By Karen-Luz Sison
“America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and for our posterity. It is our creation. It is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
So ended Richard Spencer’s speech to over 200 attendees at the annual conference of the National Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 19, as witnessed from video footage taken by The Atlantic.
Spencer is a leader of the “alt-right” movement, an increasingly vocal white nationalist group that heavily supported Trump’s presidential campaign.
Spencer isn’t the stereotypical redneck, neo-Nazi skinhead commonly associated with racism. Rather, he’s a more insidious mould of a hateful ideology that’s been perpetuated for the majority of colonial history. He’s a clean-cut, well-educated, and articulate academic who just happens to also support the creation of a white “ethnostate” in the United States.
The “alt-right” movement is part of the rising voice of a small, racist minority of North American society, and this past U.S. presidential election was part of the process in giving a platform to “alt-right” views.
In an era of safe spaces, political correctness, and amplified marginalized voices, supporters of racism and other destructive ideologies have been pushed further into the dark through public shaming and hate, branded as ignorant and dogmatic. And ironically, failure to constructively and critically engage these people has led to the vocal rise of the “alt-right” movement一racism in the form of well-spoken people such as Spencer.
Many media organizations and traditional right-wing supporters do not know how to deal with the rise of this blatantly racist fringe group. Some media, such as Vox, the Associated Press, and The New York Times, have chosen to be cautious about how they use the term “alt-right,” calling for the constant contextualization of the group’s fundamental white nationalist and anti-immigrant ideas.
Right-wing supporters such as Hugh Hewitt, American conservative radio personality, and Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of the National Review, recognize the struggle the conservatively-inclined face with being associated with the “alt-right,” despite being against the ideas associated with the group.
Hewitt and Goldberg discuss in a radio segment how conservatively-inclined Americans need to exile the “alt-right” from the Republican Party. They talk about how those associated with the “alt-right” don’t want to simply reform the party, but rather completely overhaul it to establish the aforementioned ethnostate.
Constantly associating the right-wing side of the political spectrum with racism, sexism, and xenophobia has clearly backfired in promoting equality and democracy in society, as observed by the existence of the “alt-right.” Painting a picture of right-wing politics as dogmatic, controlling, sexist, and xenophobic perpetuates the very dehumanization left-wing politics claims to fight against: denying the complexities of human beings because they are different from you.
Racism has never been eradicated; it’s just been laying low until it could be re-packaged in more socially-acceptable words and slick pseudo-academic spokesmen.
Without first understanding the complexities which feed into hatred, all we end up doing is driving it into the shadows to fester and grow. We need to call hateful ideas out not through demonization of those who support such ideologies, but rather through active dialogue with them.