nanny state.  They only mind when it’s accompanied by liberal rhetoric.

The Alt-Right is usually behind the crudest and vilest comments you will read, attacking not only liberals, but also conservatives, usually with their favorite epithet: "cuck," as in, "cuckold," a reference to a white man's wife cheating on him with a black man. As much as they claim to promote racial purity, the psychology behind their worldview tends to promote an obsession with sexual degeneracy. 

There is a pseudoscientific biology behind their interest in sex and race, dredging up arguments by 19th-century philosophers regarding racial purity, and making 21st-century memes and infographics decrying miscegenation ("race mixing").  Since their position is an emotional reaction, they adopt fascism’s anti-intellectualism, hence their frequent recourse to bullying, ad hominem attacks, and name calling. They are often the most vocal voices against Jews in general, and Israel specifically, (which ironically makes them bedfellows with Islam and an increasing number of liberals).

None of this is to say that we must embrace liberal “progressive” notions of race or culture.  The Alt-Right, as the ugly internet phenomenon, was largely born out of frustration with the left’s obsessed hyper-focus on race.  I am not saying that we must accept BLM’s or La Raza’s racist rhetoric, or throw open the borders; I am saying that we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by becoming like them, and falling into the traps of those who would make us worse off.  We must not stoop to leftist levels of fear mongering and race baiting.  Let us leave the intellectually cheap corner-cutting to liberals, and concede to them a monopoly on crazy.

Make no mistake - there is nothing about this movement which is remotely American. As conservatives, we stand for liberty and meritocracy. We are here to judge people by their actions, not their birth, blood, or skin. This is the legacy of both God and our Constitution: that all are innocent until proven guilty, and all citizens are individuals to be weighed on the value and merits of their behavior, and their intentions. 

We stand for a free market, and a free society.  We want to help Americans, not just pander to their emotional knee-jerks (we would vote Democrat if we wanted that).  We cannot, as Americans, ever have common cause with anyone or anything that has as its centerpiece hatred for others.  America will fail to be great if it turns on Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and anyone else it feels the need to feed on to assuage our frustrations.  

True Americans are patriots, not ultra-nationalists.  We love our nation and are willing to defend it, but that doesn’t mean we must hate others, especially our fellow citizens.

For those of us who are Christians, there can be no kinship with the Alt-Right.  We are called to love our fellow man, not to judge him for conditions resulting from birth rather than behavior. God has made it clear that a man's heart and soul are weighed, not his appearance (John 7:24, 1 Samuel 16:17, Acts 15:9).  

All are welcome to God’s assembly, who would accept God's ways (Isaiah 56:1-8). This includes Blacks, one of whom God directly commanded Phillip to share the Gospel with, and who was willing to accept the word of Christ, thus gaining full salvation, alongside every other saved soul (Acts 8:26-39). 

Christians are not called to denounce by race or even to focus on nationalism, but rather to try and save as many souls for Christ.  Nowhere are we called to glorify violence, or militarism, or hate.  When we are called upon to defend others with the sword, we do so regretfully, as the last resort that the evil of others has forced upon us.

If we are to lead the way into the future, we must do it by being intelligent and wise enough to resist ideological laziness.  We must firmly put our foot down against insidious attempts to insert this into the mainstream, to become normalized, or to infect our movement with its hateful corruption. We must restore ourselves to that dignified, sober, “City on a Hill” we were founded on, and not be taken in by the lies of an angry few promising a sort of vague racial utopia.

 

 

Written by Joshua Nybo

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