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Alt-right is a newly-popular catch-all for the set of political views and beliefs which are on the right side of the political spectrum, but divergent from the heretofore mainstream conservatism of established political parties. The term, an abbreviation for "alternative right," invokes the banality of a keyboard combo that might produce a special purpose operation, like rebooting the American political process. Credit for popularizing the term among its own is often given(1) to one Richard Spencer, whose National Policy Institute is a bastion of such thinking. Stephen Bannon, showrunner for the spectacularly successful Trump 2016 reality show, has stated(2) that his Breitbart News site(3) is the "platform for the alt-right." Breitbart News is an avowed enemy of the left's so-called "Social Justice Warriors" (SJWs) and became more widely visible when it took the side of the provocateurs during #GamerGate(4).

Mr. Spencer and his peers characterize the movement as a big tent philosophy, or in Mr. Bannon's words an "eclectic mix of renegades(2)." It embraces those of like frame of mind who cannot find solace or power in the established political right. Critics say that's a convenient way of allowing membership to those with views that are overtly offensive, Hillary Clinton's infamous "basket of deplorables" which includes neo-nazism and the Ku Klux Klan. One illustration of internal friction is disagreement as to whether Jewish people are to be reviled or embraced as 'white people(1).'

The term 'alt-right' has been taken up by the Western news media as it collectively works through the stages of grief and comes to grips with the Donald Trump era. To the so-called "liberal elites" of the established American media, the alt-right is like a swarm of insects that they’ve discovered by turning over a log in the wake of the 2016 United States Presidential Election. How, the established media outlets wonder, did this movement gain such power? In particular, how can they be so effective, so much more effective, in manipulating the national conversation of Americans?

Breitbart itself(5) credits the expertise of young guns trained on 4chan and like sites, who honed their craft over the years trolling the SJWs and the establishment media. It is undeniable in retrospect that the alt-right successfully reached past the perceived barrier of traditional media into the American heartland. The established American media, which has for years held itself to be above the fray, has derided these efforts as "fake news," lumping together obvious trolling (Pope endorses Trump), Onion-style satire, and the existing conservative organs such as Fox News. Non-American media are slightly befuddled by this, since the purported tradition of journalistic neutrality(6) in the U.S. is largely alien elsewhere(7), and readers are purportedly more used to detecting and filtering journalistic bias.

With the victory of Mr. Trump, the alt-right seems poised to come into its own, seizing control of the American political agenda. Whether control of the presidency is enough remains to be determined, as the establishment Republicans who largely control the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives grapple with how much they can support, or oppose, the alt-right as it takes control of the mechanisms of the U.S. federal administration.

Coming up next: Season Two of the Trump reality show: Trump 2017: A Year in Power.


References

I did more thorough research as suits a much more serious topic than comic books reviews and the like. A sort of variant on Books Hazelnut Read So You Don't Have To, if you will.

  1. Among many others, the Southern Poverty Law Center expands on this here.
  2. Quoted widely, for example by Mother Jones in How Donald Trump's New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists
  3. Mother Jones notes that "Andrew Breitbart despised racism" and that Mr. Bannon changed that under his leadership following Mr. Breitbart’s passing in 2012.
  4. See Breitbart’s article "Sneaky Little Hobbitses: How gamers transformed the culture wars"
  5. An establishment conservative's Guide to the Alt-right
  6. Noder Lucy-S gives touches on in Journalistic bias and science reporting.
  7. Even Canadians (like myself) know the biases and preferences of our national press, with each newspaper and broadcaster known to have staked a position on the political spectrum.

brought to you by curiosity, insomnia, and IN9

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