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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Columns

Alt-right is a new, evolving movement


Lately, a (semi-)new political movement has been popping up sporadically in the media and gained full mainstream attention with Hillary Clinton’s speech in Reno, Nevada on Aug. 25.

But everyone is still wondering, “What exactly is the alt-right?” Should we be triggered by it and seek safe spaces? Spoiler alert: Even the alt-right doesn’t know for sure.

However, before we get into the core of its ideas and attraction to so many Americans, let’s highlight what the mainstream media and Hillary Clinton have laid out for us so far.

Everyone and their mother are claiming that the new right is racist, sexist, misogynist, xenophobic, white supremacist and every other negative “-ist” under the sun. Clinton also claimed that it is a fringe political movement that has no place in today’s political ecosystem. Even people on the right like Ben Shapiro and Rick Wilson have criticized the new movement.

It is, however, not fringe. It is definitely not your daddy’s old religious right conservatism.

Not just jokes

If you are an Internet-slash-news addict like me, you have probably noticed strange memes from anonymous individuals such as Donald Trump as a frog, triple brackets, Trump in gold armor looking like an emperor and Taylor Swift saying Adolf Hitler’s quotes.

There are also words like “cuckservative” and “kek.” These can be a lot to take in if you’re not used to 4chan and other silly places on the Internet.

I’d start with the central concepts, except that there aren’t any in the movement (or sort of, nobody knows). Pretty much everyone in the alt-right, however, agrees to two principles: the complete annihilation of political correctness and pride in European heritage.

Even better is that members of the movement have just one entertaining tactic to accomplish goals — be as much of a troll as you possibly can and trigger everyone. As soon as anyone cries racism or sexism, they will double down and post the most racist and sexist things that their anime-riddled minds can think of to get as much attention as possible.

As a result, there’s going to be a whole lot of Nazi jokes. In fact, so many that people have started to think that’s what they actually believe in (has anyone ever heard of satire?).

A deeper look into the movement shows that members are not into true fascism or Nazism. On the contrary, they usually support classical liberal principles, but there is a distinct streak of nationalism notwithstanding.

What is nationalism though? Is it fascism? Not quite, fascism is a political ideology that is totalitarian in nature and leads to a more socialistic economy.

While most in the alt-right do not like socialism, they are not completely open to international free trade either. Here is where their support for Trump comes into play (Trump is not alt-right just to be clear).

Our current economic neoliberalism of the Chicago school of economics support free trade among nations. In the past 50 years, however, we have seen how it has stifled middle-class Americans by sending cheap-but-well-paid manufacturing jobs overseas.

To the alt-right, this is unfair to American workers and the country as a whole.

A company uses resources here and as soon as they’re worth anything they bring their operation overseas to help foreign laborers. Americans, meanwhile, are jobless. This is belittling the U.S.’ labor movement, and is why both alt-right and Bernie Sanders’ supporters can agree on trade issues.

Long-term movement

Still, we can’t ignore the streak of European or white nationalism in the alt-right. To elaborate: nationalism and supremacism are different ideologies.

A considerable amount of leaders in the civil rights movement of the ’60s were clearly black nationalists, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A quote from late singer James Brown, “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud!” shows this sentiment.

People should be proud of who they are and where they come from. After all, this is self-love.

I mean, really, do the sins of the father pass onto the son? If your father was a murderer but you have lived in peace, should you receive imprisonment for his crime? While some say “yes,” I think that most Americans would say “no.”

Supremacism of any kind is clearly wrong. Yet, pride in your cultural or ethnic heritage does not mean that you are a racial supremacist. It just means you’re proud of who you are and of your ancestors.

Bottom line is that the alt-right is here to stay, especially with the disenfranchised’s up-and-coming political right. They believe in free speech and respect cultures for their innate individual values.

Let’s not hastily cast judgment because our political leaders say that they are terrible in whatever way they decide for that day. With what’s been going on for the past 50 years and all the corruption in politics, we should, if anything, pay more attention to the movement.

Opinion columnist EJ Nunez is an economic sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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