The ‘Alt-Right’ Makes Dubious Claims on Conservatism



Hillary Clinton plans to give a speech denouncing the “alt right,” which is news that must have a lot of you asking, “What’s the alt-right?” The answer is less important than either Clinton or the members of this group would have you believe.

They call themselves “alt” to distinguish themselves from conservatives, whom they consider weak, out of touch and boring. They find the mainstream conservative fixations on free markets, limited government, the Constitution and the sanctity of unborn human life beside the point.

Their own fixations are instead racial. A lot of them are pretty forthright about that. In one of the earliest essays to identify and defend an “alternative right,” in 2010, Richard Hoste explained that the chief defect of mainstream conservatism is that it fails to take a natural racial hierarchy, “with whites and Asians at the top and blacks at the bottom,” as its organizing principle. Both government policy and, even more, our public discussions of race have to begin from that premise, he wrote.

Hoste mentioned other ideas that have continued to dominate the alt-right. Affirmative action unjustly subverts the racial hierarchy; “low-IQ Mexican immigration is the greatest threat to America”; whites are unjustly denied the positive racial identity that U.S. culture encourages for other groups.

Not surprisingly, such Republican efforts as there have been to appeal to nonwhites come in for scorn from the alt-right, which places its political hopes in a strategy of raising white racial consciousness. Also unsurprisingly, race-mixing is not very popular in these circles. An epithet alt-righties use for conservatives is cuckservative,” or “cuck,” referring to a cuckolded conservative. It has its origin in disgust for interracial sex. (I’ll let you Google it yourself.)

Why is Clinton taking on a group that seems so marginal? Because lately it has seemed to become a little less so. Alt-righties rejoiced over Donald Trump’s victory over mainstream conservatives in the Republican primaries — and rejoiced even more when Trump appointed Stephen Bannon as his campaign’s CEO. Bannon has been running, a publication he describes as “the platform for the alt-right.” Critics despaired that his hiring represented an alt-right takeover of the Republican Party.

But there’s less to the alt-right’s new prominence than meets the eye. Even though both Bannon and his foes describe as an alt-right site — and even though alt-righties clearly like the site more than they do, say, the Weekly Standard — it is at the very least a watered-down version of the alt-right. Vdare, American Renaissance and Takimag, three other publications, repeatedly and explicitly make the kind of arguments that Hoste did. doesn’t. A lot of recent discussions of the alt right have mentioned a “guide to the alt-right” that Breitbart published in March. But if Breitbart were an alt-right organ, as opposed to a venue sympathetic to the alt-right, it would hardly need to run an essay introducing the topic to its readers.

Bannon himself denies that the alt-right has much to do with race. He says that the alt-right is simply about nationalism. When Ken Stern of Vanity Fair recently read Bannon some racist comments that had been left on, Bannon’s “response was slightly pained, and he tried to wave the issue away.” Stern speculated that Bannon may have been concerned about the comments for business rather than moral reasons, but either way, it means that he shies away from the alt-right’s version of candor about race. (What a cuck, a real alt-righty might say.)

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The Alt-right needs to be shoved back in those dark slimy corners from which it crawled. As a Contitutional Conservative, I want nothing to do with them and I don’t want them associated with my causes. Trump lets them hang around his fringes giving them some kind of legitimacy. They are angry, fearful and they foment hate and warring factions. Trump just brings out the ugliest side of everyone. I know he does not outright condone them but he lets them hang around without denouncing them.