Far-right fervor

The dangers of the alt-right pipeline


Photo by Allyson Smith

Story by Joseph Haynes-Stewart, News Editor

Alt-right Extremism has become an ever more present topic and ideology in today’s political climate. Seemingly average Americans, and even people we thought we knew well, have become members of this growing phenomenon. 

However, we must first ask: what is the Alt-right?  

According to Dictionary.com the term Alt-right refers to “a political movement originating on social media and online forums, composed of a segment of conservatives who support extreme right-wing ideologies, including white nationalism and anti-Semitism.” This movement has existed for as long as conservatism itself, with its origins in fundamentalist thought.

Indoctrination in these groups can start with the smallest details, like a Facebook post or a few keen words by your favorite news anchor. But over time, you may find yourself liking videos that present ideas that you used to find a bit abrasive or switching news channels because your previous one was “fake news.” The process of consuming individuals in this type of media can start at a scarily young age in places you would think to be safe. Young, impressionable, indecisive tweens could be watching their preferred creator on youtube, when they see a particular video that catches their eye.

“Ben Shapiro DESTROYS every college snowflake.” They had heard previously about Shapiro through one of their friends, but had never taken the time to look him up. They hesitantly click on the video.

Although they may not realize it yet they have started to be adopted into the hateful thought process of the group. Video after video the person becomes more entrenched, to the point where the people around them don’t recognize them. They become ostracized from their friends and family, which turns them to the only people who will accept them at this stage; the Alt-right.

This same situation happens with people who are on hard times or are having a mental episode. They look for media that has messages of self help or salvation that takes the blame off themselves for losing their job and places it on someone else; an immigrant perhaps.

And with that seed planted they come into basic conservatie ideology like stricter immigration laws, smaller government, and the banning of LGBTQ+ couples from marriage. Some people stop at these near centrist thoughts, but others go deeper. Each media character more strident than the last. Each video more radical than its predecessor.

All of these factors tend to culminate into unfathomable acts of hate or aggression, as they did in Charlottesville in 2017. A rally was organized by a man named Richard Spencer with the goal of unifying the American white nationalist movement and opposing the proposed removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s former Lee Park. 

But when you think of the leader of the Alt-right the images you may conjure are most likely staunchly different from that of Spencer. You see Spencer is a clean cut and fairly average white man. And that is a key part of why the Alt-right is able to succeed, as well as why they are so dangerous, the way they represent themselves.

Whenever there is an act of violence by the Alt-right there is always a man like Spencer there to distance the group away from the violence. To make it seem as if the movement has good intentions besides a few bad apples.

They wish to be called idenetarians or race realists, which by definition align with the views of white imperialists, to get away from the stigma that their ideas are similar to those of Nazi Germany. This concept is what makes the Alt-Right pipeline so dangerous, that radically hateful ideas can hide in plain sight.