" /> Coruscation: April 2017 Archives

« March 2017 | Main | May 2017 »

April 30, 2017

The alt-right label

The alt-right label had been in use for years, partly to describe a vivid, largely online subculture of trolls who reveled in their racialist ugliness, often claiming it was an antidote to the reign of political correctness, which they saw as ruining the country. Populist nationalism joined hands with white supremacism and immature 4Chan trolls, borrowing its language from the latter and a deliberate, ironically blasphemous embrace of the former.

Whether it was a belief system, a fully formed ideology, or a form of rhetoric, a way of poking at the nostrums and sacred cows of liberalism, was left deliberately murky.

If a lawmaker campaigns in poetry and governs in prose, the alt-right, whatever it is these days, is trying to pivot from campaigning in bathroom graffiti to governing in the foreign language of diplomatic tact and deliberate restraint. A movement that spent years on the attack now has to learn to defend.

Last summer, in an interview Bannon gave to Mother Jones during the Republican National Convention, Bannon allowed the movement to be pinned down. He called Breitbart "the platform for the alt-right." The phrase multiplied exponentially after he became Trump's campaign chairman, catapulting the movement into the mainstream. Used to fighting a guerrilla war, now the alt-right was in the open--and defending the ugliness became a lot harder.