As more and more members of the so- called “alt-right” begin to emerge and gain positions of power, many skeptics are beginning to question where the line is between radical right-wing beliefs and neo-Nazism.
Because of Nazism’s negative connotation, modern day proponents have found a way to endorse their views without restrictions. The alt-right provides a cover for neo-Nazis to congregate, tyrannize and condition the views of others.
Merriam-Webster defines Nazism as “a member of a group espousing the programs and policies of Hitler’s Nazis.”
Blatant anti-Semitism, racism, nationalism, homophobia and ableism are just a few of the beliefs held and acted upon by Nazis and neo-Nazis alike. Anyone who actively shares the ideas of the Nazi movement could potentially be a neo-Nazi.
Because of the widespread usage and negative connotation of the term “neo-Nazi,” many people who would traditionally be placed in this category have found a way around the ugly reputation by joining the “alt-right.”
Affiliates of the alt-right have followed the group’s informal founder, Richard Spencer, in cleverly masking their prejudice as a legitimate political view by backing offensive statements with bureaucratic armor.
Although the title alt-right only emerged recently after Spencer coined the term, its sentiments date back centuries.
Spencer is well known as a white nationalist who has advocated for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and ran a website that published an essay entitled “Is Black Genocide Right?”
Spencer has been filmed speaking at an alt-right rally, saying “heil Trump,” met with cheering and Nazi salutes from the crowd. Just as with any other organization, anyone who identifies with the alt-right is subsequently identifying with its founder’s ideas and actions.
Clearly, this particular organization was born from a place of hatred—as established in Spencer’s speeches and articles. To add insult to injury, people are falling for it.
Neo-Nazis are now able to excuse their ideologies by presenting them as political views, protecting them from the appropriate response and criticism.
With a political veil, it is more difficult for one’s ideas to be dismissed as pure bigotry or for actions to be punished as hate-crimes. Instead, neo-Nazis are being given platforms to spread their ideas to others without shame.
The spreading of these ideologies is having tangible effects on real people.
As we have seen with Trump’s administration, when members of the alt-right are elected, they are granted the power to create and alter policies and legislations.
These policy-makers have a great deal of influence over top officials, including our president.
A great example of these powerful “alt- right” influencers is the infamous Steve Bannon. Because of his position in the White House, we end up with even more discriminatory executive orders such as the maligned ban on travel from seven majority-muslim nations.
It is time to be honest about the ideologies informing the alt-right.